September Book Reviews

Perla by Carolina De Robertis. I was lucky enough to hear De Robertis speak at a workshop and her story and background intrigued me. I have since read two of her books. This story, that of young Perla Correa, took me to a world I had never heard of. Inspired by the actual disappearance of thirty thousand Argentinians (The Dirty War 1974-1983) I had to look up these events. I realized that we were taught very little South American History here in the US. This story is so well written you should be prepared for emotional discomfort related to the horrors of the times. Rate: 4.5

The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis. This is the other book by De Robertis. I was also entranced by so much of history that I never knew…this time it was about the tango, but also about the history of Buenos Aires (1913). The story of Leda, a seventeen year old immigrant to the country who expects to find her husband waiting. Unable to return home she hones her secret skill—the violin. De Robertis has a talent for words and phrases, as well as character development. This wonderful combination is topped off by a plot that kept me reading. Rate: 4.5

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg. I think I might have read this before as many things seemed vaguely familiar. But I read it again because it is a short, smooth read. Elizabeth Berg is a good writer, with insight into character. Nothing too out of the ordinary happens in her books, but they keep you engaged and moving forward. This is the story of Helen Ames, a widow who is coping with the grief of losing her husband. Not adjusting fast enough, according to her friends and family. Helen has to take a new look at who she has been and who she is to become. Rate: 3.5

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. This was a tough, but fascinating read. Another subject, the history of India, that I am very naive about. I was inspired to look things up while reading this story. It is unique and creative in style, and moves around in time and from character to character. The reader must pay attention in order to connect the dots. Because the names were not familiar to me, this proved hard at times. As the reader gets to know each of the characters and how who they are, including caste and more, one is drawn into lives like no others. Rate: 3.5

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. This collection of short stories is quite intriguing. The first few weren’t as intense as those toward the end, so keep reading. Granted, you have to like the unusual—which I do—for this book to resonate. With a touch of magic, the book is described on the back cover as “blithely demolishes the borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism,” and I would say this is the perfect description. Stories about women, their lives, violence, their bodies…so much in this book. Rate: 4.5

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.