Posts Tagged Harper Collins

book review: A Mind of Your Own

mind of your own

A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives by Kelly Brogan, MD. Harper Wave| March 2016| 352 pages | $26.99| ISBN: 9780062405579

RATING: ****/5*

“We are engaged in lifestyles that are not compatible with what our genome has evolved over millions of years to expect. We eat a poor diet, harbor too much stress, lack sufficient physical movement, deprive ourselves of natural sunlight, expose ourselves to environmental toxicants, and take too many pharmaceuticals.”

My psychiatrist at Mass General Hospital recommended this book. A colleague recommended it to her. At my last visit she still hadn’t read it so we couldn’t discuss it. However we have discussed the mind-body connection; that I do not want to be dependent on Klonipin or my current SSRI [I am tapering off Lexapro]; that I believe in homeopathic treatments and see an acupuncturist; that I do yoga and I am a vegan. Going into this book I felt I was doing lots of things right but I still am miserable and low functioning. I don’t take a lot of medications outside my daily psychiatric meds, vitamins and supplements. I listen to my body. I feel fairly connected. My psychiatrist said that there’s a disconnect between my level of education and my level of function. That’s not easy to hear. But I know that it’s likely the truth as I cannot find work and struggle to get paid for anything at which I feel I excel. Writing reviews for example.

This book isn’t without controversy. For one thing Kelly Brogan, MD is an anti-vaxxer. I’ve worked as a healthcare professional and get my flu shot every year and have done so for the past decade or longer. Dr. Brogan believes that mental illness is not a chemical imbalance but a symptom of imbalance in our body. It is NOT a disease. I only recently started thinking that mental illness was a disease and a disability because I attended DBSA  Boston meetings and that’s what the majority of people at DBSA and NAMI believe. Many receive SSDI.

Dr. Brogan writes: “Depression is merely a symptom, a sign that something is off balance or ill in the body that needs to be remedied.” This is much more complicated to both comprehend and accept. For how many years have we been told that we have some sort of chemical imbalance in our brains and with the right medication we might be able to stabilize it? She adds: “[sic] there has never been a human study that successfully links low serotonin levels and depression. Imaging studies, blood and urine tests, post-mortem suicide assessments, and even animal research have never validated the link between neurotransmitter levels and depression. In other words, the serotonin theory of depression is a total myth that has been unjustly supported by the manipulation of data.”

She also states something that’s way easier to understand: “So many patients today who are being shepherded into the psychiatric medication mill are overdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or mistreated.” If you are like me, you’ve been to quite a few psychiatrists who churn out the prescriptions – one pill to wake you up, one pill to make you sleep, one to calm you down. And for some people they can handle side-effects such as weight gain and cognitive impairment. Some even seem resigned that they will always have that extra weight because they will always be on medication. Then there are the psychiatrists who speak to you for two minutes and give you an out-of-left-field diagnosis. That’s their interpretation of the symptoms with which you present combined with your lifestyle. You could likely get a different diagnosis depending where you go and who you see. I speak from experience. Brogan explains that over time antidepressants lose their efficacy and can result in chronic and treatment-resistant depression. Instead of helping us, medications make us feel worse. Of course Big Pharma controls the medical industry. It’s all well and good to want to be treated holistically but few insurances cover that. A script for another drug? Absolutely. Transmagnetic Stimulation [TMS], acupuncture, light therapy and cranial stimulation? Not so fast. What’s in it for Big Pharma? How can pharmaceutical companies make money? That’s the bottom line.

What can you do? Dr. Brogan focuses on diet, exercise, sleep, eliminating environmental toxins and meditation. If you’ve read Moody Bitches by Julie Holland, M.D. and/or Your Health Destiny by Eva Selhub, M.D. [which I HIGHLY recommend] this is somewhat familiar territory. Everybody knows that we feel better after a great workout, a good night’s sleep or a big salad. Dr. Brogan believes that inflammation causes depression symptoms and to get rid of inflammation you should eliminate gluten, dairy, GMOs, artificial sugars, NSAIDs and antibiotics. She’s also not a fan of birth control, statins, acid-reflux medications, fluoride and vaccines. Take what you choose from this book. There are definitely some thoughtful and useful tips and explanations. Embracing the mind-body connection remains the best treatment. Of course when you’re completely unmotivated, anxiety-ridden or too tired to move it’s tough to hit the gym and make yourself a healthy meal.

