Review: Give Me Your Hand – Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

Give Me Your Hand

Megan Abbott

Pam Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781509855711

 

Description:

A mesmerizing psychological thriller about how a secret can bind two friends together forever…or tear them apart.

 

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane’s academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them.

 

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she’s put Diane behind her forever and she’s begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.

 

 

My View:

What a surprising read!  This novel slowly builds tension and pace. The main characters are intricately and extensively drawn. None of the characters are particularly endearing, likable or appealing yet their stories are intriguing. The continual striving for excellence, the competition, the camaraderie…the secrets that ultimately destroy, the bizarre behaviours, the double standards and lack of integrity that is slowly revealed.

 

I was enjoying this read, but was thinking nothing too much above the average here – until the last few chapters!  Boy was I wrong! This book is worth reading just to experience the deliciousness of the ending. WOW! SWEET! INCREDIBLY GOOD.

 

Read and tell me what you think.

 

Review: Return to Roseglen – Helene Young

Return to Roseglen by Helen Young cover art

Return to Roseglen

Helene Young

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143787747

 

Description:

At times like these families should be coming together, not tearing each other apart.

 

On her remote North Queensland cattle station, Ivy Dunmore is facing the end of her days. Increasingly frail, all she holds dear is threatened not just by crippling drought, but by jealousy and greed – and that’s from within her own family.

 

Can Felicity, who’s battling her own crisis as her fiftieth birthday approaches, protect her mother and reunite her family under the homestead’s faded iron roof? Or will sibling rivalries erupt and long-held secrets from the past break a family in crisis?

 

 

My View:

This is probably the best contemporary read of the year!  It resonated in some many places.  Intelligent. Brilliant.

 

Families… (Do you hear me sigh?) We may wish for the shiny, happy, well-adjusted family circle that we see on television or in the movies but it’s often not what we get. Families are made up of individuals – with flaws and traits that are unique to themselves, with their own struggles, aspirations, weaknesses and strengths.  Create a situation where all those unique individuals come together to address a family crisis or two and what do you have?  Return to Roseglen.

 

This intelligent novel has glorious remote Australian settings, well developed characters – some you will immediately love, some you will grow to love and some you would cross the road to avoid.  Sound like a family to you? It does to me J

 

 

This novel has so much to offer; Helene Young has incorporated many contemporary social issues in this read without the narrative shouting “Lessons here for all.”  This is life. The narrative is honest. I am sure this journey will resonate with so many readers, it certainly did for me.

 

My only problem with this read – it finished far too quickly, I was invested in this family and wanted more.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Nest – Jorey Hurley

Nest

Nest

Jorey Hurley

Simon and Schuster Kids

Little Simon

ISBN: 9781481452106

 

Description:

Simple text and beautiful illustrations follow a baby bird through the seasons in this sweet tale now available as Classic Board Book.

 

From birth, to first flight, to a new friend, the first year of a bird’s life is full of activity and wonder. Artist Jorey Hurley pairs vivid, crisp artwork with simple, minimal text—often just one word per spread—to create a breathtaking, peaceful chronicle of nature and life’s milestones.

 

This book is now available as a Classic Board Book, perfect for young readers.

 

 

My View:

Simplistic in design but very effective use of a single word and illustration per page to convey a story – there are endless possibilities for the conversations/stories this book will allow you to conjure up when reading to your baby/toddler.

 

Colours, seasons, families, movement, emotions…a simple word says so much.

 

PS

Love a cardboard/hard board children’s book! So practical.

 

Post Script: Angels Burn – Tawni O’Dell

“We are what we know. Not what the world tells us we should be. Not even what our own heart wants us to be.”

Cover Angels Burning

Angels Burning

Tawni O’Dell

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

Gallery Books

ISBN: 9781476755953

 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

 

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

 

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

 

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

 

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.

 

 

My View:

“We are what we know. Not what the world tells us we should be. Not even what our own heart wants us to be.”

Let’s just cut to the chase – after reading this book I already know this is going to be on my “Top Reads of 2016” list! Yes it is that good!

This is a very deceptive narrative – the outward appearance, the style is relaxed, personal and the brutal murder is almost a sub story…this an intriguing look at communities, abuse, relationships and secrets and in the end, a murder is solved.

 

Tawni O’Dell manages to somehow hood wink you into a state of false security, of ease, of almost thinking this is a story of inconsequence, just another story about a senseless crime – but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Quietly narrated by the Chief of Police – Dove (named after the soap) Caranhan, we share the Chief’s thoughts, black humour, wit and sarcasm and her down to earth approach to life and policing. The parts I loved most of this narrative are where The Chief acts as a person not as a police officer whilst on duty- she is smart mouthed, honest, responsive and humane in her approach. She doesn’t always play by the rules and mostly that is ok. And what a life she has to share with us. (And did I mention we have a protagonist who is female and fifty and flawed? Perfect. About time.)

 

There is a twist here that you just won’t see coming, well probably a few of them….as you read you are thrown little hints, little tastes of what is to come…as you read you say to yourself, ok yes I get this but what is the author holding back? What is the bigger picture? And the bigger pictures are surprising, sad and illuminating. This book has such depth; the characters, communities, the families…so interesting and yet so sad. I feel like I am looking into the gold fish bowl of society; at the complex and integrate social structures that makes families unique and communities strong – regardless of their moral code. What an amazing read. Outstanding!

 

Add this to your library – you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Hello From The Gillespies – Monica McInerney

Hello from the Gillespies

Monica McInerney

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781921901812

 

Description:

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth . . .

 

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband seems to be having a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

 

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways . . .

 

From the bestselling author of The House of Memories comes a funny and heartfelt novel about miscommunication and mayhem in a family like no other.

 

 

My View:

Contemporary issues enveloped in a cloak of love.

 

This is such a surprising read – glance quickly over it and you will discover a family story with characters that you identify with or have met along your way in life but this novel is so much more than the individuals in it; it is a story about the struggles of modern day Australians whether they live in regional or city communities, for all the issues here affect us all in one way or another.

 

Aside from a family that is as functional as any I or you may know, with adult children returning to the family home, midlife crisis’s, relationship issues, communication break downs, career crisis’s and the various stresses of modern life we meet a family that is also dealing with a tough life on the land; drought, potential mining on agricultural land, depression, isolation, to name a few issues, throw plenty of challenges into this mix. But it is not a depressing story – it is a heartfelt story peppered with humour and a touch of romance or two and hope – it is about life.

 

But more than these issues this is a story of a family and a mother who has recently discovered she has lost her own sense of self; she has been swallowed up by the social and physical environment she lives in and by her role as mother. For me this is the pivotal part of the narrative. Monica McInerney shines a subtle light on issues that mature aged women face today; life can stagnate, women especially become caught up in supporting all those around us leaving little energy or time for themselves. The joy of life can be missing.

 

You can read this novel lightly and enjoy a palatable tale of rural life and crazy exploits. You can read it on the train or plane or by the beach. You will enjoy the sense of fun and the satisfying conclusion. You can choose to look deeper, at the issues it presents and you can think and learn and maybe decide to talk, really talk and listen; to your mother or sister or good friend or your husband or partner and really get to understand some of what they are thinking.

 

A great read.