Well hello to 2018!
Like a month late. As usual, life has taken all my time away from blogging, but I've read such amazing books lately that I had to fill you all in on at least these two!
Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult
My first book of the year was Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, which was released last year and has been getting rave reviews since. I love Picoult's writing and always enjoy how she plays with different perspectives on social issues.
Small Great Things starts with Ruth, an African-American labor and delivery nurse. One day she goes to attend to a new-born baby. One of the parents of the baby is Turk and he is a white supremacist who does not want Ruth to touch his baby. Ruth is removed from the care of the child, but she is forced to keep an eye on him when all the other nurses are called away during an emergency. During this time with Ruth, the baby suddenly dies and Turk blames Ruth and sues her. Even though Ruth is innocent, it seems like everyone, including all her friends, are against her suddenly.
The topic of this novel is extremely timely, considering the political climate America is currently in. I have had no desire previously to learn the perspective of a white supremacist, but Picoult makes the whole story engaging enough that I was even interested in Turk. The great thing is that she never tries to make Turk "nice" or "understandable" - he is clearly in the wrong throughout the novel, but she allows his story to stand on its own and to let the reader into the head of someone we all try to avoid.
Small Great Things isn't always an easy read, but it's an important one. If you want to start this year with thinking about our society, and how we respond to certain situations, this book is a great start. As a white woman, this novel showed me how we can be racist, even if we are so convinced we are not, and how to be better allies in the fight for equality.
Daphne - Justine Picardie
Okay, confession time: I've been in a Daphne du Maurier stanning mood. Ever since I've read Rebecca, I've loved her writing, but lately I just can't stop. I'm reading Mary Anne right now and read My Cousin Rachel last year (spoiler alert: it was fantastic). Justine Picardie wrote a novel about Daphne's research into Branwell Bronte, the brother of the famous Bronte sisters. When I read the summary of this novel, I knew I'd get my fix of Daphne and the Brother siblings.
Similar to Small Great Things, this novel has different narratives as well. There is Daphne du Maurier's narrative as she is trying to write a Branwell biography, while dealing with the infidelity and mental breakdown of her husband. She writes to Bronte scholar J.A. Symington and we follow his story of how he is struggling with old age and how he lost all the respect of his fellow Bronte researchers. And then there is a current story of a young PHD student living in Hampstead, near Daphne's childhood home, who is trying to write a thesis about the Bronte sisters. Her story does not only interact with the same research as Daphne was doing, but she is markedly never named and is married to an older man who still has traces of his ex-wife all over the house.
This modern story immediately makes a reader think of Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. Picardie is amazing at throwing in literary references that make readers think of all the other books they've read. My TBR has grown considerably while reading this novel, but I have to say that the plot of the book is a spoiler for Rebecca, so I suggest not reading this until you have read Rebecca, or have seen the movie.
Though the plot is often difficult, Picardie guides the reader through it with ease. It was so easy to read and I could really lose myself in all the different narratives. Obviously, since I've been on a Daphne du Maurier binge, I preferred her story the best, but the other narratives only enhance her story.
If you want to get motivated about your studies or learn more about Daphne and Branwell Bronte, I'd highly suggest this book. On my reading list for this month is The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte, written by Daphne du Maurier. Now that I've seen the process behind this novel, there is no way I can't pick it up.
Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!
Hopefully soon there will be a post about the amazing YA i've read so far in 2018!