Dominicana

Author: Angie Cruz

Published: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Where I picked up my book: My Book of the Month pick

Key Words: immigration, NYC, arranged marriage, love

My Rating: 4 star

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My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that held my heart and didn’t release it until the last page. It’s heart-wrenching, startling at times, powerful, heartwarming, and will have you thinking long after you read the last sentence.

I have a lot of thoughts, but I think it’s better if you go into this book relatively blind. So here are some things that I will say about it.

1. Some families will do just about anything for their family. I wasn’t born into one of those families, but at times, I wish I had been. I had friends that were part of that type of family and sure, it can be a slippery slope into some negative or toxic situations, but it can also lead you to some beautiful situations as well. You always know someone has your back and it allows you to make decisions based on something besides just yourself. This book had me thinking long and hard about that.

2. Dominicana was based on Cruz’s mother’s story and now I am obsessed with finding out exactly how. I haven’t found out yet-I’ll keep you posted if I do 🙂

3. 15 year olds are very, very young. They can do a lot, but they are, truthfully, still babies. We get to see Ana taking on the role of an adult woman and wife, but my favorite parts of the book were when we saw her acting her age. Cruz didn’t just dismiss her age and she didn’t let us dismiss it either and I appreciated that so much.

4. Apparently, I am obsessed with books based in old NYC. I like to think about what it was like to walk those streets, be excited about who the characters might bump into, what the atmosphere was like then, what a city that is a bit rough around the edges feels like—all of it! This book gives me a feel of that and I LOVEDDD every second of it!

5. Resiliency is amazing and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read this book. No matter what life throws at Ana (the main character), she shakes it off and creates a new goal and a new dream for herself. This is something that I’ve been working on in my own life. Life throws curve balls at us all the time; the magic happens when we choose how to handle those curve balls. I learned a lot from Ana in this regard.

6. Loneliness is one of the saddest things a human can experience (in my opinion). As an introvert, I like to have a lot of alone time, but true loneliness can be so isolating, depressing and eventually lead to major problems for most people. Dominicana really describes what loneliness feels like through the eyes of Ana and it made me remember to reach out to people in my life more often that might experience loneliness and to not take for granted how many beautiful people I have in my own life.

At it’s core, this book is as much about marriage and family and immigration as it is about finding yourself amidst chaos and confusion. It’s a beautiful book and one that I promise you, will stick with you for a long time to come.

Have you read this one yet? If so, reach out and let’s chat!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Miracle Creek

Author: Angie Kim

Published: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Where I picked up my book: Book of the Month choice!

Key Words: courtroom thriller, mystery thriller, diverse books, #ownvoices

My Rating: 4.5

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

My Thoughts:

Miracle Creek was one of my Book of the Month picks for April, and I made a promise to myself that I would read my BOTM choice/s before the next book arrives (so as not to add to my ever growing TBR pile of books or feel like I was just spending money on a book subscription to spent money) and so far, so good 🙂 So I dug into this book once I finished Normal People (my other choice in April) and I really enjoyed it! My immediate thought when I cracked it open was…this is giving me To Kill a Mockingbird vibes, and I was totally IN for that ride! It didn’t disappoint and I was hooked from sentence one.

First, let’s talk about the fact that I had no idea that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy was an actual thing. Well…I knew it was a way to treat decompression sickness in scuba divers, but I had no idea that it was also a method used to treat a variety of other medical conditions. Don’t ask me where I’ve been…but I went down a deep rabbit hole researching this alternative method as a ways to treat things such as infections, embolisms, infertility, Alzeimer’s Disease, Lyme Disease and autism, to name a few. It’s a pretty controversial method and isn’t necessarily regulated by the FDA for these various health conditions or diseases, but the statistics are surprising and I’m so glad that Kim found it interesting enough to write a book about!

Second, this book delves into immigration, what it means to move your family to a different country, what it means to fit in, and what it means to make choices for your family in search for a “better life.” I was so engrossed by this part of the book and any book with #ownvoices at the forefront. This is when the magic happens and I felt it while reading this book for sure!

Third, the whodoneit portion of this book had me on a wild goose chase and I LOVED every second of it. I was passing blame on everyone I could and as quickly as I could flip the page. Kim did a really amazing job laying just enough guilt and innocence on each character, reminding us as readers, that no one is perfect and most of us have some secrets and skeletons in our closets.

Fourth, this is exactly what a debut novel should be. Kim did an amazing job developing each character, taking bits of her life and merging them with a highly creative, engrossing and teaching story. These characters are bound to stay with me for a long time to come and I regularly wonder how they are doing. I would highly recommend reading this book and I’m excited to see what else Kim has to offer to us!

Also-this article by Angie Kim is EVERYTHING. I have not only so much more appreciation for her as an author, but as a mother as well. Please give it a read and as always, find me over on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Queenie

Author: Candice Carty-Williams

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Scout Press (Simon and Schuster)

Where I picked up my book: My first Book of the Month Pick!

Key Words: Contemporary Fiction, Debut Novel, Personal Journey, Dating Life

My Rating: 4

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

My Thoughts:

This was my first Book of the Month pick and when I saw Queenie as one of the choices, I knew I had to sign up for BOTM. Maybe I’ll give you all my thoughts on the subscription box after a few months of participating, but I just knew this was a perfect choice for my first box and it was!

Secondly, this book is being described as, “Bridget Jone’s Diary meets Americanah” and I think that’s a stretch, to say the least. Bridget Jone’s Diary, although somewhat entertaining, has NOTHING on this novel. Queenie takes it’s readers on a much deeper journey full of frank self-discovery, relationship issues, mental health and emotional struggles, interracial dating, commentary on today’s world, family history, and so much more. I guess the comparison may come when I think of the humor in Queenie, but the difference is, Carty-Williams takes the rom-com plot and turns it into something with some major depth to it. Oh and she’s also British :/ Then to compare it to Americanah seems off to me too. This book is truly on a level of it’s own. I think if you go into it with that thinking instead, you’ll be much happier.

Third, I could relate to Queenie in so many ways. When you read this story, it’s easy to think, wow…Queenie is a wild one who makes poor life decisions. If you come at it from a different perspective though, (without judgement) I think you’ll see her in a different light-and probably see yourself in Queenie-just like I did. She is a strong, independent, honest woman who is political, set in her beliefs and paving her way in this world. Yes, just like all of us, she has some personal flaws and has to navigate some bumps along the way. She makes some questionable choices (who hasn’t?), she can be a bit self-destructive (also…who hasn’t been in their lifetime?). She is prone to anxiety (raises hand) and we catch her while in a personal spiral (again-my friends and I talk about our spiraling allll the time), but through these flaws-she is defining and taking charge of her life, finding herself and paving her own way as a Black woman in today’s society. She is a strong, independent and honest woman on a road to INTENTIONAL self-discovery and I found myself rooting hard for her (and sometimes myself if I’m being perfectly honest), the entire time. I think you will too! Give this one a read, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

bookishfolk…read instead.