Back at the beginning of the year, I had mentioned that instead of making resolutions, I was going to adopt challenges for myself throughout the year.  One of those challenges was to read at least one book every month.  I figure the best way to keep myself accountable to that challenge is to do a book review when I finish a book.  I started a few books in January, but I haven't really had any concrete time to sit down and READ!  I spend most of my day doing two things:  working and driving.  I can't read when I'm at work except at lunch, but I can certainly listen to an audio book in the car while I'm driving! I listened to this book via the Audible app...thank you technology!  I mean, come on....nothing makes driving (or sitting in awful Grovetown traffic) go faster than listening to a book!  I have also found that I drive a little slower while listening, probably because I don't want to get to where I'm going for fear of having to stop listening to the story.

I'll admit I'm not a literary genius...and I was never really good at analyzing hidden themes and symbolism and all that jazz in all my literature classes...but I feel like I can grasp a pretty good concept of the book, even if I miss all the underlying "gems" that are the real reason as to why I like a book or don't like it.  In my honest opinion, I'd prefer a book where those sorts of things are not explicitly spelled out.  I like knowing that a book touched me on a subconscious level without fully understanding HOW it did that (ignorance is bliss).  I don't really care about all that.  I care about if the writing was at a level I prefer, if the characters were relatable, and if the story was entertaining, engaging, and enjoyable.  Sometimes I really hated in high school when we would spend so much time dissecting the elements of a story rather than talking about the content.  There were times when I found the story quite enjoyable, but the constant talking about it and all the hidden meanings really put a sour taste in my mouth for it.  I think that's why I STILL don't like the Scarlet Letter.  I read for the same reason people watch movies:  I like to be entertained.  Sue me if I don't care about the necessary literary aspects...but I just flat-out don't care.

Anyway!  Review!
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Just a few sentences in the description of this book made me want to read it:  "Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . ."

I mean, come on!  Who wouldn't feel like they NEEDED to read it after reading that?  Even if you're simply driven by the desire to find out what was written in the letter, you're still going to be drawn to it!

The entire book takes place in one week in Sydney, Australia.  There are several main characters that, in one way or another, are intertwined in the same story.  I tell you this so that you don't all of a sudden feel a little lost when, in the first couple of chapters, you're seeing different stories...one involving the Berlin wall.  The main characters are women....wives, mothers...who are all seemingly normal but all have something extraordinary occurring (or occurred) in their lives.  The characters are so well-developed that I feel like I've always known these women.

The course of each character's individual plot line really examines how even the strongest of women, deep down, has weaknesses.  And at times when those weaknesses are exposed, it takes a great deal of inner struggle to put on that brave face and keep pushing through your day as if nothing has changed.  And that's one reason why I loved this book:  it really showed REAL human relationships and struggles that can happen in every day life....they're not just a bunch of characters who, even though it's never described, are rich and have everything awesome happen to them and everything always works out.  Because guess what?  It doesn't always work out and it does take a struggle to survive in this life.  Call me a pain, but I feel like it's unfair to read all these book with this ladies who came from rich backgrounds and have everything handed to them on a silver platter.  Life rarely works that way and I find it refreshing to read a book that examines that.  

One thing I really took away from this book was missed opportunities, whether good or bad.  Throughout the book, I kept thinking to myself "oh, I wonder what would have become of this character if they'd done that differently"  Maybe it's an actual theme in the book, I don't know...but I found myself really paying attention to the details on the decisions these women made and why they made them.  I especially found myself drawn to the idea of good people vs. bad decisions.  Can a good person make an incredibly bad decision?  Can a good person make a bad decision that impacts another life?  In everything that goes on in the news, we wonder to ourselves: "What kind of person would do that?"  The truth is:  any sort of person.  Good people CAN make horrible decisions, just as terrible people CAN make great decisions.  This book examines that at it's core.

By the end of the book, most everything has been resolved and the loose ends have been tied (with the exception of one, but I didn't care much about her anyway).  The Epilogue is quite possibly my favorite part of the story (partly because it confirmed something I had been thinking throughout the book) and offers different perspectives on "If this hadn't happened..."

A beautiful story.  The first book by Liane Moriarty I have read, but I'll definitely read some more! Give it a read, let me know how you felt about it!

What I'm currently reading:

Reading in my (minimal) spare time at home
Reading on my lunch breaks at work

Next month's book I'll be listening to in the car

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