This is a very short novel, almost a novella, written in a simple, rather dreamy stream-of-consciousness style: first person, no quotation marks, jump...moreThis is a very short novel, almost a novella, written in a simple, rather dreamy stream-of-consciousness style: first person, no quotation marks, jumping around and speeding through events. The subject is the plight of rural Mexicans, particularly women, and I phrase it that way because I get the sense the author was driven to write more by the subject matter than the plot or characters. Despite the brief page count, the book includes the stories of many minor characters, facing everything from kidnapping by drug traffickers to AIDS to nearly dying in an attempt to cross the border.
As for the plot, the book follows its narrator, Ladydi, through her childhood in a mountain village nearly empty of men, then as a teenager leaving the village and getting into trouble. It’s an interesting story that I flew through, full of adversity and of women helping one another. None of the characters are three-dimensional, however; for instance, apparently the most important trait of Ladydi’s best friend is that she had a cleft palate as a child. Even though she has corrective surgery, Clement can’t seem to stop talking about the fact that Maria once had a cleft palate whenever she appears. The others have a bit more personality, but they still feel more like representatives of tragedy and resilience (or lack thereof) than strong characters in their own right.
Not a book I’d discourage people from reading, but not one I expect to linger long in my mind. I would be interested in finding a book by a Mexican author that tackles similar subjects, and with more space to develop the characters and their stories.(less)
I loved The Ladies of Mandrigyn, so came to this book with some trepidation, knowing that the only recurring characters would be Sun Wolf and Starhawk...moreI loved The Ladies of Mandrigyn, so came to this book with some trepidation, knowing that the only recurring characters would be Sun Wolf and Starhawk. As it turns out, while Mandrigyn is epic fantasy, The Witches of Wenshar is a murder mystery in a fantasy setting; not being a mystery fan, I felt it less enjoyable, but also found this one a less accomplished novel than its predecessor.
This book begins nine months after the end of Mandrigyn, with Sun Wolf on a quest to find a magic teacher.* He and Starhawk arrive in a small desert kingdom, where they meet a woman who claims to teach magic. But they soon become embroiled in a mystery, as people keep turning up dead by some apparently supernatural means.
On a theoretical level, I admire Hambly’s choice to write a sequel that’s a radically different sort of story: life moves on, and realistically our heroes wouldn’t encounter villains trying to conquer the world everywhere they go. And as someone who doesn’t read mysteries (they creep me out, like horror films), I do think this is a good one: while I had my suspicions early on, it's a good story, with some interesting red herrings and twists along the way, as well as a solution that seems much more obvious in retrospect than at the time.
But aside from the fact that I’m less interested in this kind of story, much of what I liked about Mandrigyn was missing here. The secondary characters have less depth and emotional range, and the narrative sympathy is parceled out in more conventional ways: in Mandrigyn, Hambly encouraged readers to like virtually all the secondary characters, even the prickly ones who caused trouble for our heroes. In Wenshar, the love is reserved for the young prince and princess, while characters with more potential wind up with little sympathy or growth, and are ultimately dismissed as unpleasant or pathetic. The end of this book also seemed too tidy. (view spoiler)[Basically, everyone who contributed to the murders is killed off or runs away, without our heroes ever getting their hands dirty. One of the great strengths of the end of Mandrigyn was that Hambly didn’t go for the easy drama of killing people off (though okay, I loved those characters so I’m glad she didn’t!); instead, everybody has to continue to deal with each other: the newly liberated women and the traditionalists, the rebels and the captives and the collaborators. Here, virtually the entire secondary cast except the prince and princess is either murdered or self-disposing, so nobody has a serious think coming; nobody’s left to cause trouble. (hide spoiler)]
Less investment in the story also meant I noticed the faults in the writing more: Hambly does have a tendency to unnecessarily spell things out, and her style is rather less than polished. Too often the sentences, while grammatically correct, trip me up and force me to re-read just to figure out what they’re saying.
