Search Results for: harmony

HARMONY by Carolyn Parkhurst

9780399562600The EDIWTB online book club is back!

This month’s book club choice was Harmony, by Carolyn Parkhurst, which comes out today. Harmony is about the Hammond family, parents Alexandra and Josh and daughters Tilly and Iris, who live in Washington, DC. Tilly is on the autism spectrum with a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified). She has been asked to leave her school because the administrators say she is too disruptive and that they cannot help her anymore. Alexandra, at the end of her rope after homeschooling and seeing little improvement in Tilly’s behavior, turns to the guidance of a parenting consultant named Scott Bean. After months of private sessions with Scott, Alexandra persuades Josh to move the family full-time to a compound in New Hampshire, where Scott is creating a camp for families with children who have developmental disorders.

Harmony is told in alternating vantage points and through flashbacks. Iris, Tilly and Alexandra share the narration, and the setting switches back and forth between the summer of 2012 in New Hampshire to earlier years in D.C.

Camp Harmony, premised on the notion that kids need an environmental detox in order to address their developmental issues, is governed by Scott’s many rules. No cell phones. No processed foods. Adults must turn over the keys to their cars. Families who live at Camp Harmony full time handle the cooking and cleaning. As the book progresses, Scott’s rules become more arbitrary and his calm veneer less smooth. Is he who he says he is? What are his motives? The book reaches a climax when the Hammonds are forced to confront the truth about Scott and come to terms with why they are in New Hampshire and whether it is helping.

Harmony is, at its core, about the helplessness and desperation of parenthood, the innate desire to do whatever it takes to cure your children of their ills. I spent a lot of the book wondering whether I could see myself in Alexandra and Josh’s shoes, selling my house and most of my belongings and putting my trust in another person to do what was right for my family. Parkhurst did a good job of building her case here. She chronicles Alexandra’s increasing despair, her willingness to try anything, as remedies and therapies and curriculae fail Tilly, one after another. She also allows Josh and Alexandra some skepticism and rebelliousness at Camp Harmony to show that they are more than just blind adherents to Scott’s will. She makes Scott reasonable and compelling enough that his brand and ideology seem credible. And then she shifts the narration to Iris so that the the reader can see what’s really going on.

I really liked Harmony. There are some plot holes, and the ending was a little abrupt and unrealistic, but I thought Parkhurst did an excellent job of exploring the challenges of parenting a child on the spectrum. (I also loved all the D.C references.) Harmony was a fast-paced read, yet it is full of details that make you feel like you’re right there at the camp with the Hammonds.

I am a big Parkhurst fan, and this one didn’t disappoint.

OK, EDIWTB book club, what did you think?

 

Winners of THE LAWS OF HARMONY and Reviews of TOO TALL ALICE and BARON THINKS DOGS ARE PEOPLE TOO

First, congratulations to the winners of copies of The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks! They are… Kathy, Alicia, Kelly C., LindseyatAKindredSpirit'sThoughts and Bridget. I will be in touch with you for your contact information. Thanks for entering!!!

Second, here are some reviews of kids' books that I received last week.

Worton The first is Too Tall Alice by Barbara Worton. This is a cute book about an 8-year old who is four inches taller than every other girl in her class. She is very self-conscious about her size, until she has a dream that she goes to a house where every girl is much taller than she is. The tall girls are all happy with their height and have realized their dreams of being whatever they want to be. The book veers off into a little bit of New Agey-ness at this point, with some language that my four year-olds didn't understand (and I didn't love), but the final message is clear: our physical differences make us who we are as individuals and shouldn't hold us back from accomplishing whatever we want to do. This is a nice message, especially for girls, who tend to be self-conscious about how they look. My daughters liked this book, though I suspect it will resonate even more when they get older. The drawings are cute and there are some clever references throughout.  

Baron_book_cover_1 The second book is Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too! by Laurie Dean. It's about a playful puppy who does what puppies do - sitting on couches, running around the house, and generally causing havoc. He runs into the street at one point, and is sent to puppy school. What he wants most is a best friend, which he finds in a young boy who is lonely and looking for a playmate. I thought this book was fine – not great. There isn't much plot (which certainly didn't bother my four year-olds) and the drawings seemed a little cartoonish to me. But my girls enjoyed the book, particularly the part where the dog goes off to puppy training school. This is a cute book for a family of animal lovers, or one that is contemplating getting a puppy.

