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review 2017-03-18 13:36
Harvest Home ★★★★☆
Harvest Home - Thomas Tryon

Some books have such compelling action that I get completely sucked in, reading to find out what’s next, what’s going to happen on that next page. This is not that kind of book. Instead, it is a slow burning, wonderfully atmospheric story that sucked me into the mysterious events and curious characters, so that I kept reading because I wanted to know more, to mine the hints and subtleties to find out *why* people were doing and saying and events and stories were not matching up. I am not a fast reader, and with baseball games having started, I’m slower than ever, which is why it’s significant that I finished a 400 page hardcover in only four days. And that’s literally all I can think of to say without spoiling the whole plot.

 

This novel is not without its problems. It is certainly dated, but I wouldn’t say that it hasn’t aged well. More that it is an excellent snapshot of the cultural issues and fascinations of early 1970’s mainstream America. Although I have never studied the history of feminism, I am willing to bet that a modern feminist scholar would find a lot to dissect here.

 

One last thought. I first read this book when I was not quite a preteen, because it was all the rage at the time and my parents never noticed when I snuck their adult fiction off the shelf after they were done with it. They never would have let me read the novel equivalent of an R rated movie. So I didn’t have the maturity or the base knowledge to understand a lot of it (no internet in the 70’s and children were much more naïve then), and I’d forgotten most of the plot, so in some ways I was coming to this book unspoiled. And I’m glad of it. This book had been left on my parents’ bookshelves for 40 years, until I found it mixed into a box of my grandmother’s books, when my mother chose to give them to me as keepsakes rather than throwing them out. I was delighted to find it, and now I’m even more delighted after having reread it as an adult.

 

Previous Updates:

Pg 50: http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1540577/harvest-home-progress-50-401-pg

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review 2017-03-11 19:54
108 Days ★★★★☆
108 Days - Lisa Lindell

“I am appalled. The doctors don’t actually enter the room to examine the patient? They read the chart, full of lies and omissions, and look through the window. Well they can see a nice IV pole when they look in the window. I guess none of the dozens of nurses we’ve told about his face bothered to note in his chart, ‘Wife concerned about disappearing, bleeding face.’ This also explains his eyes. The doctors never bothered to look at the patient, and none of those nurses bothered to write, ‘Wife concerned about melting eyeballs.’"

 

While this book was not a pleasure to read, there was value in doing so, as a health care professional. It provides insight from the family’s point of view into how hospital care is provided, communicated, and coordinated. There is also value in this first-hand account of how dysfunctional family relationships can adversely impact the providers’ ability to communicate and coordinate care. Who should the health care providers talk to? Who can make medical decisions? Wife, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin? Girlfriend? Partner? Without a medical power of attorney, this became a vicious power struggle between family members that medical and hospital staff had to navigate.

 

Since the events of this book in 2003, the acceptance of “patient centered care” as an essential component of health care quality has grown tremendously, and many of the attitudes and barriers that the author encountered are actively addressed, but I have no doubt that patients and families still experience them. We should do better. We must do better.

 

This story also illustrates how impossible it can become to simply manage day-to-day responsibilities when a medical crisis strikes, and what a blessing small kindnesses can be. The author was moved to tears by these practical but unglamorous offers, to mow her lawn, to clean her pool, to babysit her children, a bag of groceries, a paid long-term parking pass for the visitors’ parking lot.

 

I’ll finish with these wise words from the author: “I probably don’t need to state the obvious, but at the very least, everyone needs to have a medical power of attorney. Something like this could happen to you at any time. As Americans, we think we have basic rights and authority. When my husband became incapacitated, so did our rights and so did my authority to protect him.”

 

Previous Updates:

 

23/104: http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1538423/108-days-progress-23-304-pg

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review 2017-03-04 12:41
Before I Fall ★★★★☆
Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver,Sarah Drew

I should have really disliked this book, because (1) it’s YA, which usually wallows in feelings I left behind decades ago, and (2) it’s mostly written in first-person-present-tense, which I usually hate with the heat of a thousand fiery suns. I was convinced to give it a try by two excellent reviews from people I trust, and I decided to go with audio as the FPPT style is usually less obnoxious when read aloud.

 

And… I truly enjoyed it. It’s well-written, and the FPPT style actually fits with the story, and I could get over the adolescent drama, because getting over it is really what this book is about. I won’t go into plot details, because that’s been done elsewhere by more skilled reviewers, but I will mention the few flaws that made this a 4 star read for me. The mawkish romance toward the end felt like an obligatory addition to the plot, because apparently, all YA must include a love story and a teen girl’s life is incomplete without it. And the love interest was a male version of the manic pixie dream girl, and the only truly unrealistic character in the book.

 

A word of caution: As the book starts out, the main character is a truly unpleasant person, and I felt crazy impatient with her and her friends. I might have DNF’d if I hadn’t known that this was the point of the story. I’m glad I stuck with it.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. Sarah Drew provides an excellent performance.

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review 2017-03-03 13:20
The Lost Wife ★★★★☆
The Lost Wife - Alyson Richman

I was so moved at times in this story of a Jewish couple separated by war and the Nazi occupation of Prague and the terrible choices they were forced to make. Especially so when Josef desperately searches for his missing wife and longs for what he has lost with her, contrasting with

the emptiness he shares with his new wife, who has lost as much as he.

(spoiler show)

 

Audiobook via Audible, with beautiful performances by George Guidall and Suzanne Toren. Guidall is one of my favorite audio narrators, and he meets all my expectations here.

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review 2017-03-03 13:07
Where They Found Her ★★★★☆
Where They Found Her - Kimberly McCreight

I did not have high expectations for this book. It was an impulse purchase as part of an Audible 2-for-1 sale and I knew nothing about the book or the author going in. So it was a pleasant surprise to find an engaging mystery/thriller with interesting characters and enough twists to keep me guessing until near the end. My only real disappointment is in the way some of the loose threads tied up in the end

(too obvious and not at all original)

(spoiler show)

. I will note that there are so many characters with relationship details revealed throughout the story that it was difficult for me to keep up with them and the related clues on audio. The same with the story timeline, which is not linear. I had to make notes via Audible bookmarks & clips to keep up. This probably would not have been a problem had I been reading a text format instead of audio.

 

The audio was performed by multiple narrators, all of whom were effective.

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