I don’t read the Women’s Fiction genre as a rule, but I make an exception for Kristen Higgins. I love the way she writes families and best friends. She writes the world I wish I lived in and while not shying away from deep and sometimes painful feelings, always manages to infuse a sense of humor into most scenes.
This particular book is all about adoption — exploring it from every perspective: the adopted child, adopting family, and the birth mother and father. While the main storyline concerns a woman who gave up her baby at 17 and gets a (sudden) chance to meet him 18 years later, several other characters have different adoption experiences which are shared.
Our main character (Harlow, the birth mother) is part owner of a book store on Cape Cod; her gummy imbibing grandfather is losing his marbles in a somehow adorable way (he may be the best character in the book); and both the birth and adoptive families are replete with interesting siblings, cousins, etc. A strong message of (sexual) diversity and acceptance is transmitted via the requisite lesbian couple, transsexual employee, and a pretty hysterical speed dating event with no gender boundaries.
A few parts felt a little repetitive to me (but then we do tend to let our brains perseverate over issues important and / or painful to ourselves) but overall enjoyed as much as usual with Higgins’ books.
Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on June 6th, 2023
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 3/5
36-year old Alexa Thomas is hit with a double whammy when she learns that Chang Jing Tao — her Taiwanese biological father — is dead after 22 years of estrangement and that it is up to her whether or not his extended Taiwanese family will lose their homes. A personal trainer in New York City who loves her clients, Alexa was raised by her white American mother and adoptive father. Efforts to learn more about her Taiwanese family came to a screeching halt the summer she was 14 and had a lot to do with the titular Tiger Mom — Jing Tao’s second wife.
A fun book with good writing and likable characters. Butler is a great storyteller, and I confess I read this in a single sitting on one insomniac night! Taiwanese culture is explored — mostly through mouth watering food descriptions but with some customs and the tiniest bit of history added in. While hitting plenty of hot topic buttons (being bi-racial, not fitting in, family break up, and … wait for it … the exploration of one’s sexuality at an “elderly” age), they weren’t the agenda laden center of the book. Instead they were simply influencing factors of Alexa’s life. We all have individual personalities and contexts in our lives, and I like to see “hot topic” forces relegated to the background of one person’s individual story.
Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on July 6th, 2021.
A perfect kids book! Had it been around when I was young I would have read it a hundred times by now (like my other favorites: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Wrinkle in Time, and Charlotte’s Web). It’s an adventure story complete with rambling houses, hidden treasures, eccentric characters, ghosts, and Mystery with a capital M.
12-year old Milo Pine lives with his adoptive parents in Greenglass House — a rambling old Inn whose “regulars” are the smugglers who need a little “shore time.” Greenglass House is perched above a deep gorge — accessible only via a creaky cable car named the Whilforber Whirlwind or a 310 step stairway.
As Christmas vacation commences, and Milo prepares to snuggle in for some serious R&R in the empty Inn, the cable car bell keeps ringing and the number of guests (and emergency helpers) grow until Milo finds himself amidst a sea of eccentric characters who all seem to be on delightfully connected personal quests that center on the house itself.
Weaving together folk tales and local legend with a little paranormal thrown in, Milo uncovers the mysteries of Greenglass House and the odd set of characters who are so fixated on it. Milo — prone to anxiety and panic attacks — also develops delightfully through the twin instruments of literature and role playing games.
Good writing — the story is complex enough to engage adults and yet completely accessible to the target kid audience.