Book Review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo / ★★★★☆

her morning mantra in the bathroom mirror I am highly presentable, likeable, clubbable, relatable, promotable and successful

This book follows the narratives of twelve different characters told in pairs of three in a collection of what is essentially interwoven short stories. While at first I wondered if jumping from narrative to narrative would make it hard for me to stay invested in this book, I was very quickly proven wrong. Each character, most often a black woman, had something new to offer within the themes of feminism, sexuality, race, identity- the list goes on.  Even if I was sad to see one story come to an end, I looked forward to what the next would bring, and to discover how ultimately every story and character was connected.

I did find that I felt that the first half, or first six stories, to be more engrossing than the second half. I think this was because the book almost became oversaturated with characters and perspectives concerning the same things. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact was something I also enjoyed immensely. However, after a while it began to feel like Evaristo was simply speaking through her characters rather than letting her characters do the talking, in an almost lecture-esque way. Despite this, I still loved her distinct narrative style, and any dissatisfaction I had was more than made up for by the intrigue I had in the characters.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was one of those books that I just enjoyed my time in. It wasn’t a quick read by any means but it was one I was able to spend hours in without putting down. I loved that I was able to feel empathy for each character, despite how good or flawed they were. And even though it was a bit oversaturated, there was still much to be gained from the scope that Evaristo captures within this novel. I really, really enjoyed it and it definitely deserves all its accolades.

Book Review: The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The Idiot

The Idiot by Elif Batuman /  ★★★★★

Summary: The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

“And you are different? You do not love truth?” 

I thought about it. “Truth is okay,” I said. 

For months, this book had been in the back of my brain, nagging at me to read it. I only had a vague sense about what it was about – a young Turkish-American girl and her first year as a Harvard student in the 1990s – but FINALLY I picked it up off of my dusty shelf, and wow. I loved it.

The Idiot is a meandering, surprisingly absurd tale, in which our main character Selin falls all-consumingly in love with a Harvard classmate, Ivan, who she first begins conversing with over email. I did not expect this book to be as funny as it was- there were times where I caught myself actually laughing out loud. But this book is not a romance. Because on the other hand, there is a pensiveness and uncertainty that pervades it, brought on by Selin’s puzzlement in her “place” in all of this- in the world, with other people, with herself.

She is a writer, but she doesn’t like to think about being a writer, or for other people to acknowledge that she is a writer. And it’s not just because I too enjoy writing that I found her to be extremely relatable -in fact, it’s amazing how much is said about writing, without Selin actually acknowledging writing very often. It’s that her confusion about her place in the world is done quietly, internally and furiously at times. She embodied my experience as an introverted and reserved person, who observes the world around her and how people go about their lives, and lets herself get roped along, regardless of the absurdity of it, or how much she’s actually invested. Selin tries many things in this book, goes through many of experiences in order to find answers to her uncertainty. Despite this, I never felt like Selin didn’t know what she was doing. She’s very aware, she knew what was good for her and what was not, but she chose to do certain things – good and bad – regardless, and never on some crazy impulse, but often because she was hoping for the best. Selin’s character struck me as someone who doesn’t always want to follow her head, and is sometimes disappointed in other people’s hearts, and I think that’s where her character struck a chord with me the most.

I would venture to guess that this is not the type of book that would please everyone, but I loved the humor of it, and I don’t mind a meandering story, especially if I like the characters.  I do think that it did get a bit too slow in the middle, and while I still enjoyed it, I found myself waiting a bit for the next turn in events. Regardless, I found this to be a very enjoyable read (even if the love interest, Ivan, was actually infuriating). It’s a book that, while quiet, has a lot to say, and one I feel like I could talk about for a long time. I think The Idiot could very well end up on my list of favorite books I’ve read this year. 

TL;DR review in 5 thoughts: LOL. Meandering plot. Extremely relatable main character. Can this guy LEAVE. A++ ending lines.

Book Review: Tin Man by Sarah Winman


Tin Man by Sarah Winman /  ★★★★★

Five years after the death of his wife, Ellis lives in a state of loneliness. His childhood best friend, Michael, is nowhere in sight, but as Ellis falls back into memories, their lives together – and apart – begin to unfold.

I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. 

Continue reading

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt / ★★★★★

Summary: Theo Decker survives a terrible accident that kills his mother, and he escapes the scene with a priceless 17th century painting that she loved. In the ensuing years, Theo bounces from  his rich friend’s house, to Las Vegas, to an antique shop in New York, the painting always in his mind. As Theo gets older, the painting, the influences around him, and his own aching heart lead him down increasingly dark paths.

But when I think of you, it’s as if you’ve gone away to sea on a ship – out in a foreign brightness where there are no paths, only stars and sky.

Continue reading

Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara / ★★★★★

Summary: Former college roommates Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm traverse life in the decades after college. Friendships shift, careers are made, lives change as the future unfolds, but the past haunts Jude, who suffered unspeakable childhood traumas, and who holds them together more than anything, for better or for worse.

They all hold their positions, and it reminds him of a set, in which every scene can be redone, every mistake can be corrected, every sorrow reshot. And in that moment, they are on one edge of the frame, and Jude is on the other, but they are all smiling at one another, and the world seems to hold nothing but sweetness.

Continue reading