Book Review: Someone You Love Is Gone (Gurjinder Basran) @RandomHouseCA @VikingBooks

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 9.55.33 PM.pngI am always looking to discover Canadian novelists to add to my repertoire, so when I discovered Gurjinder Basran and found out her newest novel, Someone You Love Is Gone, was publishing this month (yesterday, in fact!), I added it to the top of my TBR pile.

Initially, I was finding this story downright depressing.   Simran, the lead character and whose narrative voice is most heard throughout the story, has just lost her mother and is still grieving over the disintegration of her marriage and the loss of her child.   As her life is unraveling, she begins to question all sorts of incidents in her child, especially those involving her younger brother, and the past comes flooding back.

Told through alternating time periods, the present (dealing with her mother’s funeral, family relationships and her own grief) and remembering the past (her brother being sent away, talk of arranged marriage and trying to balance a patriarchal culture with what teenaged Simran wants) the author is able to delve into and dissect so many issues within very few pages. Someone You Love Is Gone packed a serious punch!

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Book Review: We All Love the Beautiful Girls (Joanne Proulx) @JoanneVProulx @RandomHouseCA

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 9.55.24 PM.pngWe All Love the Beautiful Girls, by Joanne Proulx, is a very different story from what I normally read and what I am attracted to. However, the synopsis intrigued me and, given the fact that she is a Canadian author, I added it to the top of my TBR pile.  I am so glad I did. From Proulx’s strong prose to the different narrative voices that are portrayed, I found myself hanging on to every word.

The novel opens and builds slowly with the introduction of several different characters that all have a point of view within the story. Mia (the family matriarch) Michael (her husband who has just been cheated by his business partner) and Finn (their teenaged son, who is in love with a girl he cannot have). After an evening with a terrible accident and some personal revelations, they find their relationships tested and their boundaries pushed as each character deals with the loss in a different way.

One of the main things that drew me into the story, pretty much immediately, was how real, dark and raw Proulx’s story telling is. There is no sugar coating or dramatic flourish within these pages. There is heartache, there is loss and there is the undeniable feeling that this could potentially happen to anyone.   As their family unit unravels, I felt emotionally compelled to continue reading.   I have read other reviews that state this story is too slow, I, however, felt the complete opposite. I felt like I settled into this story easily and was completely entranced throughout. I couldn’t put it down.

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Book Review: So Much Love (Rebecca Rosenblum) @RebeccaRosenblu @RandomHouseCA

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 10.22.33 PM.pngSo Much Love, the debut novel, by Rebecca Rosenblum follows a small town when a young woman (Catherine) vanishes.   As life goes on and people begin to adjust to their lives without her, her outer circle of acquaintances and people closest to her experience devastating loss and incredible resiliency.

This novel was completely unlike anything I have every read; I would categorize this one as a contemporary thriller. Intense subject matter collides with strong prose and character relationships to create an intimate look into one woman’s captivity and all of those left behind.   This is not your fast paced, run of the mill style thriller; instead, Rosenblum creates a slow burn that will have you sucked in.

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BOMG Book Review: The Change Room (Karen Connelly) @RandomHouseCA ‏@karenmconnelly

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I mentioned that I would be incorporating lots of different books in my reviews moving forward and Karen Connelly’s The Change Room was something completely different for me!

A sort of a twist on the “coming of age” story, Eliza, a middle aged, married woman, finds herself in an adulterous affair with a woman (Shar) she meets at the pool.   What starts in the change room soon takes over Eliza’s life as she battles between what she feels is right and what she feels in her heart.

I initially chose this book, not only because I wanted to switch things up, but also because a Canadian author wrote it. I am making a serious effort this year to #readthenorth. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I I read this novel easily over the course of a few sittings; I found myself completely engaged in Eliza’s world.

However, this one left me feeling conflicted. I don’t know if I loved this novel or if I hated.

I felt an instant connection to the Eliza character. Something about her was so realistic and she truly was well developed. One thing I liked about her was her banter; she was funny and smart. A few things she said had me smirking with delight. She seemed to be modelled after an “every woman” type of character. She works hard, loves her family but, for whatever reason, finds herself with discontent. For whatever reason, Eliza kept reminding me of the protagonist from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

I struggled in the middle of the novel because, as much as I enjoyed the character development of Eliza, I didn’t find myself interested in Shar. Not even a little. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be shocked by her sexual experience and feel as if she was an edgy, breath of fresh air into Eliza’s life. But I didn’t. In fact, she kind of bored me.

By the end, I was even more conflicted as I loved the general storyline but hated the abrupt ending.

Regardless of my mixed feels regarding the actual content of the book, I must applaud Connelly for her writing style. As mentioned, she kept me engaged and wondering how this would play out. I also must applaud her on tackling such subject matter; this novel does portray sexually explicit material but I never found it to be “in your face” or too much. Instead, it was very authentic.

I also felt like the story screamed a prominent and glaring message about the fluidity of sexuality.  Eliza does not identify as straight or gay or bisexual. She identifies as Eliza. I felt like this message was very important, especially in the society that we currently live in.

Overall, I enjoyed this one as a break from my regular reading and would not hesitate to read another novel by this author.  I would recommend it!