Robin’s October Book Reviews

The House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi. My book club often offers a choice of books for the month and we vote for the one we want to read. I have gotten into the habit of reading all the books recommended. This novel was one of those—not the winner for the month—but on the list. All I can say is WOW! I hope the one we picked is as good as this one and I hope some of my friends read it so we can talk about it. This is the story of a young Afgahani woman imprisoned for the murder of her husband. Enter a young lawyer, Afghan born, raised in the United States, recently returned to offer legal support in the confused Afghan world. The characters are so well developed, the supporting characters play intriguing, well written roles and the author shares so much of her culture. I’m off to look up more of her books! Rate: 4.8

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. So I did go to the library and get three more books by Hashimi. She is such a great novelist. Her timing, her transitions between past and present, shifting point of view between two women—generations apart—who fight similar battles against the hatred and abuse that Afghani women face. I start the next book tonight…yes, I’m binge reading this author. Rate: 4.8

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi. Third in the binge read….This is her second book, following her success with The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. I hate to say it, but this one misses the mark. The story starts off with Fereiba, an Afghani school teacher and her struggles with early life—enter the wicked stepmother. The story moves along but it is really just telling about her life…missing was the underlying connection with the character. Half way through the book the story transitions to being about her son, Saleem, who gets separated from his mother and siblings as they escape Afghanistan. For me, this threw the story arc all off…Fereiba is no longer the focus and suddenly we need to connect with Saleem. I learned a lot from this book, but it was disappointing compared to her other work. Rate: 3.0

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Another book club nominee, this story takes place in England, 1976, with flashbacks to 1967 and a crime that took place in the neighborhood. Told through various points of view—done well—we are often in the shoes of ten year old Grace. Grace and her friend, Tilly, have decided to “find God” and solve the secrets of the missing Mrs. Creasy. Well written, learned a lot, good character development. Rate: 4.0

Pond by Claire Louise Bennett. Well….I think this might have been a non-choice for book club too. Glad we didn’t pick this one. I only got to page 57. I am not saying this is a low rated book. It is very different…kind of a free association of the thoughts of the main character. It is actually very well written and the things are captivating for a while. But I just couldn’t keep going…nothing was really happening. I think it is more of a book for folks who like to get deep into the symbolism, the psyche of the character or something. I read the end (cheated) and I think the story does go somewhere, but I just couldn’t get there. I checked other reviews to figure out why the high ratings and there was agreement that this isn’t a story heavy on plot. Rate: 1.0

 

Key for my personal rating system:

5.0 – A book I will never forget, will quote, will tell everyone I know they MUST read it.

4.0 – An excellent book, but doesn’t quite make the best books of all time list.

3.0 – A recommendation, good read, decently written

2.0 – Some redeeming qualities, I finished it, but I’m not likely to seek out more by the author.

1.0 – Don’t wast your time.