My thoughts on: The vanishing half by Brit Bennett

book review, Uncategorized

⭐️ 4.5/5

This book has been long listed for the women’s prize 2021 and is a goodreads choice 2020 winner. I’d heard so many good things about the vanishing half that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and read it for myself.

It is a story about twin girls from a small town in New Orleans called Mallard, spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s. Mallard is a southern black community that Stella and Desiree Vignes, at the age of 16, decide they need to run from to start a new life. They run away together until they go their separate ways, one living as a white woman and the other living as a black woman. They both experience very different lives but they are ultimately led back to each other. One of the twins ends up returning to the town they had escaped from with her black daughter after escaping her husband/daughters father while the other passes as white, living with her white husband in their expensive estate home. Her husband knows nothing of her past and doesn’t have suspicions of her being anything other than what he knows. However when their daughters’ lives intersect they find they will always be intertwined with each other. The story spans many decades following the twins and their daughters over the years. The Vanishing Half is a beautifully written story about racism, social classes, family and love.

When I started reading this I was trying to get to grips with the characters and where the story was going to go, although I had seen good things about the vanishing half I wasn’t fully aware of the storyline. Once I got reading I found myself really enjoying the book and I am glad I initially pushed through the beginning. Once characters had been established and the story started to open up I found the story was beautifully written and was a really important look into racism and complicated family relationships giving a voice to these women to discuss hardships experienced trying to make a better life where racism is still rife, how black and white are ultimately just that.

“She felt queasy at how simple it was. All there was to being white was acting like you were.”

I did like the book and I would recommend it, I liked the characters and the storyline and the different view points that the story was told from. The story follows the Vignes twins, their daughters and their mother and explores how race affects lives and how although they lead very different lives they ultimately intersect with each other.

All the characters have fears and they are all very real fears to have. Fear of being alone that you lie to keep your life, even if you don’t feel like it’s your own.

‘She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.’

Fears of not belonging

‘There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong’

and Fears of not being accepted as you are and therefore denying yourself the chance to be happy

‘Well, maybe that’s your problem,” Kennedy said, “You tell yourself no before anyone even says it to you’

Although we can make judgements based on the characters actions and maybe think that we would do differently, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in their position and how I would live my life in their shoes. The characters are likeable and you find yourself routing for them and hoping they find their way and are happy and through it all I don’t think we will know but ultimately they have made their choices and they have grown from them and have had some good things and bad things happen but they are strong and just trying to be good people and good to their families.

There are so many beautiful quotes in this novel and I could quote them all day so please give this book a read and let me know what you think. Yes there are some questions unanswered but I think that’s part of it and it is so well written that you will not forget this book anytime soon.

Perfect, Rachel Joyce a review

book review, Uncategorized

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My friend bought Perfect by Rachel Joyce for me for my birthday after I read The Music Shop last year.

Synopsis: Perfect is about two boys who learn that an extra two seconds is going to be added to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. James Lowe is Byron Hemming’s best friend and the cleverest boy at school, James is the one who tells Byron about the extra two seconds and Byron becomes obsessed, waiting for them to be added. One day Byron’s mother makes a mistake but no one notices except for Byron. This is where his perfect world comes crashing down. If the two seconds hadn’t been added would it still have happened? this leads Byron into a spiral. James tries to help his friend Byron save his mother by setting up ‘operation perfect’. The book is set in 1972 and modern day and moves between the two times following the events of the summer 1972 and how it effects events in the future. In modern day we follow the life of Jim who has been in and out of a mental institute until it’s eventual closure. Jim currently works in a café and is suffering from severe OCD and lives a very solitary life.

There is a twist in this story which when you realise, everything falls into place. I liked the use of the twist as it had me guessing throughout.

I enjoyed the story and the mystery of the two seconds however there were parts of the book that felt slow or were repetitive. Particularly parts with Byron’s father, however I think that is to emphasise his obsessive nature and his relationship with his son and wife as controlling and not very personal. I liked that the story jumped between 1972 and modern day and the characters in each setting were likeable. If the story all took place in 1972 I found it would have been difficult to read. I found the movement between times kept me interested otherwise it was quite intense being stuck in one time.

The character of Beverley I found was well written and I was able to imagine her well and the type of person she was. I thought she added a much needed interesting personality to help bring the other characters out and move the story on. The book revolved around Byron’s mother Diana and we find out about her life and feelings through interactions with Beverley mostly as, although Beverley can be quite blunt, fiery and rude, Beverley was Diana’s closest friend. Diana is a ghost of who she once was and Beverley is trying to figure out who she is and bring that person out of her. I liked the character if Jim and really felt for him too wanting him to be able to communicate and build up a relationship with people. I thought he was well written and bought an interesting dimension to the story.

I thought this story was good and I enjoyed the concept of the story but I sometimes felt like it was slow and it was missing something. I liked the underlying message about time and the concept of time. How everyone follows the clock. waking up, going to work, having lunch, going to bed, is time just a concept that we are all following as that’s just what we know? and the idea of not living by the time and doing what you feel like doing when you want.

I’d give this book 3/5 still enjoyed the book but I struggled to get into the story although it was good once I pushed through

xxx

A Few Books On My TBR List

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Being a bit of a newbie to reading there are SO many books I want/need to read however not being superhuman I’m not sure I will be able to read them all in 10 months or so. But I will try to read as many as I can. Wish me luck!