In one chapter, Dr. Brogan explains the importance of quality food to fuel the body. She suggests not eating processed food and to eat whole foods. So consuming products with fewer ingredients and eating more produce, legumes and grains will make you feel much better. In another chapter Dr. Brogan explains the importance of meditation, sleep and exercise. On lack of sleep, she writes: “Otherwise balanced, rational women are rendered near psychotic by the trauma of insomnia and disrupted sleep cycles. Their bodies and minds have “forgotten” how to do it. It turns out that one of the many poorly elucidated lasting effects of antidepressants is their interference with normal sleep patterns.” There’s an entire chapter focused on detoxifying our environment. She discussed everything from tap water to cell phones to cleaning products to dust. Admittedly some of what she claims to do seems unrealistic for many. Who is dusting every single day or using a body brush four times a day (to stimulate the lymphatic system)? In the chapter on tests and supplements, Dr. Brogan suggests certain tests such as thyroid functioning, MTHFR (methylation), and various vitamin levels. To my psychiatrist’s credit [I switched to MGH Psychiatry for a reason], the phlebotomist withdrew about eight vials of blood so I could be tested for a bevy of things including MTHFR. As for supplements, Brogan writes: “Magnesium, zinc, iodine, and selenium are essential to the body’s functionality.” You can read details about these supplements as well as many others. And yes, that can get expensive and insurance does not yet cover supplements. In summation, much of your mental and physical health remains in your control. You need to ask questions, conduct research and remain vigilant. Listen to your body.

Before she received her MD from Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Kelly Brogan earned a B.S. in cognitive neuroscience at MIT. She’s board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine and integrative holistic medicine. This book contains a plentitude of valuable information which may or may not be successful for you and your mental illness. I take zinc, magnesium and a multi-vitamin but may consider adding other supplements. I also want to try to go gluten-free although I adore toast! Mental health might be that element I can control in order to realize my goals.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives

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book review: Rare Objects

rare objects

Rare Objects: A Novel by Kathleen Tessaro. Harper| April 2016| 378 pages | $25.99| ISBN: 978-0-06-235754-0

RATING: *****/5*

Set in 1932 Depression-era Boston, this novel wonderfully sets the scene for first generation Irish immigrant Maeve Fanning who recently moved back from New York after some struggles and setbacks. She’s living with her widowed mother, a rather strict Irish Catholic. The young woman straddles between her cloistered upbringing and her true desires. She wants to be independent and not married and pregnant like many of her peers. Here’s a scene in the small apartment: “Next to that, displayed on the dresser shelves, were my mother’s most precious possessions: a photograph of Pope Pius XL, a picture of Charles Stewart Parnell of the Irish Nationalist Party, and in the center of this unlikely partnership, a small wooden crucifix. Below, my framed diploma from the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School took up the entire shelf.”

While in New York, Maeve struggled to find her place and find her identity. She couldn’t find a secretarial position as expected and worked in an unsavory club as a taxi dancer. She felt: “My life was full of cracks, ever-widening gaps between the person I wanted to be and the person I was. When I first came to this city, they used to be small enough to laugh off or ignore. But over the past year they’d grown wider, deeper. I’d fallen in one again last night.” While institutionalized she meets an intriguing, troubled young woman who seems out of place and also remarkably similar in attitude. Both women wanted freedom and the ability to shun convention.

Back in Boston, the fiery redhead dyes her hair blonde, calls herself May and lands an assistant position at an antiques shop that caters to Boston’s wealthy elite. She’s working for a retired anthropology professor and a mysterious English archeologist who travels most of the time but corresponds with the young assistant in enigmatic, clue-filled letters. These moments in the shop working with these two brilliant and strange men fill pages with adventure, treasures and wit. Add to that Maeve’s adventures with the aristocracy and it’s an unforgettable, enchanting read.

