I’ve been neglecting my book reviews recently, so here’s a catch-up post with several short reviews at once.
A Widow for One Year, by John Irving: 4/5 stars
Overall I enjoyed A Widow for One Year, but it wasn’t my favorite John Irving. It tended more towards the absurd than some others I’ve read by him, and the plot was winded around without much direction for a long time. I actually got a little bored with it in the middle and didn’t feel like I cared that much about the characters. However, by the end, everything came together and I felt that it was a good book in the end.
Jerusalem Maiden, by Talia Carner: 3/5 stars
I did not find Jerusalem Maiden nearly as compelling as I hoped. It follows the story of a girl growing up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community near Jerusalem in the early 1900s and rebelling against the bonds placed on her by her community. My main issue with the book is that I was unable to suspend disbelief while reading it. The focus is very much on the girl’s (and later woman’s) relationship with her religion and it just didn’t compel me. I had trouble understanding the character’s perspective even though that was clearly the author’s intent.
The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian: 4/5 stars
The Sandcastle Girls tells the story of the contemporary narrator’s grandparents who met in Armenia during WWI and the Armenian genocide. I enjoyed the book but I didn’t find the story as “searing” as the book flap led me to believe. There is a secret revealed near the end that was quite tragic, but the build-up to the secret led me to expect something more than what it turned out to be. Overall, an enjoyable novel but not stand-out.
The Loop, by Nicholas Evans: 5/5 stars
I really enjoyed The Loop, a novel about conflict between wolves, wolf biologists, and ranchers in Montana. Nicholas Evans is an excellent storyteller; in this book he wrote a compelling plot with interesting and well-drawn characters and landscapes, and he brought everything together in a moving and appropriate ending that had some tragedy but was not wholly, unremittingly tragic. It made for an excellent travel book and I will definitely read more by Evans.