Monthly Archives: April 2017

Review: All the Best People

30687885Recap: There are secrets abound between four women of three different generations in a small town in Vermont. It’s 1972, and Carole is a mother to twin sons and a daughter and wife to an auto shop owner. But suddenly her days are filled with more people than just those who she lives with; she starts hearing voices, hallucinating, wondering if she’s becoming “crazy,” just like her mother was.

The book flashes back and forth between Carole, her “crazy” mother Solange, her sister Janine, and her daughter Alison. We learn how and why Solange went “crazy,” why the relationship between Carole and her sister Janine is so complicated, and why Alison is struggling to grow up in a world full of women who seem as though they haven’t quite figured things out yet.

Alison doesn’t fit in at school and instead spends time crushing on her teacher. Aunt Janine is also crushing on the same teacher, as she works to find a new husband after hers died. Carole, meanwhile, is dealing with the voices, visiting her mother, wondering if she’s suffering from the same disease. All the Best People delves into the complexity of women, their relationships with men and each other and the constant struggle they endure between heart and mind. As the story continues, secrets are revealed to the reader and ultimately each other that help explain why they are the way they are and what that means for their future.

Analysis: It’s hard to write a true “recap” of a book like this because the plot of the novel comes from these four women living their everyday lives, truggling together, yet separately. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman or maybe it’s because I have trouble keeping my attention on one storyline at all times, but books formatted like All the Best People always work for me. It always helps to get in the minds of each of the main characters. Each character in this novel is so complicated, especially Carole. The way author Sonja Yoerg writes Carole’s chapters as she gets sicker and sicker is great; the writing parallels the symptoms of the character’s disease and helps us to better understand what she’s going through.

MVP: Carole and Alison. I’ve already explained why Carole is great, but Alison is brilliant. She’s completely aware of and in tune with everything going on in the world around her, no matter how young and “naive” she is. She’s the child in this story, but it’s clear in many ways she’s smarter than the adults around her.

Get All the Best People now in paperback for $8.82. 

Or get it on your Kindle for $11.99.

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Review: Modern Romance

23453112Recap: If you don’t know what comedian/actor/producer/writer Aziz Ansari’s book is about before you start reading it, you might be surprised to learn that it has very little to do with him. Sure, he writes about himself a good amount in the book, namely when it concerns ramen, but Modern Romance is really his quest to hypothesize the meaning of, research, understand and explain how romance works today. He explains how the book came about: that he was performing comedy one night and had people from the audience come up to the stage so he could read the text messages they were sending to people they were interested in dating. What he found is that pretty much no young people — himself included — knew how to date in this crazy internet age.

To find out why, he spent a year researching, meeting with focus groups, sociologists and people from different generations and different countries. He compiled everything he found into this funny, but mostly enlightening and informative nonfiction book about the millennial generation and dating. He starts by interviewing elderly people who mostly met their significant others by walking down the street, going to the same school or being set up. He found that now, more than ever, people are not meeting each other through geographical convenience but through online profiles, and the way we communicate with each other online is inevitably different from the way we communicate in person.

Analysis: To be honest, Ansari’s findings were logical, but somehow still astonishing. As much as social media has helped people (many people have met each other through sites like Match.com or Tindr), it’s also hurt them (people being ghosted, people sending pornographic and off-putting images, people playing texting “games”). It’s a medium that’s both brought people together much more easily and quickly and torn them apart just as fast.

I finished the book feeling eternally grateful to have met my husband just before dating apps exploded onto the scene, thankful that online dating and dating on social media was something I would not have to deal with. I recommended the book to some of my single friends, thinking it would give them hope. But one of my friends who had coincidentally already read it said it just left her feeling hopeless. I don’t think Ansari is trying to steer readers one way or the other, that’s to say that dating in the technology age is better than dating in the past or worse. But I do think it sheds an interesting light on the topic and important one. I did learn that even in the world of texting, honesty is best, face-to-face communication is best and that we all need to stop playing “games” with each other and say what we really mean and feel. The things that we come away with in this book may not necessarily be what we want to hear, but they absolutely are what we need to hear.

Get Modern Romance in paperback now for $10.82. 

Or on your Kindle for $12.99.

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