Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

June 2018 books

June 2018 books

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is it weird to give a book a rating for what it could have been? Michelle McNamara died before she finished writing this book, and so as it is, it's a bit jumbled and rough. The timeline jumps around and there are threads left hanging throughout. An effort was obviously made to finish the book despite McNamara's death - there are inserts and some final chapters written by two editors who were given access to McNamara's files and notes. And they do a really good job! I suspect they were wary of being too heavy-handed in editing this woman's life's work, but based on the chapters they wrote, I think they would have done a really good job polishing McNamara's manuscript and I wish they had done more to make it a cohesive whole.

So whence the five stars? Well, everywhere that McNamara is in this book, it is spellbinding. The way she writes about these attacks, and the way she writes about investigating them - there is so much depth and discernment here! Plus a sense of place and time and scale and scope that you wouldn't get just from reading a list on Wikipedia. And what there is not: voyeurism. Hagiography. Guile. And McNamara herself is so accessible - truly just a mom with a weird hobby, staying up way too late working on a laptop after the kids are in bed. I suspect this is a book my mom could have written (or may still someday write, if she should choose to use her geneology powers for awesome) if she hadn't been saddled with us kids back in the day.

So what there is of McNamara's original work in this book, is brilliant. Enormous potential, some of it realized. And if you have read up on what we know about EARONS now that a suspect has been arrested, several moments in this book will give you straight-up, whole-body chills.

FYI, this is a true crime book but even I, a total true crime wuss, could handle it. McNamara writes about the crimes very sensitively and shies away from the greusome details (bless). However, I had a self-imposed 8pm curfew with this book - absolutely no reading in bed after dark (ok it's Finland and it doesn't get dark at night right now but you know what I mean).

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Amal UnboundAmal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How lucky am I to have read FOUR amazing books about South Asian girls this year? So lucky! Amal Unbound is right up there with the Parvana books when it comes to telling a story about a young girl living a normal life (vividly painted, by the way) who is then thrust into unfortunate circumstances. There is so much value in letting children read about cultures that are not their own, to see that everyone eats and plays and does laundry, even if it's chapatis and shalwar kameez instead of toast and hoodies. This book has an especially colorful background for what's going on in Amal's life, and I soaked up every detail. Hooray for excellent South Asian middle grade books!

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Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

I got a good way into this book before deciding to DNF it (due at the library, can't renew because someone has a hold on know the drill). I don't doubt that a book about Civil War zombies and the former slaves who are trained to fight them could be amazing, so maybe sometime in the future I'll pick this one back up and try again.

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June 29th, outsourced

Two things about kids and friends and foreign countries