I got five books read in April. Guess going to the beach helps me get more reading done! I already feel the need to go back! Here's what I read in April:
1) Burn What Will Burn by CB McKenzie. This was a book that one of my book club members picked up in Africa (of all places!) and wanted to know how others felt about the book. I bit and took it home to read.
It sounds like a good story and it was, in a way, but it is also quite different, bordering on odd. It is the story of Bob Reynolds who was kind of hiding out in a very rural small town on Arkansas, living very isolated. One day Bob was out walking and came across a dead body in the creek. After he told the Sheriff about seeing the body, he realized that the Sheriff had checked him (Bob) out and was suspicious of him. He was essentially told to forget that he had ever seen the body. So, of course, Bob went on to investigate on his own.
The story has a number of unusual characters who Bob interacted with. The whole story ended up just being odd.
2) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Yes, I am a fan of Alice Hoffman and I had not read this book before. When I read a recommendation for it, I got a used copy to read (it was published in 1995 and was her 11th novel).
This book is the story of sisters and witches. The Owens family had a long history of the women in the family being witches. Sisters Sally and Gillian Owens were orphaned and left to live with "the aunts" (whose names are never mentioned). The old, spinster aunts had been using their magic for years and years and Sally and Gillian started to notice that different things went on in the creepy old house. And that the town people treated them differently.
Eventually, Sally married and had two daughters, but lost her husband early in the marriage. Gillian left the area and went the opposite way of Sally, running off with men any chance she had, ending up divorced three times. Years later, Gillian showed up at Sally's with a dead man's body in the car trunk. The sister's buried the body in the yard. Meanwhile, Sally's daughters were growing up and going the same way as Sally and Gillian.
This is a book about magic, love, and sexuality. It was a good read.
3) Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. This book was a book club pick and a book that I probably would not have ever picked up to read on my own. That's the joy of book groups...getting out of my comfort zone and reading things that I wouldn't have read otherwise. I didn't expect to, but I really enjoyed this book!
Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show. I have never seen his show, but did know who he was. I didn't realize that he was from South Africa. This book is autobiographical covering his childhood growing up in South Africa, the son of a black woman and a white Swedish man. Noah was raised by his mother and his story is told rather in essay form, which I found very easy to read. Each chapter loosely covered a certain topic, including school friends, violence, relationships, racism, and being born different from the others. His mother was determined to give him a better life and was a driving force for his success. It was an interesting story.
4) A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal. This is "A memoir of surviving Auschwitz as a young boy". It came highly touted, but I had difficulty getting through it after awhile. The story seemed to get bogged down and I had to make myself finish it. It is certainly an interesting story. The author was a very young boy when taken to the death camps with his parents. He was immediately separated from his mother, but remained with his father for some time, until they were also separated. At the end of the war, he was placed in a Polish orphanage, where eventually (and miraculously) he was found and reunited with his mother in Germany. It was also interesting to learn what became of the author as an adult and how he felt his experiences influenced his life.
5) The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. This book was probably my favorite read of April. It is the story of one woman, Marianne, who worked with her husband in the Resistance in WWII. Her husband was killed and at the end of the war, Marianne sought out two other women and offered them housing in the family's old rundown castle. One of the women (Benita) had been her friend's wife. Her friend had asked her to watch over his wife and child. The other woman was Ania, who had two sons. The three women and three children lived in the castle with Marianna as the world they knew struggled with the aftermath of the war. Each of the three women made their way eventually to lives that vastly differed from each other.
This was a good read. I loved how the author took it to the end and wrapped up the women's stories. The book was inspired by the author's grandparents' memories and experiences from WWII.