What would your life look like if you had made a different choice somewhere along the line? I'm sure at some point we've all pondered, "What if I had gone to that other college?" "What if I'd stayed in that relationship?" "What if I'd gone on that trip?"
The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig explores that question. After a series of disappointing events, Nora thinks she doesn’t want to live anymore. After making a decision to take her life, she ends up in a library, run by her school librarian. There, she has a chance to explore an infinite number of possible ways her life could have turned out. But what she discovers is something she never imagines she would. While we all wonder what our lives would have been like if they had been different, would any of those lives truly be better?
A beautiful book with an important lesson to teach, I really enjoyed this. It was deep without feeling overly heavy, and it’s the kind of book I feel better for having read.
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The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is Chanel Cleeton's fourth book in the series about the Perez women. While they are all considered a series and some of the character make appearances or have ties to characters in other books, they can all stand alone. Meaning - you don't have to read the three previous books (Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba, or Last Train to Key West) to understand the story.
Like many other Cuban-American women of my generation, Cleeton's books have resonated so deeply because for us, Cuba is a thing of our imaginations. I personally have never been there. My mom just visited for the first time a few years ago. We feel a connection to this land, to this culture, to this place - but our experience is one built on memory - the collective memory of those who were exiled and longed for their home but had no chance of returning. There is so much of Cuba that I don't know, and with each of Cleeton's books, I learn a little more. So while the story moves along, I also find myself learning new bits of information that I didn't know.
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba takes place in the late nineteenth century during the Cuban War for Independence and is inspired by real events. It follows three revolutionary women who all end up connected.
At the turn of the century in New York, newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer run rival newspapers. Grace Harrington becomes a stunt girl reporter for Hearst's paper and quickly comes to realize that getting the scoop can make or break your career. By proving her mettle, she scores the story of a lifetime coming out of Cuba.
Evangelina Cisneros is unjustly imprisoned at the start of the war. When the papers in New York catch wind of her story, they dub her "The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba" and use her story to sell papers.
Marina Perez, a revolutionary working as a courier, helps Grace and Hearst's staff get messages to Evangelina in an attempt to free her.
It's a story of how three women sacrifice so much of themselves in the fight for freedom.
Cuban or not, if you enjoy historical fiction, I think you'll enjoy this one.
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Another war novel, this written by Kate Quinn and spanning thirty years and two world wars, The Alice Network follows two women who find themselves somehow connected.
Charlie St. Clair is American socialite on the verge of being kicked out of her family for getting pregnant out of wedlock. When her mother takes her to Europe to take care of her "little problem," she escapes and begins a hunt for a cousin she lost during World War II in the hopes that she will find her alive.
Evelyn Gardiner was a young woman recruited to become a spy during the First World War. She is sent to German-occupied France and becomes part of a vast network of female spies known as the Alice Network.
Thirty years after Evelyn's mission is complete, she spends her days drunk and alone in a house in London. When Charlie shows up at Eve's door, she brings up a name that has haunted Eve for years. This launches them both on a mission to find the truth.
This was a great read, and once I got to the second half, I really couldn't put it down. If you enjoy war novels, I think this is a great one. It's got love, war, and espionage. What could go wrong?
I haven't shared a book rec in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading! I've actually been making my way through the Bridgerton books because I really just wanted some escapism. But last week I borrowed The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins from the library, and I flew through it.
Jane is a drifter who finds herself in Birmingham, Alabama, walking dogs for the residents of a wealthy gated community. She spends her days walking dogs and lifting knick-knacks and jewelry from the bored housewives.
After a near-fatal run-in with Eddie Rochester, a recently widowed, mysterious resident, he invites her in for coffee. She soon discovers that Eddie's wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend. Jane knows that Eddie has everything she is looking for - wealth, good looks, and he's willing to protect her from her past.
But Jane grows increasingly intrigued by the ghost of Bea. She was beautiful, successful, and well-liked, and Jane isn't sure she will ever measure up. As bits and pieces of all their stories start to unravel, Jane discovers that she isn't the only one with secrets. Will she get her happy ending?
This story is suspenseful and full of plot twists, and just when you think you know what happened, something knocks you back a step. The story is told from Jane, Bea, and Eddie's points of view, and it weaves the past with the present very well. If you're looking for a good story of suspense, definitely check this one out!
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In July 1714, a young girl named Addie makes a deal with the devil in a moment of desperation. She asks for freedom, and is given the gift of living forever - however, nobody remembers her. As soon as she is out of their line of sight, or a door closes, they forget that she existed.
Addie learns over three centuries that while she may not be remembered, there are still ways in which she can leave her mark on the world. Her face is interpreted by artists throughout time, and songs are composed about her.
But everything changes when after 300 years, a boy in a bookstore remembers her name.
I enjoyed The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V.E. Schwab, but I was sort of left deflated at the end. I felt like in all her years, Addie never learned the big lessons. She floated around like a teenager for 300 years. But reading about what it felt like to not be remembered was jarring. I couldn't even wrap my head around the idea. Every time she realized she was going to be forgotten, my heart broke for her. The book is popular, and I understand why. The premise of living forever is something we have all thought about at one point or another I'm sure. The storytelling is well done, and it kept me captivated, although the beginning was a little slow for me. Overall, it was a book I enjoyed.
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