While delivering a purchase to a wealthy family, she meets lovely socialite Diana Van der Laar who she recognizes as the same young woman she met in the hospital. Diana takes an interest in Maeve and introduces her to high society as well as some dangerous situations. The two become rather inseparable at parties and events, Maeve blending in among the Boston Brahmin. In the beginning it’s glamorous fun. But soon: “The Diana I knew was a hard-drinking, rebellious prankster who had practically blackmailed me into being her friend. But to the outside world she was an elegant, accomplished society beauty with admirable philanthropic ambitions.” Dark secrets and betrayal extend beyond that idyllic façade. Maeve finds herself caught up in the deceit until she gains confidence to realize what appears perfect may not be the life that she wants. However it’s this symbiotic relationship that she finds difficult to relinquish: “There was sanity in our madness together that I couldn’t find with anyone else. So I ended up walking away. I needed her, apparently more than she needed me. But it was her refusal to even acknowledge me, her complete and utter disregard, that wounded me the most.”

Author Kathleen Tessaro adeptly describes both the immigrant North End and wealthy mansions with vivid detail. Superb writing and research merge to tell this wonderful story. Rare Objects is a page-turner about class, friendship and the things and people we value most.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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purchase at Amazon: Rare Objects: A Novel

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book review: Terrible Virtue

terrible virtue

Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman. Harper| March 22, 2016| 272 pages | $25.99| ISBN: ISBN: 9780062407559

RATING: ****/5*

“It wasn’t enough to teach a handful of desperate women specific methods. I needed to overthrow archaic laws, reshape public opinion, and enlighten, or at least outsmart, the men in power who were determined to keep us in chains. But how? Should I break the laws in order to win judgments in the courts or lobby legislators to write new laws? Should the issue be free speech or women’s rights or public health, which was just beginning to garner attention?”

How infuriating that there’s no Equal Rights Amendment and abortion and women’s health remains under attack almost as much now as in the early 1900s! Terrible Virtue is the perfect novel to read for Women’s History Month. Written like an autobiography in first-person and then commentary/testimonials from various people in her life—her husband, lawyer, sister, son—at first jarring but by one-third of the way through the novel it worked. This is one engrossing novel.

A sign of quality historical fiction for me is when I want to know more. I want to read Margaret Sanger’s autobiography. I learned many things in this fictionalization but I have many questions. A historical fiction novel’s author must choose which aspects of the person’s life to focus on. If it veers in too many directions, it’s confusing. Author Ellen Feldman succeeds with Terrible Virtue by providing a colorful and detailed characterization of women’s rights and women’s health activist Margaret Sanger. She’s bold. She’s unapologetic. She’s a trailblazer. She’s an independent spirit.

Sanger was one of 11 children. Her mother died at age 50 from tuberculosis after 18 pregnancies in 22 years. Her alcoholic free-thinking father did not believe in birth control. Her upbringing led her to want more and to want to change the status quo for women. She chose to assist impoverished women in avoiding pregnancy. It became her mission. Although she and her sisters declared they’d never marry, Sanger married artist Bill Sanger. Together they join the socialist party. Of marriage to Bill she said: “Perhaps that was another reason I married Bill, to break silly rules and defy foolish prejudices. My marital status would have no effect on my nursing ability.” At the time Sanger is in nursing school. She gets pregnant and cannot complete the program however becomes a birth control advocate traveling the world to research various birth control methods. She started clinics where poor women could be treated. She and Bill had two children (one dies) but Margaret was accused of neglecting her children to focus on her career.

After a brief stint in the suburbs, the couple moved back to New York. “We told people we wanted to be at the heart of the radical movement and the world of art. That was true. Ideas and isms raced through the city faster than the flames that had whipped through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. On street corners, labor leaders and anarchists and socialists climbed up on soapboxes and made the ground tremble beneath their feet.”
Sanger insisted on an open marriage, perhaps more so than her husband. Many gossiped about her numerous affairs but as long as it didn’t interfere with her goals she just didn’t care. “Ours would be a different kind of union, a melding of two equals based on love, mutual respect, and total freedom. We were committed to sexual equality.”

She began talks for women about birth control and the connection between their bodies and minds. “I merely explained the facts of life. It’s shocking how few women are acquainted with them. They know about demanding husbands and agonizing deliveries and painful menstruation, but they understand little of the connection among those things.” Soon Anita Block of the Socialist Party asks Sanger to write a series of articles for the Call, the New York socialist daily which leads to her publication of a magazine. The Society for the Suppression of Vice began to monitor and censor Margaret. Her Captain Ahab was a man named Anthony Comstock, described as “a big brutal bully with a dirty little mind.” Sanger was arrested in 1914 for distributing a pro-contraception magazine, The Woman Rebel, through the mail. Then in 1916 she was arrested for running a clinic to disseminate the information. She’s arrested many more times. Sanger escapes to Europe but does serve some jail time once back in the states. She also finds ways around the regulations. A superb read!

