My goal for 2022 is to read 113 books. With baby due in February, we will see if that happens!!! Anyway, 2022 started off good with some REALLY great books!
Update: I have NOT been reading much! The reason:
All of these books except the final one were read before Zoey arrived. I just don’t have time!
1 – Cackle by Rachel Harrison
I liked this book a lot! I normally don’t like “magic realism” type books but this one worked for me. Annie’s life is kind of upended when her boyfriend of 10 years dumps her. She moves upstate to take a new job and kind of start over in a quaint town. She meets Sophie, someone mysterious and apparently magical and they become quick friends.
The books feels more like a story about a woman realizing how much she settled in life and how often she put her own needs and desires aside to make other people happy. It was a story of growth–with some magic.
2 – When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
Brilliant, gut-wrenching, REAL book. This was an A+ for me. The book had so many layers. It was about grief and tragedy but also largely about motherhood and postpartum depression and anxiety.
The story begins on 9/11. Gigi, covered in debris from the Twin Towers, is on a ferry to Staten Island to her parent’s house, runs into “the cute guy” she used to see at the work coffeeshop and they are bonded in the horror of that day. Years later, Gigi is a single mom and runs into Harry again. They begin to date, fall in love, get married and move to London (where he’s from).
While the first part of the story is largely about grief, the rest of the story diverts from here and it’s about Gigi’s postpartum journey. It’s so compelling and emotional and I could relate to so much of. She has a very traumatic birth with her son and it’s so obvious she has postpartum depression and anxiety but she’s not getting any help for it.
She’s also suffering from the very normal and real experience of having a newborn: just being exhausted, sleep deprived to the point of almost psychosis, feeling touched out:
“I want them to stop calling for me, clawing at me, walking on me, sitting on me, leaning on me, punching me, throwing things that I have to pick up, crying for me, dropping shit, spilling shit, needing to be carried, wiped, washed, lifted, moved until my muscles feel like they’re coming off my bones, my scar pulsing, breasts heaving, back breaking and then, Harry, you grasping for me, pawing for me in the bed at night, looking for sex and wanting my body too. And how could you, how could anyone, want this body. I can’t explain the anger. How exhaustion and anger are the same feeling. I’m angry about being so tired, and the more tired I get, the more enraged.”
The book is brilliant and so real and I think a LOT of mothers can relate to something in this book. “But I was drowning. The waves had taken me under and no one had seen.”
I didn’t have postpartum depression but I had anxiety and I felt like reading Gigi’s story was my story:
“…since we got home a few days ago I’ve started watching him. All night sometimes. I still can’t sleep because it’s chaos behind my eyes and it’s easier…I mean, I’m not so scared if I keep them open. So I watch him through the mesh on the mini crib.” The constant vigilance, the inability to sleep because you need to watch the baby and make sure it’s breathing. This book was written by a woman that KNOWS.
Five stars, best book I’ve read in a long time.
3 – Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Wow what a rollercoaster ride! This book was all kinds of creepy and it worked. It’s a disaster story–without ever really revealing the disaster but the dread, the fear, the unknown, the isolation, it permeates throughout.
At times the writing meanders and needs a little editing, but overall it’s a great story.
A family of four is on vacation somewhere near the Hamptons. They rent a house that feels very remote–not a lot of neighbors, the beach a little ways a way. It’s well stocked and has a pool and everyone is having a good time. Suddenly, late in the evening, two strangers arrive on the doorstep. They are the owners of the house, that fled New York city when there was a blackout, and ask to come inside. They offer to pay the family back for the rental, but they are desperate to stay.
What unfolds is a book of confusion, fear and trying to guess what is happening “out in the world” while they have no access to it. Cellphones don’t work. TV doesn’t work. There are no neighbors or people around. The world is ending, but why? How? Should they stay? Should they go back to New York City?
So creepy and kept me thinking long after the book was over.
4 – Shiver by Allie Reynolds
Normally this isn’t really a book I’d love–I know nothing about snowboarding and am not interested in any sports. But somehow, this book worked for me. I liked the characters, it kept me guessing, it was a fun read! I definitely recommend it!
5- The Patient’s Secret by Loreth Anne White
I was surprised by how much I loved this book. It was really compelling and had lots of twists I wasn’t expecting.
Lily is a therapist with a picture perfect life and family. When suddenly her husband gets home from a run, discards a bloody shirt, and then the police arrive. This starts an unraveling of her life she wasn’t prepared for and secrets come out she didn’t want to reveal. It was well written and I liked how the story unfolded. Very good! Recommended!!