Right now, we need the escape and the lessons that all kinds of stories can give us – and we really, really need the creative souls writing them. Here are my five favorite books from 2016! (Wow, that was a very Academy Awards presenter-y intro.)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt :: My favorite of the year. June is 14 when her beloved uncle dies and it’s only after his death that she begins to piece together his life. Along for the journey is Toby, her uncle’s longtime partner whose existence is a surprise to June. The two travel their grief together and the story is sad, happy, uncomfortable, upsetting, and hopeful. June’s coming-of-age, a secondary story line, was also sweet and real. This book made me cry but I was never sorry about it.
Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston :: This book takes the reader back into the world of Pride & Prejudice to ask, “What if Elizabeth had accepted Darcy’s first proposal?” It’s fan fiction in its highest form; Ormiston is faithful to the characters, the language, and the general Austenishness of the original and I really enjoyed it.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett :: Seventeen-year old Nadia has just lost her mother and, within the first few chapters, becomes pregnant. The story that follows is often hard to read – heartbreak on so many levels – but the writing is so good. I was completely absorbed. It also has a beautiful cover – and I am a sucker for a beautiful cover.
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild :: Life isn’t going well for Annie when she picks up an old painting at a second-hand shop. She soon starts to realize that the painting itself is more historically significant – and valuable – than she could have imagined. An unexpected point-of-view comes from the painting itself and its journey through time and ownership, which I was skeptical of at first. But I thought it worked. Rothschild has an admirable and intimidatingly thorough knowledge of art history, which lead to me skimming some parts, but the story continually brought me back.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld :: Oh look, another Pride & Prejudice reboot. I like P&P, okay? This book was fun and I think Sittenfeld did a great job modernizing the characters. For example, the Bennet girls are still all rather spoiled and privileged, in a modern way, but only two have the kind of redeeming value that makes you root for them. I mean, of course there’s also Mary. She’s fine. I wish her the best.
Please note how I optimistically titled this post with the year, supposing I will do this again twelve months from now. Time will tell, I guess. Now go read something!