In My Library Tote: Books with Secrets

What kind of book are you drawn to? For me, I've mentioned before that fast-paced thrillers with a big plot twist tend to suck me in, but typically leave me disappointed. However, a story that involves a secret or a hidden past, with plenty of drama but not necessarily a big twist, that's more my speed. Here are a few recent reads that all involve secrets, both kept and discovered.

{recent reads: secrets} 

{Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy} Joined by their husbands and children, Liv and Nora embark on a holiday cruise in Central America. Their relaxing tropical vacation turns into a nightmare when the children, ages six to eleven, wander off while on the women's watch. Unsurprisingly, guilt, blame, and chaos ensue as the parents try desperately to find their children. While this novel sounds like the makings of a good thriller, that's not what it was at all. Instead, Meloy explores the psychological repercussions of a tragedy; how it affects both the individuals and the relationships between them. Secrets kept and lies told threaten to come between the families, the kids, and the ultimate goal of a reunion. I'd recommend this one, unless you're planning a family cruise in the near future. :) My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon} Cassie Hugo has been in Jordan for two years when Margaret Brickshaw arrives. Both of their husbands work for the US Embassy there, and Cassie plans to take Margaret under her wing and help her get settled in this new world. She is experienced with the politics and customs of Jordan, and in the name of protection, tries to teach Margaret how to behave. Margaret is driving one day and gets into a minor fender bender, and she asks Cassie to watch her toddler son while she goes to the police station. As minutes turn into hours, Cassie senses that something isn't right. She discovers her friend's journal and pours over it, searching for answers. While I enjoyed many elements of this story, Margaret's mystery disappearance, the complexity of the relationships, and the exotic setting, I struggled to connect to any of the characters. I can enjoy a story with characters that aren't necessarily likable, yet I do need to at least be able to invest in those characters despite not agreeing with their decisions or motivations. For me at least, I couldn't get there in this book. My rating: 3/5 stars. 

{The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve} In the fall of 1947, coastal Maine is ablaze with fast-moving, destructive wildfires. When fire nears her home, Grace Holland is desperate to protect her two young children as well as the one growing in her belly. She soon sees her house won't be spared, so she and her kids, along with their neighbors, head to the ocean for protection. They survive, but their houses are burnt to the ground. Grace is determined to pick up the pieces and provide for her children. She tries to find her missing husband, but as time passes she embraces the freedom she has without him. I like the way the plot--the story of survival after tragedy--drove the story, and yet it wasn't the only driving element. The look into Grace's troubled marriage also played a large role. However, what bothered me about this one was the way Shreve portrayed Grace as a mother. Every other part of her life seemed realistic and multi-faceted, yet as a mother she was one-dimensional: ever-patient, loving, and protective. As someone who has small children, I found that a little unrealistic.  My rating: 3/5 stars.

{The Mothers by Brit Bennett} Seventeen-year-old Nadia Turner is trying to cope with her mother's recent suicide. Luke Sheppard, a pastor's son, is trying to cope with an injury that put an end to his promising football career. They find comfort in each other, but the consequences of their relationship will affect them both long after they have both moved on with their lives. The collective voice of the Upper Room (the local church) Mothers adds a unique perspective to Nadia and Luke's stories; through their observation and wisdom they are privy to secrets that others have missed. If you read anything from this post, go with this one. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{I Found You by Lisa Jewell} On a cold, rainy night in a British seaside town, a man sits outside with no jacket and no memory. Alice, a single mom living nearby, finds him and (despite knowing better) invites him inside. Meanwhile, in a London suburb, Lily Monrose is alarmed when her husband of three weeks doesn't come home from work one day. When she finally convinces police to investigate, she learns that the man she thought she knew and loved didn't actually exist--there's no record of his name. Parallel to Alice and Lily's stories, Jewell flashes back to Gray and Kirsty, two siblings on a summer holiday with their parents some 20 years earlier. I didn't love this book, but the secrets and mysterious connections between the parallel stories did hold my attention and kept the pages turning. My rating: 3/5 stars. 

Have you read anything good lately?

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1 comment:

  1. Those are my kind of books! I'm especially interested in The Mothers.

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