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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

    Reading Wednesday

    Absolutely astonishing. I loved this non-fiction book about mental illness in America. I listened to this one on Audible, it was brilliantly read, but I suspect reading it would be just as compelling as Kolker’s empathy towards the material and the family was first rate.

    Hidden Valley Road is the story of the Galvin Family of Colorado Springs Colorado and begins when Don and Mimi Galvin are teens in the 1950’s and continues through 2017. During this span of time, Don and Mimi Galvin will have 12 children and become important in genetic research due to the fact that six of those children will be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    The book includes a great deal of medical detail and information, but Kolker’s writing makes it very easy for the lay person to understand. Combined with his brilliant approach to telling the story of this remarkable American family, the complicated relationships between each of them, as well as the astounding family history, Kolker creates an unforgettable read.

    The book has received critcal acclaim and has been “praised for it’s astounding depth and empathy”. It was highly commended by Ophra’s Book Club and debuted number one on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction.

    Few American’s have not been touched in some way by mental illness in their families or their acquaintances, and I believe anyone can identify and appreciate this memorable multigenerational story of one American families heartbreak.

    *****Five Stars for Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

    Read last week’s review of Wolf Hall here.

    My current read The Imperial Woman

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    See this week’s top performing pin here, my book review of American Dirt.

    The link below is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Well. I had high hopes for this book. Hmmmm. It got great reviews but for me it just fell short of spectacular and I was left going “meh”.

    Touted as the next “Gone Girl” (big shoes) and “destined for the big screen” (maybe better as a movie?) I just couldn’t find the love for this book.

    I figured out the plot twist pretty early on, and although there were some surprising turns, there were also some gaping holes.

    We are introduced to a psychotherapist, a famous artist, and a famous photographer. Difficult family backgrounds and childhoods, insecurities and infidelity will play a big role in the development of these characters and how their lives and deaths come together.

    Who loves who? Who is the real villain? Who is really the crazy one? And in the end will we be satisfied with the wrapping up of this “thriller”? Unfortunately, I wasn’t. Movie coming! “Meh”.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

    Read last week’s review of The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.

    My Current Read – The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Go read this book.

    Gates, co-founder of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a talented writer and her eloquently told stories of people she has met through her work around the globe is an inspiring read.

    As a world traveler myself, I have witnessed stark poverty, extreme sexism, lack of education and powerful caste systems. I look upon these things and feel helpless at what I can do.

    Gates looks upon them and develops data and brings the issues to our attention, in her determined and candid narrative.

    Through the inspiring stories she tells, including many personal stories of her own background and marriage, the overall message is clear – if you want to lift up a society you must start by supporting and lifting the women and girls.

    Go read this book.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Read last week’s review of Girl Woman Other.

    My current read – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Ann Patchett is definitely one of my favorite authors. I have loved several of her books; State of Wonder, Bel Canto, Commonwealth and now The Dutch House.

    I really love how the story is told by Danny, and his point of view of his sister Maeve and how their lives unfolds. The tight bond of the siblings and their exile from their childhood home defines everything about their lives and is the premise of the book.

    Maeve, the older and protective sister lacks initiative although she is brilliant. She deals constantly with poor health. Danny, the younger looks to Maeve throughout his life, and has difficulty finding his own peace from the events of their past.

    The story unfolds over five decades, wrapping around one house, and how that house and decisions made by people associated with it define the lives of Maeve and Danny – for better and for worse.

    A central character, the evil step-mother, I found downright chilling. Patchett’s development of that women reminding of someone I used to know. Frightening. Another character, the real mother, I found less believable and not as plausible.

    Patchett is a wonderful storyteller and I enjoyed this book as much as all her other novels I have read.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Dutch House. Read last week’s review of The Testaments.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

    Reading Wednesday

    From time to time I have moments that catch my breath when I think of a few near death experiences I have had in my life. The four moments that occasionally remind me of how lucky I am to still be kicking around. Three of these occurred in a car and one on a horse – inches and seconds from disaster.

    In her memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, O’Farrell looks back on her own life where she can count 17 separate incidents of stepping too close to her own death. Several instances the reader can easily relate to, while others seem unfathomable to most of us.

    But the part of the book that caught me somewhat off guard was the story of O’Farrell’s adult life struggle to keep her own daughter alive. A day to day process that involves constant monitoring of every item her daughter eats, breaths, touches…as O’Farrell and her family deal with a child with severe immune-system disorder.

    This is the first time I have read O’Farrell’s work although she has numerous memoirs and novels. I enjoyed this story dispite it’s sometimes gut-wrenching detail.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Read last week’s review of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Mbue, an immigrant from Limbe Cameroon, weaves a fictional tale of immigrants like herself, who make their way from Cameroon in search of the American Dream in New York. My book review Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is fiction but a near to true story of the hardship of immigrants in the USA.

    Both a love story and an American tragedy, Behold the Dreamers brings to life the incredible characters of Jenda Jonga and his wife Neni and their sweet and small children. The Jonga family has worked for years to make their way to New York City, land of dreams and opportunity.

    We are introduced to the Edward’s family. Husband Clark and wife Cindy with children Vince and Mighty. Clark is a high powered financial investor with the ill-fated Lehman Brothers. Cindy a New York socialite hiding and running from her past.

    These two families will collide in a sad but believable look at how two very different families navigate the financial collapse of 2008, the nearly impossible American immigration system as well as the challenges of race, class, substance abuse and marriage in America.

    A remarkable debut novel for Imbolo Mbue. Five stars for Behold the Dreamers.

    Read last week’s review of The Glass Castle

    Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I found this true story very similar to Tara Westover’s “Educated”. A deep and disturbing look at how children survive growing up in dysfunctional, often violent, and deeply impoverished family.

    Tracing Jeannette Walls climb out of poverty and neglect to her life today as a successful writer and contributor for the likes of Esquire and MSNBC. The Glass Castle is an astonishing look at an all to common and oft ignored American tragedy of childhood neglect.

    Jeannette Walls and her three siblings are raised by a brilliant father who is also a raging alcoholic. Her free-spirited mother has little interest in domestic life, leaves her children to fend for themselves, even when she has the financial opportunity to provide and pull them out of despair and poverty.

    The Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves and each other, nearly starving or freezing to death in the cold winters.

    Eventually making her way to New York, getting an education and a good job, Jeannette finds it impossible to talk about her upbringing or the fact that her parents are living homeless on the streets of New York. She is ashamed of them and the way they live. Until she is encouraged by those closest to her, to tell this real life story of surviving neglect and despair, even while still loving her parents.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Read last week’s review of My Sister’s Keeper.

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    The Glass Castle by Jodi Picoult