Category: Contemporary Fiction

Review: There There by Tommy Orange

There’s a lot to recommend about Tommy Orange’s There There, and I can see why it was nominated for so many awards.  It’s the story of twelve different characters getting ready for a powwow in Oakland, California. Orange is looking to dispel stereotypes about Native Americans by showing many different types of characters, struggling with…

Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

I requested this book on NetGalley, mainly because it had an endorsement from the author of Station Eleven, and because the premise of a virus that causes people to fall into an indefinite sleep sounded interesting.  I was a bit disappointed.  I liked many of the characters, including Ben, a new father, young Sara, and…

Mini-Reviews: Lethal White, In the Distance, I Am I Am I am, We Were the Lucky Ones

I didn’t have a chance to review any of the books I read in December because I was traveling, so I’m posting some mini-reviews of the more interesting books I read during my trip: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith: I will only say here that I was disappointed with this entry in the series, which…

Review: Those Who Knew by Idra Novey

Those Who Knew is a novel about a senator with a violent past in a small unnamed island country.  It’s about about the intersections of politics, money and influence.  I appreciated the writing style of this author and much of the book worked for me, although I didn’t care for the generic location.  In her…

Review: Tiny Shoes Dancing and Other Stories by Audrey Kalman

This book of short stories by Audrey Kalman really resonated with me.  The stories are different but deal with common issues, most related to marriage and family.  Divorce was a frequent story element, and it was really interesting to see divorce explored from a number of different perspectives.  Kalman looks at how family turmoil affects…

Review: A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

I wanted to like this book but in the end was disappointed.  I was really interested in the story, which begins with a young woman traveling from China to the United States to have a baby. Scarlett is going to a home in the U.S. for pregnant Chinese women, so they can give birth in…

Review: What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan

I really enjoyed Lucy Tan’s debut novel about a family living in modern-day Shanghai.  Wei, Lina and their teenage daughter Karen are a wealthy family  living in a luxurious “serviced” apartment, that have recently moved from America to Shanghai. The story is told from their perspective, as well as that of their cleaner, Sunny.  Through Sunny’s…

Review of Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, mainly because the stories are a surprising combination of everyday life, tragedy, and humor.  The stories focus on black identity in a powerful way, but this is far from a one-issue book. Thompson-Spires covers body issues, bullying, friendship, parenthood, and therapy, just to name a few. …

Review of The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

In the thought-provoking The Red Word, Sarah Henstra explores rape culture on college campuses, particularly in fraternity houses.  Narrator Karen Huls arrives at an unnamed Ivy League college in 1995, where she becomes torn between two worlds: the feminists she lives with and the fraternity house where her boyfriend lives. The feminists hate the fraternity, which…