School just started and stole away all of my reading time! Here are three very different types of books that I’ve recently read – I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’re reading in October!
Book 1: The Favor By: Adele Griffin
Surrogacy is a topic that’s had a recent resurgence due to the number of celebrities choosing this route and sharing posts all over social media. It’s something I personally wasn’t very familiar with – but reading more about it – it seems like such a gift to be able to give to someone. A friend shared the book The Favor by Adele Griffin with me and I thought I’d give it a try. Immediately, I thought – is it a favor? Or is it a gift? Or is it a job?
We meet Nora and her husband, who have been trying to have a child of their own for years – bleeding their financial accounts dry. It’s hard to imagine wanting something so badly, spending your entire life savings – yet seeing it come so easy to others around you. I know that this is something that happens to so many on a daily basis. Nora tries to keep busy in a secondhand vintage shop, dressing customers and finding high-end items for them to add to their closets. One day, in a whirlwind, a socialite comes to the store, allowing Nora to stack her commission and begin to dream again of having enough to build a future. Evelyn bulldozes her way into Nora’s life and it’s difficult for Nora to determine what type of relationship this is.
Even though they’ve only known each other for a short time, Evelyn quickly offers to carry Nora and her husband’s child. There are no other options on the table for Nora to start a family at the moment and this is offer is a dream come true. The book has high highs and low lows in my opinion. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion for Nora – as we never really get a true understanding of who Evelyn is or what she wants. She’s a character who has everything – similar to a celebrity – but seems to be missing what it means to be a true friend. We appreciate her, we admire her, but at the same time I think the reader will also fear her – and wonder if she will go through with carrying the baby and turn them over to the biological parents. I’d love to hear what readers think of this hilly journey and this quick read!
Book 2: Lone Women By: Victor Lavalle
I can say that this is one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2023, but I can’t explain to you why or what genre it is. I picked it up based on the cover thinking it would continue my journey into “the West” aka I watched all of the Yellowstone seasons. Well, I can say it takes place in the area and there’s some horses, but that’s about where the similarities end.
The main character, Adelaide, heads to Montana in 1915 with only a trunk – after her parents are killed in California. She heard rumors that the government would give away “free land” to those (including women!) who stayed for a period of time and turned it into working land. She wanted a place to be alone and hide from her past. However, even though the land was vast – Adelaide meets others similar to her looking for a fresh start. There’s a small town to buy provisions, weekend gatherings of other lonely ranchers, a neighbor a few miles away who attends to Adelaide with her child – checking to make sure she’s all right.
The danger isn’t from where we think. Sure, there are thieves looking to take advantage of someone living alone, especially a woman – but there is an underlying threat that we feel rustling through the pages. The trunk that Adelaide travels with holds its own thumping secrets. Noises come from the inside that only she can hear at first. She moves it from California to her Montana homestead, trying to hide it in her outdoor root cellar. Keeping it locked up and away is one of her main priorities – but opening it up and hoping for treasures to sell is at the forefront of local thieves’ minds. When exposed to the horror that’s inside, it sets off a quick-paced chase all over Montana – with each character chasing after each other. I believe that you’ll find yourself rooting for the main character through all her troubles while being shocked at the end of most chapters.
There are elements of Western fiction, horror, mystery, female fiction – it’s a true genre-bender. If I had to label it, it’d be half-western fiction with a splash of Stranger Things. If you’re someone willing to try new books and open to new adventures, I highly recommend this. It wasn’t something I’d normally pick up, but it jumped straight to my favorites.
Book 3: The Unsinkable Greta James By: Jennifer E. Smith
Greta James is a rising pop star a week that has an epic breakdown on stage when she learns that her mother has passed away. It’s the instant regret of receiving a phone call hearing someone’s ill and pondering, “Should I go? Or is it not a big deal?” For Greta, the cloud of regret envelopes her fast and furious as she hides away from the rest of the world and the paparazzi cameras.
As she continues to try to figure out what her next steps are, her brother calls to request her to take their mother’s place on a cruise to Alaska with their father and a group of friends. It’s the last place she wants to be, but at the same time – it’s exactly where she should be – whether for daughterly duties or the emptiness from the prying eyes of fans. The Unsinkable Greta James is a slow-moving novel that I thought was a beautiful ode to tough relationships with parents. As many grow up and move into adulthood, the relationships with parents move in and out of closeness. Some are lucky to have their relationship continue to strengthen, while others fall when recognizing certain things from childhood. Greta’s character is one who is hungry for a relationship and love from her father but doesn’t feel he wants to reciprocate. We meet her father, who loves her in the way he knows how. There are misunderstandings and conclusions, joy, and tears throughout this book. It speaks about loss, but it is about love. Greta’s mother’s death may be the focus of the book – but from it grows something truly lovely.
This is another book that I wouldn’t normally grab, but I’m glad I did. I enjoyed it so much I will be keeping it on my shelves because I think I will need to give it a second read sometime.
If you got this far, thank you! Let us know what you think via the comments below or catch me at @glossinbossin / @josiegl on Instagram.