As a kid, I established a birthday tradition. Every May I would record myself reading a favorite book out loud onto a *cassette tape,* and I’d let it play while I cleaned my room, worked on a school project, etc. One could say I was a little obsessed with stories.
In case you’re wondering – no, I don’t do this anymore…but I’m a big fan of reading books and writing about them. This doesn’t specifically relate to music, but its fun to have this platform to share thoughts and musings. #RorieBookClub
Here are a few books that I’ve read so far this year, and some of my thoughts (I’m doing my best to not include spoilers in these descriptions, since I hope that they will be helpful suggestions if you’re looking for something new to read – however, there is a chance that I will end up giving away some of the story in my reflections, so beware!). I chose these books because, somehow, there ended up being similar themes and comparisons between them!
The German Girl: (Armando Lucas Correa) This book tells the story of the main character and her family being forced to leave their home in Berlin, Germany just before World War Two, and traveling to Cuba. This is based on a very specific, and very true, passage of German refugees across the Atlantic. The unique aspect of this book is that it’s told in alternating chapters: the young girl in 1939, and her niece who lives in NYC in 2014. The young girl in 1939 grows up throughout the book, and ends up meeting her niece in present day 2014. Ok, I’m giving too much away now!
It is very sad and heartbreaking, but you get the sense that you are being given a window to look in and see something important. Something that needs to be known, recognized, and understood. The plight of these characters is something that has repeated throughout history and still continues today. It made me think a lot, and while it seems like a depressing book to read, you finish it feeling very connected to humanity and wanting to look a bit deeper into stories of the past and present. The book was originally written in Spanish.
Wish You Well: (David Baldacci) This book was similarly written from the perspective of a young girl around the same age as The German Girl. Both books contain tragedy and illustrate a physical journey and adaptation into a new place.
My dad found this one at our family’s favorite used bookstore, McKays. It’s supposedly required reading at some schools, but I had never heard of it. He read it and then told me that I would probably like it, because it fit the criteria for books that I tend to enjoy: historical fiction, and written from the perspective of a young girl navigating life. I was actually surprised that my dad was the one who read this before me (haha). The author is David Baldacci, who has apparently written other novels in a different genre. The book begins in New York and quickly moves to it’s main setting: the mountains of Southern Virginia. Even though I live in Northern Virginia, I have spent a great deal of time driving through the mountains in my state, and link those experiences with my childhood. I have read many historical fiction books that take place in New England, or the South, or the wild west, or the midwest, but I had never read one that took place in the mountains of Virginia (which I guess is technically classified as the South, but it’s very East Coast in my mind).
This book was a page-turner. My main takeaway was that we are not so far away from the years where life was the way that it is in this book (the story takes place in the 1930s – you’ll have to read it to know what I’m talking about). There are some harsh realities about the way that humans can treat one another, but there was a strong sense of conviction in this book, which I liked. It makes you want to hold your head up and live your life as though it was secretly filling the pages of a book, line by line. It made you think that there is power in the younger generation. Also, I just googled this book and realized that there is a movie version that was released in 2013. So I guess I’ll need to watch that…
**Another thing that I found very interesting is that both of the above books were written by men, but were told from the perspective of a 12-14 year old girl. And they were super well written!
Lilac Girls: (Martha Hall Kelly) Wow, ok. I finished reading this one last night, and I’m going to say as little as possible because, if you choose to read any of these three, let it be this one. I was blown away by this book. It’s a combination of compelling stories (based on real people), and tons of history. It had me googling everything I could about what I was reading, wanting to know more about the history of these events, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Written from the POV of three different women (and by a woman), this book provides a fresh perspective to these historical events, and shows how much we are truly all connected to one another. Our lives can impact and intersect with someone else’s in a million ways. Our actions do have a ripple effect. In reading some online reviews, I noticed that some people were suggesting that it was too much to stomach. One of the main reasons why I love reading historical fiction is because it makes these historical events very personal, and it causes you to realize how we aren’t that far off from the time when such atrocities happened, and these things are still happening to people in our world in other ways. It drives you to compassion and conviction. I will say that you have to read this one all the way through to get the full perspective. There is a lot of history packed in, and the story continues to reveal itself until the very end. Give this one a chance.
What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!
Want more like this? You can find my first two book-related blog posts at these links: