I’ve read three books so far in 2016. I’m on my fourth. Speaking purely on precedent it would seem I’m not that great at posting book reviews as soon as I’m done with a book, or making them that engaging (‘I loved the plot!’ ‘this character felt so REAL!’ ‘no spoilers though’ blah blah)
SO here are the books I’ve read, hopefully without the waffle I’ve become so good at…waffling.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Okay, I picked this one up in Oxfam because I’d heard it’s become a bit of a classic in the gay & lesbian genre, and wanted to see what the fuss was about. OANTOF isn’t the novel I was expecting, and at times it’s difficult to tell whether this has autobiographical elements or not – the protagonist is also called Jeanette, and the fragments that make up her story are told without too much padding of the setting. So the style was very different to what I’m used to, but not in a bad way.
OANTOF follows Jeanette’s transgression from her life as a destined missionary to her decision to leave the church at 16 for the women she has fallen for along the way. As someone who isn’t 100% anything when it comes to their sexuality, it was great to pick this up and have something to identify with, if only a little bit. There’s a great motif of oranges running through this book to mirror her awakening, too – whenever Jeanette begins to act out or question her faith, she is given an orange to eat. By the end of her story, she’s sick of oranges and sick of the person she was raised to become.
“I knew that demons entered wherever there was a weak point. If I had a demon my weak point was Melanie, but she was beautiful and good and had loved me. Can love really belong to the demon?”
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (spoilers!)
If you have so much as a toe dipped into the chick lit world, you’ll have heard of Me Before You. The cover boasts that it’s sold 5 million copies worldwide, I’d only heard glowing reviews from friends who’ve read it before and it’s currently being adapted into a film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. All good things, right?
Off the back of this hype, I was honestly expecting more. To give credit where it’s due, Me Before You is an unputdownable book – it’s an easy read with parts that did have me laughing. But that’s about it.
Maybe I’m just desensitised to the subject of death in media altogether, but I didn’t find myself connecting to the characters or their plight all too much. I didn’t really feel sorry for Will. His situation was very sugar coated in the sense that, despite his condition, he still had his riches, his dashing good looks and his loving family surrounding him. I’ve seen the uglier side of debilitating illness and can’t help but wish the story had gone a bit deeper with its depiction of quadriplegia. Also, as much as I liked the ditzy, girl-next-door character of Lou, the basis of the plot – that as his carer she could come into Will’s life and change his intentions to end his own life – left a bad taste in my mouth. The subject of assisted dying only seemed to be touched on from the opposing side. Maybe it’s because this contradicts my own views, but I just don’t feel it works. The story could’ve been handled a lot better, in my opinion. Sorry!
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Now, here is a book I enjoyed. Again, bought on the basis of its critical acclaim, and recommendations from so many friends to give it a go. It’s the first proper thriller I’ve read and, if you’re in that boat too, it’s a great introduction to the genre. The novel follows Rachel, who as an innocent bystander taking the commuter train into London one day witnesses something, just off the tracks, that draws her into an investigation much bigger than she could’ve anticipated.
Rachel – and her alcoholism – are portrayed in a very real, no frills way. She’s messy, she’s clumsy, she’s a little bit mad. As the reader I was definitely rooting for her in parts, and along with her I felt Rachel’s struggle in getting her voice heard.
Although this story is Rachel’s to tell, it’s not told entirely from her perspective and I really liked this element. Hawkins uses three viewpoints in total to give a rounded version of events, and I found myself reading quicker and quicker towards the end as the pieces of the puzzle slotted together with every chapter. That being said, the ending still took me completely by surprise – so much so that I threw the book down and shouted something along the lines of ‘what the FUCK’. I’m just happy I wasn’t reading it in public otherwise that would’ve turned a few heads!
So that’s everything I’ve read so far. I’m currently reading ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’, but I’m barely a quarter of the way through so I can’t say too much yet. However, what I can already say is that it’s very unlike any book I’ve read so far with a very peculiar twist element that totally took me by surprise. You’ll have to give it a read to see what I mean!