Longlisted for the National Book Award for 2019, Fleishman Is In Trouble is Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel that follows fictional Toby Fleishman’s journey as he deals with the disappearance of his ex-wife. Through the story of one upper-middle class man’s divorce, Brodesser-Akner explores complex themes of marriage, gender and success, and her evocative prose and comedic style of writing compels the reader to keep turning pages. Written from multiple perspectives, Brodesser-Akner’s train-of-thought style of writing creates a sense of intimacy with the characters; throughout the book, this intimacy is underpinned by an undercurrent of sexual tension as the protagonist, Tony, experiences a sexual awakening post-divorce and details his numerous encounters with women met through his favourite dating app, Hr.
Fleishman Is In Trouble is ultimately a story told with unique flare that leaves a lasting impression on the reader, with a slow-burning yet strong narrative arc. At its core, it is a feminist novel that impresses upon the reader the multi-faceted challenges women face whether single, married or divorced at different stages in their lives.
Beautiful prose, bewitching memoir.
Educated chronicles one woman’s true, yet fantastical, story of growing up as the sheltered daughter of survivalist religious zealots. Exploring themes of familial conflict, abuse and the role of education, in this memoir, Westover documents the path she took from being a home-schooled child without any formal education, to studying at some of the greatest institutions of Western higher education, including Harvard and Cambridge.
Westover’s story is difficult to read: by her own account, she is the victim of emotional and physical abuse and negligence at the hands of her own family. Yet, the story is compelling because of her vulnerability. If at times, Westover’s memories of events seem embellished for the sake of producing a compelling narrative, the raw emotions and internal conflict that she expresses engages the reader. As the book progresses, Westover graduates from being ignorant of the world around her and other narratives (to the extent where at the age of 17, the word Holocaust holds no meaning to her), to learning as historian to grapple with different truths and wrest meaning from texts. Without preaching, this memoir relays the importance of education to providing freedom of thought and independence.
Short, pithy and forgettable are all perfect adjectives to encapsulate Love Poems for Married People.
In this collection of poetry, Kenney delves into the mundanity of married life, presenting from a medley of perspectives the arguments and tedium that are never brought to light in books or media. While perfectly pleasant and relatable, nothing about this poetry collection pulls at the heartstrings, and it lacks the punch to make a reader want to know who Kenney is. These poems fits easily into the category of enjoyable and forgettable: expect short-term, bite-sized pleasure.
Never has there been a more apt time to read about the trials and tribulations of being a doctor than in 2020, when billions around the world are on lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
This Is Going To Hurt tells the true story of Adam Kay, a prior NHS doctor in England, through a collection of diary entries and personal musings. Kay’s book is a page-turner and approachable read for even the most book-averse of people, and adding a comedic twist to otherwise gruesome anecdotes seems to be Kay’s forte. Dark humour emerges even in the most difficult and emotional moments in the book, as Kay expounds on the difficulties of the profession. While the book never loses its light tone, it heavily criticises the way healthcare professionals are neglected by politicians and the existing healthcare system. It is impossible to read this book without emerging with a sense of new-found appreciation and respect for what many already know is a difficult career path to follow, and this is a must-read book for people across all walks of life.
Finally, a book worth the hype! Composed of equal parts beautiful prose and compelling plot line, Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that will capture your heart. Set in the 1960s and alternating between the past and the present, the book tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl living in the marshes of North Carolina, as she becomes the prime suspect of the murder of Chase Andrews, a local celebrity in the fictional town of Barkley Cove.
Owens’ style of writing perfectly captures the essence of North Carolina, her prose cracking open a door through which to glimpse the unruly nature that thrives in the South. While the book is ultimately a coming-of-age story, the trials and tribulations that Kya encounters seamlessly weaves heavy themes of class division, domestic abuse and what it means to be female, into a story that keeps the reader guessing until the end who the killer of Chase Andrews really is. This is the story of a young girl who learns to stand alone, falls in love, and experiences heartbreak. It is relatable, encapsulating, and emotionally all-consuming.
Kudos to Owens for writing a masterpiece, I eagerly await her next book.