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If a book has won an award, Gina has probably read it. She loves classics, literary fiction, and contemporary fiction. To escape, she reads big fantasy novels and cookbooks. Gina recommends...
White Ivy by
I was absolutely stunned by this compelling slow burn character study, that reminded me in some ways of a modern version of The Great Gatsby. In general it follows a millennial immigrant girl named Ivy as she grows up, liking a popular white boy at her school. Fast forward to adulthood and chance throws Ivy and this popular boy together again with some interesting consequences. Ivy is not very likeable and makes some reprehensible choices throughout the book, but she was complicated enough that I would be shocked by her one moment and relating to her feelings the next. Once I got to a certain point I could not stop reading, nervous at what direction Ivy's precarious future would go. If you like well-written characters and effortless writing that propels you into a story (with a few surprises in store) then check this out.
I don't normally pick books with a western setting so I grabbed this on a whim and was surprisingly hooked. Even though the author sets the book in a real place in history, she uses an alternate reality where a flu has wiped out the population so fertility in women is prized (to repopulate), giving the book an almost dystopian flavor. The main character Ada is very well written. When we join her she has been married for a year and has failed to conceive a child. She is pretty quickly labeled as an outcast, a witch, and begins a journey to escape punishment but also to find answers about her infertility. She of course meets this famous group of outlaws (mainly women trying to pass as men which is interesting in itself) but her journey for knowledge and self acceptance is the true focus.
This is a slowly paced but perfectly tense series of character studies that begs to be read outside on a hot day with a big glass of iced tea. The first chapter of this novel starts off from the perspective of Gloria, a teenager who got in a cute boy's truck on Valentine's Day 1976. She is brutally assaulted by the boy, Dale, and barely manages to escape early the next morning, running barefoot through the desert. The rest of the book features alternating perspectives from a few other women in the town: one woman who helps Gloria directly, a young girl, a grieving neighbor, and other women in the town. All of the women have experienced violence from men in some way and things start to tie together interesting ways as the case against Dale heads to court.
Spinning Silver by
An imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted. These two books by Novik are the best fantasy novels I have read in years.
I recommend this book to everyone who asks for a recommendation and I don't know anyone who hasn't loved it. Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies through subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal-mining, the Great Migration, and 20th-century Harlem.