Mini Reviews: People who are NOT Jane, books without coffins, and one with all the feels.

Good morning! It’s Thursday, and that means a look at the books I devoured this week. It’s an incredibly light week because I didn’t read a single word the entire weekend. It was just that kind of vacation when I took a break from e-v-e-r-y-thing! That and two of my friends had babies (BABIEEEEES!), so I spent some time snoogling them and making dinner and running over with various things. Really as an excuse to hold the baby again, but hey! That’s what friends are for!

The bottom line is that I only have three books to tell you about this week. Let’s look at them…

Book101Re Jane, by Patricia Park (2015, Pamela Dorman Books, 352 pages, library ebook). I was so high on this book after I read the book flap. A modern retelling of Jane Eyre, with a POC protagonist? YASS! Bring it on! Jane, our “heroine” leaves her uncle’s groceria, where she’s been helping as a dutiful, orphaned niece would, until she takes a job as an au pair to a hoity-toity professors over in Brooklyn. Jane gets caught up in their life, and is about to begin an affair (gag!) with the dude, but a family death calls her back to Korea, where she becomes reinvested in her family and her past. Cue identity issues. That are neatly resolved(ish), by the way! This book bugged. The narrator bugged. I couldn’t care less about Jane or her foibles. I was mad when she fell into them, sort of bumping into them sideways, but not because I was invested in her at all. Just because that’s what a person does when they see a wrong about to happen. It might be more for you than me, but… eh. If you’re super-invested in Jane Eyre retellings, maybe give it a whirl. Otherwise, pass. 2 of 5 stars.

Book102Tiny Coffins of Little Hope, by Timothy Schaeffert (2011, Unbridled Books, 272 pages, hardcover). I found a used copy of the book online for $3, and I had to give it a try. Yes, yes – I broke my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks pledge. Again. And it wasn’t even worth it. A girl goes missing in this sleepy little town (was it Southern? The book had a Southern feel to it). A great-granny, the town’s rather famous obituary writer, is asked to write her obituary, even though no one knows if the girl is dead or missing or both. There’s the question of whether the missing child had really ever been there at all – or was she a delusion? a hoax? Meanwhile, Great-granny is busy raising her granddaughter with her son. The girl’s mother had run out when the girl, Tiff, was seven-years-old, only to return mid-book, causing quite a scene. Family drama ensues. Schaeffert was trying to look at the strength of family, how badly it can mess up, and whether family can ever truly welcome you back and forgive for sins committed. He was trying to look at loneliness and the desperate measures one will go to, over at the missing girl saga. And also at the power of society and rumors and pop cultures because, oh yeah! there’s also the last book of a terrifically popular series being secretly printed on the small town’s newspaper presses. There was just too much going on, honestly, and Schaeffert doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to any of them. Everything felt old and flat. The strings he tried to bind us to the story weren’t strong enough, or interesting enough. I just didn’t care. Bypass, good friends. Wave off. 2 of 5 stars.

Book103The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin (2015, Little, Brown, 352 pages, library ebook). Oh. Oh, oh, oh. I’m buying this paperback for my girls. A friend recommended this book to me for both myself, and Gracie, and oh. The feels. I was warned, yes, but… This book was so unexpected. The protagonist, a girl entering middle school, has just learned that her best friend has died. She’s not the most popular girl, our protagonist Suzy, and she’s having trouble transitioning from the ugly duckling phase into awkward tweenager phase. Which, okay, no majorly identifying with Suzy going on over here! (Lies, all lies.) As the story unfolds, we find out that Suzy and her best friend who died, they had a gradual falling out in the most awful way, and I just ached for Suzy, who’s realizing the hard way that you can’t take everything back. You can’t fix certain things. And middle school really is the worst place on earth when you haven’t got a friend to help you keep swimming. This is a great book for parents of tweens and almost-tweens to read to know what to talk to your kiddos about with regards to coming transitions. And for said tweens and almost-tweens because they need to know how not to act, and that they’re also not alone even if it feels that way. Oof, middle school. 4 1/2 of 5 stars.

So the moral of the week is don’t bully people, even in tiny, seemingly insignificant ways! Read The Thing About Jellyfish! And maybe buy a box of tissues.

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