Here are 6 books on my TBR list, just a small selection. Please let me know any thoughts on them or any suggestions for books you have read and loved, or that you want to read. In no particular order:

1. Writers and Lovers – Lily King

This book has had so many wonderful reviews which initially drew me in. The art work on the cover is also another factor of why I looked into this book. The story follows 31 year old Casey who is trying to navigate life and also write a novel. A story of love, loss and trying to find your way in life to the next phase. Really excited about this one! I think this will be the next book I read.

2. The starless sea – Erin Morgenstern

Again another highly regarded book amongst readers and another stunning cover. I don’t know too much about the story but it stems from the main character, Zachary, finding a strange book in the university library that sends him on a quest. The story has mystery, adventure, puzzles and twists and turns to keep you gripped. It sounds like a fun story and I’m definitely in need of an adventure.

3. When all is said – Anne Griffin

This novel is a highly praised Irish novel. I stumbled across this book when looking for recommendations to read in 2021. This story follows Maurice Hannigan on a single night at the Rainford House Hotel. Maurice orders 5 drinks throughout the night to toast 5 different people in his life who are vital to him. Through these people, the ones who have left, Maurice tells his story. There are themes of love, highs, lows, regrets and feuds. I would like to read this book as it sounds like it will be moving, interesting, funny and sad at the same time. A journey to really get to know our main character and how he got to where he is today.

4. The push – Ashley Audrain

This is a psychological drama about family and choices. A story of motherhood and those feelings and fears of a new mother. Blythe Connor wants nothing more than to be a warm, comforting mother and be everything to her new baby that she never had but as the difficulties and struggles of early motherhood set in, Blythe feels as though there is something wrong with her daughter. Or is it all in her head? Blythe’s husband Fox dismisses these thoughts and Blythe begins to question her own sanity. I feel this book will be an exciting, gripping journey where we question what’s real and is our narrator reliable and what can we believe.

5. The heatwave – Kate Riordan

This is a thriller about mother and daughter set in France in the 1990s. There are unusual fires across the countryside and Sylvie receives a letter calling her back to the old family home in the south of France. Sylvie returns with youngest daughter Emma, filled with dread on returning to this place. Sylvie tries to protect Emma from family secrets and the truth of what happened here, what happened to Elodie, Sylvie’s other daughter, her mysterious death at 14. it looks to be about family secrets, manipulation, dysfunctional relationships and it’s all a mystery. Again lots of good reviews for this book.

Luster -Raven Leilani

Edie is in a dead-end job and finds her self struggling to succeed at what she enjoys, painting. Edie is feeling lost and that no-one cares that she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She then meets Eric, a white-middle aged man with a suburban family, including a wife – who has agreed to a sort of open-marriage. they also have an adopted black daughter. In a world where she is constantly navigating sexual and racial politics. Edie finds herself falling into Eric’s world…and family. This book examines the life of a young black girl and the longing for a sense of belonging and fitting in. this book has been described as funny and provocative and has been well received. this book would be something ive not really touched on before but would be really interested to read and find books with similar themes.

If you have any thoughts let me know I’d love to hear from you and what books are on your TBR list this year!

Keep reading 🙂

Xxx

The Humans, Matt Haig Review

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book! I mean this book was surprising, in a good way. At the beginning of the book I was happily reading away chuckling at the comical words of Matt Haig or in this case our unnamed Vonnadorian alien narrator, known to most now as professor Andrew Martin. The humour used was down to earth and relatable and any human would find themselves at least smiling at the pages.

As I read on, I found the story had more depth than I originally expected I was not only reading a funny book about an alien coming to earth but a novel about fitting in, unconditional love, mental health, mortality and power of knowledge. I liked the relationship between our protagonist and Newton which gave him a more human feel, it’s good to know even aliens adore dogs. Having fell utterly in love with ‘The Midnight Library’ which I focused on in my first post, I was super excited to see what ‘The Humans’ had in store and I was not disappointed. I feel there were many themes throughout ‘The Humans’ which were also throughout ‘The Midnight Library’. The weird feeling of not knowing any details about a life you were living and trying to find connections, the colour green = knowledge, philosophy and also touched on body image and how we perceive ourselves and others. I like that in both stories the protagonist was surprised by decisions they made and made decisions they never thought they would make but were ultimately satisfied. I am definitely now a Matt Haig fan! Maybe this should just be a Matt Haig fan blog…I promise it won’t be but I will have at least another review to do when I read ‘How To Stop Time.’

‘Love is what humans are all about, but they don’t understand it. If they understood it, then it wouldn’t disappear’…’it makes you do stupid things – things that defy all logic. The opting for anguish over calm, for mortality over eternity and for earth over home.’

The humans, Matt Haig (2017)

Overall this book was a dream to read, really easy to fall into, surprising and hard to put down. I thought the ending did the book justice and I was happy with the direction of the story. I thought there was a really nice message behind the story and enjoyed the advice to humans towards the end.

which is to say: don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. you are moving through the galaxy. wait for the stars.

The Humans, Matt Haig (2017)

Probably the quickest I’ve read a book and for someone as distracted as me, it’s a real achievement. I would definitely rate it 5/5.

what is your favourite story about being an outcast? any suggestions for what I should read next after ‘How to stop Time’ would be great 🙂

thank you for reading

xxx