Well... this is a tough one. I need to start out by saying what I a huge fan I am of Emily Giffin- I always get her books as soon as they come out becWell... this is a tough one. I need to start out by saying what I a huge fan I am of Emily Giffin- I always get her books as soon as they come out because they are practically guaranteed to be good reads for me. I love her writing style, and I always love a light, peachy-type read. And I hate writing a critical review, particularly when it's an author who I love.
So... that's what makes this hard. This book was... meh. (Alright, enough with the ellipses). I just am not feeling this book. My biggest issue was that the two main characters (sisters Meredith and Josie) were frankly both straight-up unlikable. I mean, really unlikable. They both had character flaws, which is fine, but they were both essentially caricatures of real people. Meredith was bitchy, rigid, and kind of nasty. I found myself rooting against her the whole book - she has a wonderful husband and little girl, a great job, a close-knit family and yet for some reason, she is wildly unhappy with her whole life and essentially everyone in it. Josie was self-centered, flighty, and sort of ridiculous. She comes up with a half-baked idea partway through the story which guides her path through the whole rest of the novel and it's pretty terrible. And their brother, Daniel, who is sort of pivotal to the story, is too ridiculously perfect. Annoyingly perfect, actually. Lastly, the two sisters fight constantly- not like normal sisters, like straight up enemies. It's exhausting to watch and listen to, and I ended up hating them both.
Additionally, a lot of storylines early in the book were essentially dropped and never mentioned again which was frustrating. Josie is a teacher, and at the beginning we learned about her class, her ex Will and his new wife, etc.... and then... poof, basically nothing. It's like we were ramping up to something and yet nothing ever really happened. That's just one example of many. (Okay, one more- Josie hates Gabe's new girlfriend... for a hot second. And then, with no explanation, they're good. Very odd.)
Lastly, can we please talk about Pete? Pete is a creeper. Sorry, friends, but he really is. I have no idea why we had to invest so much time on him. Gabe isn't much better, and the odd relationship that Josie and Gabe have...well, I really can't say much more than that other than nothing struck me as less realistic in this book than their storyline.
Overall, I'd give this book maybe 3.25 stars, but that's probably even a bit generous. It wasn't Giffin's best, in my opinion, and I say this with great hesitation as a huge fan of hers. I hate being critical, but this book was just not what I imagined. It won't stop me from continuing to read whatever books she puts out next, though, and it's not that it wasn't entertaining to read. I just know I will forget about it and the characters in it far sooner than I will any of her other work....more
My real rating hovers closer to 3.5, but I am being a little generous with the star-rating because I really was largely entertained while reading thisMy real rating hovers closer to 3.5, but I am being a little generous with the star-rating because I really was largely entertained while reading this book.
My main issue with the book is that nothing really happens. That's not bad, per se, and it launches it safely into the "beach reads" category for me. There's no real growth (if anything, there's more destruction than growth), the characters change very little, and there's no real action. On top of this, Beth, the narrator/main character, is at least partially unlikable. She is stuck in what appears to be constant misery, and yet does nothing to change it. It's frustrating.
That said, I loved the way it was written. I loved Beth's voice (even if I didn't like her decisions and passivity). The book flowed well and kept me hooked for two days while I devoured it. It's definitely a good beach read....more
Okay, so this is tricky. I am not entirely sure how to rate this one. You'll see I made an attempt- let's call it at 3.5, just for kicks. I'll spell iOkay, so this is tricky. I am not entirely sure how to rate this one. You'll see I made an attempt- let's call it at 3.5, just for kicks. I'll spell it out a little more clearly below. I am not certain that anything I've written is a spoiler, but if you're worried about that at all, I'd quit reading here to be safe. This might be the most in-depth review I've ever written, which suggests that I am really invested in this book.
What I loved: The writing, overall. Matis is very obviously a talented writer, without question, and much of the book reads like prose. I particularly loved the way she wrote about the hike and the PCT in general. As a hiker myself, I appreciated feeling transported into the woods and felt like I was along for her journey even if I wish she had spent more time writing about some of it in greater detail. There's little chance I'll ever thru-hike the PCT, so reading about it in such great detail was lovely.
