Each month, I'll be posting a round-up of the best books I've read recently. Here's what I read in March:
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
Have you ever read a book so good you wanted to punch the author? Like, not in an aggressive way, but in a DAMN! GOOD FOR YOU! congratulatory way? Every other page I would come to such a well-crafted sentence or a perfectly turned phrase that made me want to slug Terese Marie Mailhot in just that way. Her sentences just 👏🏻so👏🏻 good👏🏻! She is a master of economy of language. Her insight is so sharp and her word choices are so effing precise, they just cut right to the raw feeling and truth of whatever painful or beautiful piece of her past she's sharing. A few of those punch-inducing sentences:
Heart Berries is not a light, easy read. Mailhot came of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest, and her memoir addresses a myriad of challenges she faced: a dysfunctional childhood, hospitalizations for PTSD and bipolar I, and complicated relationships with alcohol and men. That said, sometimes the hardest reads are the most rewarding, and this book is definitely worth carving out some time to tackle.
Since The Song of Achilles was published in 2012, it has been in my hand at various bookstores at least a dozen times, and for whatever reason, I never pulled the trigger and purchased it. But one night a few months ago after a couple well-poured glasses of wine, it made it's way from my Amazon cart to my bedside table...and I have to say, of all the myriad decisions I've made over the years after a few glasses of wine, this ranks among the best.
The Song of Achilles chronicles the bond between hero Achilles (of Greek mythological fame), son of the sea goddess Thetis and the mortal king Peleus, and Patroclus, a prince in exile. I've always found myself drawn to the characters of mythology; their hubris, their ambition, their conflicts between honor and ego. The thing I'm not so drawn to is the dense language. I have literary PTSD from sloughing through Homer's The Odyssey in high school and from editing and directing Aristophanes' Lysistrata in college. But Madeline Miller's masterpiece hits that sweet spot: she retains the drama of the original stories, but the prose is just easy and lyrical and timeless in its retelling. I could not put it down.
💃🏻Silver lining: her new book, Circe, hits bookstores April 10th 💃🏻It's already in my Amazon cart...so the next time I decide to drunk shop, I know there'll be another awesome outcome 😉
History of Wolves is the deeply affecting story of Linda's coming of age in rural Minnesota. She lives with her parents in an abandoned commune, which is basically a shack in the woods...couple that with Minnesota winters and, well, I get cold just thinking about it. The pace of the story is on the slow side, more methodical and meditative, because the emphasis is really on watching Linda interact with the world and discovering how the things that happen to her mold and shape her. The plot picks up when a new family moves in across the lake, and Linda starts to babysit their small son. Contemplative and thoughtful, History of Wolves is a thoroughly engrossing read and a master-class in character study.
Several months ago, I was in the airport at SeaTac, in line at a Hudson News and noticed that the woman in front of me was purchasing this book. I had just started it the night before and shared how brilliant I thought it was so far...turns out the woman buying the book was from Idaho and knew Ruskovich's family. NBD. I passed on my congratulations. Some people geek out when they brush elbows with celebrities. I geek out when I meet people who get to brush elbows with brilliant authors.
Anyway, because of my book ADD (and my tendency at the time to allow my corporate job to eat my life), I put the book down briefly and restarted/finished it last month and DAMN was it good. Horribly sad, emotionally complex, and touchingly haunting, Idaho follows Ann, whose new husband, Wade, is gradually losing his memory, a genetic condition from which many men in his family suffered. This may or may not be a blessing considering the tragedy that befell Wade, his first wife, and their two daughters shortly before his marriage to Ann. The story is told from various perspectives as the reader, alongside Ann, tries to piece together what exactly happened to Wade and his family...and what needs to happen to move forward.
As I was reading, I kept saying to myself "How is this Ruskovich's first novel????" I am just in awe of her talent and of the deep compassion from which she creates her characters. I cannot wait to read what she comes up with next.
What have you read lately??? I LIVE for book recommendations! 👇🏻 Let me know in the comments!👇🏻