Giveaway: THE LAWS OF HARMONY by Judith Ryan Hendricks

I recently received a review copy of The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks, due out next week from HarperCollins. From the back cover:

Hendricls Sunny Cooper has been running since she was eighteen—from the New Mexican commune where she grew up . . . and from the haunting memory of the freak accident that took the life of her younger sister. Now, at thirty-two, Sunny voices radio spots in Albuquerque while struggling to hold on to a floundering relationship. But when a second tragic accident—and the devastating truths that come to light in its aftermath—turns her world upside down, Sunny runs again.

In the town of Harmony on San Miguel Island, she takes a new job, learns to ride a motorcycle, and makes some surprising new friends. But the past is never far behind. A startling discovery—along with an emotional and revelatory reunion with her estranged mother—is forcing Sunny to step out from the shadows of yesterday to embrace an uncertain future.

Confessions of a Real Librarian "seriously had trouble putting this down." Here's her full review.

The Laws of Harmony is so new that there aren't many reviews out there yet. BUT… if you want to read it, I have 5 copies to give away, thanks to HarperCollins.  Leave me a comment here with your name and email address and I will do a random drawing on Friday February 6.

Good luck!

THE DOGS OF BABEL by Carolyn Parkhurst

[Warning: second book in a row about death and grieving. Sigh.]

It’s always interesting to pick up a Carolyn Parkhurst book, because you never know what you’re going to get. Whether it’s a fictionalized account of an Amazing Race-like reality show, a novelist re-writing her endings, or a rural compound for families of autistic kids, you’re in for a quirky but interesting ride. The Dogs of Babel, which I believe is Parkhurst’s first novel (it came out in 2004) is about Paul, a man whose wife Lexy is found mysteriously dead in their backyard after falling out of a tree. There were no witnesses other than their dog, Lorelei. With no explanation for why his wife would have been climbing in their tree, Paul, desperate for answers, decides to train his dog to talk so that he can get an answer from her.

Much of The Dogs of Babel is told through flashbacks as we learn about Paul and Lexy’s relationship. Paul is a straight arrow, while Lexy is artistic and impulsive and prone to violent outbursts and mood swings. But we grow to understand why he loved her and what a void she has left in his life. As the complexities of their relationship are slowly revealed, the answer to the question of what happened to Lexy becomes less murky.

So the talking dog part of the book sounds weird, but Paul is a linguist, so his interest in interspecies communication isn’t that strange. He grows interested – warily – in a fringe movement to get dogs to talk. The leader is in prison for maiming and torturing dogs – that part is awful – and Paul knows that the remaining men in the group are cruel and disturbed. But he’s so desperate to get Lorelei to talk that his judgment gets clouded and he interacts with them a little, but with tragic consequences.

Ultimately this is a story about grief, not unlike the last book I reviewed, Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel. What lengths might we go to to soothe the pain of loss? At what price? The Dogs of Babel wasn’t my favorite Carolyn Parkhurst but I still liked it and was eager to learn what happened. She’s a very good writer and I’ll probably read anything she puts out. I’ve heard her speak a few times (she’s local) and I am definitely a fan.

I am in the home stretch! The Dogs of Babel was book #49 for the year. I am closing in on my goal of 52, with 12 more days of the year to go. I’m halfway through one on audio, 1/4 through another in print, and that just leaves one more to finish by the 31st. I think I can, I think I can…

 

 

Pre-Vacation Post

I am finally going on vacation this week, which I am really looking forward to. 8 days in Italy, with hopefully enough downtime to read some books.

Here is what I am bringing with me to read.

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A few other things to share:

  1. My friend Nicole Bonia of Linus’s Blanket and I have started a podcast for Readerly magazine. Here is the first episode. It’s not on iTunes yet, but I will share the link when it’s up. For now, you can listen at the Readerly site. We talk about what we’re reading, what’s coming out soon, and what you might have missed this summer. Give it a listen! We’re recording another show today.
  2. I went to a reading by Carolyn Parkhurst on Saturday at Politics and Prose, where she talked about Harmony, the book we just read for the EDIWTB online book club. Here is some of what I learned in her Q&A:
    • Parkhurst has a son on the autism spectrum. She made Tilly a girl so that there would be differences between her son and Tilly.
    • Pop culture informs her writing a lot.
    • She told Alexandra’s perspective in the second person so that the reader could be closer to her and understand what is going on in her head She wanted those chapters to feel more intimate, so that the reader would viscerally feel the chaos in her life.
    • Harmony was the most difficult book she has written and took the longest to write, in part because it was the most personal. She worried whether it was OK to be writing about her kids.
    • She is still not sure whether she got Tilly’s voice right. Her son’s mind is incredible, unlike anyone’s she has ever met. She wanted Tilly to be unique too and had to create that voice for her.
    • Scott was the hardest character to write. He says the right things and makes sense on the surface. He is not based on anyone she knows, though she spent a lot of time thinking about cults when she wrote him.
    • She has ideas for her next book but is not writing anything right now.
  3. I also enjoyed this Wall Street Journal post about Parkhurst’s son reading Harmony.

