Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2017 by Emily May

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle ZevinYoung Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Published by Hachette UK on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Literary
Pages: 304
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Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida, makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss - who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married - and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn't take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late-night talk show punchline; she is slut-shamed, labelled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.
How does one go on after this? In Aviva's case, she sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. She starts over as a wedding planner, tries to be smarter about her life, and to raise her daughter to be strong and confident.
But when, at the urging of others, she decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet like a scarlet A. These days, Google guarantees that the past is never, ever, truly past, that everything you've done will live on for everyone to know about for all eternity. And it's only a matter of time until Aviva/Jane's daughter, Ruby, finds out who her mother was, and is, and must decide whether she can still respect her.

“I’m not a murderer,” she says. “I’m a slut, and you can’t be acquitted of that.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2017 by Emily May

Exit West by Mohsin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid
Published by Penguin on March 7th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 240
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In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

“When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

I thought this book was quietly brutal. And quietly beautiful, as well.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 by Emily May

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn GreenwoodAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published by Macmillan on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 352
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A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.
As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.
By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

Right up until that moment it was sweet and funny. Odd couple that they were, they had a real connection. Then he tugged her boot off and kissed the bottom of her bare foot. I could see him doing that kind of thing to his own kid, but she wasn’t. She was somebody else’s little girl.

This book destroyed me. I have never read anything like it. If you know the basic premise – that this is a so-called “love story” between an adult man and a female child – you might be thinking Lolita! But nah, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a completely different beast.

Ugly and wonderful really are great descriptors for this story. The best thing about it is the completely unsentimental storytelling that, with its constant switching between perspectives, as well as alternating first and third person, beautifully presents a dark tale of childhood, family and abuse.

It’s so… not manipulative. The author narrates a series of events, using gorgeous writing, but it’s a fantastic example of how showing works so much better than telling. We are never told how to feel. We are allowed to be disgusted, sad and angry on our own terms, and we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the relationship this book portrays.

I came to the end of the novel with my mind reeling, my emotions scattered, and completely unsure exactly what I did feel about it… but one thing is certain: I felt. Oh hell, I felt.

She nodded against my arm and after that, we were quiet. We didn’t need to talk. We just laid there watching falling stars go streaking white through all that darkness.

The story is about a girl called Wavy and it is a tale that spans around fifteen years. Through the perspectives of Wavy’s cousin, brother, teachers and friends, as well as Wavy herself, the story of her childhood emerges as one filled with physical and emotional abuse. Her mother is a drug addict, her father is violent, and her mother’s issues with eating and germs manifest in Wavy’s behaviour, which, in turn, earns frustration from her teachers and fellow pupils.

Then a motorcycle accident brings Kellen into her life. Kellen is a big guy with his own history of abuse at the hands of his father. Called a “fat slob” and generally thought of as a waste of space his whole life, there is an instant connection between these two outsiders.

While uncomfortable, disgusting and often graphic, it is so emotionally confusing because Kellen is not another Humbert. His motivations in his relationship with Wavy are loneliness and compassion, and he is not driven by sexual agenda. In fact, Wavy seems somehow removed from the regular notion of sexuality, existing on a plane where she is not an adult or child, male or female, but simply Wavy. Just herself.

I’m sure it will provoke many conflicting reactions, but there remains one overwhelming certainty: it’s hard to not react passionately to it. Whether you view Wavy and Kellen as two unfortunate victims of their personal circumstances, or as a child being abused by an adult who should know better, their story is a compelling one.

Sad and disturbing. I don’t think I’ll ever get these characters off my mind.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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