It’s not all bad, though. The leads are still enjoyable, and I liked their relationship: Sun Wolf and Starhawk are together now, but they aren’t angsty or obsessive about it; they act like the mature adults that they are. Nor has being with a man turned Starhawk weepy or fretful. One of the things I’ve always liked about Starhawk is that, although she’s a warrior woman, she’s never self-righteous or superior about her lack of femininity, and her non-traditional choices don’t prevent her from liking and befriending other women. That continues to be the case here, though I would have liked to see more of her friendship with Kaletha. Starhawk's level of comfort with herself and her choices is unusual in fiction, and refreshing. I also liked the setting, which steps away from the pseudo-European fantasy mold and includes an interesting clash of cultures.
All in all, this isn’t a new favorite like The Ladies of Mandrigyn, but it’s good enough for what it is. If you’re a fan of both fantasy and mysteries, it’s worth a shot.
* It’s not entirely clear to me why he needs one, as between chosen-ness and the anzid plus one cram session in the last book, Sun Wolf is always capable of whatever magic the situation calls for. But anywho.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is one of those books that's sold as a story of atrocities in a little-known country, but that actually focuses on the mundane angst of a visitin...moreThis is one of those books that's sold as a story of atrocities in a little-known country, but that actually focuses on the mundane angst of a visiting American.
Jane is a 38-year-old journalist from New York, who travels to Uganda to recover from a failed marriage. She soon meets the much younger Harry, to whom she attaches herself like a barnacle, obsessing about the relationship while setting out with a group of aimless expats on a road trip to interview children kidnapped by Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. The children include Esther, a teenage girl taken hostage along with most of her Catholic school classmates.
Unfortunately, the book skims over the true drama of Esther's and the other girls' stories, in favor of the mundane details of Jane's trip and her affair; indeed, Esther narrates only a third of the book, for all that it's supposedly about the thirty girls. I suspect Jane's chapters are based on personal experience, because they have the ring of travel stories ("The roads were terrible, and when we finally arrived, what we thought was a hotel turned out to be a brothel! And THEN, we asked someone where to find a hotel, and he offered to let us stay at his house!"). Like many travel anecdotes, they are less interesting than the teller imagines, and the road trip drags on interminably. Even when the group arrives in what we're told is a war zone, all that seems to be at stake for them is who's sleeping with whom.
I don't blame Jane for continuing to inhabit her own life, despite being horrified by the plight of the LRA's victims; it's an honest portrayal of the way most people respond to the suffering of strangers. I do, however, blame the author for using the story of the kidnapped girls as a hook to draw readers in to the dull mid-life-crisis tale of a privileged American. Another expat tells Jane she has a "wild spirit," but this is nowhere in evidence: she's needy, insecure, content to hand over the reins of her journalistic mission to a group of pleasure-seekers she's just met, and ultimately bland. Meanwhile, though Esther's story has a few shining moments, she is so underdeveloped as to come across as little more than a standard resilient victim. The other girls hardly register except as a jumble of traditional English names (is everyone in Uganda really named this way?) attached to acts of violence. Even the deaths of children at the hands of the LRA are rushed; it's only when a white expat is the victim of violence that Minot fully develops the event and its consequences.
As for the writing, Minot does a good job of capturing speech rhythms; I immediately heard the East African accent in Esther's narration, for instance. Her style itself, however.... well, see for yourself:
"Harry turned right down a slope of flattened grass strewn with hulking boulders at the end of which sat a stone house with a thatched roof."
"A sliver of light green pool could be seen at the end of an alley of cedar trees and a gigantic palm tree rose far past the other trees like an exploding firework. Marsh stretched beyond with inky grass markings and black twisted trees. The purple lozenge of the lake lay farther."
Ultimately, this book bored and disappointed me; the story of the kidnapped girls is worthy of a novel but becomes little more than the backdrop against which Jane's identity crisis plays out, and Jane's story lacks the vitality and insight to carry the narrative itself. I recommend passing on this one.(less)
Okay, so I am giving 3 stars, but the real story here is that this is a sci-fi novel--set in space and everything, not just historical fiction enabled...moreOkay, so I am giving 3 stars, but the real story here is that this is a sci-fi novel--set in space and everything, not just historical fiction enabled by time travel--that I actually sort of liked. It’s been years since I read such a book, and I would not have read this one had I not been familiar with the author’s work (Alis Rasmussen is the real name of the fantasy writer better known as Kate Elliott) and known I could trust her storytelling ability. This is clearly an early work, but it’s a mostly enjoyable story that keeps the focus on the characters rather than the tech.
