The great alone by Kristin Hannah

amy-the-great-alone.jpgThe Great Alone is about Alaska in the 1970s; beautiful, remote, harsh, and populated with a small and tightly knit community. Ernt Allbright, recently returned from Vietnam and deeply scarred by the experience, brings his wife and thirteen year old daughter, Leni, to start afresh. Their struggle to survive both breaks and makes them. The characters, including Alaska itself, are strong and compelling, and while I found the story a little overwrought towards the end, on the whole it was a moving story about love, damage, kindness and belonging.

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The other daughter by Lauren Willig

Cynthia The Other DaughterWhen her mother dies, Rachel discovers that not only is her father not dead, but living with a family of his own. Rachel decides on a plan of revenge, but of course, nothing is as it seems. A lovely historical novel (1920s England) but I did not fall in love with the characters.

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Harmless like you by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Amy Harmless Like YouYuki is a Japanese teenager, living in New York City in the late 60s; no longer belonging in Japan, she is also an outsider in New York. Her parents return to Japan, and she stays, with an almost friend, and for the next few years tries to be an artist. The story of her son, set in the current day,is also told, as he tries to adjust to parenthood, and wonders why his mother left him. It’s a quietly bleak story, with flashes emotion, of Yuki and Jay’s internal struggle for meaning and place, and for peace within themselves. The characters are deeply flawed, most are unlikeable, and it is a touch melancholy, but it is strangely suspenseful and compelling.

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Caroline: little house revisited by Sarah Miller

cynthia-caroline.jpgThe Little House books were among my favourites as a child, so when I saw this title I just had to read it. Sarah was able to capture the Ingalls’ journey across the prairie, but I did loose some of the story with the over detailed accounts of events. I could picture Caroline as she would of presented to Laura in her books, but internally have different thoughts and feelings. It was a good representation of what a mother and wife goes through, what it takes to hold a family together, the need to suppress your own feelings or to be a bit selfish.

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Harmless like you by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Amy Harmless Like YouYuki is a Japanese teenager, living in New York City in the late 60s; no longer belonging in Japan, she is also an outsider in New York. Her parents return to Japan, and she stays, with an almost friend, and for the next few years tries to be an artist. The story of her son, set in the current day, is also told, as he tries to adjust to parenthood, and wonders why his mother left him. It’s a quietly bleak story, with flashes emotion, of Yuki and Jay’s internal struggle for meaning and place, and for peace within themselves. The characters are deeply flawed, most are unlikeable, and it is a touch melancholy, but it is strangely suspenseful and compelling.

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Anatomy of a scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Amy Anatomy of a scandalAnatomy of a Scandal is a fast-paced, courtroom drama told from multiple perspectives. A powerful politician, happily married and living in London, is accused of rape, and we follow him, his wife, the prosecutor and a number of others, both now and during his time at Oxford, in events leading up to what has happened. It is clever, tight, suspenseful and very timely, dealing with the experiences of women, privilege, the abuse of power and the search for truth.

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Sing, unburied, sing by Jesmyn Ward

Amy Sing Unburied SingSing, Unburied, Sing is a very moving story about Mississippi’s haunting past. Jojo is thirteeen; he and his baby sister live with their grandparents, who try to provide what his mother Leonie, can’t manage to. When Leonie takes them to pick up their father from prison, the journey is full of danger, ghosts and hope. It’s about families, belief, the legacy of violence and the hope of release, and I found it sad, raw, mystical, lyrical, dark and beautiful.

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The parasites by Daphne du Maurier

amy-the-parasites1.jpgMaria, Niall and Celia are brought up together, two step-siblings, one half-sister, with their famous, eccentric, and not very attentive parents. Nearing forty, and have just been called parasites, they look back on their lives. None of the three are very likeable; one has realised none of her potential, two have an obsessive, destructive sort of relationship, and have exceeded expectations in many ways, and now they must all account for themselves and look ahead. Not as compelling as I had hoped, The Parasites was still a fascinating look at creativity, fame, privilege, selfishness and the bonds that tie people together.

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