Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Maybe in Another Life

Maybe in Another Life  by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Having just finished reading the amazing Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I was hungry for other titles by this amazing author. First to arrive on my holdshelf was Maybe in Another Life and I was certainly not disappointed. 

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had made different choices in your life? What if you had said, yes instead of no, or the other way around? How much of a role do fate and destiny play in our daily lives, are these concepts real?
In this charming novel of what ifs, Hannah Martin, 29, returns home to Los Angeles after having lived her life in multiple cities working at a variety of jobs. Hannah believes in a predetermined life and that, “Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions……that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do.” 
Shortly after arriving in LA, Hannah and her best friend, Gabby, head out to a bar for a school friend reunion. As midnight approaches, Hannah faces the choice of leaving with Gabby or staying later and accepting a ride home from her old flame, Ethan. Hannah wonders to herself what would happen in either case. 

Through alternating chapters, we follow Hannah’s life first as she decides to go home later with Ethan, and in turn as she leaves with Gabby. Each of the parallel realities goes in a different direction, and naturally has other decisions within it based on what is happening, but there are also constants between the two stories that offer thoughtful insight into how much of our lives happen due to chance and how much we truly control. 

For believers in fate, destiny and soulmates, this is a novel that will give you all the feels and the hope that there is a soulmate out there for us, no matter which path we take.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth
Disappearing Earth
By Julia Phillips

On the Kamchatka Penninsula, a relatively isolated part of Russia, two girls go missing.  Eleven-year-old Alyona and eight-year-old Sophia, alone and trusting, accept a ride from an unknown man and vanish.

Disappearing Earth then moves through each month of the subsequent year, telling the stories of a wide variety of characters, all of whom have some link, however tenuous, to the missing girls.

There’s Ksyusha, a young woman from the indigenous Even people in the north, attending university in the city.  She is accustomed to living under the thumb of her northern boyfriend, but begins to explore the new world of university life.  There’s Oksana, witness to the abduction, who’s closest ally is her dog Malysh.  When he escapes from her apartment, Oksana is broken.  And there is Natasha, who’s own sister Lilia disappeared at age 18 and whom the police have deemed a runaway.

Many of the characters in Disappearing Earth come from small villages and tribes in the northern part of Kamchatka.  Some grew up moving with the herds through fields and wilderness and living outdoors for much of the year.  As they grow into adulthood, they are confronted with modern city life: the joys and benefits, as well as the loneliness and disconnection.  

Julia Phillips uses the book to explore the culture clash between indigenous people and Russians, and between older and younger generations.  Her commentary applies to many cultures around the world and is of particular significance in Canada.

The book’s final chapter introduces Marina, mother of the missing girls.  She struggles with media attention, an inept police department, panic attacks and the need to forge ahead with day-to-day tasks.  Fraught with pain and anguish, Marina stumbles upon a tip regarding her daughters’ whereabouts which leads to the book’s satisfying conclusion.

Phillips’ novel is more than a mystery.  Although a story about the abduction of young girls could certainly be disturbing and difficult to read, I found Disappearing Earth to be very readable and I had no trouble with the content.  It is really a novel about disappearing culture and youth, and the changing face of Russia. 

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes, is a light read for those who are looking for a refreshing tale for summer. Evvie Drake is recently widowed, her doctor husband having been the apple of everyone’s eye in their small Maine town. His golden boy reputation has outlived him and he continues to be honoured. Although Evvie finds these tributes difficult, she attends the events, but for the most part keeps herself isolated in her house, not really dealing with the truth about her husband that keeps her from moving forward.

Dean Tenney is a successful baseball pitcher, who has had many a trip to the World Series. However, now his arm is not behaving as it should and he is facing the wrath of his fans, who are not being very kind. Dean is the childhood friend of Evvie’s best pal, Andy, and Andy sees an opportunity for Evvie to make a little extra money by renting out the back apartment in her house to Dean, who desperately needs somewhere to hide out and recover from the game that no longer loves him.

As Dean moves in, he and Evvie strike a deal to not talk about the things that haunt them, his sudden inability to pitch and her husband. While this may be a good plan, it inevitably does not last for long. They quickly become friends and begin to confide in each other, creating a support enabling them to face their own truths. 

Naturally, as in any love story, there are a few bumps and hurdles along the way, but Holmes’ writing is in no way predictable and Dean and Evvie’s story is filled with friendly banter, laughter and self-realization. All in all, a very enjoyable feel good read about life, acceptance and the relationships we have. 

Helen Varga is a library technician at the Steveston Branch of the Richmond Public Library.
For other popular reading suggestions check out Richmond Public Library's Web site at www.yourlibrary.ca/goodbooks/.