mini reviews #1: Wave, Mary Rose, Bluets, Another Brooklyn, Eurydice

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, so, no time like the present.  I don’t always feel like writing multi-paragraph long reviews for every single book I read, but when my reviews are this short I don’t usually bother cross-posting them from Goodreads to WordPress.  So, I shall begin transferring them over here in a series of mini review posts.  Also, reminder that you’re welcome to add me on Goodreads!

15797917WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagala
★★★★☆
Knopf, 2013
date read: July 11, 2018

In Sonali Deraniyagala’s frank and candid memoir, she recounts the loss of her parents, husband, and two sons who were all killed in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. Wave is every bit as harrowing as you’d imagine, but it’s also refreshingly sincere and devoid of sensationalism – instead it rather beautifully captures one woman’s honest and occasionally ugly experience with grief. Although it’s at times a bit meandering and repetitive in execution it is utterly gripping from start to finish. There isn’t much hope or resolution here, but there is hardly a scarcity of gratitude or resilience.

36072356MARY ROSE by Geoffrey Girard
★★☆☆☆
Adaptive Books, April 2018
date read: June 29, 2018

This was… fine? I guess? I would not recommend listening to the audiobook. The narrator infuses it with a lot of melodrama and bad accents, and hearing the name ‘Mary Rose’ spoken aloud approximately eighty-five million times is grating. I don’t know. I just felt impatient listening to this. For the fact that about 95% of it was character development, none of the characters were particularly well developed. The 5% of actual story was fine, just not enough to really hold my interest. I’d like to read the JM Barrie play at some point though.

6798263BLUETS by Maggie Nelson
★★★☆☆
Wave Books, 2009
date read: June 22, 2018

Bluets had a lot of the same sharp wit and similar pithy observations that I enjoyed in The Argonauts but I think this one was just a bit too abstract for my tastes. I also didn’t do myself any favors by reading this in short bursts over the span of two weeks when I think Nelson’s writing best lends itself to a more immersive reading experience. Still enjoyed it, still looking forward to checking out her other works.

30064150ANOTHER BROOKLYN by Jacqueline Woodson
★★☆☆☆
Amistad, 2016
date read: June 8, 2018

I listened to this on audio and… got pretty much nothing out of it. The narrator did a good job, but I just never felt grounded enough in this story, which to me felt more like it wanted to be a slice of life/coming of age poetry collection than a novel. But at the same time I do understand why others have loved this – I think it comes down to whether or not you click with Woodson’s flowery style of prose.

 

5661021EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl
★★★☆☆
Samuel French, originally published in 2003
date read: April 16, 2018

There’s an undeniable pathos at the heart of this play that I think is informed so strongly by Ruhl’s personal experiences it almost made me question the need for this to be disguised as Eurydice’s story. This felt more like I was reading a poetry collection than a play, which was fine, albeit not what I thought I’d signed up for. The climactic scene between Orpheus and Eurydice was the highlight for me, though clearly there was so much tenderness put into the relationship between Eurydice and her father. Ruhl’s dialogue is incisive and dreamlike all at once and this was a pleasure to read in many ways, but ultimately where it didn’t totally connect for me was that it didn’t feel grounded enough in its source material.

Have you guys read any of these?  Feel free to comment down below if you’d like to talk about any of them in more detail!

20 thoughts on “mini reviews #1: Wave, Mary Rose, Bluets, Another Brooklyn, Eurydice

  1. I read “Another Brooklyn” recently and I was slightly underwhelmed by it too. It was a decent book and I didn’t regret reading it, but I didn’t connect to the characters and it certainly wasn’t unforgettable. I haven’t even heard of the others, but “Wave” sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed completely, it’s one of those books where I had to go with Goodreads’ noncommittal “it was ok” 2 stars because I didn’t really feel anything for it in one way or the other. It was just… fine. And I’d highly recommend checking out Wave!

