I do realize we are now halfway through June, but better late than never share all of these awesome reads – right?? May was definitely a heavier reading month for me than normal and ended up reading five books, each of which were on the longer side (not including Of Women and Salt and Anna K Away). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of myself.
I loved each of the books I read for different reasons – complicated relationships, nail biters, high school drama. Need I say more?
OF WOMEN AND SALT BY GABRIELA GARCIA
In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.
From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals–personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others–that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.
My Review: Of Women and Salt is powerful, is beautifully written, and explores complicated family relationships. I did feel like the narrative was very nonlinear, leading to confusion and re-reading paragraphs (and sometimes full pages!) to help clear up what was going on. But with that being said, Gabriella Garcia did a great job building out each of the characters and opening your eyes to what it’s like to grow up in a violent, patriarchal society and trying to make a life in America.
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
ANNA K AWAY BY JENNY LEE
How the mighty have fallen. Anna K, once the golden girl of Greenwich, CT, and New York City, has been brought low by a scandalous sex tape and the tragic death of her first love, Alexia Vronsky. At the beginning of the summer, her father takes her to the other side of the world, to connect with his family in South Korea and hide her away. Is Anna in exile? Or could this be her chance to figure out who she really is?
Back in the U.S., Lolly has forgiven Steven for cheating on her, and their relationship feels stronger than ever. But when Lolly meets a boy at her beloved theater camp, she has to ask herself how well Steven will ever really know her. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, everything between Kimmie and her new boyfriend, Dustin, is easy–except when it comes to finally having sex. And Bea escapes to LA, running away from her grief at her beloved cousin’s death, until a beautiful stranger steals her heart. Is Bea ready to finally forgive Anna, and let herself truly fall in love for the very first time?
Set over the course of one unforgettable summer, Jenny Lee’s Anna K Away is full of the risk, joy, heartbreak, and adventure that mark the three months between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.
My Review: I will forever appreciate a book that outlines who each of the characters is at the beginning of the book and Jenny Lee did a fabulous job doing this! After falling in love with Lee’s first book, Anna K, I was excited for this second book to come out to see exactly what happens next. Since it starts off right where Anna K ended, it was easy to jump back into without much effort. I did think the story was a little quick and some areas could have gone into more detail but overall, it was a good one!
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THAT SUMMER BY JENNIFER WEINER
Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful; her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?
While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?
From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, THAT SUMMER is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.
My Review: Oh. My. God. Jennier Weiner does it AGAIN! This story shares the lives of two women – both named Diana. While they both live completely separate lives, there is one person that ties them together from one fateful, life changing summer. When the two women meet, you think the story is going to be about their friendship (it is!) but once secrets come to life you’re going to be clinging onto your seat and saying “OH SNAP.”
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE HUNTING WIVES BY MAY COBB
Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.
Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.
My Review: Is there anything better than a book about a small town, suburban tows, and murder?! This book DEFINITELY was not what I was expecting, in the best way. The Hunting Wives follows a group of moms that have recently taken Texas newcomer, Sophie, under their wing. When their Friday night get togethers get a little out of hand, Sophie is determined to figure out what really happened, even if it means breaking her husband’s trust. I could NOT put this one down!
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE FOUR WINDS BY KRISTIN HANNAH
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
My Review: This was the first book I’ve read by Kristin Hannah and one of her newest books and wowowow – it was SO good. This book highlights what it was like to live through the Great Depression and yes – it was depressing. I found myself crying, I found myself cheering on Elsa and her family, and I found myself hating Elsa’s daughter. The disrespect!! I absolutely loved this book, it was absolutely phenomenal. It was a long one (almost 500 pages) but it’s a quick read because it’s just that good.
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️