I’ll be offline for the next two weeks or so but hope to have a few reviews to post when I get back! Happy August, everyone.

Return of the Online Book Club!

I am excited to announce that the EDIWTB Online Book Club is back!

Here’s how the online book club works. I choose a book, and EDIWTB readers who are interested in participating sign up by sending me their name, email address and home address. Participants receive a copy of the book in the mail, courtesy of the publisher. About a month later, on a pre-selected date, I post a review of the book here, and then the book club discussion takes in the comments section of the blog.

It’s a lot of fun, and all you have to do is be one of the first 15 to sign up.

The book is Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, and we’ll be discussing it on August 2, 2016. I picked Harmony because I really enjoyed two of Parkhurst’s prior novels – Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album. Her books are so different – from each other and from most novels that I read. Here’s what Harmony is about:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, a taut, emotionally wrenching story of how a seemingly “normal” family could become desperate enough to leave everything behind and move to a “family camp” in New Hampshire–a life-changing experience that alters them forever.

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally–a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence. Once Tilly–whose condition is deemed undiagnosable–is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas. The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit. Told from the alternating perspectives of both Alexandra and her younger daughter Iris (the book’s Nick Carraway), this is a unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.

If you’d like to participate in the book club, send me an email at gayle@everydayiwritethebookblog.com with the following:

name

email address

home address

I will let you know if you’re one of the first 15 to sign up. Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing the books!

BEA 2016 Wrapup

Life has gotten busy the last few weeks, but I was able to spend 36 hours in Chicago last week for BEA 2016. The annual publishing industry conference has been in New York for the last several years, but they decided to move it to Chicago this year to make it easier for booksellers located outside of NY to attend. As a result, there were fewer people, fewer parties, and fewer books at the show, but it was still a good time.

I missed the first half-day, but landed early on Thursday and made it to the conference center before the floor opened. I spent most of Thursday and Friday running around picking up galleys, getting autographs, attending sessions, and generally obsessing over books. Nicole of Readerly and I made a spreadsheet beforehand of the books we wanted and the times they were coming out, so we were pretty organized and got almost all of the books on our list, thanks to some teamwork and coordination.

We also went to a Sourcebooks party at the top of the John Hancock building on Thursday night. The views were unbelievable.

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Here’s my haul.

Adult books:

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Middle grade books:

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I also got new books for my almost 4-year old son from his favorite authors – Carson Ellis, David Shannon and Rosemary Wells. He was very happy when I brought them home for him.

I am most excited about Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony, Brit Bennett’s The Mothers, Noah Hawley’s Before The Fall, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Uaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. (But they all look pretty good.)

All in all, I thought that the quality of the books coming out this fall was very high. Lots of highly anticipated titles from big names as well as debut authors. There wasn’t as much wattage at the show in terms of celebrities, but the books look great. And that’s what we were there for!

So that’s where I’ve been. Over the next few days I have a middle grade book to review, a Curtis Sittenfeld Q&A to post, and hopefully a book (The Heart) to finish.

SUMMERLONG by Dean Bakopoulus

I’ve seen Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos on many 2015 summer book lists – usually enjoying glowing reviews – and it was positively reviewed by a few sources I trust (Book Chatter and Ron Charles), so I decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.

Summerlong is about an odd love square (is that a thing?) that forms one hot summer in Grinnell, Iowa. Claire and Don are married, in their late 30s, and at a precipice in their marriage. Don, a realtor, has hidden their dire financial situation from his wife, and the two now face foreclosure on their house and an inevitable bankruptcy filing. Meanwhile, Charlie, an underemployed actor in his late 20s, is back in town to go through his father’s papers and prepare his house for sale after his father is moved to a nursing home with dementia. And ABC, a recent Grinnell graduate, has returned to her college town after the death of her best friend/lover, mired in grief.

