As an avid reader, who zealously devours book after book, I feel it’s my civic duty to share my thoughts, opinions and recommendations with you, my fellow bookworms. I’ve been promising a ‘book club’ of sorts for almost 6 months and while those vows appeared empty, I’m finally delivering on that commitment. I, Chicara, book enthusiast, aspire to ‘kindle’ your passion for page-turners. Okay, but double entendres aside, I’m excited to grab a cup of tea and indulge in some book babble. This new segment (Read my Lips) will feature two (or three) books I’ve recently finished – the good, the bad and the whole bookcase. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on all of them. Keep reading….
1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Confession time – this is the first Jojo Moyes book I’ve started and successfully completed. At the risk of being despised by women everywhere, I need to start off this review by stating my apathy for Jojo’s writing style. Yes, her books are easy to follow and her stories invoke a certain sense of longing and fondness. But if I look at this book from a writing perspective I find her use of words a bit simple. But with that being said, I only have praise for how Jojo was able to transport me into this English world of love, confusion and friendship. I instantly found myself falling in love with Will Traynor – an intelligent and witty man who helps Lou Clark fulfil her full potential. Will is essentially what most women are looking for in a man. Well, he’s certainly what I’m looking for.
If you’re feeling a bit puzzled then let me help you out by summarising the storyline. Me Before You is a romantic novel which follows working-class, kooky Lou Clark as she starts a job (after several failed attempts) as a caregiver for the wealthy Will Traynor. Will is a quadriplegic man whose overwhelming sense of bitterness and resentment over being disabled instantly stifles any possible spark of friendship between the two. But it wouldn’t be much of a story if it ended there, now would it? As the plot unfolds we are afforded a front row seat to the blossoming bond between the unlikely pair. I think Jojo did a marvellous job of giving us a sense of who each character is and builds up a lot of anticipation for a special relationship forming between Will and Lou.
However, this isn’t a happy story – throughout the novel, there are numerous struggles, hardships and broken hearts. The most fragile of hearts being my own. I was left devastated and reeling by the end of it. This had little to do with the actual commencement of the book, which we all see coming, but rather my feelings towards Will and Lou’s ‘situationship’. I’ll admit it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I refuse to view it as a love story. Unless love stories are one-sided and painful? Oh, wait, nevermind. You can and will take whatever you want from this book, and I’m certain it will be something entirely different to what I took. My take away is that one day you might unexpectedly meet the love of your life but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll feel the same way about you. Grab some tissues, run yourself a bubble bath and spend a quiet evening with the charming ‘WilLou’..
1. The Girls by Emma Cline
Some books have an ability to hook and reel you in by the second page. The Girls isn’t one of those books. If you’re under the (misguided) impression that this is one of those cute and girly, easy-to-read novels then let me stop you right there. The Girls is haunting, destructively dark and will leave you in a corner questioning your life and mortality. But If you’re ready for a cataclysmic and uncomfortable read then go ahead and grab a glass (or much-needed bottle) of wine and settle into a book that will summon a full spectrum of emotions. I was left feeling disorientated and greedy for more.
The ability at which Emma Cline is able to carry you off into a different era with vivid imagery is something to behold. She gives adolescence a strong and honest voice. I found myself relating to her (sometimes overly) descriptive view of those awkward teenage years. I became 14-year old, Evie Boyd. I felt what she felt and saw things from her juvenile point of view. This novel is set in the sixties – a decade of free love, sexual liberation, drugs and cults. We are introduced to a menagerie of teenage girls, from different social backgrounds, all with contrasting personalities. But these girls have a startling similarity. They are enamored by the same man – their charismatic cult leader, Russell. A manipulative man who strikes a remarkable likeness to Charles Manson. The similitude is endless. Almost immediately you can sense that something isn’t quite right with Russell and his band of merry women, and while I do believe that Russell plays an important role in this story, I think that another character is far more influential as the plot develops.
A difficult time for a young girl is made even more burdensome by Evie Boyd’s new acquaintance, Suzanne – your typical ‘mean girl’ who offers needy Evie a false sense of belonging and holds her emotional acceptance by a single marionette string. As the book went on I grew to hate Suzanne with impenetrable vigor. A loathsome girl, who in my opinion finally gets what she deserves. This story is twisted around murder, lust and the fine line between love and hate. The seedy truths of underage sex and drugs, the illusions of cult-life and the desperate need to fit in are at the forefront of this book. I’ll share my two favourite excerpts, to give you an idea of the authors style – “As if fairness were a measure the universe cared anything about” and “Trying so hard to slur the rough, disappointing edges of boys into the shape of someone we cold love.”