Today is my uncle’s birthday. I feel so incredibly lucky to be so close to him that I think of him more as a bonus father figure in my life than just an uncle. I remember spending so much time with him and his family growing up – in my mind, we spent every weekend together. When I look at pictures from my childhood, they all include him and his family. In fact, I’ve said my cousins are more like siblings to me.
When my mom passed away, my uncle took me and my family on as his own. At a time when I felt like I’d become an orphan, my uncle stepped in and gave us a place to always come home to, to feel welcomed and loved in. I am so incredibly grateful to him and I love him so dearly.
Today is a special day for him, but also a special day for me as I get to honor a person that means so much to me. 💚
Now, onto the books I read lat week…
Last Week’s Reads:
*** The Aftergrief: Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss by Hope Edelman
When you lose someone close to you, you seek books that can comfort you and give you insight to the chaos that is happening inside of you. How can a huge part of your life just cease to exist in a single moment? When I lost my mama seven years ago, I could not understand how people could continue on with their lives. But as distance has separated that painful loss from my immediate thoughts, I understand a little bit better. I would still do anything to be able to change the way my life looks now, but the pain is not as raw as it once was.
I believe a lot of that perspective is because of Hope Edelman’s work. She is one of the foremost grief experts and I found just as much solace in this book as I did her previous one (Motherless Daughters). I especially think this book has great value for those whose loss is more recent…when you feel like you’re in the middle of an ocean and you’re just looking for someone to throw you a life vest.
Unfortunately, every single one of us will feel the effects of grief at some point in our lives. Thank goodness for the pioneers in this field who have done the research and then have provided us with the information so that we may navigate the tough road of loss. This book should be added to anyone’s library who is struggling with grief. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*** Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker
To continue with October’s theme of “books that scare you”, I’m on a thriller run! I enjoyed this one enough – it kept me turning the pages and I couldn’t put it down once I got into the story. I didn’t think the mystery was that hard to figure out, and I actually liked the way the story talked about grief more than the actual who-dun-it aspect. I also appreciated the mother/daughter bond, and thought Walker nailed the loyalty and fierceness of a mother’s love quite well. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
*** Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy by Eilene B. Zimmerman
I flew through this memoir and was totally fascinated with Zimmerman’s account of her ex-husband’s downward spiral into drug addiction. This eventually led her to research the drug problem that seems to be common among white collar professions, specifically lawyers.
Zimmerman’s dilemna is quite obvious – she’s connected to Peter because he’s her ex-husband and her children’s father, but yet their divorced so she really doesn’t have any say in how he runs her life. This clearly led to her removing herself from any intervention (would he have listened to her anyway?), and it would have been horrific to have to have found him the way she did.
Unfortunately, I found so much of the way Zimmerman handled the situation unbelievable. I stated the obvious problem of her intervention above, but given the behavior and the symptoms she so often observed, it seemed crazy to me that she didn’t dive further – especially since her children were still regualarly under his care. I don’t know…I’ve never been in the situation so who am I to know how I would handle it, but I was pretty frustrated with that aspect of the story.
Overall, I liked the look into addiction, especially among the upper-middle class which can seem overlooked in the drug epidemic conversation. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*** They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
This book hit me at the right time. I needed something easy and light (YA’s my go-to when I need something like this). I got all the Gossip Girl vibes – a show I love to binge watch (again, when I need something easy and light).
At the heart of this book is the mysterious death of Shaila. A student at a rich, white, preppy and private high school, she is pledging to get into the secret society, the Players. It’s the last night of the freshman class’s initiation and each pledge has to overcome their greatest fear. But as each pledge leaves, accompianed by a upper classman to observe the completion of their task, not all of them come back. One will be dead and another will be accused of murder.
Four years later, the accused murderer is claiming his innocence. But by now, those who were there that fateful night just want to move on – they’re graduating and heading off to college this year and freshman year is so far away…no need to rehash the death of Shaila.
But Shaila’s best friend, Jill, isn’t convinced and as new information comes to light, she is determined to figure out what happened to Shaila that night once and for all.
As I mentioned above, it was fun to get lost in this Gossip Girl-like world. Spoiled rich kids that think they’re invinsible from the repercussions of the real world always sets up to be juicy and self-indulgent. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*** A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett
This book is knocking my socks off…it is so well written and I cannot read it fast enough. I’m literally only 12% in, but I feel like this is definitely going to be a standout read for me this year!
*** Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey
Why would I pick this one up AT THE SAME TIME as A Knock at Midnight?!?!?! The beginning chapters are very similar, so I’m setting this one aside until I finish A Knock at Midnight because continuing both at the same time is a little confusing and hard to keep the storylines separate.
*** A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
I’ve heard this one is very funny, and while I have a hard time with humor in a book, I decided to give this one a try anyway. I love Jost on Saturday Night Live Weekend Update, so I hope this one is just as good. I went with audio, and Jost narrarates it himself. I just started so the jury is still out…
DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):
*** The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski
Unfotunately, I have to DNF this one at 39%. The premise was enticing and I really enjoyed the cast of characters, but ultimately it totally lacked emotion for me. There was no real pull to keep me invested, though it’s easy enough reading if you’re looking for something pleasant.