I have been so remiss in reviewing the books I have been reading- probably because, between work and kids and life in general, it is taking me FOREVER to get through any book, no matter how wonderful it is.
Despite this, I want to share with you my top 3 reads of 2013 (to date):
1. Room by Emma Donoghue
My friend Elinor recommended this book. Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy held in captivity with his mother, this is my top pick for any must-read list. Everything about this novel captivated me. Perhaps as a mother to young boys, it resonated a little more than I anticipated. Nonetheless, Donoghue has created a world that draws the reader in from the first page. While the story is written in five-year-old language, it never feels forced or clunky but rather has a flow that kept me wanting to turn the page and guessing what would happen next.
While reading, I was most drawn to the character 'Ma', the mother of the five-year-old narrator. Her strength, power and significant poise and resolve were both shocking and awe-inspiring to me. She looks on the world with such a limited yet broad view and enables the reader to see what love really can accomplish.
Room is a treasure; a rare story that holds your imagination captive while weaving a harrowing tale. This book swallowed me whole and didn't spit me out until the final word.
2. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
My friend Laura bought this book for me for Christmas. I have to admit that I wasn't 100% sure how much I would like the novel. I mean, it's Canadian and all. But, I will eat those words and freely admit that I am IN LOVE with this novel. Onstad weaves a tale so familiar to me that, if I didn't know better, I would have believed I had lived the life of the two main characters, Ana and James.
Thrown into parenthood when friends are involved in a tragic car accident, Ana and James are forced to turn their lives upside down and care for a 2.5 year old boy, facing some scary and revealing truths about themselves and their relationship. If I hadn't believed before that children are a mirror revealing all that is right and wrong in a person/marriage, I certainly do now.
An elegantly written tale, with Toronto as the backdrop, Onstad may have written my favourite Canadian novel to date. HIGHLY recommended!
3. Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
I am a massive short story fan. Shout Her Lovely Name is a collection of short stories penned by Natalie Serber. Serber weaves tales underlining the desperate complexities of families, specifically the relationship between mothers and daughters.
While I have been a fan of Serber's writing, I had trouble getting to the end of this collection. Perhaps it felt a little one-note to me as I got to the final story- the same theme, the same idea, the same issues. While Serber writes with a candour that is both familiar and enticing, I found her 'short' stories to drag at times and I found myself missing the more 'bite-sized' writing that I am used to (look up some of Sarah Selecky's writing- you'll be in for a treat).
This collection was not a miss for me, though. I still adored the way that Serber created female characters who were strong yet flawed, grasping for perfection yet not quite attaining it (aren't we all?). There was something calmingly familiar in her writing.
But I think the highest praise I can give this collection is that it made me want to write. It made me think and dream and conjure up my own stories- and that, to me, is the mark of a great storyteller!