Saturday, July 29, 2017

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

There are getting to be a lot of psychological thrillers since the phenomenal success of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. If you liked those novels, you are sure to like this new one by Mary Kubica, one of my new favorite authors.

Told in alternating chapters from the two main character's points of view, we get a look into the marriage of Clara and Nick Solberg. They are a happy couple with two young children, seemingly living the dream. Nick is a successful dentist with his own practice, and Clara stays at home to raise Maisie and baby Felix.  But tragedy strikes, and Nick is killed in a car crash. Maisie is unhurt in the back seat, but she sees a "bad man" in a "black car." Her terror at these two things raises a lot of questions in the grieving Clara's mind. Was it an accident? Could it be a suicide? Murder?

All of these questions start to mess with poor Clara's head, as she starts to do some investigation of her own. With each new clue, she is convinced that the crash was not an accident caused by her husband's lead foot and the sun in his eyes. But the list of suspects and motives in her mind grows, as does her daughter's terror.

It is not until the very last chapter that the facts come together for both Clara and the reader. And while I didn't think Every Last Lie was Kubica's best, it is a fun, summer page-turner. If you'd like to try some others, check out The Good Girl, Don't You Cry, and Pretty Baby.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey

This is our first book of the new reading year for our Valley Book Club. It is a bitter-sweet novel of love, friendship, secrets, and coming of age.

The Sweetest Hallelujah is really about the unexpectedly intertwining lives two very different women in 1955 Mississippi: Betty Jewel, a black, single mother who is dying of cancer, and  Cassie Malone, a recently widowed, childless white woman. As Betty Jewel tries to enjoy her last days on earth with her mother and her loyal girlfriends, she also is trying to decide what to do about the custody and care of her young daughter, Billie. Billie doesn't know her father, a formerly famous jazz musician, but longs to meet him and be with him should her mother die. But he is not a suitable parent, according to everyone who knows him. Then enters Cassie Malone. Cassie always wanted children with her beloved husband, Joe, but it was not to be. After his death, Cassie struggles with making her life meaningful with her job at the newspaper, and then receives some shocking news about her husband's life which links him to a jazz club near where Betty Jewel and Billie live. Cassie is forced to make a lot of decisions about how she saw her marriage and her past, and she must make some choices about her friendships, motherhood, and racism in our society. 

The Sweetest Hallelujah is beautifully written and addresses a lot of issues that are still extremely relevant in today's world. It is a touching novel that those who love a real tear-jerker will not want to put down. I, myself,  found the cancer element of the story very hard to read at times, as I know so many who have struggled with this horrible disease. And while the ending will be satisfying to most, it did seem quite predictable and a bit unrealistic to me. That said, it will make for some good discussion for book clubs everywhere, and I can't wait to talk to our group about it in September. Let me know what you and your book groups think of it!