The Girls by Emma Cline

The GirlsBeing a girl is a tricky business, being a teenage girl even more so.

If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

Emma Cline’s The Girls captures this so perfectly, so absolutely, that’s it’s a wonderful reading experience. Set against the backdrop of Northern California during the volatile 1960s, the novel depicts the life of Evie Boyd. She’s a typical, if lonely, teenager who, in her desperation to fit in, attaches herself to a soon to be infamous cult. She blossoms under their attention and affection (as twisted as it might be), but things are far more sinister than they appear.

The language and imagery of this novel are brilliantly evocative – everything seems tangible – and my review will never do it justice. Instead, I’ll leave you with one of my favorites passages, which is apt even now:

The didn’t have very far to fall – I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe in yourself. Feelings seemed completely unreliable, like faulty gibberish scraped from a Ouija board. M childhood visits to the family doctor were stressful events for that reason. He’d ask me gentle questions: How was I feeling? How would I describe the pain? Was it more sharp or more spread out? I’d just look at him in desperation. I needed to be told. To take a test, be put through a machine that could comb my insides with radiated precision and tell me what the truth was.

Bottom line: Just read it.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

And then I thought “What’s one more?”

And that phrase is how I wound up expecting my third baby. That may not be exactly how it went, but you get the idea. My two sons are my favorite people in the world and the idea of another little person is very appealing.

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^^A baby! And 50 million layers of clothing.^^

So, to answer all the burning questions that I know you must have…

(But really to record these things for posterity.)

How far along? 20 weeks.
Due date? November 13th.
Boy or girl? We’re not finding out until delivery! And no, I have no preference, nor did I go into this venture trying to have one or the other.
Any intuition? Nope. If it matters at all, this pregnancy is very similar to my first, but not nearly as pleasant as my second. I’m pretty sure it’s human…
Cravings? I’m not much of a craving person, more a food aversion person, but salad. Lots and lots of salad. With grilled chicken, please.
Weight gain? 6 pounds.
Baby names? Not a clue!
Morning sickness? Tons.
What am I most excited about? The baby + not being pregnant anymore. Some people love it, I love how it ends. I’m willing to put in my 38+ weeks, but am very much looking forward to having my body back.
Will I start talking about baby stuff more? Probably not, this is more just a random life update (and why things have been a little (extra) quiet around here – zero energy and all of that).

Now, if I get a little applause for camping up the coast of California and Oregon with two small children and a husband in tow (while nearly five months pregnant), I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

(I always worry that sarcasm doesn’t translate online, and that’s practically my second language…)

Romeo and Juliet // Six Degrees of Separation

Romeo and Juliet ChainRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is this month’s jumping off point and there are some many directions to go.

My mind immediately went to Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. It is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, but with zombies and an airport (and plane!). It’s better than it sounds, I promise. But speaking of airplanes, they are the basis for my next (loose) connection. In Trilobites by Breece D’J Pancake, a character’s life took a very different turn due to an airplane:

“When I was a young punk, I tried to run away from home. I was walking through this meadow on the other side of the Hill, and this shadow passed over me. I honest to god thought it was a pterodactyl. It was a damned airplane. I was so damn mad, I came home.”

From there, we move on to my deep appreciation of a good cover. Like Pancake’s book of short stories, Brian McGreevey’s Hemlock Grove features a wolf snout. I love them both. Now, not to be too obvious, but let’s look at the word grove… Karen Russell’s short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove is near the top of my to be read stack, and I’m going in with high expectations. Will it be good enough to top my love for Jason Brown’s brilliant short story collection Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work. I don’t know, but I aim to find out. Speaking of New England, I am dreadfully behind in my New England Challenge, but The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike – set in New England, of course – should be happening in the near future.

I love seeing where book chains lead. The connections can be as profound or as inane as you’d like. This particular event is hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best, and I do belive you may enjoy joining in the fun.  Admittedly, though it was purely unintentional, I am quite pleased that I got to mention zombies, pterodactyls, wolves, vampires, the devil, and witches – all in one post. It’s practically an accidental supernatural theme, based on Shakespeare.

Naturally, this makes me a total bookish badass.

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

marrowTwenty years ago, Lucie was a young girl living on an isolated island in the Puget Sound. Twenty years ago, an earthquake devastated that region, sending tidal waves that ranged all the way from the coast of Alaska to the coast of California. Now an unemployed journalist, she returns to her childhood home after receiving a mysterious letter from Katie, a fellow survivor and former best friend. Katie says she is living on Marrow Island’s “Colony”, which, following the oil refinery disaster that killed Lucie’s father the day of the quake, is supposed to be uninhabitable. Curious and with nowhere else to go, Lucie feels pulled to investigate. What she finds is beyond her wildest imagination.

Told in alternating timelines, Smith’s sophomore novel features the same gorgeous language present in Glaciers, her wonderful debut. Part eco-thriller, part environmental meditation, it is a pleasure to unravel what happened, as the novel opens with Lucie’s rescue. At times, the dual timelines – 2014 and 2016 – can be slightly disjointed, but it was nothing that deterred my reading, and it did add a nice touch of mystery. Contrary to my mild disappointment over the closeness in times, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the area as described by Smith. It’s moody and atmospheric, and her descriptions are stunning. I appreciate when a novel utilizes a character’s close connection to the environment and surrounding landscape, and Marrow Island is a prime example of this done well. It’s quite an immersive reading experience. If you love a good mystery with an added post-disaster element, think California or Station Eleven, pick this one up immediately.

Casual Friday

I found casual Friday to be a good summation of this post. It’s not formal, not bookish, and I didn’t want to be obligated to post five things (yet I did), so all of my previous titles are sort of out.

Crater Lake

01. First, in the *fun* category, we are refinancing our house. I cannot tell you how excited about this I am, because, quite frankly, I am not excited. But it’s a smart financial move for us, it’ll take five years off of our current pay schedule. Etc, etc. Basically, I am just whining about have to do adult things.

02. Which, of course, means the house needed to be reappraised, which we got 24 hours notice for. So guess what I spent yesterday doing? Cleaning and fixing all the things.

03. I’m short, which I am generally okay with. Except! I want to be able to wear all the floral-hippie-peasant inspired dressed this summer. My fear? That I’ll end up looking like a big round ball. This, this, and this one are all ones I’d love to try on.

04. I definitely try to be a healthy and active person. Being gluten free was an excellent way for me to lose the last remaining weight I wanted and to cope with an autoimmune disease. Since reintroducing gluten into my life, both of those have become an issue again. Clearly I have the willpower of a toddler.

05. Next month, we’re heading – briefly – to Crater Lake. It should be…fun? I like to camp, but more in theory than in actuality.

06. I turned on my computer to list some items on craigslist and somehow ended up posting a blog instead. Happy Friday!

Share your bookish and not so bookish thoughts via Christine – join in, say hi, commiserate in the general dourness of adulthood.

(Photo found here.)