My problem with audiobooks is that I can’t (actually, don’t) take note of passages that I like, so reviews seem rather flimsy. Anyhoo, some thoughts on three books I’ve listened to recently.
Dare Me by Megan Abbott
I picked this book because Abbott is on a panel I’m going to at the Melbourne Writers Festival. My poor opinion of the book won’t influence my enjoyment of the Festival session – I respect Abbott’s writing – it’s consistent, tight and no doubt thrilling for a particular audience (I’m simply not that audience).
Dare Me is a cheerleader story – think Heathers meets Tom Perrotta meets Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding.
These girls are all boxed wine and havoc.
The girls are vicious (certainly a case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’); their coach is stupidly unethical and obviously disturbed; and when the pom-poms hit the fan, it took the story to a level of crazy that stretched belief. But that’s okay, because I think that’s what Abbott does and her fans love it.
Personally, I couldn’t help but put my ‘parent’ hat on (see, told you I was the wrong audience) and as hordes of cheerleaders were leaving their houses in the middle of the night, taking 3am phone calls, smoking like chimneys, going to bars and purging every meal they ate, I was thinking WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?!
2/5 Sorry to be a party-pooper but ugh.
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Haig’s memoir about his battle with depression and anxiety is exceptionally good – it’s highly ‘readable’ and not at all grim, as you might expect.
Haig doesn’t dress up depression to make his reader feel better, nor does he make light of it – instead, he writes about how it ‘feels’ in a way that I think everybody can relate to, regardless of whether they suffer from depression, know someone who does or even have no experience whatsoever.
There were so any gems in this book (“No one sorts their life out at 3am“) that I wish I’d stopped to write them down but, at about the halfway point, I decided I’d buy a copy to have on my shelf. The key message though is simple – show love to those suffering from depression.
4/5 Extremely interesting.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
I saw the movie version of Brooklyn a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I didn’t rush to read the book before I went to see the movie because I’d just finished Nora Webster and I was a bit Irish-misery-porned-out.
The story covers themes of duty, homesickness, and first love, through young Eilis Lacey, as she moves from her family home in rural Ireland to Brooklyn, America.
It’s a gentle story, not trying to do more than it should (unlike Nora Webster which I felt promised more emotional depth than it delivered). From memory, the movie is a little more sympathetic to Eilis and her quandary – in the book there are a few too many moments where she is either dithering or in denial. But I cried, which says a lot for an audiobook.