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I read- and really liked- Dan Chaon’s novel, Await Your Reply so I was excited to get my hands on his latest which promises to be an equally compelling page turner. It’s called Ill Will, which I think is a catchy title for a suspenseful novel.

Here is the synopsis:

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

This book sounds like something I want to crawl up with and read over a long rainy weekend!

Another book that piqued my interest immediately is this one, Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott. At this time- a kind of weird political climate- I want everything I can read about kindness and mercy! Anne Lamott is an incredible writer who is smart and compassionate, as proved by her other books.

In this one she writes about:

where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by “facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.” It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere “within us and outside us, all around us” and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as “kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.”

I love Anne’s warm and witty writing! Don’t miss this one.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel is a compelling story about a big family and their transgender child. I didn’t know what it was about when I started it and I am definitely interested in reading more. That’s what I love about reading, the opportunity to step into the shoes of someone else and look at a situation through a different lens.

Here’s the scoop:

When Rosie and Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it’s another baby boy. At least their large, loving, chaotic family knows what to expect.

But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn aren’t panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again; parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts; children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

 

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I rarely do this but in addition to starting This Is How It Always Is, I began The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. Already only a few chapters in, this well-written story is interesting and I am wondering how it’s going to play out.

Samuel Hawley is a single father bringing up his daughter Loo. He has a sinister past which is traced in alternating chapters, explaining how he got each of the twelve bullet scars on his body. The story delves into his criminal activity, his love for Loo’s mother, and raising Loo. He wants to be good but the book asks the question- can a bad man be a good one too?

We see bits of Samuel in Loo, who is teased and bullied at school for being an outcast. When she takes matters into her own hands, it’s a violent and unremorseful act, an act much like something her father would do. The story veers a little into violence and within the first few pages, young Loo is shooting a gun and a little later in the book, Sam is beating someone up and Loo is attacking her tormentors at school- so this book may not be for those who dislike brutality.