What I Love

August Book Review

It’s BOOK DAY!! This month, I read three books: a family drama, a dramatic read that sort of fell flat, and a book that took me on a wild and eye-opening adventure through mental illness. One good, one bad, and one that will be with me for months to come!

So here’s what I have been reading this month…

Mrs. Everything

A good ‘ol fashioned big family saga, and I really liked it. Jennifer Weiner’s (author of In Her Shoes and Big Summer) newest New York Times bestseller follows two sisters from a young age in the 1950s to the end of their lives in present day. Each chapter flips between the two perspectives of the sisters, Bethie and Jo, as they tackle basically every large family drama you can conjure up: loss of a parent, conformity, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, racism, etc., etc., etc. You start a chapter and just know by the end of it, one of the two characters was going to be dealing with one monumental blow after another. There truly was never a dull moment in this book, and although it probably is a little far fetched that ALLLL of this drama happened to these two sisters, it made for a really entertaining read!

The Favorite Daughter

I really, really wanted to like this book. In fact, I was incessantly reading it to just see if I was going to be blown away by some shocking twist at the end or that I was missing something major that I would be in awe that I missed all along. Nope. Neither one. I feel like I had the book figured out from way too early on and was left extremely disappointed with the ending.

The story is told by a woman, Jane, who is deeply grieving the loss of her oldest daughter from the previous year. She’s on a path to reinventing herself, getting herself back on her feet, and sparking a renewed relationship with her husband and remaining daughter. Turns out, there is A LOT going on with her family members that she was seemingly turning a blind eye to, and now don’t really want to do much of the rekindling.

The main character was a complete narcissist and extremely difficult to feel anything for, making it a little bit of a disgusting read. She talks about how good she looks on a constant basis, believes everyone wants to be near her, and doesn’t ever put someone else before her own. Not really a character you’re rooting for! Actually, there truly wasn’t one character that you actually like through the whole book. They’re all ridiculously unlikable characters!

I was really disappointed in this read and thought the story just really flatlined throughout. Bummer! I was hoping for a good one here.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Nothing like going straight from a book told from a narcissist’s point of view straight to this one. 😳

But Whoa! What. A. Story! A married couple, Mimi and Don, have kids. Let me rephrase that. Mimi and Don have TWELVE kids. 10 boys and 2 girls. Of those TWELVE kids, 6 of them are diagnosed with schizophrenia, a disease that not only has drastically differing opinions by researchers as to it’s cause, but also how to properly treat someone with the mental illness.

With six family members mentally ill with a disease about which medical opinion shifted every few years, this family is utterly shattered. This story was breathtaking and painful, educational and eye-opening, and a page turner from the start. Kolker does an outstanding job of not only telling the story of the boy’s breakdowns and the effects on the parents and siblings, but also the chronology of the research and how far we’ve come in psychology to aid someone struggling with this illness.

Because of this family, researchers now have an abundance of valuable information to help them discover ways of treating and predicting schizophrenia. 

This book was riveting from the start and I not only was completely engulfed in this story, but I learned so much about this illness through this one story of the Galvin family. What a brilliant read!

Okay, that’s it for August! Any great recommendations for September? Chilly mornings, cozy blankets, and a book?! I may just be reading a few more this month! 🤍

And if you want to catch the books I’ve read this year so far, check out January, February, March, April, May, June, and July Reviews to see what I’ve been loving through 2020.

xx Rachel

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