Matt Wainright has lived in the same cul-de-sac as long as he can remember. His best friend, Tabby, has always lived just across the street. They’re inseparable, and Matt can’t imagine anything ever changing. Except his feelings for Tabby. Matt never saw that coming, and he has no idea how to tell her, but he will. Probably. Until a senior basketball star falls for Tabby, and suddenly everything changes.
Now his best friend is always too busy, and instead of shining on the JV basketball court, Matt finds himself fumbling. Even his younger brother is driving him crazy. Only his favorite class, creative writing, seems to make any sense. Then a tragedy occurs, and Matt can’t make sense of anything, as his life spins out of control and he teeters on the edge of self-destruction.
I was not prepared for this book. At all. I loved Matt’s voice from the very beginning. (With that movie-director voice in his head, of course he’s going to be a writer.) He has grand visions of himself, but his follow-through doesn’t always live up to his hype. This book captures the hope and the confusion of high school, as well as the gobsmacked feeling of first love. I laughed, I hoped, and I cried, right along with Matt. You MUST read this! I’m looking forward to seeing what Jared Reck writes next.
Ariel Levy grew up watching her mother come alive for a man besides her husband, and then watching that relationship stall out after her parents’ marriage ended. It was only after the end of these two relationships that her mother—eventually—found herself. Ariel decides she will love whomever she wants—and proceeds to do that, disregarding the fact that the other woman is already in a relationship when they meet.
A few years later, Ariel is pregnant, married, and secure in her own life when she heads to Mongolia to cover a story. When she returns, she is none of those things. Reeling from her loss, she discovers her partner’s alcoholism, which is too much for her to deal with. So, Ariel must decide—once again—what she wants, so she can go after it.
The writing in The Rules Do Not Apply is solid and evocative, but the author seems to be keenly analytical of other people’s flaws…and not her own. She went through a horrifying experience, one no woman should ever have to experience, and dealing with that grief is the most honest part of this book. The rest of the novel seems more about blame and veiled criticism of others, along with some scathingly accurate cultural analysis.
Shannon Leone Fowler, marine biologist, loved backpacking all over the world almost as much as she loved her fiancé, Sean, an Australian who shared her love of travel. In summer of 2002, they were in Thailand, when a box jellyfish, the most venous animal in the world, stung Sean, killing him in minutes as Shannon watched. While the authorities tried to label Sean’s death a “drunk drowning,” two Israeli women helped Shannon wade through the red tape to bring Sean’s body home to Australia, to the family he’d left behind and that she was no longer a part of.
Reeling from Sean’s death, Shannon returned home to America, but could no longer make sense of her world. So, she decided to travel as she searched for healing. Poland, Israel, Bosnia, Romania…all places she’d never been with Sean, but she could not escape his memory. Finally, she ended up in Barcelona, where she first met Sean, and confronted the ocean, which took her love away.
Traveling with Ghosts is an immensely personal memoir, about a harrowing loss and a woman’s struggles to heal. The narrative switches between Shannon’s travels after Sean’s death, the fateful trip to Thailand, and their travels when they first met. Her grief coats every page with a patina of sorrow, as she struggles to find a way to deal with her loss.
(Galley provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.)
When Marceline was fifteen, she and her father were arrested by the government. He told her that he would not come back. They were sent to concentration camps, he to Auschwitz, and she to Birkenau. The three kilometers separating them might as well have been a million. Occasional glimpses of her father kept her going, but the note he managed to get to her kept her hope alive even in her horrendous, terrifying surroundings. She made it out of the camp alive and came home. Her father did not come back.
But You Did Not Come Back is a novella-length letter that Marceline wrote to her father, the man she never knew as an adult. Her experiences in the concentration camp colored the rest of her life, and through it all, her father’s memory lived on, her grief over him shadowing every day. Eventually, Marceline found her calling as an activist for refuges and as a documentary filmmaker.
Her heart-wrenching tale is filled with emotion and sorrow, grief and determination, in this memoir of one of the darkest times in history.
(Galley provided by Grove Atlantic via NetGalley.)