An Open Book: What I Read in November

Book reviews

The other day my sister asked me if I’d read any good books lately. I was shocked when I couldn’t name a single five-star book I’d read lately — even though I had, obviously. I read two of them this month!

Yet it wasn’t difficult at all to conjure up the titles of the books I didn’t enjoy.

It was disappointing.

Why did my brain push out the good stuff but was more than happy to let the mediocre drivel linger?

Does this happen to you? Can you name the last few really good books you’ve read, or have you forgotten them already?

In any case, here are two stellar books I read in November (and one not-so-great book) …

Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler (5/5 stars)

Three-line review: A strange, present-day version of The Breakfast Club, this young adult novel follows five high school students from freshmen orientation to their graduation day. At first I found the chapters — each of which is told by a different character — a bit disjointed from each other, but things came together and coalesced surprisingly well. I closed this book thoroughly satisfied and ready to recommend.

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of the Columbine Tragedy by Sue Klebold (5/5 stars)

Three-line review: Heavy and heart-breaking, Klebold’s memoir grapples with her son’s murder-suicide at Columbine High School in April 1999 that set off the wave of school shootings we know today. Klebold makes no apologies for the tragedy committed by Dylan and is very honest and open about her journey in understanding her son’s mindset, but she also probes deeper and provides helpful and insightful information about brain illness and suicide warning signs. Many people have bashed this book because of the outcome of the Columbine shooting, but the past can’t be changed and Klebold’s book offers the next best solution: Trying to understand what happened and why in order to avoid a similar tragedy in the future.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez (2/5 stars)

Three-line review: In theory, I like the idea of reading about a woman who attempts to empower other women in the world, but this book did not deliver. Though I’m not a fan of Rodriguez herself, who clearly rears her “ugly American” facade throughout the book, I can look beyond that and simply say the book wasn’t well written. It incorporates strange time jumps, weak characterizations of real women, numerous story lines left hanging, and a sense that many of these women would have, unfortunately, been better off had Rodriguez not interfered with their lives, shrouded and shunned as they may be.

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