The Book Jam Blog
Read our latest reviews
Summer is here -- at least if today's heat in Vermont (93 degrees!) is any indicator. Summer means reading and paperbacks so you don't mind as much if they get wet after those refreshing swims. Luckily two notable hardcovers we recently read are out soon in paperback. Enjoy our recommendations as well as a few dips in a cool lake or pond. And, a delicious Maple Cremee (visit Vermont soon if you are unfamiliar with this treat) wouldn't be a bad idea either...
Want by Lynn Steger Strong (published July 2020, coming out in paperback July 2021). This is an excruciatingly modern, thoroughly unsettling, but often surprisingly funny novel told in a bold, minimalist voice. We are taken on a journey through one woman's version of motherhood/womanhood/career-hood where Elizabeth - though we don't learn her name until nearly the last page of the book, which I think gives us the sense that she could be any or every woman - is living psychologically on the edge in a one-bedroom in Brooklyn as she and her husband decide whether or not to declare bankruptcy. In her thirties with two young girls, Elizabeth is an overqualified and underemployed teacher with a PhD and a love of literature, working two jobs to help make up for her unemployed husband's lack of income (he lost his banking job in the 2008 financial crisis and hasn't landed back on his feet). It's a very quick read at 224 pages, but it has the reader thinking from page one about capitalism, downward mobility, modern friendship, and marriage. We start out early in the book on an early morning run with Elizabeth and the feeling of constant movement and just trying to keep up never dissipates. Despite the looming challenges faced by the characters and the ever-present sense of breathlessness, this story left me with a sense of hope and grace. What an excellent, relevant and important book. ~Lisa Cadow
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (first published in June 2020; coming in paperback on 15 June 2021). This novel was published to great acclaim; it was named one of the best books of 2020 by The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, NPR, The Washington Post, Tordotcom, Marie Claire, Vox, Mashable, Men's Health, Library Journal, Book Riot and LibraryReads. And yet, even knowing all that, I somehow missed reading this last year. Luckily, my fantastic neighbor lent me her copy a few weeks ago and it was my perfect Memorial Day Weekend read. Creepy house, interesting family dynamics, and just the right amount of horror for me -- a person who prefers to ignore horror movies and honestly is conveniently popping popcorn for most of the ones I see with my family. The novel begins when Noemí Taboada is sent by her father to visit her cousin at High Place, a house in the Mexican countryside and find out what is wrong after he receives a mysterious letter complaining of secrets, disturbing visions, and her English husband. Once Noemi arrives the question becomes -- will she also need to pen a letter asking for help from this house of horrors? And yet, the house may have met its match -- while Noemi is a glamorous debutante, most knowledgeable about which red lipstick works best with which gown, she's also smart, and she is not afraid. I heard it described as Bronte goes to Latin America; that's not far off. Now that it is out in paperback on June 15, it makes the perfect beach or vacation read. ~ Lisa Christie