I’ll keep it short…
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
I loved some of the individual characters in this story, and Lewycka is skilled at creating a scene. However, this book tries to do too many things – the themes focused on expectations within relationships, family, and caring for aging parents worked well, but the back-story about inter-generational trauma floundered alongside the satirical humour. Special mention must be made of the ‘Toshiba apples’ (apples stewed in the Toshiba microwave) which made me laugh out loud.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I was genuinely ‘thrilled’ by their last book, The Other Wife, but this one fell flat and had all the things I loathe about thrillers – too far-fetched, and too many details that were so weirdly meticulous that you know they’re clues. And so, I spent much of the book thinking, ‘Why doesn’t she just go to the police and this could be over…?’.
Hearing Maud by Jessica White
Is it a biography? Is it a memoir? It’s both! White recounts her own experience of deafness, in parallel with the fascinating story of Maud Praed, the deaf daughter of 19th century Queensland expatriate novelist Rosa Praed. I enjoyed the format, although the transitions from memoir to biography weren’t always seamless. That said, White’s descriptions of her own experiences are poetic (“…the clamour of cousins…”), and brutally honest.
Truth in Advertising by John Kenney
It’s been awhile since I read lad-lit, so I was pleased to get stuck into Kenney’s well-written book. He delivers dry humour with an appropriately complex emotional back-story – as the main character’s life falls to bits, he must maintain the smooth exterior that his job in advertising demands. These ‘mismatched’ narratives offer plenty of opportunity for laughs and tears, and the story is surprisingly sad and reflective in parts.