Lily comes from a family of mine operators on the planet of Unruli, where people live in underground complexes to escape the storms and avalanches on the surface. She’s a restless type and when her martial arts teacher is kidnapped, she sets out to rescue him. From that point it’s a fairly standard adventure novel. Themes and elements I’ve come to expect from Elliott are present here as well: social justice issues and abuse of power; a revolution whose leader we’re not sure we can trust; a world where women are visible and where most of the characters are people of color.
But while Elliott has been remarkably consistent in terms of themes and writing style, the plotting here was too chaotic to get me fully invested. We’re forever meeting new characters who have a lot of potential but drop out of sight after a couple of chapters; everyone but Lily seems to know each other from their complicated, adventurous backstories that are alluded to only in passing; the story is full of competing factions with unclear goals, which remain unexplained even though Lily has plenty of time to ask. The characterization is passable, but too many important characters suffer from excess mysteriousness (the love interest is so weird I spent most of the book expecting him to be the losing prong of a love triangle, but I was wrong). The worldbuilding is handled in much the same way--we see what Lily sees, and have to piece it together as we go--but there it works much better, at least for those (like me) not looking for hard SF.
Overall, an entertaining story with some fun set pieces, probably worth your time if you like the idea of reading about a revolution in space. But there’s just a little too much going on for a book of under 300 pages. I might read the sequel if I happen across a copy, but in the meanwhile I’d recommend Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy, beginning with Cold Magic, for a similar story with a tighter focus and better-developed characters.(less)
If you love research-heavy historical fiction and complete immersion in other times and places, you should read this book. Likewise, if you love femin...moreIf you love research-heavy historical fiction and complete immersion in other times and places, you should read this book. Likewise, if you love feminist historical fiction or you want to read about ways women can wield power in a patriarchal society. But if you’re looking for a plot-driven novel, or you’re bored by books that lean more heavily on setting than character, you may want to steer clear. Also note that despite the cover, this is definitely not YA in either content or style.
Saint Hilda of Whitby was an influential and renowned abbess in 7th century England. Virtually nothing is known about her early life, which is Griffith’s subject here: this book begins when Hild is 3, and ends abruptly when she’s around 20; Griffith is currently writing the second of what will probably be a trilogy. In this book, Hild grows up in the court of her uncle, King Edwin of Northumbria (this part is true), where she gains notoriety as a child seer (this, as far as I can tell, is fiction). It's a tumultuous time, with England divided into many small kingdoms warring with each other for land and spoils, and with Christianity making inroads in a culture that previously worshipped many gods.
In her Author’s Note, Griffith explains that because so little is known of the real Hild, she recreated her story by researching the setting to death and then placing the character inside it: an interesting method and one that explains a great deal about this book. The level of research and immersion in the setting is nothing short of brilliant: everything is closely observed, from social interactions to food preparation to clothing, jewelry and decoration. The natural world, too, is described in vivid detail, from plants and animals to weather and the changing of seasons. I can’t think of another book that does a better job transporting the reader to its setting.
As for the plot, it suffers from some problems common to historical fiction based on real people. One is that the book has no clear narrative arc: we follow Hild through periods of violence, in which she accompanies her uncle to war, and periods of peace, in which she helps with the weaving and wanders about observing animal behavior. Sections of the story are very compelling, while in others little happens for extended periods; the pacing is fairly uniform throughout, but with perhaps more danger and incident in the beginning than toward the end. (I’ve never called out a blurber in a review before, but Val McDermid’s claim that this book “reads like a thriller” is, I’m sorry, flat-out unethical. Either she is lying or she’s incapable of understanding the difference between research-heavy historical fiction and a thriller, and either way she shouldn’t be writing blurbs. A book that devotes several pages to exploring the techniques of goldsmithing or the building of a hedge is nothing like a thriller. Fortunately, the digressions are well-written and never felt pedantic.)
The other problem is that real-life political conflicts are complex, involving more players than can be developed within the space of a novel; an author is forced to either simplify or pack the story with names that are meaningless to the reader. Griffith chooses the latter option. Eventually I gave up on understanding the political nuances and just read for Hild’s story, but future editions would be improved by a character list.