One night, these characters interact in an unexpected way: Don comes across ABC lying in the grass, smoking pot, and joins her for an intimate but chaste evening of sleeping next to each other and getting stoned. Claire goes for a midnight run and meets Charlie in the parking lot of a convenience store, where they share an instant attraction. Over the course of the next 3 months, the characters couple off in a variety of combinations, sometimes consummating their attractions and sometimes not. Don and Claire’s marriage deteriorates until they decide to separate, while ABC floats along in her grief and depression and Charlie tries, unsuccessfully, to find his father’s missing manuscript and redeem his academic reputation.

I really didn’t like Summerlong.  I did appreciate some of the insights into marital harmony and middle age that Bakopoulos infused into Claire and Don’s relationship. But I found the other relationships unrealistic and strange, and I had a really hard time with most of the dialogue in the book. I don’t think people talk to each other in real life like they do in Summerlong. Claire and Don were blunt and sharp to the point of meanness – do most married people act like that to each other?

Lots of drugs, lots of sex. I don’t have a problem with that, but they became a crutch for the author. These characters didn’t have much to say to each other or a genuine attraction, so he just had them get stoned and hook up. Problem solved! There are also too many unlikely coincidences.

There’s a feisty old grandmother type who says it like it is and eventually saves some of these doomed characters. Meh.

Didn’t these characters have ANYONE else to hang out with other than the other three?

Don and Claire’s kids – didn’t THEY find the whole setup kind of weird?

Why is Claire so angry all the time? And why hasn’t she worked for the last 10 years? For a feminist New Yorker, she sure depends on her man to make everything better.

These questions plagued me as I read Summerlong. I just didn’t get it. I know I am in the minority on this one – people seem to love this book. It just made me angry.

Index of Reviews

Here is an index of all of the book reviews I have published on Everyday I Write The Book.

1984, George Orwell

2 AM at the Cat’s Pajamas, Marie-Helene Bertino

29, Adena Halpern

32 Candles, Ernessa T. Carter

99 Percent Mine, Sally Thorne

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jen Waite

A Cloud In The Shape Of A Girl, Jean Thompson

A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein

A Good American, Alex George

A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

A Place For Us, Fatima Farheezn Mirza

A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick

A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman

A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

A Tender Struggle, Krista Bremer

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

A Woman Is No Man, Etaf Rum

A Year Down Yonder, Richard S. Peck

Abide With Me, Elizabeth Strout

Accidentally on Purpose, Mary F. Pols

Adele, Leila Slimani

After Birth, Elisa Albert

After I Do, Taylor Jenkins Reid

After You, Jojo Moyes

After You, Julie Buxbaum

Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko

All About Lulu, Jonathan Evison

All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg

All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, Jennifer Senior

All The Flowers in Shanghai, Duncan Jepson

All The Happiness You Deserve, Michael Piafsky

All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung

All You Could Ask For, Mike Greenberg

Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes, Jules Moulin

American Housewife, Helen Ellis

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld

Among The Ten Thousand Things, Julia Pierppont

An Accidental Mother, Katherine Anne Kindred

An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

An Available Man, Hilma Wolitzer

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

And When She Was Good, Laura Lippman

Anne Frank: Her Life In Words And Pictures, The Anne Frank House

April & Oliver, Tess Callahan

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead

At A Loss For Words, Diane Schoemperlen

At The Bottom of Everything, Ben Dolnick

Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy

A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan

Baby Teeth, Zoje Stage

Bachelor Nation: Inside The World Of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, Amy Kaufman

Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies In A Silicon Valley Startup, John Carreyrou

Baker Towers, Jennifer Haigh

Beach Read, Emily Henry

Beating the Lunch Box Blues, J. M. Hirsch

Because of Mr. Terupt, Rob Buyea

Becoming, Michelle Obama

Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson

Before The Fall, Noah Hawley

Beginner’s Greek by James Collins

Behind Closed Doors, B. A. Paris

Being Jazz, Jazz Jennings

Belonging: A German Reckons With History And Home by Nora Krug

Bennington Girls Are Easy, Charlotte Silver

Bertrand Court, Michelle Brafman

Best Boy, Eli Gottlieb

Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda

Between Here and April, Deborah Copaken Kogan

Beyond The Point, Claire Gibson

Big Brother, Lionel Shriver

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain

Bird in Hand, Christina Baker Kline

Bloom, Kelle Hampton

Bobcat And Other Stories, Rebecca Lee

Body Surfing, Anita Shreve

Booked, Kwame Anderson

Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen

Bossypants, Tina Fey

Breaking Her Fall, Stephen Goodwin

Buffalo Lockjaw, Greg Ames

Buzz Saw: The Improbable Story Of How The Washington Nationals Won The World Series by Jesse Dougherty

Can’t Help Myself, Meredith Goldstein

Carousel Court, Joe McGinniss Jr.

