The Easter holidays are nearly done, and they were such a good break from my quite stressful work days. I feel a lot more relaxed. I also managed to get a bit more reading done than my usual, especially considering I was reading Shuggie Bain this week PLUS my new medication gave me some side effects that left me useless for a day or two. So, everything considered, I think I got a lot of reading done, and surprisingly a lot of rather dark/bleak books.
Weekly Wrap Up
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez / audiobook / 3 stars
This is the adult debut of Julia Alvazez and tells the story of four sisters, focusing mainly on one of them, Antonia, who has just retired and is ready to enjoy a quiet life when, suddenly, her husband dies, her sister disappears and a pregnant girl shows up in her doorstep. While I thought this book had a few tender moments and very interesting conversations at times (immigration, grief, mental illness, forgiveness, doing what is right vs putting yourself first), this fell a bit flat for me. The emotion just was not there, neither did I feel much tension in the book, despite the immense potential from all the themes the book touched on. I had hoped for something more out of this. I will continue reading Julia Alvarez’ books (I’m especially interested in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents), but this one was not my cup of tea.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart /physical copy / 4 stars
Oh, gosh, this was a hard book to go through. Despite it being named after Shuggie, its his mother, Agnes Bain, who is the main character for most of this story. She has left her Catholic husband and married Hugh Bain (Big Shug). Stuck in an unhappy marriage, living with her parents and struggling with alcoholism, Agnes’ life turns darker and bleaker, even as Shuggie does his best to keep her happy, healthy and away from the drink. This was a very, very bleak book and I had to stop reading this in January because it was too much, but read it relatively quickly this week (3-4 days for this 430-page book) because I knew I could not stay in this story for too long. It’s beautifully written, touching, incredibly sensitive and reads surprisingly fast – but yes, it’s definitely bleak and not a good time.
His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae by Graeme Macrae Burnet / physical copy
This is a literary thriller which was shortlisted for the Booker in 2016. I had been wanting to read this for a while, so I’m excited to finally pick it up. I LOVE murder stories where there are interview extracts, letters and so on.
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore / audiobook / ongoing
I received this as an eARC and since then I’ve been avoiding reading it – for the same reason that I avoided Shuggie Bain. This is such a bleak story, set in the 70s in Texas about a teenage Mexican girl who is brutalized by a white man and the town where this happened wants to let the man go unpunished. It’s a heartbreaking read and it’s really well-written, but considering my rather depressed mood lately, I might alternate this with a bit more cheerful reads.
Auto da Compadecida by Ariano Suassuna / audiobook / ongoing
I needed something cheerful to read to balance out Valentine a bit, so I picked up in audio one of my favorite books of all time: The Rogue’s Trial, a play set in the north-east of Brazil, which comes with a wonderful cast, Bordel music and the accents are just perfect. This is a book I love and that always brightens my mood so I’m enjoying re-reading it, especially in a format I hadn’t read it in before.