Could I pick a more unlikely group of books to review? No.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The good bits: The sense of place is exquisite, as are the descriptions of the food…
The not-as-good-bits: I was expecting more suspense. Actually, I was expecting more of everything (this book came so highly recommended by so many readers that my expectations were probably unrealistic).
When should you read it?: if you feel in need of a coming-of-age story with atmosphere.
See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill
The good bits: There are stories in this examination of domestic abuse in Australia that will never leave my mind. They are horrific, and Hill’s telling of them is powerful. Some chapters stand out, in particular the section on Indigenous Australians and the historical context of domestic abuse. And Hill suggests ways forward – some systemic, some practical (why don’t we have women’s police stations?!).
The not-as-good-bits: While Hill stays predominantly on the narrative nonfiction path, she occasionally strays into the inevitable but necessary stats.
When should you read it?: Immediately.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
The good bits: When you’re in the mood for satire, it’s the best – this book delivers. Like all good satires, it finishes with a delightful ‘everything comes together’ scene, but don’t be deceived by the high jinx – there are deeper themes woven into the story, that speak to a person’s dreams and expectations. Also, read it for the exceptionally lovely paragraphs describing Antarctic icebergs.
‘…white, yes, but blue, too, every blue on the colour wheel, deep like a navy blazer, incandescent like a neon sign, royal like a Frenchman’s shirt, powder like Peter Rabbit’s cloth coat, these icy monsters roaming the forbidding black. There was something unspeakably noble about their age, their scale, their lack of consciousness, their right to exist. Every single iceberg filled me with feelings of sadness and wonder.’
The not-as-good-bits: It did veer toward far-fetched but the craziness is part of the fun (and it will make a great movie).
When should you read it?: If you have an epistolary square to fill on Book Bingo, this is your book.
Unf@*k Your Anger by Faith Harper
The good bits: A clear, comprehensive examination of anger and its context (anger often masks other things happening in a person’s life, such as depression). Harper suggests a range of strategies and exercises for identifying and managing anger.
The not-as-good-bits: I don’t mind sweary books but I hope people aren’t put-off by the title because it really is a neat guide.
When should you read it?: Ever felt road rage? Ever been furious at someone you love? Anger presents in everyone – interesting to know why.