How are you progressing with your reading goals for 2022? The year is flying by, and some of us here at Willoughby are reading much more than others... we'll name no names though, reading goes in phases, right? Right...?
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
Immersive and vivid, The Wolf Den takes us back to the Pompeii brothels a few years before the destruction caused by Mount Vesuvius. There we meet the She-Wolves, a group of strong and fierce women who have been enslaved and we follow their journey of sisterhood through many hardships. The brutality of everyday living from lack of freedom to violent customers really highlights the dark underbelly of Pompeii at that time. Combining historical fact with fiction, great characters, harsh realities with a sprinkling of hope, humour and warmth this really has been my favourite book of the year so far and I have the second title lined up ready.
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Inhabitants on an unnamed island are living under an oppressive regime and collectively experience a gradual form of amnesia. They wake up to forgetting about an object, item or even living thing! This happens to everyone on the island except a random few, who are taken away by the Memory Police and are usually never seen again.
I really enjoy the way this book was written and the way it pulls you into the mystery of things being forgotten on a nameless island. When you read it, it feels like a gentle dystopian world, but it is scary to think people can be controlled in this way and forget things in their lives that may have held extreme importance at one point.
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
This is an attractive and beautifully produced book written around eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that she believes define what it is to be human. This is a change from Brené’s previous books in format and style, and makes a lovely book to dip into and enjoy small sections at a time, as those of us old enough to do so would have done with a traditional atlas or encyclopaedia.
The central premise is that by naming an experience we gain power through understanding, and through that, choice, but however you enjoy this book you’re sure to gain insight and build meaningful connection with others.
As Brené herself says: "I want this to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves. Even when we have no idea where we are."
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida
Vida’s debut novel We Run the Tides is a funny, dark, and nuanced portrayal of female friendship in the affluent Sea Cliff community in San Francisco in the mid-1980s. 13 year old Eulabee and her best friend Maria Fabiola know San Francisco like the backs of their hands, but when a strange incident occurs on the walk to school one day, their friendship fractures and sets off a chain reaction of mysterious events. It’s a book about the loss of childhood innocence, the loneliness of finding your place in the world as a young teenager, and the fallibility of memory. The whole thing is infused with the pop culture of the pre-tech 1980s and is surprisingly light in tone, with a splash of surreal melodrama, despite its undertone of menace. If you like reading nostalgic, coming-of-age stories, pick this one up.
Baby Love by Jacqueline Wilson
I never read Jacqueline Wilson growing up so I’m new to her work and this has just blown me away.
A story of 14 year old schoolgirl Laura, who finds herself pregnant in the 1960’s. I loved everything about this book, especially Laura. Her innocence and vulnerability came across really well, and I could almost feel the longing to be accepted by Nina & her family in the first half.
I thought the difficult topics were handled really well and sensitively. It’s heart-breaking to know this sort of thing really happened.
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I already want to go back and read it all over again. A massive 5 stars, I can’t praise this book enough.