ECW Press is a small, Canadian press that I have really come to trust for quality work. You can’t always say that about indies who publish works by unknown authors. Their latest offering is For The Love of Mary by Christopher Meades, a satire and coming of age novel that plays with small town religious rivalries. Continue reading
I’ve been putting off reading The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer for a while because I was pretty sure I was going to love it and i did. It’s about a family of Sanskritists during the tumult of 1970s to present day India. That description hardly does the novel justice. It is, in fact, an epic exploration of the family, memory, trauma and how the past exists in the present. Continue reading
I want to thank Trish at Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity for organizing The Sparrow read-a-long. It gave me the opportunity to read this book that I’ve heard so much about in the past year, but had yet to read. In fair warning to all of you, I finished the book over the weekend – I literally couldn’t put it down – but this post will be entirely spoiler free. Continue reading
I picked up A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray without knowing entirely what it was about. This was both good and bad. I knew that it was set in a Mormon family and a crisis of faith. Hear that? That’s all my boxes being checked. What I didn’t know was that the daughter of the family dies near the beginning of the book. I do not read books in which children die. They are just too sad for me. But I decided to soldier forth because i do love me a crisis of faith. Continue reading
I walked in to the library earlier this week and The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart leaped out at me, calling my name. I remember a few months back this was making the rounds on some of my favorite blogs and getting good reviews. It’s set in the Shaker community and deals with questions of belief. If that’s not up my alley, then I don’t know what is. So it seemed fated that I read it. Continue reading
You know when you get a book hangover, and you just can’t move onto a new book even though you’ve finished the previous one? Yeah. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris did that to me. It’s been two days, and I’m still not ready to leave those characters behind. You may recognize the title as Harris’ debut novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Continue reading
For me, 2013 has been the year of novels about lesser known and often ridiculed Christian sects. Weird, I know. And the even odder thing is that I have really liked all of them, especially The Friday Gospels, Elders and Amity and Sorrow. Well throw Watch How We Walk by Jennifer Lovegrove onto the pile as well, because it was amazing.
The thing about Watch How We Walk is that it just get better as you read. The first chapter left me thinking it was good, but nothing too special. But as all the pieces start to fall together and the subtleties glide to the forefront it wallops you in a really great way.
The story focuses on Emily and her coming of age in a Jehovah Witness family. Her older sister is overtly rebellious and dapples in punk music. Her father clings to his religion like it is a life buoy and her mother seems uninterested in the JW life. So where does Emily fit in? The story also jumps ahead to when Emily is in her twenties. The hints at psychological trauma alluded to in her childhood become the major force in her life.
There are so many stunning scenes in the later part for the novel that I literally shut the door and told my family to leave me alone. I read the novel in less that 24 hours and loved just about every second of it. Lovegrove does a great job at exploring the complexities of life through the lens of a pre-adolescent.
Who would like this book? This book would appeal to a wide range of people, but I am going to pin point children of the eighties. It seems like all good books set in the eighties have a pretty kick-ass sound track to accompany them, and Watch How We Walk is not different. Emily’s sister is moving into punk territory and music I was not familiar with, but she also references The Cure, The Cult and The Misfits. The music beautifully accompanies the angst of fitting in, especially when you come from a conservative background. If the growing up in the punk ’80s aspect appeals to you then I beg you, you must go read Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. It is one of the most underrated and under-read great novels of the last five years.