Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
A chronicle of a year of grief as Didion’s husband, John dies at the same time their daughter undergoes a life-threatening illness. A story of grief intertwined with a tribute to marriage and motherhood.
Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott (2010)
A 43-year-old, divorced woman’s life becomes entangled with a down-on-their luck family. When their two cars collide and the hospital discovers the mother has cancer, Clara moves the three children, their father and grandmother into her home putting her life into a tailspin. With humor, honesty and tenderness, Endicott tells the story of a woman who finally finds herself through others. The characters are wonderful and I was sad to leave them.
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (2008)
I really enjoyed this book, staying up until 1:00 am reading it. There is a mystery entwined in the story – what happened to Dr. Hunter? But it’s really about the characters and relationships. The four main characters are well defined and interesting. One of them, Reggie, is a 16-year-old orphan who has the determination to make it even though everything seems to be against her. This sentence sums up her current state of affairs, “Reggie got off the bus and turned the corner of the street to find that the all-too-familiar calling cards of catastrophe were waiting for her – three fire engines, an ambulance, two police cars, some kind of incident van, and a knot of bystanders – all muddled up in the street outside her flat. Reggie’s heart sank, it seemed inevitable that they would be there for her.” Flashes of wit and humor brighten the story and Atkinson’s descriptive writing will make her characters linger in your mind.
Run by Ann Patchett (2007)
A beautifully written story that proves several themes tied around relationships. A prominent man has raised his son and two adopted African-American sons since his wife’s death years ago. His relationship with his oldest son is lacking and his plans for his adopted sons are at odds with what they want for their lives. The tangle of feelings within the family, including the hole left in their lives when the mother died, are brought into focus when an accident brings new people into their world. In fact, their world is turned upside down. The characterizations are wonderful. I didn’t want the book to end.