Saturday, June 4, 2011

Two High-Concept Novels and a Drive By Book Review of The Year We Left Home

Two High Concept Novels for Your June Beach Bag

Hot temps bring out the high-concepts. Ready for a ride?

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

The Skinny:

Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn't sure she likes who she's become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

The Buzz: This is an Amy Einhorn book, an editor known for huge bestsellers like The Help, Good Grief, Weird Sisters, and the Postmistress

First paragraph:

She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut. There was a pleasantly satisfied breakfast taste in her mouth of bacon and coffee and possibly croissants. She lifted her chin and the morning sun shone so brightly on the water, she had to squint through spangles of light to see her feet in front of her.

Read an excerpt

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

The Skinny:

Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted?

The Buzz:

An Amazon best pick for this month. Great blurbs like this gem: Quite simply the best debut novel I have ever read.” Tess Gerritsen

First paragraph:

The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.

Read an excerpt

Drive-By Book Review:

The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson

What’s It About?

The novel traces a family in Iowa for a span for thirty years, beginning in the 70s. There’s Chip, the screwed-up Vietnam vet, Anita, who marries young and wonders if she made the right decision to stay in the small farming town of her youth and Rob, her brother, who distains his provincial roots. Bored yet? Although THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME may not sound flashy or compelling, it brims with sly humor, deft characterization and wise observations.

Why Read It?

Jean Thompson has been described as an American Alice Monroe and is a finalist for the National Book Award, but accolades aside, this novel is a great read because it’s beautifully written as well as being nearly impossible to put down. Although it’s marketed as a novel, it reads more like linked short stories in the tradition of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge or A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

Sample Prose:

The sun rose higher and the morning light grew and trembled, almost liquid, like a drop of honey on a jar.

First Paragraph:

The bride and groom had two wedding receptions: the first was in the basement of the Lutheran church right after the ceremony, with punch and cake and coffee and pastel mints. This was for those of the bride’s relatives who were stern about alcohol. The basement was low-ceilinged and smelled of metallic furnace heat. Old ladies wearing corsages sat on folding chairs, while other guests stood and managed their cake plates and plastic forks as best they could. The pastor smiled with professional benevolence. The bride and groom posed for pictures, buoyed by adrenaline and relief. There had been so much promised and prepared, and now everything had finally come to pass.

Link of the Week

250 books by women all men should read.


  1. I was so confused when I read "the skinny" on What Alice Forgot because I recently finished a book with a character named Alice Love. I stared at the books written by Liane Moriarty and just knew it wasn't them. That's when I found it on Amazon: The Liberation of Alice Love. Set in London. No memory loss, but an interesting book.

  2. I love this blog, it's written by authors I respect, but why do I keep finding more book I want to read? My list is endless, my shelves and Kindle are loaded, and I keep reading on and on...............thanks GBC!!