Remember the MOAM Book Club? It’s back! Get out your must-read lists, ‘cuz these books really should be on ’em….
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr
I read this Pulitzer-prize winning book pre-prize last summer. In one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, and neither will you. Set in the years leading up to WWII, it’s two stories which ultimately converge into one. A young blind girl who has learned to find her way via intricately carved cityscapes created by her father, ends up with one of France’s national treasures. A German orphan obsessed with building radios is forced to join the Hitler Youth where he reluctantly rises through the ranks. This is storytelling at its finest.
THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden
And speaking of finest, this book is truly one of the greatest books I’ve read in years. Don’t let the subject matter (Iroquois vs Hurons, Jesuits, Canadiana) or size (512 pages) scare you off. Even if you’re not a historical fiction fan – and especially if you are – you will love love love this deep and haunting and devastating book…
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND / THE STORY OF A NEW NAME / THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY – by Elana Ferrante
Collectively known as The Neopolitan Novels, this trilogy has been gripping Italy for the past few years. Written under a pseudonymn, they tell the story of 2 friends growing up in the Sicily of the 1950’s. Through times turbulent and peaceful, rich and poor, what appear to be “women’s novels” are so much more than that. Capturing the periods in which the stories are set beautifully, Ferrante, whoever she – or he – may be, draws fantastic characters who you won’t soon forget. Best of all? The fourth (and final) book is being released in September. If you start now, you can pre-order it (I already did)
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT – by Judy Blume
Growing up devouring the writing of Judy Blume was de rigeur for any of us growing up in the 70’s. Sure, we figured we outgrew her – but did we ever, really? With this latest novel, written for adults, she demonstrates that you can’t actually outgrow great writing. The woman really knows how to spin a yarn. Set in the New Jersey of the 50’s, 3 plane crashes proufoundly affect the lives of those living under the flight path. First loves, growing up, moving on….Judy Blume covers it all – and so damn well. She’s still got it. Always has, always will.
THE CHILDREN ACT – Ian McEwan
I adore Ian McEwan. Just love him. So it goes without saying that if you’re a fan of his, you’ll read this book!A judge must determine what is best for a child suffering from Leukemia – who also happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness. As she debates what is “right”, her own personal life is falling apart. Stunning. Gripping. Thought-provoking. Ian McEwan at his best.
ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews
Heartbreaking, yet funny, and gorgeously written, the story of two sisters: one a brilliant but suicidal pianist, the other a hot mess trying to take care of those around her. Life and death, families and lovers, Toews gets into all of it. Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, the writing delves straight into the darkness yet somehow finds the light. A brave and beautiful award-winner.
WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas
This sprawling, ambitious saga marks the author’s debut. And what a grand entrance to the literary scene it is! Clocking it at 641 pages, it’s a big and meaty story of a family. Eileen is the daughter of Irish immigrants, and we follow her life as she grows up, gets married and has a family of her own. Mirroring life in America in the second half of the 20th century this is a poignant and stunningly observed piece of writing. There exists in the middle of this book a letter from a father to his son that had me bawling. If I read it on paper it would have been earmarked, underlined, highlighted or, possibly ripped out.Â Epic.
WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler
I mention this book for those who confuse it with the one above. It’s another great read – though not on the same level as the Thomas novel. The family in this book is what some would call unconventional: Mother, father and three children. Except the youngest is a baby chimpanzee. Yes, you read that right. This is an intriguing and interesting take on a typical family that is anything but normal. Domestic terrorism, animal rights, family dynamics – this has it all. Super smart and very different. Well worth picking up.
BIG LITTLE LIES – Liane Moriarty
Set in the ‘burbs of Sydney, Australia, this is another domestic page-turner by the author of The Husband’s Secret. Characters and their stories are interwoven as the new single mom in town finds herself both ostracized and exalted after her son is accused of being a bully. This is the perfect summer read for those who enjoyed The Slap. Addictive!
DIRTY LOVE by Andre Dubus III
What does happily ever after mean? Does it exist? Or, like an elusive brass ring is it always moving a little further away, slightly out of reach? In this group of interlocking novellas, Dubus explores it all from the points of view of a cuckholded husband, a philandering bartender/poet, a young girl trying to escape a social media mistake, and a lonely overweight woman who wonders whether she’s failed to launch. Simple, smart and raw.
I DON’T HAVE A HAPPY PLACE by Kim Korson
I couldn’t leave this memoir/book of essays off my list. It’s biting and smart, filled with fab 70’s and 80’s references and I happen to enjoy anything evocative of my own childhood/adolescence/coming of age/adulthood.Â The fact that it was written by an old friend whose observations and crankiness always cracked me up? Well that’s just a bonus.