Big Lies in a Small Town is typical Diane Chamberlain; the kind of typical you always enjoy from her.
Morgan is serving time because of a drunk driving accident that left a young woman injured. But, surprisingly, she finds herself out after serving her minimum sentence. There is a caveat: she is being released to do work on an old mural as part of her parole. The mural is old and nasty, but she must restore it before the gallery opens in just a few short months. Morgan must learn painting restoration while being distracted by the story of the artist Anna Dale who, who according to the townfolk, went crazy and disappeared.
As usual, the author gives readers a story they can take to their hearts. The female protagonists are quickly accepted and loved, and you just want to see happiness with in their tragedies. Morgan is no exception. Big Lies is a double whammy; you latch onto to Anna Dale as well as Morgan as the book switches between present and past. Your heart is doubly torn apart as both women share center stage.
Chamberlain is queen of emotional twists. While I called one, I did not see the other coming and that delights me. Chamberlain always has at least one present for the reader. A present that moves you and causes you to see the characters in a different light.
There are a few small issues. The townsfolks claim not to know what happened to Anan Dale as if she just disappeared but there is no way the historians of the town missed the articles of the events that caused her disappearance. No one would have just said that was just her going crazy. The second issue is my own. The book ends and I needed to know what happened to Morgan. Chamberlain implies with this ending that it doesn’t matter, but it does to me. I have come to love Morgan and I feel a need to know exactly what happens to her.
Big Lies returns to the more traditional set up of Chamberlain (that’s not to say The Dream Daughter wasn’t amazing; it was, in fact, superb). This novel is women’s fiction at its height looking into the things women face and how we have to deal with them.
Publication Date: January 14, 2020 I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.
I read I’m Not Dying with You Tonight as part of The Big Library Read. This global book club ensures anyone who wants to read the book club titles can though the digital library for a certain period of time.
This novel is an interesting collaboration; the women , one black and one white, worked together to spin a narrative to encourage discussion about race, police action and our perception of the world.
It’s just another Friday night for Lena. She’ll hit the school football game and then meet up with her older boyfriend. For Campbell, this night is a terror already. She’s been in town six weeks and made no friends and is working at the football concession stand with a bunch of people who aren’t helping. When a fight breaks out, racial relations across the town spiral out of control and these two girls from very different backgrounds must manage to make it out together.
From a literature standpoint, the story seems highly contrived and nothing flows organically. That is because this is a statement book; putting the characters in this position is more important that how it flows. I was disappointed to not understand the town more and see the larger picture of the societal relations. Readers are left with just one perspective to understand why the whole town is on fire.
To be honest, this story is nothing unless you talk about it and that is the authors’ goal. The reader sees racism and stereotypes from both sides. Facing these head on, you see the main characters act on this and then see what ramifications their actions have. The authors, Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones, leave it up to the reader to understand why these views are held by the characters; they lead no discussion themselves.
The book comes with book club questions. But I challenge readers to go beyond that. As a society we need this mass discussion because once the problems and issues are brought to light we can make changes. And we need change in our society. I hope this book can be one step towards true change.
As a literary tale, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, isn’t that great. But as a force for change? If people take it seriously, then it can be a great tool.
Watching you gives you a look into how neighbors keep an eye on each other and will spark gret gossip in your book club.
Tom Fitzwilliams is the head at the local school and helping it get back on its feet. Joey and her husband lives with her brother and his pregnant wife. Joey lives wither mother who suffered from paranoia. They will al intersect bringing passion, obsession and violence to their town.
Watching you has some similarities to Those People. The chapters are introduced with excerpts of characters speaking with the police setting up for an unseen crime. Most of the characters are all suspects. But unlike, Those People, Watching You gives you closure and you have sympathy for the majority of characters involved.
Lisa Jewell keeps you guess and at once you learn to see past the red herring but what are red herrings and what are truths? These blurs just as the purity or evilness of each character. The book moves quickly and you are hooked.
Watching You is a great entry into Shock Fiction; challenge your club to figure out the twist and keep the discourse going through the entire book. When you’re done, share your stories of neighborly nosiness.
Are you looking for a great book for your women’s book cub? Look no farther than A Spark of Light. Beautifully written, Jodi Picoult focuses on characters than just the idea of abortion which makes everyone on every side.
When a shooter goes to the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, everyone there from the doctor, to the patients, to the protestors are affected. How did they get here? What is going on in their lives? How do they reconcile their stance with their moral beliefs?
Picoult writes reverse chronological order. In another author’s hands, this would prove a challenger in keeping the material fresh. But Picoult manages to add new information as she goes back in time staving off any boredom and keeping the reader engaged. There are even two twists. While I saw one coming, the other took me by surprise and will change my perception when I read it again. (I have read reviews where people have claimed that this twist was unbelievable, but I live in the Deep South and can tell you this happens more than you can ever imagine.) That being said, I was left without closure for so many characters and wish there had been more about what happens to these characters after the events.
While Picoult makes her stance on her abortion heard, she treats every character with respect showing readers each side. The book focuses on the characters’ lives instead of just an ideological or political issue. Each person could be your neighbor, your family or your friend.
Touching and beautifully written, A Spark of Light is Picoult at her best.
My friends and I participate in a book club with our inaugural book being The Hate U Give. I will be including reviews of the books that we read. These will be mingled with the new book reviews on the site.
The Hate U Give is ripped from the headlines and showcases the actual lives of African Americans and the issues they face.
Starr straddles two worlds: the first is the poor area of town filled with minorities and drug dealers. The second is the rich world of white private school that Starr attends. She has to balance being in both cultures while keeping her lives separate. That all comes crashing down when she sees her black childhood friend gunned down by the police. Starr must find her voice and learn that she is more than just either side of her personality.
I was surprised how close to the central conflict the story stayed. I had expected a sweeping story to set precedent about how this event affected the world and such. But the author skillfully stays with Starr and her family. This is her (and Khalil’s) story. Seeing how it impacted the family and those around them is something that most media representations don’t show. It was enlightening to read about how these events effect on the local community level.
Angie Thomas has her characters walking a complex line which allows for growth for the character and identification for the reader. Not one person is just one-sided and the majority of the characters show the complexity of true life. This allows anyone reading to identify and appreciate the story. I was able to identify with growing up poor around those with money. This empathy made me even more invested in Starr past the explosive predicaments she
I could never imagine being in that situation and bridging that gap allowed myself (and, I am, sure other races) to start to see more humanism in these characters and these events.
I did have some issues with a few things (such as propagating stereotypes of others when the author is trying to fight those against African Americans), but overall the writing brought you into Starr’s world, let you see through the characters’ eyes and understand their feelings.
I came away from this book with so many question, emotions, and desires to advocate. I suggest everyone one read this book and see a side to an ongoing issue that some many don’t think about. I look forward to seeing what our discussion in book club brings.