I loved the flow of the book, and it absolutely held my interest. I did little else other than read this book, and I wanted to stay up late and get up early just to have more reading time before/after work. Her writing is a gift. And I admit, I love a good book about hiking.
I also loved the overarching story and theme- traumatic event at college (rape) which caused her to rethink her priorities and go for a (really long) hike, during which time she also reexamines her life. I get that. It resonates. Now...
What I didn't love so much: Admittedly, I didn't always like Matis herself (or, more accurately, the way she wrote herself). Maybe it was the way she wanted to be viewed and maybe it was intentional, but she often came across as spoiled, narcissistic, and self-obsessed (which I recognize is a little redundant). She wrote often of her vitriol for her mother (who, admittedly, seems overbearing... but at this point Matis is 19+ years old and it seems like her mother's sins didn't warrant this type of hatred), and yet alternately seemed conflicted about her relationship with both parents. The use of "mommy" and "daddy" also didn't sit well with me, even used as a literary device, because ... well, ick. I am really walking away from this book having no idea what the deal is with her parents- whether they were "good" people or "bad" people, overbearing parents or just normal parents. In fact, I walked away not even really convinced Matis knows this herself (or, rather, is not willing to share with us).
She seems to hold women to a far higher standard than men (feel free to just think about how she talks about Silverfox and her mom versus how she talks about Edison and her dad. It's worthy of thought). Her vanity was also striking- there was a sheer obsession with weight, glasses, etc. that prevailed through the story. It seemed to me she was as lovely looking "before" the hike/transformation as she was "after" (there are photos of both in the book), but that her internal definition of beauty (and maybe those around her influenced that) was/is largely skewed.
Additionally, I didn't like most of the people she chose to spend time with on the trail, most notably Edison. She recognizes early on that she shouldn't be spending time with him (and yes, through her journey admits that her passivity is an issue)... and yet never acknowledges in the book that he is flat out racist and hateful (despite directly quoting him in a way that leaves the reader no choice but to know he is a racist). I physically cringed nearly every time he spoke, and wanted to scrub my eyes out, but Matis kept hiking on with him. It was hard to watch.
Gratuitous sex. I am sure those words are rarely paired together for most folks, but for a book largely billed as a transformative hiking experience, I found that Matis spent a lot of time talking about sex, having sex (not at all including the pivotal rape here, of course- that was obviously imperative for the telling of the story), and talking about thinking about sex. It just seemed a bit much. To go along with that, there were a few pieces of animal violence I could have lived without, but I guess maybe they were necessary. I guess sex and violence must have been part of her journey, but it felt like too big a part of this story for me (excluding, again, the pivotal rape).
And last, but not least, Dash. I realize we are supposed to see him as the knight in shining armor, but I really was not able to see that. He was 10 years her senior, yet struck me as relatively irresponsible. He wasn't employed, maybe was retired (maybe not?), had no plans post-PCT (Matis really didn't either, but she was 19- I guess I don't find that as unusual), left her for part of the trail (yes, she said she was okay with it.... but was she?), and just read a little creepy to me. Maybe I missed his charm. I am happy Matis was happy with him, because the boys before him in the book (yes, boys- these were not men, regardless of their age, because of their behavior) were just atrocious. It all felt and read a little strange. And it appears in the acknowledgements that they are no longer together, but I couldn't tell from the way it was written whether their relationship ended or he passed away, so I don't know how to feel about that.
The only other thing I will say is this book needed a stronger hand at editing. There were typos (several) and some repetitiveness. That's maybe not Matis's fault, but...
So, I know this review sounded like I disliked more than I liked. I guess maybe that's true, but I also actually really did like the book. I didn't do much other than read it from the time I cracked the spine, and I found it very readable and interesting. I work at a college, and can easily see how this could translate for students and would actually love to have Matis come and speak on campus because I am certain her story is compelling. I loved her writing, and I fundamentally loved the story. I certainly loved the hike. I refuse to compare it to Wild- I love Strayed too much to do that, and they are fundamentally different stories and women. Read them both- they're both worth it, really.