As for the characters themselves, they’re believable, but they didn’t impress me or inspire much feeling. To me Hild is the weakest of the bunch; it seems like she’s meant to be all things to all readers, having whatever reactions are convenient for the current scene. But the secondary characters are more convincing, and they believably inhabit their world. Their relationships feel authentic, and I appreciated Griffith’s focus on Hild’s relationships with the women in her life.
I would not recommend this to everyone: only if you want to read somewhat dense historical fiction that requires concentration and are less concerned about a traditional plot. So, 3.5 stars, rounded up because the things it does well, it does really well, and where it stumbles, it's still redeemable. I won't promise to read the sequel, but I'm glad I read this one.(less)
Though skeptical of this book at first, I wound up having a great time with it. Illusion is one of those books that recreates real historical events (...moreThough skeptical of this book at first, I wound up having a great time with it. Illusion is one of those books that recreates real historical events (the French Revolution, in this case) in an alternate world with a bit of magic, and this is a great example of why I love such novels: when done right, they provide the depth and texture of real history along with the adventure and possibility of a fantasy novel. And Illusion is excellent on both counts.
One of the book’s great strengths is its plot, focusing primarily on the life of a young noblewoman, Eliste vo Derrivalle. There’s a lot going on, and the pacing is just right, moving quickly enough to be gripping but taking long enough to fully develop the situations presented. And it’s unpredictable enough to be genuinely exciting; halfway through I realized I had no idea what would happen next, which is a rarity for me these days and kept me glued to the pages.
If you want that same experience, I suggest you stop reading this review now, because while I try to avoid spoilers, there will be plot details below.
The primary reason for my skepticism about this book is that it’s rather unsubtle, particularly at the beginning; the first chapter is as obvious about explaining the class divisions in Vonahr as it is in explaining the characters. Partly this seems to be mistrust of the audience's ability to read between the lines (which fades after the early chapters), but partly it’s just because there is so much going on in this story--covering two years of enormous and complex upheaval--that if Volsky never resorted to showing rather than telling, it would be a trilogy. I’m a big fan of standalone fantasy novels, so I reconciled myself to the occasional summary.
So, other than the great story, what I love about this book is the complex and realistic way it deals with class and revolution. The upper classes are neither excused nor demonized; the revolutionaries have a wide range of agendas, some better than others; no group is portrayed as a monolith, as even mobs are made up of individuals. People’s ideas and feelings don’t always match: there are nobles who appreciate democratic ideas, but only as abstractions; there are committed revolutionaries offended by poor treatment of the king. There are of course ideological divisions among the revolutionaries, with chilling consequences in practice. There are enormous changes to the society as a whole, beyond simply the effects on our protagonists.
The setting, meanwhile, is detailed and believable, from the provincial plantations to the lavish court to the streets of the capital. The chapters set on the streets are especially impressive: fantasy readers might anticipate a lucky break for our heroine, but instead the situation is handled with the utmost realism. By which I don’t mean these chapters are “gritty” in the sometimes gratuitous way of 21st century fantasy, but that Volsky captures what it would really be like to be homeless and penniless, rather than some romanticized fantasy version of it.
As for the characters. Eliste is a strong heroine who slowly grows and changes through the events of the novel. She comes from a privileged background and has picked up most of the prejudices of her class, which sees itself as a different species from ordinary mortals, but while she begins the book spoiled, we can see that she has a better nature. By the time the story is in full swing, it would be nearly impossible not to root for her. There’s less complexity to the secondary cast, though they work well enough in their roles: I enjoyed the proud and unbending Zeralenn, the kind and unworldly Uncle Quinz, the frivolous and mercenary Aurelie. The love interest, though, is annoying perfect, and the villain gets a lot of scenes in which he, of course, acts villainous (I have little patience for villain chapters in fantasy for this reason)--it is interesting, though, to see a fantasy villain who uses words and political maneuvers rather than might, and who has to win allies rather than having them automatically by virtue of his villainy.
Finally, I have some reservations about the end, particularly the romantic aspect (a small but important part of the book). Volsky seems to misidentify the biggest obstacle to the relationship as the characters’ unwillingness to admit their feelings, when the real problem is their lack of respect for each other. Eliste is mostly there by the end, but he’s still calling her “an impossible child.” Ew.