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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book review: The Art of Crash Landing

art of crash landing

The Art of Crash Landing By Melissa DeCarlo.
Harper Paperbacks| September 8, 2015| 416 pages |$15.99| ISBN: 978-0-06-239054-7

Rating: ***/5*

Fantastic cover and title. Promising premise: 30-year-old Mattie Wallace fears that since she’s broke and pregnant she may become just like her alcoholic mother. Her only possessions she keeps in several garbage bags. When her grandmother dies, Mattie travels from Florida to a small town in Oklahoma to retrieve her inheritance. The introduction to Mattie: “I fire up the Malibu, put in a Black Keys CD, and light a cigarette with shaking hands. Three drags later I remember why I quit smoking. Slamming on the brakes, I open the car door and lean out to retch, depositing my half a Slim Jim and an earlier glass of orange juice in the middle of an oily puddle.” Pregnant, malnourished and brazen, she’s quite the scrappy fighter.

Mattie’s perception of small town Gandy: “I wake, sweating, the sun shining straight on my face. I check the time; it’s almost eight. Grabbing the pillowcase that holds my toiletries, I climb out of the car and look around. I’m on what seems to be the outer edge of one of those quaint, redbrick downtowns. The kind where it looks like you’re in a Leave It to Beaver episode until you notice that all the shop windows are covered in paper, and the only thriving businesses are attorneys, bail bondsmen, pawnshops, and payday loans places.”

While there she meets various people who may or may not figure into her mom’s downfall. Apparently Mattie’s mom hastily left the small town under mysterious circumstances. There’s the genuine paraplegic attorney, a librarian named Fritter, her grandmother’s abrasive neighbor JJ and the handsome alcoholic Father Barnes. Mattie begins to unravel details about her mother’s past and reasons for fleeing her small town and attempting to erase her poor decisions through excessive drinking.

Author Melissa DeCarlo moves into the past to explain Mattie’s experiences with her mother. It’s a rocky debut novel about a rocky life. Started slow, picked up and slowed again. Character development creeps along and little tension or suspense exists where it seems needed. Did I particularly care about what would happen? The novel requires more editing as it’s too long at 400 pages. I thought I’d relate to straightening oneself out after poor decisions and misfortunes. I skimmed it at parts but wanted to find out the facts.

Unless you planned some serious career at age 12 most people face challenges in their past. Single moms and divorced parents aren’t that unusual anymore. It’s not all negative. Despite several troubled connections, Mattie maintains an endearing relationship to her former stepfather Queeg. While rough around the edges and uneducated, Mattie’s as savvy as anyone from Florida, land of criminals and slackers, can be. She seems rather earnest in uncovering details about her mom’s life and its connection to her own.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

purchase at Amazon: The Art of Crash Landing: A Novel (P.S.)

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book review: Love May Fail

love may fail

Love May Fail By Matthew Quick.
Harper| June 2015|401 pages |$25.99| ISBN: 978-0-06228-5560

Rating: ***/5*

This is my first novel by Matthew Quick. Having liked the film Silver Linings Playbook, I expected to enjoy this much more than I did. It’s a quick read with resonating themes of redemption and second chances. Portia Kane finds herself at a crossroads. She’s in her 40s living in Florida with her adult film director husband. Of her husband Ken, Portia admits: “He wants to be my emotional pimp—the owner of my heart.” Finally his dalliances with younger women drive Portia to head home to her hoarder mom in New Jersey. Fond memories of her high school teacher Nate Vernon instilled hopes in Portia that she might one day become a writer. He gave all his students ‘member of the human race’ cards at year’s end with inspirational messages which Portia always carries with her still. Life intervened and Portia finds herself miserable and unfulfilled. Is it too late for Portia to pursue her goals?