Long and short- if you like hiking, read it. If you like a transformative story, read it. If you're into stories that wrap up neatly with a bow (with great editing), read it- but know that's not what you're getting. I do recommend this one, honestly. It's a good read....more
I really enjoyed this book, and it was a fast read. The author did a great job at making all the characters believable and easy to relate to, which coI really enjoyed this book, and it was a fast read. The author did a great job at making all the characters believable and easy to relate to, which could be challenging in a story where a baby was kidnapped (doesn't that make the kidnapper evil? doesn't that make the birth mother easy to view as a victim? doesn't that mean the (kidnapped) daughter will hate her mother (the kidnapper) when she learns the truth?). Luckily, this book isn't that easily defined.
I read this one in a matter of hours, and really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the interaction between all the different narrators. Great, quick mystery! ...more
Let me start by saying how biased I am - I love and nearly devour everything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I started this book last evening, and finished itLet me start by saying how biased I am - I love and nearly devour everything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I started this book last evening, and finished it this afternoon. Once I start reading her books, there's no stopping.
Yes, there are plot elements in this book that require you to suspend your disbelief- I won't go into them for fear of giving away elements as spoilers- but fundamentally, I don't care. I give a book 5 stars when I love it, read it with as little interruption as possible, and truly enjoyed it. It doesn't have to be a Pulitzer prize winner or anything too lofty. This book suited me just fine.
Now I just have to wait for Taylor Jenkins Reid to put out another book! :)...more
Wah. I don't know whether to give this book 3 stars or 4, but I am settling (for now) on 3.
Here's what I loved: The writing, the story line, the concWah. I don't know whether to give this book 3 stars or 4, but I am settling (for now) on 3.
Here's what I loved: The writing, the story line, the concept, and most of the book.
Here's what I didn't love: The main character. Really, really, did not love her. Can't express in words how much I didn't love her. She started out perfectly likable, and then it's as if the author had a fight with her and decided to turn her into a monster- which she did a great job of. Keeley went from "affable girl next door" to "boy-crazy, terrible human being" in a matter of chapters. I don't understand why, and I am not forgiving the author for this.
What I also didn't love: The ending. I won't give any spoilers away, but I seriously could not be more upset by an ending of a book that I otherwise enjoyed if I tried. There was no catharsis - in fact, it was the opposite of that, whatever that word would be.
Anyhow, I liked the book. A lot... mostly. Other than what I didn't like. At all. Gah....more
I really enjoyed this book- it kept me guessing until the end. I absolutely thought I had it figured out at one point, but rest assured, I didn't. ItI really enjoyed this book- it kept me guessing until the end. I absolutely thought I had it figured out at one point, but rest assured, I didn't. It was suspenseful and the characters were well-written. I'd read another by Kubica!...more
I can't review this one because I sadly had to abandon it. Four chapters in and I was so lost between all the character and time changes that I felt lI can't review this one because I sadly had to abandon it. Four chapters in and I was so lost between all the character and time changes that I felt like I would never understand where this book was headed. Sadly, I had to put it down. Maybe another time....more
I hate to give less than three star reviews, but I'm perplexed by all the four star (and higher) reviews on GR for this novel. Truly befuddled.
Sure,I hate to give less than three star reviews, but I'm perplexed by all the four star (and higher) reviews on GR for this novel. Truly befuddled.
Sure, it's a likable enough read. It's light and theoretically fun and...well, maybe that's it. The characters are cardboard cutout stereotypes (overbearing mother always eager to please, unmotivated spoiled rich kid with a chip on his shoulder, etc...) and the writing is fluffy. I'd argue this is at an 8th grade reading level.
It's not to say this was a bad book or poorly written - it's not - it's just not my cup of tea, I suppose. And frankly, I read a lot of light, fluffy, beach reads, so it really means something when I think it's TOO light and has no substance.
It wasn't for me. That said, there are an exorbitant amount of reviewers who believe this is one of the best books they've ever read (really?!) so make the decision that's best for you....more