Overall, I found this book to be great fun, very readable and surprisingly complex, especially once you get past those first couple of chapters. An excellent example of historical fantasy, and one that left me wanting more from this author.(less)
I was intrigued to read this: a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of a housemaid. Fanfiction doesn't appeal to me (no matter what...moreI was intrigued to read this: a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of a housemaid. Fanfiction doesn't appeal to me (no matter what my glowing review of Fangirl may have led you to believe); seeing beloved characters reimagined by someone other than the author who made me love them generally is not something I find emotionally fulfilling. And in any case, while I like Pride and Prejudice, it's never been a favorite. I do, however, enjoy retellings, which have a different appeal, casting new light on old stories or playing with perspective in ways that make readers rethink our assumptions. So it makes sense to me that Baker set her story of Regency servitude within the framework of a beloved classic: not just for commercial reasons, but for its potential to make readers think about whose stories we consider important. It's hard to dismiss the Bennets as privileged and oblivious when we've vicariously enjoyed that privilege already, with no more thought to the servants than they have.
In that sense, Longbourn is a successful retelling, depicting the behind-the-scenes stories of the servants who toil to make their employers' lives agreeable. For instance, Baker takes a sentence from Austen--"from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once. . . [T]he very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy"--and unpacks it: the weather was too miserable for the Bennet girls to step outdoors, so they sent a servant out into it to fetch their doodads instead. It's a fair interpretation, though often a gritty one that may not appeal to Austen fans. There is a lot about bodily functions here, down to the contents of the chamber pots that Sarah carries out. Without indoor plumbing, that is of course part of the servants' lives, but at times the focus seems excessive, as if Baker finds the Bennets' having bodily functions at all to be shocking or shameful.
My greater reservation about the retelling, however, is that almost all of Baker's points are made within the first chapter. This quote from the third page sums it up nicely: "If Elizabeth had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she'd most likely be a sight more careful with them." Two pages after that, Lydia complains to the overworked and underappreciated housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, about how hard her own life is. The rest of the book repeats what we learn in Chapter 1: that the work of a servant is exhausting, thankless, demeaning, and likely to cause chilblains.
Of course, this isn't just a response to Pride and Prejudice, but also a story in its own right, and on that level it was only mildly successful for me. It gets off to a slow start and sags in the middle, so that halfway through I nearly put it down unfinished. It does improve, however: the last third is the strongest, and while the lengthy Napoleonic Wars flashback near the end is a bit odd structurally, it's effective at portraying the devastation of war and adding resonance to the novel. The main protagonist, Sarah, is notable mostly for reactions that seem too modern for her time: "really no one should have to deal with another person's dirty linen" she thinks on the second page--in a time when laundry is heavy manual labor this is a radical opinion, and there's no explanation of how Sarah came to it. In another incident she happens by the barracks when a soldier is being flogged, and is sickened and traumatized by the event even though she's never met the person and isn't otherwise unusually sensitive. I never quite believed that a real servant in the 1810s would think the way Sarah does.
In the meanwhile, Sarah's inevitable love interest (I won't spoil who it is, because Baker teases us with a love triangle, but it's really obvious) also lacks personality and comes across as a standard male love interest. The most interesting character is the long-suffering Mrs. Hill, though savvy readers will spot her big secret from a mile away. The characters from Pride and Prejudice remain mostly in the background, and Baker seems to rely on our knowing them already from Austen's work. Some (Elizabeth, Wickham, and especially Mr. Bennet) are reinterpreted in ways unlikely to be popular with fans, though others (Mr. Collins, Mary, Mrs. Bennet) get an interestingly sympathetic treatment. Mrs. Hill's campaign to impress Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas is one of the best parts of the book.
Long story short, this is a decent mainstream novel to while away some time, if you don't object to reading a generic romance between a pair of blandly inoffensive young people, and it has the added bonus of a social conscience. The writing is fine, though I wouldn't put it in the literary category (the characterization isn't that deep in any case), and Baker appears to have done her research. It wasn't quite as interesting thematically as I'd hoped, though, and it's not the best tale of servant life that I've read. For novels that delve more deeply into the lives of English servants (albeit in different time periods) I'd recommend Lady's Maid or The Remains of the Day first. Two and a half stars. (less)
I chose this book out of local interest and interest in the subject matter rather than expectations for its literary merit. It is pop lit--don’t read...moreI chose this book out of local interest and interest in the subject matter rather than expectations for its literary merit. It is pop lit--don’t read it looking for deep or insightful characterization or beautiful use of language--but successful pop lit: it’s a compelling story that I zipped through. Chamberlain makes excellent use of tension and momentum, expertly crafting the story to hold the reader’s attention, so that you’ll always want to read just one more chapter.
