I decided to resume mini book reviews. I missed writing them, and I think I’m managing to read a few more books this year, even if a lot of them are professional reading rather than the ones I review here! Although the first five have made me realise I need to branch out and read something written by a man!
#1 Kiley Reid Such a fun age
This one was a book club book, although I’d intended to read it anyway after reading some reviews. It’s a thought-provoking read, tackling racism, class and money in a very readable way. The action centres around Emira, who is in her mid-20s, struggling to find work that pays her enough, and who, as a black babysitter in a grocery store late one night with her employer, Alix’s, white child, is stopped and questioned. The perspective switches between Emira and Alix, who is a little older, much better off and trying to maintain her professional life alongside having two children. Emira desperately needs to find a job with health insurance, as she is about to become too old for her parents’ policy, which I had trouble getting my head around as the situation is so different in the UK. There is a rather unlikely coincidence in the book, but I’d still highly recommend it. It’ll really make you think!
#2 Leah Fleming In the heart of the garden
I chanced upon this one in the library, looking for something fairly light-hearted to read at bedtime. It’s the story of a garden through time and the women who gardened there, starting about 1000 years ago with pre-conquest settlers who first start farming and growing on this small patch of land and then following their descendants’ fortunes in the same area as it becomes a convent, then a house, through the Reformation, various wars and up to the mid-1950s when the last surviving Bagshott is considering selling the land for development. This doesn’t give a huge amount of scope for plot development, but I enjoyed seeing the garden and its situation develop through time, along with the glimpses into each time. And it did make me think of my former garden and what will be our next one, both of which are on sites that date back a similar length of time! I’ll be looking out for other books by this author.
#3 Louise Newson Preparing for the perimenopause and menopause
Well, I’m not there yet, but it’s only a matter of time 😉 and forewarned is forearmed, right?! In my last job, I’d joined the menopause group (an off-shoot of the women’s equality network there) to find out more about it. They were working with HR to get things changed around work policies to support menopausal women. This book then led on from there, as I realised I only had very hazy notions of what to expect, vaguely remembered hearing HRT = bad on the news (TL:DR it’s not) and I have zero family history to go on. This is a very readable explanation of the biology, what to expect (which varies hugely anyway) and what you can do about – evidence-based.
#4 Jane Fallon Worst idea ever
A random pick up from the library when I wanted an easy read for in bed. Georgia decides to help out a friend’s business by setting up a fake Twitter account, and her whole life then starts to unravel! It does question a lot of the “stuff” of modern life – who is real online, how online businesses work and how success is determined. A great bedtime read for switching off from all the stuff during the day.
#5 Kate Maxwell Hush
I came across this one via a Mumsnet article about the realities of having a baby and the consequent loss of identity, which is something I really struggled with, particularly on maternity leave. The novel is about Stevie, who leaves her job in New York to return to London and have a baby by IVF using a sperm donor as she is so desperate to be a mother. And how she then feels about it once the baby is here. The action alternates between Stevie’s former life, and her new reality, and there are some interesting revelations along the way. Some of those I guessed in advance but half the fun was finding out if I’d been right. I know several people who have chosen to be single mums by using sperm donation but in not quite such jet-setting circumstances, and I think the subject matter really resonates, especially with women who are thinking about starting a family in their mid-30s and later and who have an established career. It was a very enjoyable read, and a fast one for me (partly because someone else had reserved it from the library so I had a deadline!) – definitely recommend.