What I'm Reading Wednesday: The Fifth Avenue Story Society, Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Mother-in-Law

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

As I mentioned in my last post, I am launching two new features this fall, the first of which starts today! It's called What I'm Reading Wednesday where I plan to share -- surprise! -- what I've been reading lately. 

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this novel, five people -- four of whom are strangers -- receive mysterious invitations to a weekly story society. Their friendships grow as they share their lives and problems. 

Admittedly, I am a sucker for anything related to a story society. I didn't know anything about this author or her previous works when I checked this out of the library. After reading (and loving) it, I realized it was published by a Christian publisher, and I appreciated that the Christian themes were well done and not cheesy like they can sometimes be. This book made me cry at times, made me look at my husband with new eyes, and made me think about the story of my own life. If you're looking for a well-written, uplifting book, this is the one. 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐

This novel tells the tale of a young girl named Kya who is, person by person, abandoned by her entire family in the shack in which they live in the marsh of North Carolina. She is shunned and mistreated by everyone in the nearby small town with two exceptions, a married African American couple who, although mistreated themselves, help Kya. Two different young men from town fall for the mysterious Kya, and then one of them turns up dead. The novel alternates between two timelines, telling the story of Kya's past as well as the current murder investigation. 

I put this novel on my holds list at the public library because the world has been raving about it. I have friends and acquaintances who loved it, and it got high reviews on GoodReads also. But, to be honest, for the entirety of this book I kept thinking that I must be missing something. I kept reading, thinking at some point I would discover why people were so enamored with this book. However, it never happened. I didn't mind putting this book down; I wasn't really drawn in at all. However, I did find myself wanting to know what happened to the main character, Kya, and I was surprised by and contented with the ending. It's not a memorable book of the year for me, but it was a solid read.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have read a few other novels of Sally Hepworth's and enjoyed them all. This novel tells the story of Lucy, a young woman who has had a contentious relationship with her mother-in-law, Diana, since she began dating her husband. Diana is found dead of an apparent suicide; her family believes it is due to her breast cancer diagnosis. But an autopsy finds no cancer. As law enforcement investigates further, homicide is soon suspected. The police feel that Lucy has a strong motive, and she becomes a suspect. 

This novel is compelling and drew me in from the beginning. One of its strengths, I believe, is that it is told from both Lucy's and Diana's perspectives, so there is a very blurred line between heroes and villains. I admit at the beginning I found Diana to be appallingly unlikable, and I definitely sided with Lucy; however, the more I read from Diana's perspective, the more I understood why she made some choices she did. Because of that, I thought about people in my own life whose actions and words I sometimes completely fail to understand and began to have a little more compassion. As I read in another book recently "... language seems inherently and irrationally optimistic; we just assume people understand what we are talking about. That we are, as the idiom goes, on the same wavelength. In my experience, we are not." (What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum)

Other Recent Reads
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐

One Day in December by Josie Silver (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (Bookshop.comAmazon) ⭐⭐⭐

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