Necessary Lies is set in North Carolina in 1960, and the subject is the state’s eugenics program (which operated until 1975; it’s made headlines in recent years, and continues to do so with the debate over reparations). Eugenics mostly fell out of fashion in the U.S. with the Nazis, but it was considered a progressive cause in the 1920s (this should frighten all who think of themselves as progressive. Conservatives I presume are used to being on the wrong side of history), and was used against mental patients and welfare recipients, particularly African-Americans or those seen as “feebleminded.” The story is told through two alternating voices: that of Jane, an idealistic social worker fresh out of college, and Ivy, a 15-year-old girl and one of Jane’s clients. Ivy lives in a rural area, in a home with few modern conveniences, and struggles to keep her family together. It’s not easy, as her family consists of a grandmother who consistently ignores medical advice; an older sister who appears to be developmentally disabled and has already given birth once; and a 2-year-old nephew who has yet to learn to speak, and whom no one is really able to supervise.
In her Author’s Note, Chamberlain points out that she chose not to sensationalize the story of the eugenics program, and this is one of the strengths of the book. If you read articles about it you’ll probably find stories like the one of the teenage boy who was sterilized because he was a “troublemaker,” based on his running away from home, which he did because he was abused. Here though, the picture is more nuanced, and we see why the social workers--who are empowered to petition for sterilization--come to the conclusions that they do. Pleasant and well-meaning people (Charlotte, Paula) are in favor of the program because they believe it’s best for their clients, and are impatient with Jane’s qualms, without ever descending into rants about the improvement of the race.
But the plot itself does descend into unnecessary drama: Someone breaks her leg! A barn catches fire! Someone’s dying of cancer! The core story has enough power that the book doesn’t need these distractions. And too much of the conflict depends on intelligent people ignoring clear warning signs. Jane gets teary-eyed during her job interview when the interviewer says she’s a widow; obviously Jane is incapable of the emotional distance she’ll need to avoid getting too personally involved in her clients’ lives, yet she’s hired on the spot. And Jane marries a conservative social climber despite the fact that they have no common goals, beliefs or expectations. As we aren’t shown the sort of love or attraction that might smooth over their differences, it’s no surprise that their marriage is on the rocks within a week. The question is why they marry at all, other than as a source of conflict in Jane’s personal life.
The characters are nothing special either. Jane is a conglomeration of traits that never gel: she’s frank and direct to a fault, but doesn’t communicate to her fiance that she’s determined to have a career and put off children; she has a childlike idealism but uses birth control behind her husband’s back; she’s a perfectionist who pores over office manuals, but doesn’t realize taking her clients on a spontaneous road trip is against all the rules. Ivy is less contradictory, but more unformed, and her rural-accented voice teeters on the edge of being too folksy, though Chamberlain does a good job of distinguishing between the two. The individual scenes ring true, but the characters never take on a life of their own.
Otherwise, the visual details are good, the themes well-presented, and I appreciate Chamberlain’s inclusion of actual Eugenics Board documents where they become relevant to the story. Her choice to put a white face on the victims of the program is conspicuous, given that the majority of the real victims were black (there is a black woman who’s been sterilized, but she’s here to represent those who’d already had children and wanted it). But it’s a defensible choice: white authors assuming the voices of black characters in the segregated South is tricky at best, and if Ivy’s family was black many readers would interpret this as just another Jim Crow book, rather than focusing on the issue of poverty. Which would be a shame, because Chamberlain highlights issues that remain timely today; there are no easy answers for Ivy and her family, no matter how well-meaning their social workers.
At any rate, this is a quick and easy read if you want to think about serious issues but aren’t looking for anything too deep. Probably ideal for book clubs. The characters are nothing special, but I still enjoyed my time with it.(less)