I picked this up as a Kindle freebie, thinking it would prove a light diversion. But this isn't a quick read; at 370-odd pages, this first installmentI picked this up as a Kindle freebie, thinking it would prove a light diversion. But this isn't a quick read; at 370-odd pages, this first installment of Grace's memoir of a four year round-the-world trip is only slightly shorter than the next book on my reading list, A Writer's World a life-long memoir by the legendary travel writer Jan Morris.
I Grew My Boobs in China (hate that title, sorry!) was self-published, and unfortunately the lack of a strong editor is evident in more than just the length of the book. A jumble of tenses and perspectives confuse the writing, and dialogue between characters is often stilted. Grace's brother Ammon and sister Bree, who accompany her and her mother on the journey, are often little more than two-dimensional foils for her own character.
A conversation early in the book between Grace's mother and her son facing deployment to Afghanistan would have been far more touching (and less awkward) had it not been told through the author's first person viewpoint. I'd really have liked to hear more from Mom, Bree and Ammon through the book.
Reading this review, it might sound like I didn't like this book, but that's not true. Savannah is a sparky and engaging character, and the places, events and people are captured vividly, with more than a few moments of humour and dramatic tension. Just enough to keep you reading through to the end of the book, and consider looking for the next installment.
The Seas is a lyrical tale told by an unnamed narrator on the cusp between adulthood and adolescence, as she slowly drifts away from reality and intoThe Seas is a lyrical tale told by an unnamed narrator on the cusp between adulthood and adolescence, as she slowly drifts away from reality and into the rough waters of mental illness. She is an outsider in her northern coastal town, unable to come to terms with the drowning of her father when she was a child, and creates her own narrative to her detachment; a mermaid awaiting the return of her father from the ocean.
This draws her into the obsessive love of a father-substitute, Jude, a veteran of the Iraq conflict struggling to accept the all too real experiences of war, and finding his own reality through alcohol. A relationship that seems destined for the rocks from the start, reaching a tragic conclusion as reality moves like shifting sands beneath the narrator's feet....more
Wilderness tells the intertwining stories of members of a blended family living in Dublin, and weaves together their experiences of growing-up. DoyleWilderness tells the intertwining stories of members of a blended family living in Dublin, and weaves together their experiences of growing-up. Doyle captures the voices of the characters perfectly, and brings the stories together with great skill, balancing the tension and emotions throughout.
Brothers Tom and Johnny are taken on a wilderness holiday by their mother, to take part in a dog-sled expedition through Finnish Lapland. I've been there myself to do a dog-sled trip, and thought that the descriptions of the conditions and the experience particularly accurate. (I think I even had the same guide as the characters!) Following an accident, the boys must work together to overcome the fear of the unknown and save their mother.
Meanwhile, their older half-sister Gráinne waits to be reunited with the mother that abandoned her as a child. Her story tells of her rage at being abandoned and fear of being hurt and rejected a second time, and gradually getting to know her mother again as a young adult.
Younger readers will enjoy the excitement and action of the boys' story, and teens may relate to the tension of Gráinne's experience as she accepts a more adult relationship with her parents, but on the whole the two stories seem to be aimed at different audiences, and detract rather that complement each other. It also lacks much of the characteristic humour of Doyle's other work, which would have raised it another star....more