We’re All Damaged
By Matthew Norman
Little A, Hardcover, 9781503933378, June 2016, 268pp.
The Short of It:
Marriage is highly overrated. Especially when your wife takes off with your paramedic neighbor down the street.
The Rest of It:
After losing his wife to his neighbor and humiliating himself at his best friend’s wedding, Andy Carter is forced to realize that his marriage is over and that it’s time to move on. He moves to New York City where he makes do in his tiny apartment but happy, he is not.
When he gets the news that his grandfather is dying, he decides to make the trip back to Omaha to spend as much time with him as possible but that means seeing his ex-wife, her new lover, and all the people that he disappointed along the way.
This is a “woe-is-me” read but I can so relate to Andy and I suspect that a lot of readers will too. He’s well-meaning but awkward. His matter-of-fact approach is kind of funny too. There is a lot of self-deprecation going on here but it’s so well done and there are many odd, quirky characters thrown in for good measure. If you like this sort of thing, you will find this aspect of the story quite amusing.
But, it’s also a sweet story about heartbreak and loss. It has just enough humor to keep it light but there are some deeper themes here, which I enjoyed. I read Norman’s first book, Domestic Violets and that one had the same kind of humor but I think I liked We’re All Damaged a little bit more.
If you want a funny, summer read but one that has some depth to it, you really can’t go wrong with We’re All Damaged.
A Matter of Mercy
By Lynne Hugo
(Blank Slate Press, Paperback, 9780985808617, 278pp.)
The Short of It:
Mistakes can destroy you or change you for the better, but the choice is yours.
The Rest of It:
One fateful night, while driving under the influence, Caroline Marcum crashes into another car, killing a special needs child. Sent to prison and filled with guilt, she serves her time quietly but once out, leaves her home of Wellfleet Harbor. Her marriage is over and all she can think of is leaving the past behind her. However, when her mother falls terminally ill, she is forced to return to the Cape to face all of the things she’s been avoiding for quite a long time.
This story will appeal to lots of readers for many reasons. The story is set in Cape Cod and centers not only around Caroline’s story but also the story of the local aquaculturists who make their living farming oysters. As Caroline tends to her mother, she is reacquainted with a friend from school, Ridley Neal who happens to be one of the oyster farmers farming the beach right below her mother’s home. There is a little bit of romance, a lot of strife, a touch of mystery and of course, the fascinating tidbits surrounding oyster farming and what it entails. I found these bits especially enjoyable.
What I noticed right away while reading, is how quickly I was pulled into the story. Knowing absolutely nothing about oyster farming, I had no problem picking up the terminology. However, there were two moments where I wasn’t sure which direction the author was going in. These two moments did take me out of the narrative a little, but not enough to make me like the book any less. One, involves a law suit against the aquaculturists (which happens to be inspired by a real-life lawsuit) and the other involves stalking and revenge. The latter seemed a little out-of-place to me.
Regardless, I was surprised at how absorbed I was while reading. I had a long stint over the holidays where I was unable to read anything and then here comes this book and I blow though it in just a couple of sittings. The main characters are riddled with flaws, which readers here know, makes my heart sing. The story wasn’t predictable, even though a couple of things seemed a little out-of-place and choosing to build a story around oyster farming…well, I’ve never read anything about oyster farming so that was very different and unique to me. I think I would have liked a little more redemption in the end but overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit.
If you like a book to be a lot of things, A Matter of Mercy would be a good choice for you. Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have a copy to giveaway! See below for details.
This giveaway is for one copy of A Matter of Mercy and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on Friday, January 23, 2015 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address. The winner will have 5 days to respond or another winner will be chosen.