Beartown by Fredrik Backman
At first, I had the hardest time getting into this book. I’ll fully admit that I forgot what the book jacket said (ebooks are funny that way), thought it was going to entirely be about hockey (I’m a “bad” Canadian and don’t follow hockey all that closely anymore), and I nearly gave up on it because I found myself nearly falling asleep while reading through the first few chapters.
I’m glad I didn’t.
Once I got through the first few chapters and got to the “main event” I was shocked and angry and couldn’t put it down. It reminded me a lot of Emily Giffin’s All We Ever Wanted in the way that it discusses entitlement and privilege and the Blame Game.
While I’m late to the game (no pun intended) to reading any of Backman’s work, overall I really enjoyed his style of writing in this particular book. It was very “matter-of-factly” which reflected most of the town’s attitude towards hockey and what winning meant.
The ending? It was wonderfully wrapped up and I wouldn’t ask for any more.
I encourage anyone who picks up this book to push past the first few chapters of “hockey stuff” – you won’t be disappointed by the rest of it.
My rating: ★★★★/5
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Another Lisa See book, another satisfying read!
While technically this is a historical fiction, the timeline starts in the late-80’s and spans into the early 2000’s, so it’s hard to really categorize is as such. History-wise, we learn about China’s tea industry and the culture of those who grow the coveted pu’er, so I suppose it fits the bill in a way.
Anyway! The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane follows two characters: Li-yan as she comes of-age and figures out what she truly wants to do with her life. (Don’t we all?) The cultural practises of her people, the Akha, are as shocking as they are intriguing.
The second narrative Lisa See switches to is that of Haley, who as a Chinese girl adopted by a white, American couple, is also trying to figure out who she truly is.
The one of the things I enjoyed the most about The Tea Girl was the emphasis on Asian stereotypes in North American culture. As a half-Asian who’s pretty awful at math, why is it that the majority of white people think we’re all going to be prodigies of some form? Or want to be one, for that matter. I’ll stop there before I get too ranty.
Overall, The Tea Girl kept me reading until it was beyond my bedtime. I loved the bond Li-yan shared with her mother despite their differences of opinion of their culture. I’m really only docking a 1/2 star because the whole thing with the tiger was a little ridiculous. I didn’t even mind the ending and thought it was pretty picture-perfect needing no more explanation.
My rating: ★★★★½/5 stars
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
At the start, I really enjoyed Such a Fun Age. The situation in the grocery store was infuriating in every possible way and I was honestly cheering for Emira as she told her security guard where to go an how to get there.
Beware, for spoilers may live below …
Separately, Alix and Kelley were fine. Sure, Kelley seemed a bit pushy when it came to making the video of Emira’s incident public, but aside from that and his hyper-antiracism, his character was fine. And Alix was pretty damn spazzy when it came to righting the wrongs that Emira went through at the store. (Having a glass of wine with your sitter/nanny is a no-go, in my books, regardless of how “close” you may seem to be.)
However, as soon as Alix and Kelley’s lives collided (again) the pathetic “He said, she said” came out and the book became a lot less enjoyable. Alix’s true selfishness and sense of entitlement came through, as did Kelley’s pathetic teenaged boy attitude. While the manner in which Emira split from both parties was pretty unbelievable, I don’t blame her and I was glad she found her own way in the end. Emira was hands-down my favourite and I felt for her in every way.
Emira was definitely a “late bloomer” in the coming-of-age story, but it overall was entertaining once you looked past the petty attitudes of Alix and Kelley.
My rating: ★★★★/5 stars