In this memoir-esque book by former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Promise Me, Dad mostly revolves around details of Biden’s second term as vice president. Pieces of his earlier experiences and previous political movements are woven through his the story of his vice presidency and his struggle to determine if he should enter the 2016 presidential race. Whilst all of these major professional decisions are being made, Biden is also dealing with the failing health of his eldest son, Beau, which strongly influences which direction Biden chooses to pursue. Throughout the book, Biden sprinkles in many family-held truths of what makes you a good person and how the family depends on and lifts each other up. It left me yearning for the opportunity to have grown close to and been influenced by a family like the Bidens during my early years.
Publication Date: 14 November 2017 by Flatiron Books. Format: Hardcover.
The characters in this were beautiful and I wanted to learn even more about them beyond the pages we have. The Sun is also a Star centers around the meeting of Daniel, a Korean American teenager who is supposed to be on his way to an admissions interview at Yale, and Natasha, a Jamaican teenager who is trying to overturn her family’s deportation. Their paths unexpectedly cross during a day that both of their futures could completely change. They somehow fall in love in the span of that single day, which was a bit too cutesy and unrealistic for me, but an enjoyable read nevertheless. If you want a bit of fluff with some great characters that you’ll want to root for, I recommend this to you!
I absolutely adored Hoang’s debut The Kiss Quotient and found myself eager to pick up The Bride Test, which picks up with Khai, a tangential character in The Kiss Quotient who has autism. During a trip to Vietnam, Khai’s mother found Esme, a Vietnamese woman that Khai’s mother asks to come to America to potentially marry her son. Esme leaves her family, including her daughter, for a summer of work, cohabitation, and a glimpse of the American dream in sunny California. I loved reading things from Esme’s point of view and learning about her, but I found Khai to be a bit grating. Luckily, the reader does get brief glimpses at what the future had in store for the main characters in The Kiss Quotient through Khai’s cousin Michael who appears now a
nd again. While I loved Hoang’s debut, I merely liked her follow up. Because I was less interested in one of the main characters (in comparison to liking both in The Kiss Quotient), I was less excited to read the sexy scenes and the romance.
Disclaimer: I was provided with an advance reader’s copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and have not been influenced by Penguin Random House.
PublicationDate: 7 May 2019 by Berkley. Format: Paperback ARC.
How did I make it through this much of my life without reading this book??? As I was wrapping up my 2018 of reading, I decided to throw in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird to finally tackle this well known favorite.
To Kill a Mockingbird follows the world of young Scout, her elder brother Jem, and their father Atticus as he defends a black man in the deep American south during the 1930s. This book is full of racial tensions, gendered expectations, and many good lessons. I can’t imagine reading this and grasping its depths entirely as a child, but I wish I had. I wish I had informed classroom discussions about this context and its relation to actual American history. I found it to be absolutely riveting as an adult and if you are one of the few who haven’t yet read it, borrow a friend’s copy. I’m sure they’d be happy to lend it to you and to have in-depth conversations about it as soon as you’re finished.
This is my first dive into anything Helen Ellis, so I wasn’t riding a wave of pre-established affection. Ellis is an American Housewife (the title of one of her previous books), born in Alabama before relocating and settling in Manhattan. Southern Lady Code details her reflections on and rules of being a southerner in the elite, uppercrust world of upper Manhattan. While I smiled at a few of her comments (being a Texan who lived in Brooklyn for a few years), nothing caused me to laugh out loud. This might resonate better with an audience of similar peers, but it felt a bit too niche and out of the way for me.
The Book Thief is an emerging classic, in that it’s widely adored and oft-recommended but only the test of time will reaffirm if its adoration extends beyond (my guess is it probably will). The book details the story of an ordinary German family living through Hitler’s rise to power. The narrator, Liesel, is an incredibly lovable foster child, placed with a caring family who is trying to defy fascism, whilst staying alive. Her connections to everyone she treasures in her life and her losses will tug at your heart: I was a crying, snotty mess by the end of it.
Publication Date: 14 March 2006 by Knopf. Format: Paperback.
Busy Philipps, longtime actress always cast as the best friend and never the star and yet also breakout star of Instagram stories, wrote a memoir that perfectly coincides with her star rising and the release of her nearly nightly talkshow Busy Tonight on E!
The tone of this memoir is one of your best friends spilling their life stories and secrets over margaritas, and just like any of your deep relationships with your best friends (at least if you’re me), there are parts of their personality that you find rather annoying. I enjoyed reading Busy’s stories of her adolescence and repeatedly trying to “make it” in Hollywood (this is tongue-in-cheek for me though… because people obviously know her name; just because she’s not “A-List” doesn’t mean she hasn’t “made it”). The honesty is her sharing her painful moments was refreshing and raw. However, it’s clear that Busy really struggles with wanting to be loved by all, cast as the lead, and the constant center of attention. These are qualities I found grating to read about, but also probably qualities you need to be an actor professionally. I would just hope that by her age and degree of professional success, she would be a bit more grounded in who she is and quit seemingly seeking validation at every turn. Busy is a cool chick — now to just get Busy to believe it, find her happiness with it, and rock it herself!
Publication Date: 16 October 2018 by Touchstone. Format: Hardcover.