Happy Tuesday! The past few weeks have been busy as my husband, my son, and I all finish up our school year. I’m looking forward to some time off starting next week, which of course means more reading time! I’ve got a list a mile long of books I’ve been wanting to read, but this week I crossed three of them off the list. Here’s a look at what I read this week:
This book was so good! I don’t really even want to give a description of the plot, because I don’t think I can do it justice – just go out and buy this book!
Okay, okay, I’ll tell you what it’s about. Ginny is a 13 year old girl with autism, who lives with her adoptive parents. Her birth mother, Gloria, was a drug addict, neglected and abused her, and Ginny bounced around to several foster homes before ending up with her “forever family”. Now she’s safe, well cared for, and everyone thinks she should be happy. But Ginny has a secret. She’s got to find Gloria and go back to live with her.
The story is told from Ginny’s perspective and it’s both fascinating and heartbreaking to see her trying to interact with the people in her life. She just can’t make them understand why she needs to get back to her birth mother. As the story goes on, Ginny starts feeling more and more like an outsider, like she doesn’t belong anywhere, or with any family.
Throughout the book I kept thinking that if just one adult in her life would listen to Ginny, really listen to her, everything would be different. It’s hard to know what’s going on in someone else’s head, especially when that person has difficulty communicating. There were times when I was angry at some of the characters in the story, but in the end I think they were all trying to do the best they could.
In the end, this story is about Ginny learning to self-advocate, and the people who care about her starting to understand her. At times it was heartbreaking, but ultimately Ginny finds a place to belong.
I had a grin on my face the entire time I was reading this book; it was just so much fun. At the start of the story, Clay, recently unemployed from his job as a website designer, finds a job working the night shift at a 24 hour bookstore. He soon discovers that weird things are happening at this bookstore, and with the help of his friends, goes on a journey to figure out the mysteries behind the store and Mr. Penumbra himself. Ultimately, Clay finds out is that sometimes what you are looking for is right in front of you the entire time.
If you like books and bookstores (and I’m guessing you do if you’re reading this), then read this book. If you like Harry Potter, or Star Wars, or any video game where you go on a quest, if you like Lord of the Rings, or you’ve read The Rosie Project, read this. It is quirky, funny, nerdy, and really enjoyable.
This is a book of short stories from the author of The Sympathizer, which won the Pulitzer Prize. I had started that book earlier this year, and while I appreciated the writing, I had a hard time getting into the story, and put it away to try again later. I had more success with this book. The author tells stories of people who are connected somehow to Vietnam. Many are immigrants to America, former refugees; others are their children, first generation Americans, struggling to find a place in a society that is so different from the home their parents remember.
I like to read books that expose me to people who are different from me, to places I have never been, and experiences I have never had, good or bad. I think reading has a way of making us more empathetic towards others. The stories in this book are all completely different examples of the immigrant experience, but the struggle to feel as if we really belong somewhere is a common thread through all of them. The characters are flawed, which makes them that much more realistic, and the stories more interesting. Most of these stories deal with people who immigrated to the U.S. during the 1970’s and 80’s, but immigration and refugee issues are all over the news still today. This book is worth a read if you are looking for the immigrant perspective on life in a new country.
That’s it for this week. I’d love to hear from you – what have you been reading lately?