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review 2017-11-29 23:32
Everything I Never Told You
Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng,Cassandra Campbell

This book was amazing. I was absolutely captivated the whole time.
Not often have I listened to a book that has prompted me turn up the speed as high as I can possibly stand it because I need to have it all absorbed NOW. This was one of those rare exceptions (seriously, it's maybe happened twice before and last time it was the finale to the Lunar Chronicles).

With a title like this, I knew the story was going to be a sad book about someone leaving some kind of way but I just couldn't help myself. I didn't even bother reading the synopsis, I had  to know. I do have trigger type issues with stories about kids dying, but my ability to persist tends to depend on either the direct actions of the parents that contributed or ill or misrepresentative treatment of the mourning process. I didn't have to worry about that here.

The book did an amazing job of walking the reader through some of the different ways that people mourn, it is not about some easy recovery and people getting on with their lives after a family tragedy. The story itself is about the mourning and recovery process for each family member, wallowing in all the sticky and depressing parts, wallowing in the guilt. It walks us through their inner lives as they go through it all.

I won't  try to defend all of their actions, people are reliably irrational during such times and do things that are out of character. Whether or not we can expect people to think or act rationally while dealing with death is questionable at best. In some stories it works, but those are usually stories where the remaining characters are still under whatever strain or stress that killed the first. This is not that kind of story. Everything was fine, or so the rest of the family thought.

Then they find out that Lydia had died. Due to the circumstances of her death, each family member, in their own way and time, has to take a look at the events leading up to her death and question their amount of fault or responsibility. The problem is that they only have questions. There can be no concrete answers for them. They have to come up with some answer that works for them and try their best to carry on. Part of the problem is that it isn't just about Lydia and her death. When something like this happens so unexpectedly, the remaining family members have no choice but to look at the family and the way that it works and realize that it doesn't work. It hadn't been working. But what could or should they do about it? But figuring that out would require the kind of rationality that isn't immediately available to a grieving family.

During the whole book, I had to wonder if this was going to be a story about a splintering or a family coming together. These things go both ways in life and in stories and Ng's treatment of her characters was realistic enough to make me wonder. I won't spoil it either. I'll just say that each of her characters are incredibly well rounded, even Lydia. We get to know plenty of options for each family member and I was satisfied with the way it did end.

The audiobook was read by Cassandra Campbell, who does an amazing job with it. I listened to the streaming version available through Amazon Channels on Audible. For me, the book satisfies Letter E for my Litsy A to Z Challenge.

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review 2017-06-18 21:57
A Small Revolution
A Small Revolution - Jimin Han A Small Revolution - Jimin Han

This is a pleasant surprise. It's a Kindle First book I got a few months ago, along with the audio upgrade, that had so much more to it than I expected. At it's core the story is about four college girls who are held captive by a guy with a gun for reasons that blur between the personal and the political. But this isn't about some rejected college student who wants to take out his anger by showing power, it's more of a hostages make people listen situation.

Yoona is the protagonist and I loved the way she tells the story to Jaesung. It's not done in a way that makes it sound like she is relaying it to him later and that everything is fine. She talks to him as if he is her conscience. Jaesung is another character who is not in the room with them but he is still a part of it. You know from the beginning that Jaesung has something to do with why Lloyd, the gunman, has these girls in this room at gunpoint.

I appreciated Yoona, Jaesung, and Lloyd as characters, as would-be or possible revolutionaries. I loved the niavete they possess and the way each works through that in their own way and the way the interference, or not, of parents rang true to life for me. Some are very involved, others not so much or not at all. I couldn't help but feel for Yoona, not just in that room but as other events became known. Then there's Lloyd's unraveling, what brought him to the place, what motivates his conversations with the negotiator and I loved the negotiator. Much of the book isn't even about the room they are in but the way they all came to be there and these are the scenes that surprised me most.

I enjoyed the story embodied a part of American life by being about people who were the first or second generation to be born in the US, by being about people who still have ties to the land of their parents. I appreciated it as a story about Korean-Americans, which I feel is a group we don't hear much about, but also about Korea and a dorm room in the US. The story elements fit together beautifully and the only thing I would wish to change about it was a little more denouement.

Also, I really love this cover. Its perfectly captures the feel and tone of the story without giving anything away. Every time I see the cover since finishing the book, I get a little wistful about the story and all the characters and everything they wanted to do and everything they wanted to fix about the world.

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