November was a fairly good reading month for me, considering I haven’t read much this year. I am pleased with having read four books even though two of them were for book clubs. And all of them set in the US! Rare for me. Here’s a little review of each one:
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver – This was read for a book club that I am co-facilitating at my city’s museum. They currently have an exhibit running called “Picturing Home: Dust Bowl Migrants in Chandler”. It runs through next August and we are reading and discussing books about the Great Depression, the dust bowl and migrant workers every other month through then. Mary Coin is based on the life of the woman in Dorothea Lange’s iconic photo Migrant Mother. Purely fictional, it was interesting but didn’t have much to add to our understanding of the time period. It was just kind of lackluster.
The Dog of the North by Elizabeth Mckenzie – This book, however, was spectacular! It takes place mainly in California and is told from the viewpoint of a woman who is getting divorced, has no money and travels to Santa Barbara to try to help her nutty (and mean) grandmother declutter her house. Chaos ensues. Hilarious chaos. It is just too hard to describe this book without giving the fun away, but it is wacky and full of heart. It reminded me of Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny or Laurie Colwin’s books with more body humor. Just pure fun on every page and I laughed my head off. It releases in March in the US.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine – Another lucky find from scrolling my library’s ebook offerings. It caught my eye because it is set in Denver and I love reading books set in the West of the USA, as it seems almost everything takes place in NYC or New England. This is set in the 1930’s and follows one Mexican family as they endure prejudice, poverty and romantic troubles. There are flashbacks to their ancestors which gives a dynamic picture of how this family came to be where they are and inherit the gifts they possess. Great storytelling – I read it in a few days.
The Removed by Brandon Hobson – The other book club read for the month. I chose it to read in November for Native American Heritage Month. Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of members of a Cherokee family in Oklahoma, this novel follows them after 15 year old Ray Ray is shot and killed by a police officer. Each family member deals with the grief and anger in a different way and each is entirely convincing and well drawn. There’s lots of spirituality in the narrative and a sense of connection with ancestors – not unlike in Woman of Light. The great thing about this novel is that I loved it more after we had discussed it. So much to process and admire.
Now on to December reading!