Top of the ListJust Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: Stevenson's story of starting out as a young lawyer defending impoverished, innocent people who were unjustly convicted of crimes and sentenced to death row or to serve life sentences, including women and children. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and every single story he tells is heartbreaking—but lots of redemptive stories, too. Everyone should read this!
Becoming by Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama for President. Please, oh please! My admiration for her quadrupled after reading this memoir.
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson. Total surprise! This is a book I "found" on my Kindle that I must have downloaded as part of Amazon Prime's free monthly book program. I loved this sweet, charming, and fast read! This is absolutely perfect as a lighthearted, happy ending but totally engaging book. In brief, Blix has the gift of matchmaking—of seeing people who would be perfect matches. When she meets Marnie, her nephew's fiancee, she realizes two things: Marnie and Noah are not meant for each other, and Marnie has the same matchmaking gift. Super sweet book.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Bruce for Michelle Obama's running mate! I've loved Bruce nearly my entire life. I love him even more now. Utterly open, honest, engaging....and I watched a whole lot of Springsteen videos while reading this book. I love him. The only thing that would have made this book better is if I had listened to Bruce Springsteen actually read it in his gloriously gravelly voice on Audible; but alas, I didn’t know this was a thing until too late. Sorta side note: Bruce Springsteen was THE BEST CONCERT ever.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Parenting is hard. Being a boy named Claude is hard. Being a girl named Poppy is mostly wonderful. Claude or Poppy? This is a novel that tackles a tough subject with love and candor and puts us right in the midst of a wonderfully complicated family.
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. I adored this debut novel, set in London amidst the bombings during WWII. Emmaline Lake accidentally finds herself working for the intimidating and terribly proper Mrs. Bird as an advice columnist for a sinking women's magazine. Emmy is gutsy and sweet and this novel just made me warm and happy, in spite of its moments of tragedy.
Thoughts on the OthersSuch a Fun Age and If Only I Could Tell You: Both were engaging and definitely had good moments, but something about each one fell apart for me. Too much tragedy in the latter, and the ending was off in the former.
Snow: I really wanted to love this book but it was too dense. I don't know enough about Turkish history to truly appreciate it. Beautifully written though—and I felt triumphant and enlightened upon finishing it.
Mrs. Everything: I didn't hate this book, but it super annoyed me. It felt extremely forced. Practically every Big Issue between 1950-2016 is covered in the lives of Jo and Bethie, from sexual abuse to Civil Rights to interracial marriages, the Vietnam War, women's rights, sexual identity, drugs, sex, rock and roll, rape, cancer, abortion, on and on and on. I don't mean to be flippant about ANY of these issues, and she isn't flippant about any of them, either. But tackling them all in one book? To one family? Too much happens. Way too much. I stuck with the book because the characters interested me enough to keep going.