Portia Kane: “How did I end up so seduced by money, living in a tropical palace of marble floors, twenty-foot ceilings, cathedral archways, palm trees, crystal chandeliers, lap pool, hand-carved furniture, and high-end stainless steel appliances—all of which make my childhood dwelling look like a mud hut that barnyard animals would refuse to enter?”

Meanwhile a scandal drove Nate Vernon to retreat to the Vermont mountains. After meeting and later corresponding with a nun on her flight home, Portia decides that to re-align the universe, she must convince Mr. Vernon to return to teaching. In New Jersey Portia encounters her former friend’s younger brother, Chuck Bass, a sweet guy who ran into drug issues in the past and now also finds himself buoyed by thoughts of their high school English teacher. The ex-heroin addict currently pursues a teaching career complicated by his shaky past. Portia and Chuck bond with memories for 80s metal and this elusive teacher–“What do you do when the person you admire most literally turns his back on you?”

Love May Fail dragged at times. There’s a high school teacher in crisis and a nun –so religion in plenty which rarely interests me. I’m fine with unlikeable characters as everyone in the world isn’t likeable to everyone but I need these unlikeable characters to be well-written and compelling. I appreciated the characters of Portia Kane and Chuck Bass and would have preferred the entire novel told from their points-of-view. I found myself skimming the high school teacher and nun chapters. This isn’t the type of novel where the author writes short chapters from varying viewpoints. Instead we don’t get to Mr. Vernon until part two 100 pages in and carry on with him for about 100 pages. When Mr. Vernon thinks that his dog is Albert Camus reincarnated and begins talking to him, it’s a tongue-in-cheek existentialism moment for the novel and it just went too far. More moments could’ve been explored instead—Portia’s hoarder mom for instance.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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book review: Girl Runner

girl runner

Girl Runner By Carrie Snyder.
Harper| February 2015|288 pages|$26.99| ISBN: 9780062336040

Rating: ****/5*

At the 1928 Olympics, distance runner Aganetha Smart wins the gold medal for Canada. It was the first Olympics in which women could compete in track and field events. It also was the last year for decades that the 800 meter run existed for women. Officials deemed it too taxing for women. Men continued to race in the event. Smart gained glory, enjoyed some years of celebrity and modeling contracts [likely the equivalent of endorsements today] then disappears from the national conscience until a young runner seeks her out when she’s making a documentary film about her own running career.

While author Carrie Synder created the character of Aganetha Smart, she conducted extensive research into the period and into female runners during that time. It starts a tad slow but it’s a fascinating novel about a woman who despite not competing continues to run well into her 80s. She adores the free feeling, escape and bodily endurance. Snyder writes: “Motion comes lightly to me. Maybe this is how others feel about calculations or equations, or about words, or about their feelings, about choices, about right and wrong.”

Traveling from present day to the 1920s, Snyder allows us to learn about Aganetha Smart’s life—her mom performed discreet abortions in their home and helped birth babies as a midwife– and her experience training and competing in the Olympic Games. There’s a scene where they’re traveling by boat to the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The boat serving as an athlete’s village of sorts. Smart thinks: “I quietly agree with Glad. I am thinking myself quite sophisticated. I don’t need a boy, and besides, we girls are chaperoned up to our ears. Picture this: nearly seventy young people in top physical form confined on board a ship for a little more than a week.”

Girl Runner is about a determined woman who lived life by her own standards. “I am a woman unattached, a single woman of a certain age. I’m spared some complications. No one to nurse in declining years, for example. Also, no one to check my little eccentricities, developed over years of solitary habit.” When her running career ends she works for a newspaper and settles in writing obituaries until she moves back home to live in the family home with her sister.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

purchase at Amazon: Girl Runner: A Novel

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Fall Reading Part 3

woman with gun

<em>Woman With a Gun</em> by Phillip Margolin. Publisher: Harper [December 2014]. Thriller. Hardcover. 320 pages.

RATING: ***/5

Authors gather inspiration from everything. It can be a picture, a newspaper story, memories or personal experiences. The black and white photograph on the cover compelled author Phillip Margolin to create this thriller and also drew me in. The only unusual aspect of this inspiration is that the author purchased the photograph and it’s used as the cover. I’m not familiar with Margolin’s previous novels so I can’t compare his current work to his past work. There are two stories within this novel: one is that of aspiring novelist Stacey Kim and the other is that of Portland-based prosecutor Jack Booth.