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

Charlotte Sometimes, Penelope Farmer

Choose Your Own Autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris

City of Thieves, David Benioff

Commonwealth, Ann Patchett

Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney

Couple Mechanics, Nelly Alard

Cost, Roxana Robinson

Craigslist Confessional, Helena Dea Bala

Crossworld: One Man’s Journey into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano

Cruel Beautiful World, Caroline Leavitt

Cutting Teeth, Julia Fierro

Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Darling Rose Gold, Stephanie Wrobel

Days Of Awe, Lauren Fox

Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano

Dept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Dervishes, Beth Helms

Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill Clegg

Digging to America, Anne Tyler

Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee

Do Not Become Alarmed, Maile Meloy

Domestic Violets, Matthew Norman

Don’t You Forget About Me, Jancee Dunn

Drives Like a Dream, Porter Shreve

Early Decision, Lacy Crawford

Early Warning, Jane Smiley

Educated, Tara Westover

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld

Ella, Mallory Kasdan

Embers, Sandor Marai

Emotionally Healthy Twins, Joan Friedman

Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan

Every Day, David Levithan

Every Other Weekend, Zulema Renee Summerfield

Everyone Is Beautiful, Katherine Center

Everything Here Is Beautiful, Mira T. Lee

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

Everything Is Just Fine, Brett Paesel

Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes

Facebook Fairytales, Emily Liebert

Faith, Jennifer Haigh

Family Album, Penelope Lively

Family History, Dani Shapiro

Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff

Fathermucker, by Greg Olear

Father’s Day, Simon Van Booy

Fleishman Is In Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Flight, Ginger Strand

Flipped, Wendelin Van Draanen

Folded Notes From High School, Matthew Boren

Followers, Megan Angelo

Forever…, Judy Blume

Forever Is The Worst Long Time, Camille Pagán

Free Food for Millionaires, Min Jin Lee

From The Corner Of The Oval, Beck Dorey-Stein

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg

Ghosted, Rosie Walsh

Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok

Girl Unknown, Karen Perry

Girls in Trucks, Katie Crouch

Girls in White Dresses, Jennifer Close

Golden Age, Jane Smiley

Golden Child, Claire Adam

Goldengrove, Francine Prose

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Good Grief, Lolly Winston

Goodbye For Now, Laurie Frankel

Gossip, Beth Gutcheon

Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults, Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Green, Sam Graham-Felsen

Happens Every Day, Isabel Gillies

Happiness Sold Separately, Lolly Winston

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After, Heather Harpham

Harmony, Carolyn Parkhurst

Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum

Her, Harriet Lane

Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir Of A Family And Culture In Crisis, J.D. Vance

History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life, Jill Bialosky

Holes, Louis Sachar

Home Is Burning by Dan Marshall

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford

How Not To Die Alone, Richard Roper

How To Be Safe, Tom McAllister

How To Party With An Infant, Kaui Hart Hemmings

How To Talk To A Widower, Jonathan Tropper

How To Walk Away, Katherine Center

I Am, I Am, I Am, Maggie O’Farrell

I Don’t Know How She Does It, Allison Pearson

I Liked My Life, Abby Fabiaschi

I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle

I Think I Love You, Allison Pearson

I’d Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman

Identical Strangers: Memoir of Twins Separated & Reunited, Elyse Schein & Paula Bernstein

I’ll Give You The Sun, Jandy Nelson

I Married You For Happiness, Lily Tuck

I Will Always Write Back, Martin Ganda and Caitlyn Alifirenka

I’m So Happy for You, Lucinda Rosenfeld

In Five Years, Rebecca Serle

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin

In The Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado

In The Language Of Miracles, Rajia Hassib

In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran, John Taylor

In The Unlikely Event, Judy Blume

Inheritance, Dani Shapiro

Innocents And Others, Dana Spiotta

Inside Out, Demi Moore

Invincible Summer, Alice Adams

Instructions for a Heatwave, Maggie O’Farrell

Is This Tomorrow, Caroline Leavitt

Jake and Lily, Jerry Spinelli

Jillian, Halle Butler

Jump at the Sun, Kim McLarin

Keeping the House Ellen Baker

Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J. Ryan Stradal (and re-reviewed here)

