My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Premise: A majorly depressed 20-something plans for a year of sleeping with a little help from her friends – tons and tons of pills prescribed by a questionable shrink.
Lately I feel like my body has been telling me to rest up a bit – and I’m listening. I’ve been running at 100% here lately and I know that will only amp up with the holidays quickly approaching. So, I made a conscious decision to chill out for a week or two, primarily this weekend when I had no kids or husband around the house. Therefore, I thought this book might be a fun part of my relaxing weekend!
I admit, this book kept me extremely entertained, almost akin to not being able to look away from a car accident. While I can understand the desire to go back to bed and not get up for a long, long time – I’ve been there – this book horrified me. The main character is completely out of touch with anything and everything. Much of this book is jaw dropping, not in the plot but the musings of the character. It gets pretty raw, profane, psychotic, odd….
The writing is good, but I’m not sure I came away with anything other than, wow, that was a really jacked up book. Initially the book made me want to sleep, but by the end, I was inspired to get up and get a few things done. Bring on the holidays!
Pair with: Animal crackers, the snack the protagonist favored between naps.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Premise: A penniless family ventures to the sticks of Alaska after being willed some land in “The Great Alone” in hopes that dad’s PTSD will subside.
I really do like Kristin Hannah. She’s a phenomenal storyteller, and this was certainly a gripping tale set against a beautiful Alaskan setting. I can see why the library can’t keep the book on the shelf.
Suspension of disbelief, though, am I right? For me, this novel contained just a few too many opportunities for me to snap the book closed and exclaim, “Okay, but that would NEVER happen!” I’ll play along a time or two and then eventually I get frustrated. I start to wonder if all of her killed-off characters will rise from the dead and have a dance party.
Additionally, while Hannah invests in character development for some of her characters, others remain one-note. One-note characters, in my opinion, also can bring predictability to a plot. Spoiler: her jerk dad never stops being a jerk, even when the family arrives in Alaska, where they have to live off the land, winter lasts for 10 months, and daylight lasts for 10 minutes. I’d add a half of a star back, though, for some more unpredictable twists – especially in the second half of the book.
Overall, I’d rate this book as 3.5 out of 5 stars. Solid, but maybe a hair overrated.
Pair with: Salmon. If you’re a salmon fan like me, you will definitely be craving a nice slab of fresh salmon by the time you reach the end. Maple glaze? Dill sauce? Your call.
Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
Premise: Two physician besties are forced to dredge up past “issues” when an ex-boyfriend moves back into town.
This was my electronic book for the week, and I primarily chose it for the title. Fitting for the blog, duh!
I really enjoyed all of the medical scenes peppered throughout the book. Working for a healthcare system the last three years has certainly increased my interest in this subject, and I felt like the author handled it perfectly – not too gory, but plenty of detail, and just enough.
I’m also a fan of books that toggle back and forth between time periods and/or character viewpoint. Queen of Hearts jumped between 1999 and present day, as well as between the two main characters. I know some readers tend to get confused with constant jumping, but I think you should be okay with this book if you are in the SUPER-SAVVY-READER category like I am.
Still, this novel hit me at the three star level. Good, but I’ll probably forget about it after a few months. A few of the lines were pretty funny, but just as many came off as trying too hard to be funny. Additionally, I was a little surprised at some of the racial stereotypes presented – a little cringe-worthy, and I’m not much of a cringer.
Pair with: The round-the-clock medical student rotations just made me want to drink lots and lots of espresso.
Next Up: I just started a terrific "graphic novel" all about FOOD!!!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.