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Book reviews of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, The Bodyguard, I’m Glad My Mom Died, and Bookish People.
I love a reading month with five-star books! Despite only having four reviews this month, three were five-stars–if only 75% of my reads were always this successful!
Of course, it’s not to be: I’ve been in a slump since finishing this group of books. I’ve DNFed several and have been moving slowly through the ones I’ve continued reading.
That’s how things go, sometimes, and I think a particularly busy start to the school year has amplified the slump: instead of relaxing into great books, I’ve been frustrated by some that have felt mediocre.
I hope your reading has been more successful (share your recommendations, if so!) and that these reviews give you a few more for your TBR.
Print and e-books
I love it when books take me into worlds that normally wouldn’t interest me and makes them compelling. In this case, it’s gaming. Sam and Sadie have been friends since childhood, brought together by chance in the hospital. After years apart, they run into one another at the Harvard Square T-stop and strike up a collaboration. Before graduating, they, with the support of their friend Marx, build a video game that propels them to success.
This is the story of their friendships, told over decades, complicated by and held together by their professional partnership. Zevin has created a full collection of wonderful characters, but her main three–Sadie, Sam, and Marx–truly shine. I loved watching their love stories grow and evolve, and how their connections hold through illness, failure, and tragedy. One of the best of the year.
Hannah is an Executive Protection Agent who travels the world protecting the elite. Her clients are usually wealthy but under the radar, so her assignment to protect Hollywood superstar Jack Stapleton from a stalker fan while he visits his sick mom on their Texas ranch is out of her comfort zone. Jack doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker, so he asks Hannah to pretend to be his girlfriend, and she reluctantly agrees.
This, of course, is a romance, and it’s fairly predictable. But this may just be the Katherine Center novel I’ve enjoyed the most. I loved Hannah and Jack’s relationship and how they just enjoyed one another. The banter doesn’t try too hard to be clever; they just frequently burst out laughing at one another about things that weren’t objectively funny, but were to them. It was such a realistic portrayal of the weird little worlds we build inside of our close relationships and it was so much fun to read.
I’ve never seen the shows that Jennette McCurdy starred in, but the early buzz around her memoir convinced me to pick it up. I’m glad I did. McCurdy’s telling of her young life spent trying to fulfill her mother’s dreams of stardom was heartbreaking, candid, and insightful. Her mother’s manic rages and hyper-focus on Jennette (and especially her weight) meant that Jennette dealt with anxiety and eating disorders from a young age–while bearing the responsibility of providing for her family.
McCurdy details her struggles with both her mother and on the sets of iCarly and Sam & Cat. While this memoir is largely about her relationship with her mother, the revelations about the lives of child actors are also shocking. The title of this memoir is meant to be provocative, but it’s also true. McCurdy loved her mother, and her feelings are more complex than the title would suggest. Her understanding of herself, her own worth, and her path forward was hard won. Her writing is excellent, as is her narration. Ultimately, all I can say is this: she earns that title.
I love a book about bookstores and readers, but this novel about a Washington, DC, bookstore owner and her employees failed to capture me. From the unsettled owner who wants to hide out in the back of her store to the employee who suspects the controversial visiting author may be her father, the narratives just didn’t feel cohesive. Add on the narrator who had some truly odd and distracting pronunciations (does anyone in the U.S. truly pronounce the state of Maryland as it’s written? I know natives of the state don’t, but this narrator does). I struggled to get through this.