Book Reviews: Catching Up

Here’s a quick update on the books I haven’t managed to review yet this year.

loving frank

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Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

I read this book long before my summer dance project and meant to review it earlier with a few other books, but then the other books were never read. Mamah Borthwick Cheney was a real woman, living in Chicago at the turn of the century, whose husband commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design and build them a house in his new signature style. She and Frank actually fell in love and became the subjects of a scandalous affair, when they both left their spouses and children and ran away to Europe. Mamah eventually divorced her husband and moved with Frank to a house he built in his hometown of Spring Green, Wisconsin. This novel works to fill in the holes and give Mamah a more complete story. Horan’s Mamah is intelligent, caring, and a bit cavalier. But she also struggles with living with an artist and discovering her own passions and purpose. I have to say I didn’t love this book. Mamah is definitely a strong woman, but I found times when I couldn’t empathize with her, and questioned her decisions. I also didn’t like the ending, which is true to what happened in real life, but is pretty terrible to stomach. 3/5

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 One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

 I don’t even know where to begin. It’s no secret that I’ve been an avid fan of Jojo Moyes since reading Me Before You, but I think this newest novel is wonderful. Jess is a woman who works really hard. Her husband left her with his teenage son, Nicky, and their young daughter, Tanzie. She also has her aging dog, Norman. Nicky is constantly being bullied, to the point of hospitalization and Tanzie is a remarkable little math-whiz who has just been offered the opportunity to attend a private school after her scores were through the roof. But Jess can’t afford that school, and she just wants to protect her family from the world immediately outside their doorstep. When the opportunity arises for Tanzie to compete in a math competition for scholarship money, Jess pools together everything she’s got and gets them going until her defunct car dies about three miles outside town. And that’s when, Ed, who has his own host of problems, but has a nice Audi and some spare time, shows up and decides to drive them through the country to the competition. This book is full of humor, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. This book also made me think and be thankful for the ease and convenience of my life when it’s not available to everyone, not just on the other side of the world, but right out in our communities. Jess is representative of so many people, and you just want her to catch a break. I just loved this book so much and blame it for giving me serious book hangover. I couldn’t read anything for two months after. Nothing stood up to that. Oh, Jojo. You’ve done it again. 5/5

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This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

When Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, and Dax Shepard are involved in one film, my ears perk up. I was so curious about the movie version that I had to get my hands on the novel it was based on. In the aftermath of his father’s slow, painful death from brain cancer, Jude Foxman returns home to sit shiva with his mother, two brothers and sister. He’s recently been separated from his wife after an act of infidelity he can’t come to terms with. And his life is basically falling apart. While sitting shiva, tensions that have been pulsing under the surface for years are just waiting for their release. Jude tells stories of his past, explaining things well in the past that still effect his family to this day. Between spurts of grief and the oddities of being home after many years, Tropper does a really good job of showing how universal these feelings really can be. The story does get a bit fantastical and a little too weird, but it was an amusing, entertaining read, with the perfect deadpan voice. Jason Bateman plays Jude Foxman in the movie, and I didn’t get to see it before it left theaters, but I can totally picture Bateman nailing Jude’s personality and observation style. I hope to catch this one at home, and let you know how the movie went. 4/5


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