Tag Archives: Favorites

Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
By George Saunders
Random House, 9780812995343, February 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A unique and touching story about the loss of a child and what happens next.

The Rest of It:

Young Willie Lincoln dies at a very young age, leaving his father, President Lincoln and his mother Mary, to grieve over his loss.

But…

Willie’s spirit will not leave the cemetery in which he was interred, accompanied by others who have chosen to do the same. For one reason or another, they can’t seem to move out of this “bardo” into the next life yet they all vow to help young Willie because the thought of an innocent child spending eternity in such a grim place, is too much for these characters to bear.

Lincoln in the Bardo includes some very interesting, and sometimes even playful characters and almost reads like a play except that characters express the thoughts and feelings of other characters instead of themselves which takes a little getting used to. But after that, I found myself completely wrapped-up in the story of this young boy trying to find his way.

Things you should know:

  • You won’t learn much about President Lincoln from this novel.
  • Many of the works cited are fictional.
  • There are a lot of characters (160+)
  • Even though the afterlife is discussed, no one religion is emphasized.
  • You will be Googling for Civil War facts while reading, but I suggest you read first and Google later.
  • It helps to have a basic understanding of the Bardo and what it is.

Lincoln in the Bardo is beautifully written.  I highlighted many sentences and I don’t often do that. The subject matter is somewhat somber but it’s lightened-up by the playfulness of the characters. It’s tragic in that these characters can never correct their mistakes and as a result live forever in regret but it has stayed with me long after finishing it and the image of these spirits spending eternity in the cemetery is haunting. Check out this virtual reality experience to get a feel for what I am talking about:

Go to this page and scroll down to the bottom to view. Once there, click around to explore.

I know some readers are divided over the book but I loved it and my book club had plenty to discuss when we met. I plan to buy a copy as soon as the paperback comes out in February.

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

Advertisements

Review: The Party

The Paty

The Party
By Robyn Harding
Gallery/Scout Press, Hardcover, 9781501161247, June 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

After just a few paragraphs I found myself completely absorbed by this story of a sleepover gone wrong.

The Rest of It:

Jeff and Kim Sanders host a sweet sixteen party for their daughter Hannah. They open their beautiful home to Hannah’s closest friends, pick-up her favorite cake and make it clear that boys, drugs & alcohol will not be tolerated.

What do you think happens?

As you can guess, something horrible happens and now Jeff and Kim Sanders, perfect in every way, find themselves trying to prove their innocence to the police as well as the parents and children involved. This blemish on Kim’s otherwise perfect reputation is enough to do her in. Then there’s Jeff, who is keeping a secret from her. Hannah is no saint either and forced to choose between popularity and cruelty.

There is a lot going on in this story but it’s SO good. You’ve got the whole “perfect” thing going on with Kim and Jeff but they are far from perfect. The other parents have their issues too and the kids…oh, the kids… their loyalty to each other changes with the weather. People are in. People are out. There are lies and secrets and lots of self-analysis going on. Oh, not to mention the denial!! I could not turn the pages fast enough.

These characters are complex and very well-developed and even though some of them do horrible things, you still feel something for them because the author just pulls it out of you. This book was read while making spaghetti and doing laundry because putting it down wasn’t an option. Plus, the events detailed in this story could literally happen to anyone which makes it all the more readable.

If you want a fast-paced domestic drama then you can’t go wrong with The Party.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.