Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty
Berkley, 9780425247440, 2012, 496pp.

The Short of It:

Took some time for me to get into this one but once I was in, I was IN. Moriarty is a storytelling queen.

The Rest of It:

Alice faints during a spin class and upon waking, realizes that she’s lost ten years of memories. She doesn’t remember having children, or that she’s in the process of divorcing her husband Nick. She has no idea why she’s at the gym at all having shunned exercise for most of her life and how can she be 39 years old when she was 29 just a little while ago? One other thing that she can’t remember is the death of her best friend Gina, who played such a large role in Alice’s life.

The first quarter of the book was bordering on silly but was also humorous and entertaining. Alice’s realizations about life as those around her continue to fill in the gaps, got some giggles out of me but can you imagine not remembering your kids or your husband?

Memory-challenged Alice finds that she’s not all that likable. She’s lost friends, alienated her husband and grown apart from her sister. She was this driven, busy person who did all the things class moms do but in total excess. Now, as she looks around at things she can’t make sense of, she wonders why? Why is she getting a divorce? What went wrong?

This turned out to be a very touching story about a woman who is given a chance to turn things around. Plus, it’s not just about Alice, it’s about her sister Elisabeth and her family and how the past few years have created a lot of tension, but perhaps the damage can be repaired.

I really ended up liking What Alice Forgot. It’s not as dishy as Big Little Lies and it didn’t center around a suburb like Truly Madly Guilty, but it was sweetly sentimental and I was satisfied when I turned the last page. It’s been optioned for a movie, actually has been for some time but I don’t see any mention of it actually being in production.

Have you read it? It does give you some food for thought and the questions in the back of my copy confirmed for me that it would make a good discussion book too.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half
By Brit Bennett
Riverhead Books, 9780525536291, June 2020, 352pp.

The Short of It:

The Vanishing Half is a book that must be discussed.

The Rest of It:

Stella and Desiree are twins, living in the small (fictional) town of Mallard, Louisiana. This town is known for its black, light-skinned inhabitants. As young children, they witness the murder of their father by a group of angry white men, and from that point on, the girls, each affected in different ways, step out of their familiar surroundings to begin lives outside of Mallard.

At first, they do this together. Taking odd jobs, sleeping on floors and eventually making a place of their own to call home. But Stella wants more and eventually leaves Desiree behind to pursue what she feels is a better life. A life that should not be held from her, just because she’s black. Desiree is hurt by the abandonment but at the time, doesn’t fully understand Stella’s choices. All she wants throughout the years is to find her sister once again.

This story is told in several parts and jumps into the present day as we meet Jude and Kennedy, the children of Desiree and Stella. We also meet their significant others and as readers, we are brought into Stella’s world as she makes the decision to pass for white. One day, Stella is mistaken for white and just goes along with  it. The concept of “passing” is one that affects more than just Stella as the story unfolds.

The Vanishing Half is a story about identity. Racial identity as well as gender identity (one of the characters, one of my favorite characters is transgendered). These characters are trying to find their way and their true selves and not without a lot of struggle. Some of Stella’s choices will anger you but Bennett wrote her in such a way, that you can’t hold her choices against her. She feels regret for her decisions but as readers we also see why she made these decisions to begin with.

I really liked how the story was structured and how balanced it was. I appreciated the decision to move the characters to California, particularly Los Angeles because as I can tell you, Los Angeles is accepting of a lot and it’s a place where people find themselves all the time. People can be whatever they want here, so having some of the story set in Los Angeles made sense. I really enjoyed the writing and I was lucky enough to be told about the Los Angeles Times Book Club interview with Bennett right after finishing the book so I got to hear her take on the book and it was just a great talk.

I highly recommend The Vanishing Half. Now, I really want to read her first book, The Mothers.

This book completes my summer reading list!

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.