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      • I read “Miracle’s Boys” years ago, but otherwise I hadn’t read anything by Jacqueline Woodson. She’s a good writer, I just had a hard time caring about the story she had to tell with “Another Brooklyn.” I’d be willing to give another one of her books a chance in the future, though.

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    • At the time I attributed a lot of my dislike to the fact that I was reading Bluets in short bursts (which was admittedly a pretty terrible decision), but the more I think about it I just did not get on with that book. I’m so glad to hear you were the same and that you still liked 2 other of Nelson’s books, because I really adored The Argonauts but after Bluets I was afraid that The Argonauts was the random fluke of the two! But I have really high hopes for The Red Parts, I have a feeling that’s going to be much more up my alley. Have you read that one? And thank you! 🙂

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      • You really have no idea how happy I was to read your thoughts on it – it gets rave reviews from everyone! But it was the same for me, I just didn’t get on with it aside from a pretty line here and there. I haven’t read The Argonauts, I know that’s her masterpiece but I just couldn’t get interested in the subject matter enough to try it. I generally don’t like stories with a heavy focus on pregnancy and child-rearing and it seemed like that’s a big part of it. But I absolutely love The Red Parts, I thought it was just incredible! I’ve never read anything quite like it. I’ve also read Jane, which is like a story in poetry and written pre-Red Parts but about the life of her aunt who’s the center of that book as well. It’s good too. I would love to hear your thoughts on Red Parts!

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      • I think Bluets just didn’t feel anchored enough for me, like you said there were a lot of singular lines and thoughts that struck me, but as a collection I felt it lacked thematic cohesion (as it turns out, ‘blue’ really isn’t much of a theme, imagine that!) I was also a bit baffled at the overwhelmingly positive reception… I almost felt like I was just missing something. So I’m loving hearing your thoughts!

        As someone else who is incredibly disinterested in motherhood/child rearing memoirs I’d actually suggest giving The Argonauts a shot if you’re tentatively curious about it. I had the same concerns going in and did find that the sections which focused on motherhood were the ones I was the least interested in, but Nelson also spends a lot of time on her relationship with Harry and her experience with academia, all of which was great enough to make up for the mothering bits.

        I’m definitely going to make a point of prioritizing The Red Parts! Unless you’d suggest reading Jane first? Both are on my TBR, I’m just not sure which order they’re best approached in.

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      • That’s great to know about Argonauts because as much as I love her writing, the subject there has been the turnoff for me. Maybe it’s worth a shot. I need to page through a copy next time I come across it and see, I think! I’m just so in awe of the way she writes, it seems so effortless but packs so much intensity into a turn of phase.

        I don’t think you have to read Jane first, I didn’t. The back story is that she was waiting for Jane to be published when her family got the news that Jane’s long-suspected killer probably wasn’t the guy, DNA had pointed to someone else. So Red Parts covers the trial and this revelation after decades. But even that story is a bizarre and uncertain one…if you don’t know the case, definitely have a google after you read the book. But it’s more focused on that and how it affects her family, while Jane is a story in poetry pieced together from her aunt’s diaries plus a little about the original trial and suspect. It’s a beautiful tribute. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on them!

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      • That’s a great description of Nelson’s writing. I always adore it when an author can pack such a huge punch into a short little book, and Nelson seems great at that. Not that I don’t also enjoy long books, but with Nelson in particular I think the economical style suits her.

        Okay, that’s good to know, thank you! Overdrive has both Jane and The Red Parts available so hopefully I can read them both soon anyway, but I think I shall start with The Red Parts. I’m excited!

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  2. Oh, I like Mini-Reviews! (and I am with you that sometimes, there are just not enough things to say about a book.
    Wave sounds really cool! I will have to check that out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is one of the dumb ways I was letting blogging impact my reading experience – forcing myself to write a multi-paragraph review for every book is just not sustainable. I must embrace the mini-review life more often.

      But yes, do check out Wave! It is a great memoir.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have such a backlog of reviews I still need to write because I bingeread the first five books in a series in a two week period that I will definitely only write mini-reviews for those.

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