22 June 2015

Catching Up: A Trio of Reviews

Blackout by Sarah HepolaSarah Hepola's Blackout is one of the strongest memoirs I've read this year. Because I love what I wrote for Readerly magazine, I'm going to quote my short review here and then encourage you to click through to see what other books we're recommending for June:

Blackout is a brutally honest look at life under the influence of alcohol. From her first sip of beer at the age of seven for most of the following 30 years, Hepola's world revolved around drinking. She wasn't a homeless, deadbeat drunk; instead she had a respectable job, meeting her writing and editing deadlines with the help of a bottle or two. In the afterwork hours, however, she often drank herself into blackouts, waking up in a stranger's bed or with no recollection of how she got home. In her frank, straightforward memoir, Hepola writes of her love of drink, her deepest insecurities, and her fear of becoming sober. This can't-stop-reading memoir gives alcoholism a context within Gen X sociocultural pressures and post-feminism expectations.
(Grand Central Publishing, 9781455554591)

The Green Road by Anne EnrightI've already mentioned Anne Enright's latest novel, The Green Road, but now that I've had time to process my thoughts, I need to revise my initial reaction. As I said, the novel reads almost like interlinked short stories, with each chapter focusing on a different member of the Madigan family. The first part of the book deals with the past and how each of the four children struggle with finding their place in the world, and the second part revolves around the widowed Rosaleen's decision to sell the family home, which brings the children home for one last Christmas. Among the themes and issues are family drama, sexuality, intimacy, sibling relationships, aging, and self-identity. Enright's writing is beautiful, but the novel itself is a little uneven, especially near the end. Audiobook: The individual performances of narrators Alana Kerr, Lloyd James, and Gerard Doyle (Blackstone; 9 hr, 45 min) were well done, but the audiobook would have been stronger if it had been read by a male-female duo with well-matched Irish accents. For my full audiobook review, see AudioFile magazine. (W. W. Norton, 9780393248210)

If You Find This by Matthew BakerIf You Find This by Matthew Baker is an engaging mix of mystery and adventure geared to younger teens. Although the themes are a little difficult (aging, death, trouble fitting in at school, economic issues), Baker lightens up the story with good humor and lots of action. Nicholas's life is turned upside down when his father is forced to take an out-of-town job, his mother decides to put their house up for sale, and his estranged grandfather comes back to town. The fun begins when Grandpa Rose comes up with a scheme to save Nicholas's family from their financial troubles. Helped by another grandfather and two friends, the young boy sets off to find a buried treasure, hidden somewhere nearby. The five guys get into all kinds of scrapes as they try to figure out the treasure map and keep their plans a secret. Audiobook: Bryan Kennedy reads the bulk of the story (Hachette Audio; 7 hr, 26 min), which is told from Nicholas's perspective. His enthusiasm, drama, and characterizations are perfect for young listeners. Robert Petkoff, who reads the few sections told from grandfathers' views, offers a nice balance. For my full audiobook review, check out AudioFile magazine. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316240086)


(Diane) bookchickdi 6/22/15, 7:28 AM  

I picked up The Green Road at the bookstore where I work, and Blackout looks good too.

bermudaonion 6/22/15, 9:04 AM  

I saw your review of Blackout in Readerly and added it to my wish list then. You know me and memoirs. :)

rhapsodyinbooks 6/22/15, 9:45 AM  

I don't actually like books that read like a connected series of short stories; I guess because usually that's just what they are!

Vicki 6/22/15, 12:04 PM  

The Green Road is going on my tbr list.

Sue Jackson 6/22/15, 7:03 PM  

I haven't heard of any of these yet, but they all sound intriguing!

Thanks for the heads up and the reviews -


2015 Big Book Summer Challenge

Daryl 6/23/15, 9:39 AM  

thanks .. i am finally getting to Mr Mercedes and wondering why i put off reading it

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