Book Review: The Imperfects

The ImperfectsThe Imperfects by Amy Meyerson

“Compassionate, thoughtful, and surprisingly moving, this dysfunctional family saga will satisfy fans of Maggie Shipstead and Celeste Ng.” —Booklist

From the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays comes a captivating new novel about a priceless inheritance that leads one family on a life-altering pursuit of the truth.

The Millers are far from perfect. Estranged siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake find themselves under one roof for the first time in years, forced to confront old resentments and betrayals, when their mysterious, eccentric matriarch, Helen, passes away. But their lives are about to change when they find a secret inheritance hidden among her possessions—the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat yellow gemstone that went missing from the Austrian Empire a century ago.

Desperate to learn how one of the world’s most elusive diamonds ended up in Helen’s bedroom, they begin investigating her past only to realize how little they know about their brave, resilient grandmother. As the Millers race to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the diamond and the fortune it promises, they uncover a past more tragic and powerful than they ever could have imagined, forever changing their connection to their heritage and each other.

Inspired by the true story of the real, still-missing Florentine Diamond, The Imperfects illuminates the sacrifices we make for family and how sometimes discovering the truth of the past is the only way to better the future.

Review:
This was an interesting story of a very dysfunctional family and the fallout of the death of the secretive grandmother. One of the granddaughters inherits a 137 carat diamond — something unheard of. There is mystery involved: How did their grandmother get the diamond? Did she steal it? Who does it really belong to?
All the while, there are family squabbles of an authentic sort. The 3 grandchildren are all very different. They could each use some money. They each have their secrets. Then there is their mother who has not been a model parent.
I like the play on the title, The Imperfects. The diamond is imperfect, which is how they can authenticate it. Also, the people in the family are imperfect.
This is a well conceived family drama that looks back to the war, trying to piece together the grandmother’s life. The characters feel well rounded. There is also a certain almost thriller like tension around who the diamond actually belongs to and who will claim it in the end.
That being said, the ending is clever (and that’s all I’ll say so as not to give anything away).
Thank you to Netgalley and Park Row for the review copy.
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Book Review: The Migration

The Migration by Helen Marshall

Creepy and atmospheric, evocative of Stephen King’s classic Pet Sematary , The Migration is a story of sisterhood, transformation, and the limitations of love, from a thrilling new voice in Canadian fiction.

When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation–a going away.

Storms and flooding are worsening around the world, and a mysterious immune disorder has begun to afflict the young. Sophie Perella is about to begin her senior year of high school in Toronto when her little sister, Kira, is diagnosed. Their parents’ marriage falters under the strain, and Sophie’s mother takes the girls to Oxford, England, to live with their Aunt Irene. An Oxford University professor and historical epidemiologist obsessed with relics of the Black Death, Irene works with a centre that specializes in treating people with the illness. She is a friend to Sophie, and offers a window into a strange and ancient history of human plague and recovery. Sophie just wants to understand what’s happening now; but as mortality rates climb, and reports emerge of bodily tremors in the deceased, it becomes clear there is nothing normal about this condition–and that the dead aren’t staying dead. When Kira succumbs, Sophie faces an unimaginable choice: let go of the sister she knows, or take action to embrace something terrifying and new.
Tender and chilling, unsettling and hopeful, The Migration is a story of a young woman’s dawning awareness of mortality and the power of the human heart to thrive in cataclysmic circumstances.

Review:
I’ve never read a book quite like The Migration. It had me intrigued by the synopsis and then when I started reading, I was quickly engaged with the characters and the strange plight happening to the children around the world.
The writing is lovely, conveying the attachment between the sisters and the difficulty that a chronic illness can take on a family. I especially loved the research and imagination shown by the author in developing this strange illness that is plaguing only children.
There is a strange, almost sci-fi feel to this book and it won’t be for everyone but I did enjoy this flight of imagination.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: A Light of Her Own

A Light of Her Own

by Carrie Callaghan

In Holland 1633, a woman’s ambition has no place.

Judith is a painter, dodging the law and whispers of murder to become the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artist’s guild. Maria is a Catholic in a country where the faith is banned, hoping to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic.

Both women’s destinies will be shaped by their ambitions, running counter to the city’s most powerful men, whose own plans spell disaster. A vivid portrait of a remarkable artist, A Light of Her Own is a richly-woven story of grit against the backdrop of Rembrandts and repressive religious rule.

Review:
A Light of Her Own is a rich and lush re-imagining of the life of Judith Leyster, a talented painter in Holland in the 1600s, as well as her friend Maria. It’s so interesting to learn about overlooked historical figures and their times.
Judith is an interesting character, full of passion and determination, a woman trying to make it in her profession in a man’s world. At times, this determination to succeed takes her too far, but we get to watch her evolve as a character.
Maria also is living in contradiction to the norms of her society — a devout Catholic in a country that has made her faith illegal.
Overall, I enjoyed this book well enough, but I did not find it compelling. I loved reading about the history of the time but did not get drawn into the story.
Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Review:

I bought this for my daughter because I had heard about it. She raced through it, said it was one of her favourite books ever and handed it to me to read.
Wow.
This is such a well told book. It deals with big issues, but does it in a sensitive, intelligent, and even educational way.
Initially, the book was a little hard for me to get into, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are real, diverse, and authentic — and I love how they discussed their various points of view, giving the reader insights into some important issues.
The book revolves around Starr, a teen who has to choose how to use her voice. She has to decide whether or not to tell her story after witnessing her unarmed friend get shot by a police officer. This is a killing that has shaken her whole neighbourhood and there are pros and cons for Starr to tell her story publicly. She has to decide how to act as an African American girl at a predominantly white school. She has to decide who to be in her neighbourhood.  There are so many choices and they come down to how to use your voice and how to tell your story.
This is a powerful book and one that both teens and adults will get something out of.
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