Labor Day, Joyce Maynard

Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O’Nan

Lily’s Crossing, Patricia Reilly Giff

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Loner, Teddy Wayne

Long Bright River, Liz Moore

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Look How Happy I’m Making You, Polly Rosenwaike

Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst

Lost in the Forest, Sue Miller

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Ayelet Waldman

Love Her, Love Her Not, Joanne Conrath Bamberger

Love in Mid-Air, Kim Wright

Love Is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield

Lucky Child, Loung Ung

Lucky Us, Amy Bloom

Maid, Stephanie Land

Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Mambo in Chinatown, Jean Kwok

Mary B., Katherine Chen

Masterpiece, Elise Broach

Matrimony, Joshua Henkin

Maybe In Another Life, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

Men and Dogs, Katie Crouch

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets and Growing Up in the 1970s, Margaret Sartor

Miss Jane, Brad Watson

Mockingbird, Kathryn Erskine

Modern Lovers, Emma Straub

Monster, Walter Dean Myers

Mothers And Other Strangers, Gina Sorell

Movie Star By Lizzie Pepper, Hilary Liftin

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, Natasha Solomons

Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta

Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh

My Ex-Life, Stephen McCauley

My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy, Andrea Askowitz

My Name Is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism, Marguerite Elisofon

My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh

News From Heaven, Jennifer Haigh

Nice to Come Home To, Rebecca Flowers

Nomadland, Jessica Bruder

Nookietown, V.C. Chickering

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Not Dead Yet, Phil Collins

Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

One Day, David Nicholls

One Day In December, Josie Silver

One Day: The Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 24 Hours In America, Gene Weingarten

One Last Thing Before I Go, Jonathan Tropper

One More Thing: Stories and More Stories, BJ Novak

One Of The Boys, Daniel Magariel

One Plus One, Jojo Moyes

One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Open, Andre Agassi

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline

Our Short History, Lauren Grodstein

Our Souls At Night, Kent Haruf

Pack Up The Moon, Rachael Herron

Perennials, Mandy Berman

Perfect Little World, Kevin Wilson

Perfection, Julie Metz

Perfectly Broken, Robert Burke Warren

Pictures of You, Caroline Leavitt

Please Look After Mom, Kyung-Sook Shin

Property, Valerie Martin

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Anna Whiston-Donaldson

Ray & Joan, Lisa Napoli

Real American, Julie Lythcott-Haims

Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses, Claudia Sternbach

Red Clocks, Leni Zumas

Red Hook Road, Ayelet Waldman

Red Scarf Girl, Ji-Li Jiang

Red Thread Sisters, Carol Antoinette Peacock

Redeployment, Phil Klay

Remembering the Bones, Frances Itani

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld

Room, Emma Donoghue

Run, Ann Patchett

Running Out Of Time, Margaret Peterson Haddix

Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead

Saturday, Ian McEwan

Saturday Night Widows, Becky Aikman

Save Me, Lisa Scottoline

Sea Creatures, Susanna Daniel

Searching For Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok

Seating Arrangements, Maggie Shipstead

Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secrets to Happiness, Sarah Dunn

Separation Anxiety, Laura Zigman

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Single, Carefree, Mellow, Katherine Heiny

Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld

Skipping a Beat, Sarah Pekkanen

Sleepwalking in Daylight, Elizabeth Flock

Small Mercies, Eddie Joyce

So Far Away, Meg Mitchell Moore

So Long at the Fair, Christina Schwarz

So Much a Part of You, Polly Dugan

So Much for That, Lionel Shriver

Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott

Some Luck, Jane Smiley

Somebody Else’s Daughter, Elizabeth Brundage

Songs for the Missing, Stewart O’Nan

Songs Without Words, Ann Packer

Spoiled, Caitlin Macy

Spy School, Stuart Gibbs

Standard Deviation, Katherine Heiny

Startup by Doree Shafrir

State of Wonder, Ann Patchett

Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Still Alice, Lisa Genova

Still Me, Jojo Moyes

Stiltsville, Susanna Daniel

Such A Fun Age, Kiley Reid

Summerlings, Lisa Howorth

Summerlong, Dean Bakopoulos

Sweet Ruin, Cathi Hanauer

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, Francine Pascal

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, Rob Sheffield

Tampa, Alissa Nutting

Tea By The Sea, Donna Hemans

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Blunt

Testimony, Anita Shreve

That Kind of Mother, Rumaan Alam

The Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perrotta

The Adults, Caroline Hulse

The After Party, Anton DiSclafani

The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker

The Arrangement, Sarah Dunn

The Arrivals, Meg Mitchell Moore

The Arsonist, Sue Miller

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

The Art of Not Breathing, Sarah Alexander

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

The Authenticity Project, Clare Pooley

The Awkward Age, Francesca Segal

The Best Kind Of People, Zoe Whittall

The Best Skin Of Your Life Starts Here, Paula Begoun

The Big Girls, Susanna Moore

The Big Love, Sarah Dunn

The Blessings, Elise Juska

The Body In Question, Jill Ciment

The Book Of Essie, Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book Of Joe, Jonathan Tropper

The Book That Matters Most, Ann Hood

The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill, Abbi Waxman

The Bookseller, Cynthia Swanson

The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky, Ken Dornstein

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Cactus League, Emily Nemens

The Candymakers, Wendy Mass

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, Paula Danziger

The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty

The Children Act, Ian McEwan

The Circle, Dave Eggers

The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau

The Comfort of Lies, Randy Susan Meyers

The Condition, Jennifer Haigh

The Confusion of Languages, Siobhan Fallon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

The Darlings, Cristina Alger

The Daylight Marriage, Heidi Pitlor

The Dearly Beloved, Cara Wall

The Dinner List, Rebecca Serle

The Divorce Party, Laura Dave

The Dogs of Babel, Carolyn Parkhurst

The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Engagements, J. Courtney Sullivan

The English Teacher, Lily King

The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton

The Expatriates, Janice Y. K Lee

The Farm, Joanne Ramos

The Female Persuasion, Meg Wolitzer

The Forever Marriage, Ann Bauer

The Forgotten Waltz, Anne Enright

The Four, Scott Galloway

The Full Ridiculous, Mark Lamprell

The Futures, Anna Pitoniak

The Girl I Wanted to Be, Sarah Grace McCandless

The Girl He Used To Know, Tracy Garvis Graves

The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins

The Girls, Emma Cline

The Girls, Lori Lansens

The Giver, Lois Lowry

The Good Father, Noah Hawley

The Graybar Hotel, Curtis Dawkins

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson

The Grief of Others, Leah Hager Cohen

The Grind, Barry Svrluga

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

The Gunners, Rebecca Kauffman

The Hating Game, Sally Thorne

The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken, by Mari Passananti

The Heart, Maylis de Kerangal

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

The Hopefuls, Jennifer Close

The Holdout, Graham Moore

The Housekeeper And The Professor, Yoko Ogawa

The Hummingbird, Stephen Kiernan

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty

The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin

The Interestings , Meg Wolitzer

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

The Lager Queen Of Minnesota, J. Ryan Stradal

The Lake Shore Limited, Sue Miller

The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine

The Last Romantics, Tara Conklin

The Last September, Nina de Gramont

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

The Leavers, Lisa Ko

The Lemon Grove, Helen Walsh

The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

The Lifeboat, Charlotte Rogan

The Light Between Oceans, M. L. Stedman

The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

The Little Bride, Anna Solomon

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

The Local News, Miriam Gershow

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri

The Man of My Dreams, Curtis Sittenfeld

The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards

The Middle Place, Kelly Corrigan

The Middlesteins, Jami Attenberg

The Midwife Of Hope River, Patricia Harman

The Misfortune Of Marion Palm, Emily Culliton

The Most Dangerous Place On Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-Son Running Streak Club, Nancy Shohet West

The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The New Me, Halle Butler

The New Neighbor, Leah Stewart

The Next, Stephanie Gangi

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Nobodies Album, Carolyn Parkhurst

