I’m slowing down on my Netgalley reviewing. I reached new-release-reading-burnout faster than I expected. Even so, I’ve had the privilege to read three great books that are coming out in the fall – two in October and one in November – so I’m passing them on!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers associated with each book for the opportunity to read these e-ARCs in exchange for review consideration.
October 3: There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Åkeson McGurk, published by Touchstone
Coming out October 3 is a parenting guide for those who wish and want their children to spend more time outside. In There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Swedish-American author Linda Åkeson McGurk returns to visit her parents in Sweden for six months with her two children, one in preschool and one in primary school. In eight chapters she revisits the mottos and mantras and experiences and revelations that come from her Scandinavian upbringing. The one that stuck for me and that I playfully passed on to my girls was: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Meaning: dress for the weather and then get outside and play! Parents will relate to the struggle to convince children to get outside and will find tips and tricks and encouragement in the pages. Not everything will translate directly to U.S.-American society; there are undeniable differences between the cultures, weather, and access, but there are little bits for everyone to take with them. The stories will reassure you (or challenge you depending on where you are) that getting kids outside is important, and they will provide inspiration for renewed efforts. There’s something in here for cultural buffs, outdoorsy-types, parents, and weather-phobes.
October 17: A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A couple weeks later, on October 17, readers are invited into A Secret Sisterhood by co-authors and friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney who take a look at four sets of literary friendships spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Jane Austen and Anne Sharp, Charlotte Brontë and Mary Taylor, George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. For each set they explore the friendship in terms of both personal and literary merit. The dynamics, challenges, risks, disappointments and value of these relationships are woven in a narrative connected with the common thread of writers pursuing publication and recognition at a time when female presence in this area was scarce and, at times, unwelcome.
Socio-economic factors, health issues, age discrepancies, scandals, and the Atlantic Ocean presented many reasons for these connections to be lost, but their passions for ideas, skills for creating and communicating through writing, and fierce commitment kept these women together. Midorikawa and Sweeney pull these friendships from sentimentality, salaciousness, and obscurity to put them where they belong as examples of writers during the same period of history, fighting for recognition in their own right, challenging each other in content, form, and professional decisions, and living their lives within the complexity of their eras, cultures, and personalities.
A solid and engaging book of nonfiction appealing to readers and writers of any gender. The research is extensive and carefully tied together. Occasionally the authors suggest connections or bridge unknown reactions with inferences, but these areas are clearly marked. The narrative tells an excellent and credible story for each set. Details pull readers in and move them through the highs and lows of literary advancement, society, and distress.
November 7: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, published by Grove Press
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is a quick read, composed of snippets and flashes of perspective from a new mother interspersed with origin and flood stories from ancient history. The wonder of new birth, the isolation of new motherhood, and the uncertainty of growth run parallel to similar expressions in the destruction and rebirth of London, and their small family, after a flood. Hunter succeeds in reflecting the intensity of perspective that motherhood launches on parents – the new mother thinks of diapers left behind in their quick escape and the resulting yuck that will ensue, she considers the gadgets and gizmos they had planned for their little one while she watches him delight in whatever is available to explore for curiosity’s sake, and she experiences the importance of community for survival, both of natural disasters and the topsy-turvy landscape of parenting.
The story is told in succinct bursts of maternal observations and considerations. As a storytelling approach, it is well-suited for reflecting fragmented thinking and reality, but Hunter does well to not push its limitations. She covers nearly a year within the space of a few pages and allows the theme of rebirth to cover its full arc. The End We Start From is a clever juxtaposition of events for a compelling story that is worth a read and subsequent consideration.