A recent MFA graduate, Stacey Kim lives in New York City and works in an administrative position. Margolin writes: “Stacey’s nonexistent social life and mind-numbing job would not have mattered if she were making progress on her novel, but she wasn’t.” One day Stacey Kim visits the MoMA and happens upon an exhibit for photographer Kathy Moran. The photo “Woman with a Gun” mesmerizes her and she decides she needs to know more. Soon after she quits her job and moves to Portland for novel research when she discovers that the photo links to a cold case murder. The DA in the seaside town of Palisades Heights calls in Jack Booth to help with the Raymond Cahill murder case. Photographer Kathy Moran came upon Cahill’s wife Megan during an after-work walk on the beach and snapped the picture of her holding the gun in her wedding dress. Kathy Moran used to be a defense attorney but was disbarred. Jack Booth prosecuted a case where she represented a dangerous drug dealer named Kilbride. Moran won and Booth lost the case. Later when Moran became a drug addict, Booth and the police worked with her to arrest the drug dealer. Booth maintains an attraction to Moran.

Margolin fails to completely enthrall readers with the story or any of the characters. Particularly that of Stacey Kim and her journey to Portland, Oregon. She doesn’t just stop in for a research visit as most writers do but she quits her job to move cross-country. Generally I can’t stop reading a good thriller. While there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns, I didn’t care that much. Perhaps because the Cahill case isn’t solved until the budding novelist starts digging into the cold case.

Women aren’t positively portrayed in Woman with a Gun. They are gold-diggers or manipulative. On Megan Cahill someway says: “’Parnell, thick as he was, finally figured out that Megan was only interested in the millions he was going to make in pro ball, so he tried to break up with her. But, like I said, Megan has a genius IQ and is excellent at problem solving. She told Parnell that she was pregnant.’” The sexist clichés didn’t sit well with me. The beautiful woman who marries first a pro football player and then a team co-owner.

Then there’s the woman as sex object. When Booth describes his attraction to Moran it’s all sexual. During the Kilbride case: “Jack might have spent time wondering why she had not pursed a plea if he weren’t so preoccupied with wondering how Kathy’s breasts would feel when he cupped them or how smooth her thighs would feel when he stroked them.” When Stacey Kim becomes interested in Glen it’s as a potential relationship. Margolin writes: “But now, after the murder and the way Glen had helped her, she was wondering whether there was some way to make the relationship work, because she found that she was enjoying her time with Glen more than she’d enjoyed being with any man in recent memory.” I liked Booth. He’s dark and intriguing. I didn’t need the sections where he fantasized about Moran or remarked on some other woman’s looks. It brought the novel down several levels.

–review by Amy Steele

<em>FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.</em>

purchase at Amazon: Woman with a Gun: A Novel

rooms

<em>Rooms</em> by Lauren Oliver. Publisher: ECCO [September 2014]. Fiction. Hardcover. 320 pages.</em>

 RATING: ***/5

“How do ghosts see? We didn’t always. It had to be relearned. Dying is a matter of being reborn. In the beginning there was darkness and confusion. We learned gropingly. We felt our way into this new body, the way that infants do. Images began to emerge. The light began to creep in.”

Starts with an appealing set-up: author Lauren Oliver divides the novel by the various rooms and focuses on one character at a time. There’s Caroline Walker and her two adult children, Trenton and Minna, returning to their childhood home after their father Richard’s death. Minna has a daughter, Amy. The Walkers haven’t been in this home for a decade or more since their parents’ divorce. Two ghosts—Sandra and Alice– currently reside in the house. As this family deals with cleaning up the house and the aftermath of the father’s death, Oliver explores their connections and intermingles some of the characters with the ghosts. We find out about the family. The parents split and subsequently the children become alienated from their father. Oliver also eventually discloses how the two ghosts died in the house. Rooms unfolded with promise but wasn’t quite compelling enough. I could put it down and wasn’t invested enough to pore through it. The solid writing needed to be punched up a notch or two. Sometimes when you tell stories from too many angles and too many points-of-view the stories muddle instead of illuminate. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger remains my favorite novel involving ghosts. Effectively creepy and bewitching. As I read it, I felt chills. I adore that book.

–review by Amy Steele

<em>FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from ECCO/Harper Collins. </em>

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