The Obituary Writer, Ann Hood

The Odds, Stewart O’Nan

The Office, Andy Greene

The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

The Ones We Choose, Julie Clark

The Only Plane In The Sky by Garrett Graff

The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, John Erickson

The Other Room, Kim Triedman

The Other Typist, Suzanne Rindell

The Other Woman, Sandie Jones

The Other’s Gold, Elizabeth Ames

The Oxford Project, Peter Feldstein and Stephen Bloom

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender

The Perfect Score Project, Debbie Stier

The Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver

The Postmistress, Sarah Blake

The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma, Ratika Kapur

The Promised World, Lisa Tucker

The Queen Of Hearts, Kimmery Martin

The Reader, Bernhard Schlink

The Real Michael Swann, Bryan Reardon

The Realm of Last Chances, Steve Yarbrough

The Red Book, Deborah Copaken Kogan

The Red Car, Marcy Dermansky

The Red House, Mark Haddon

The Red Thread, Ann Hood

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid

The Risen, Ron Rash

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simison

The Secret Lives of the Four Wives: A Novel, Lola Shoneyin

The Senator’s Wife, Sue Miller

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer

The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare

The Silent Wife, A.S.A. Harrison

The Singles, Meredith Goldstein

The Smart One, Jennifer Close

The Starlite Drive-in, Marjorie Reynolds

The Stars Are Fire, Anita Shreve

The Story Hour, Thrity Umrigar

The Submission, Amy Waldman

The Sweetheart Deal, Polly Dugan

The Ten-Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

The Travelers, Regina Porter

The Turner House, Angela Flournoy

The Two-Family House, Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Uncoupling, Meg Wolitzer

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier

The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris

The Vacationers, Emma Straub

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The War Bride’s Scrapbook, Caroline Preston

The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Wartime Sisters, Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife’s Tale, Lori Lansens

The Windfall, Diksha Basu

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

The Woman In The Window, A.J. Finn

The Wonder Spot, Melissa Bank

The World According to Humphrey, Betty G. Birney

The World Without You, Josh Henkin

The Wrong Side of Right, Jenn Marie Thorne

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

The Year of the Book, Andrea Cheng

The Year We Left Home, Jean Thompson

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris

There There, Tommy Orange

Things You Save In A Fire, Katherine Center

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel

This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper

This One Is Mine, Maria Semple

Three Junes, Julia Glass

Three Stages of Amazement, Carol Edgarian

Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

Tin Man, Sarah Winman

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris

Tomato Girl, Jayne Pupek

Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise Of The Unruly Woman: Anne Helen Petersen

Tracks, Eric Goodman

Trespass, Valerie Martin

Trust Exercise, Susan Choi

Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett

Twenty-One Truths Abut Love, Matthew Dicks

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri

Under The Influence, Joyce Maynard

Underground Airines, Ben Winters

Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things, Lee Kravitz

Unraveling Oliver, Liz Nugent

Unremarried Widow, Artis Henderson

Untamed, Glennon Doyle

VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave, Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman, J.J. Jackson and Nina Blackwood

Vox, Christina Dalcher

Waiting for Daisy, Peggy Orenstein

Waiting For Eden, Elliot Ackerman

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech

Watching Baseball Smarter, Zack Hample

Watching Edie, Camilla Way

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

We, Michael Landweber

Weather, Jenny Offill

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty

What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton

What I Thought I Knew, Alice Eve Cohen

What Was Lost, Catherine O’Flynn

When Did I Get Like This?, Amy Wilson

When It Happens To You, Molly Ringwald

When Love Was Clean Underwear, Susan Barr-Toman

When Madeline Was Young, Jane Hamilton

When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead

When You Read This, Mary Adkins

Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

While I’m Falling, Laura Moriarty

Who Asked You?, Terry McMillan

Who by Fire, Diana Spechler

Who Was Milton Hershey, James Buckley Jr.

Willful Disregard, Lena Andersson

Woman 99, Greer Macallister

Wonder, R.J. Palacio

Writers & Lovers, Lily King

Yes Please, Amy Poehler

You Are One Of Them, Elliott Holt

You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, Susannah Gora

You Know When the Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon

You Think It, I’ll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld

Book vs. Movie Posts:

Little Children: Book vs. Movie

Notes on a Scandal: Book vs Movie

Revolutionary Road: Book vs. Movie

Room: Book vs Movie

The Help: Book vs. Movie

The Namesake: Book vs. Movie

The Reader: Book vs Movie

The Time Traveler’s Wife: Book vs. Movie

Valentines in Six Words

The Washington Post did a cute Valentine's Day feature yesterday inspired by Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs By Famous and Obscure Writers. The paper challenged readers to submit six-word descriptions of their love lives.

There are so many good ones. Here are some of my favorites:

  • 30th Reunion Northwestern HS 1979
  • Kissed in 2008; Married in 2009!
  • Too much, too soon, too bad.
  • E-Harmony told us both: "No matches".
  • Difficult convincing friends I'm happy single.
  • Spied on Metro, Now dream fodder. 
  • I love him. He loves her.
  • Ex called to say he's engaged. 
  • Married a cook; dieting now. 
  • Miss hon, my love. Stupid cancer.

Check them all out.