Summer reading is winding down, y’all! I must admit, those classics are calling my name right about now—I have read so many newer books lately. Below you’ll find some historical fiction, suspense, and parenting books on my list in August. Enjoy!
He Said/She Said is a suspenseful thriller surrounding a crime that may or may not have actually occurred. The first third and the last third of this book were spot on; however, the middle part was a little “meh”. I enjoy books with alternating points of view as they give the reader some unique insights into the plot, which He Said/She Said definitely did. It also offered the ambiguity that comes with unreliable narrators—who is lying and who is telling the truth? The novel was suspenseful and intriguing but plodding in the middle which didn’t quite hold my attention; hence, I gave it three stars.
(Also, be aware that the crime at the center of the novel is one that could be a trigger for some readers.)
Rating: 3 / 5
Another book with alternating narration, Dreamland Burning jumps back and forth between different time periods as well. Modern-day Rowan finds a body buried in her backyard that takes her on a journey through history to one of the ugliest, and most mysterious days, in American history. Dreamland Burning captured my attention from page one and didn’t stop until the brutal end. I appreciated Latham’s skill in building one cohesive narrative from two different points of view—each colliding in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. As a novel for young adults, this book succeeds in forcing readers to think about hard things a little at a time; it also encourages readers to reconsider history and our easy acceptance of how things “used to be.”
It was probably quieter a hundred years ago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean better. I understand now that history only moves forward in a straight line when we learn from it. Otherwise it loops past the same mistakes over and over again. (Will from Dreamland Burning)
Rating: 4 / 5
I enjoyed The Gilded Years for several reasons; first, the plot surrounded an issue in American history that I wasn’t familiar with. Anita Hemmings was a young college woman like any other at the end of the nineteenth century – except that she wasn’t. She was the first black woman to ever attend the prestigious Vassar College; however, she was attending under false pretenses. Anita withheld a vital component of her heritage. As a black woman with very light skin and straight hair she was able to “pass” as white and thereby inherit all the privileges that came with it.
The second reason I loved The Gilded Years was its characters. Each one was developed with depth, thoughtfulness, and the ability to surprise. The act of “passing” at that time was not morally straightforward and Tanabe successfully illustrated that in the cast of characters surrounding Anita.
My final reason is that I just wanted to keep reading. The Gilded Years is not a page-turner in the sense that it contains suspense around every corner; in fact, I found it to be a slow and steady read. There weren’t many twists or surprises to keep the reader hooked. It was simply a story about real people making difficult choices in a hostile country that they called home.
Rating: 4 / 5
I adore this book. Compiled from her award-winning blog, My Brown Baby, Millner describes the essence of parenting African American children. The topics discussed in this book range from hair care and reality television to politics and racism. As a mom, I savored every moment Millner describes with her beautiful children; there is such pride, joy, and delight in each one. However, as a mom of a black daughter, my heart ached. Even now as I recall the stories and experiences of Millner and her family my heart overflows with sadness; I continue to lament the racial divide that exists in our country. Despite the challenges, Millner offers hope, steadfastness, and determination in raising successful African American children. I highly recommend this book for African American families, families formed through transracial adoption, and anyone who cares for and loves little brown babies like mine.
Rating: 5 / 5
What did you read over the last month? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more great titles! She is my go-to resource for all things books and reading!