Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – a literary mix tape

There’s nothing I can say about Douglas Stuart’s 2020 Booker Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain, that hasn’t already been said. Know that I laughed, I cried, and I ached for Shuggie, his alcoholic mother, Agnes, and his siblings. This story is raw and tender and hopeful and heartbreakingly sad.

In my tradition of not reviewing books that have a squillion reviews on Goodreads, I have instead put together a mix tape, drawing on some favourite passages in the book. Needless to say, I had dozens to choose from in Shuggie.

5/5 Shuggie has my heart. Continue reading

Revenge by S. L. Lim

When you call your book Revenge: Murder in Three Parts, you’re giving your reader a fair idea of what is to come. And S. L. Lim delivers precisely what the title promises, although this is far from a traditional murder story.

So why read this book when the title is a spoiler? Because the tension, the bitterness, and Lim’s restraint is evident from the very first line (‘I’m the one who’s in charge around here’) – it is strangely compelling to inch toward a known outcome. Continue reading

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Have you ever been to a psychic? I’ve dabbled. They’ve said things, very specific things, that they couldn’t know about me, and therefore I can’t completely rule out the possibility that psychic ability exists. And while much of my formal education has focused on the sciences (and therefore I should dismiss psychic-mumbo-jumbo), I always circle back to the role of ‘gut instinct’ and our sense of intuition. These things can’t be explained simply.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel, Sisterland, focuses on identical twin sisters, Violet and Kate, who are born with psychic abilities. Violet embraces her visions, and Kate does her best to hide them. When Violet appears on television sharing her premonition of a major earthquake striking their hometown of St. Louis, the lives of Violet, Kate and their family and friends are disrupted, as people quickly sought into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’.
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