One thing that college life has seemingly taken away from me is the time and energy to read for fun. This summer, I am making a point to read as much as possible! I have finished two books so far since the spring semester ended. Each time I finish a new one I will update this post with my short review of the book. This is both so that anyone can find a regular person’s review of these novels and also just so I have a place to keep track of this goal.
If you see this post and have any summer reading recommendations for me, let me know in the comments!
1. “Piece of Mind” by Michelle Adelman
This book was the first I finished this summer after a failed attempt at reading Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” (it was too depressing and dull for me, sorry Ms. Plath). This novel follows a woman in her 20s who suffered a brain injury as a toddler. I found the character charming because she is very open about her flaws, and her struggle with her emotional health was relatable for me in many aspects. I was certainly rooting for her and while the book does contain some sad moments, I would say it’s overall a fairly-balanced “bittersweet” read. A good way to kick off the summer.
Be forewarned, this one does end very abruptly – something I don’t particularly care for. I always want to know more, but then if I got my way a book would never end.
2. “The Returned” by Jason Mott
Whereas I am lightly enthusiastic about the first book on this list, I would recommend this novel to anyone and everyone. It’s science fiction, but it is written in such a way that I think anyone would enjoy it.
The book follows an elderly couple whose only son died in the 1960s. One day, their son turns up as a “Returned”. It is a phenomenon that is happening all over the world, where dead people have seemingly come back almost exactly the same as they were in life. (But are they people?!)
This book is so unique because it’s sci-fi told from the point of view of two elders in a rural southern town – completely different from any other book of this genre that I have read. All the drama of this Returned invasion, the governmental decisions and violent conflicts breaking out across the globe, would normally be at the forefront of the story. Instead, Mott has put all that in the background and chosen to focus on this one loving, dedicated couple who are trying to make for lost time with their little boy. It’s a great story.
3. “The Wonder of All Things” by Jason Mott
I enjoyed Book #2 so much that I decided to read the other novel that my local library carries by author Jason Mott. Much like the last book, this story revolves around miracles taking place. This time, instead of the dead coming back to life, there is a teenage girl who can miraculously heal people. Her gift comes at a great cost to her own health though, and decisions must be made about whether or not she should use her healing ability to serve the public or keep herself alive by abstaining from healing.
Though Mott’s other novel spoke more directly about death, I would say this story is much darker and certainly more heartbreaking. The author expertly captures the inner turmoil of each complex main character, and also pains a very realistic vision of the chaos that the world would fall into if a child could suddenly perform miracles. It’s a harrowing read that really pulls you in and makes you care deeply for the characters.
4. “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen King & Owen King
Definitely the darkest of the books I’ve read so far this summer, Sleeping Beauties cultivates the story of the world after a curse falls over all women. Every woman in the world falls into a type of coma, shrouded in a cocoon. The majority of the story revolves around a small town in Appalachia, but the authors expertly wove in details that exemplified how men around the universe reacted to women being taken from consciousness. The curse seems to be connected to one woman in particular, who is housed at the prison in the aforementioned small town. A battle results when the men decide to try and figure out how this one woman could supposedly be controlling the curse.
A fair warning – this book contains a lot of deaths and at times is pretty descriptive of the gore that occurs when hoards of men (wielding guns) go into a panic. It is also a little confusing because there is a huge cast of characters. That’s also part of what makes it so enjoyable though. The authors continuously switched the perspective from one character to another in a way that artfully tells this story through the unique viewpoints of each character.
I could probably go on for quite a while about how much I appreciate the way this book was written. It’s really well done, and I see why Stephen King is such a renowned author.