Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman (Adult Fiction)

Start Without Me

Joshua Max Feldman (Adult Fiction)

Adam Warshaw is an ex-keyboardist and recovering alcoholic who is muddling along at his job at a bank. Marissa Cavano is a flight attendant who fled an alcoholic mother, married into a wealthy—albeit classist and racist—family, and is currently struggling to save her marriage. Both are heading home for Thanksgiving and their paths are about to intersect in what would be the start of a highly unpredictable and tumultuous day that would send each of their lives in unexpected directions.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, you can’t judge it by its BACK cover either. Joshua Max Feldman’s Start Without Me is described as A darkly comic novel. Nope. …the quintessential Thanksgiving novel. Let’s hope not. …a unique solidarity between two strangers as they help each other… More like one constantly saves the other one’s bacon. …Feldman’s novel excels in his crafting of extraordinary dialogue. OK. Nailed that one.

This was an extremely difficult book to get through as Adam’s character is insufferable, unrepentant, oblivious, ungracious, selfish, self-absorbed… The list is long and would take me until Thanksgiving to get through them all. I think the difference between Adam and some other awful main characters that have completely destroyed a book for me (I’m looking at you Kathy Nicolo) is that Adam KNOWS he’s a dumpster fire, the author knows he’s a dumpster fire, and everyone around Adam knows…well, you get the idea.

A friend once told me of a co-worker who said that she HATED a certain restaurant (both shall remain nameless) because she got food poisoning there four times. Four. Times. So, at that point, do you blame the restaurant or do you blame the patron? Who’s the knucklehead? The same with this book. Is it Feldman’s fault that I was totally frustrated by his book or is it mine? I mean, just like the knucklehead co-worker, I kept going back expecting a different outcome only to be confronted with the same mess over and over again. Was I thinking that if I JUST ordered the dessert, I’d be safe?!

The good news is that there are a few bright spots. Feldman really is a master at writing dialogue. It was one of the few things that saved this story and if he had done more of this and less of Adam waxing poetic about his past days in his rock band, I could’ve saved myself a lot of time from having to pet the neighbor’s dog in order to get back into my happy place. The only other glimmer was Marissa, whose backstory is an absolute trainwreck. She is the only character worthy of our sympathy and the only true adult in the room. She extends Adam more grace than he deserves and although she’s been the victim of many bad choices, she’s determined to learn from them and move forward stronger and wiser.

Before this book, Feldman wrote The Book of Jonah. After all of the negative emotions still coursing through my veins after dealing with Adam, it might take me some time before I’m strong enough to tackle this book. In the meantime, you better start without me.

Rating: 3/5

* Book cover image attributed to: http://www.thriftbooks.com

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The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn (Adult Historical Fiction)

The Autobiography of Santa Claus

Jeff Guinn (Adult Historical Fiction)

Think you know everything there is to know about Santa? Well think again. Now, for the first time—in his OWN words—is the true story of Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or whatever name you call the man in red who travels around the world delivering presents to good girls and boys on Christmas Eve night. We get to know the REAL man—from humble beginnings to worldwide notoriety—whose simple philosophy of it being better to give than to receive has touched the world all over.

Jeff Guinn, the ONLY person (that he knows of) to have ever written a book WITH Santa Claus himself, has finally provided answers to the questions that have been asked for centuries: how did Santa attain his garments of red trimmed with white; why did Santa start giving toys and why were they put in stockings; why does he live at the North Pole; how can reindeer fly; and how can he travel the entire world in just one night? Those and so many other questions are answered, along with some interesting facts that you didn’t realize were even related to Santa such as his historically famous “helpers”, how he helped Charles Dickens restore Christmas in England, and how he inadvertently brought about the end of the American Revolution. Guinn packs a LOT of information into 280 pages, not including Santa’s favorite recipe found at the end of the book.

Guinn takes us from 280 A.D. (the year of Santa’s recorded birth) to present day. Because he’s covering over seventeen centuries of information, the story often gets deep in the weeds with geographical, theological, historical, and social anthropological references; however, Guinn is clever in connecting Santa to everyone from Attila the Hun to Amelia Earhart so we’re quickly drawn back into the story again. What is not mentioned on the cover of the book but is certainly worth mentioning is the beautiful artwork of Dorit Rabinovitch. She beautifully captures the old-world and magical appeal of the jolly old man and gives Guinn’s work an instant classic feel full of warmth and charm.

Through Guinn, Santa reminds us of the simple power kindness and that the real magic of Christmas involves love and a little baby born in a manger on what became the most holy of nights. Upon reading this book, I do feel a sense of obligation to bring to everyone’s attention that Santa is NOT an elf, he does NOT like to be reminded of his weight, and—on Christmas Eve night—if you were to set out some homemade chocolate chip cookies and perhaps some goat cheese, he would be most appreciative.

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to: www.thriftbooks.com

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Yesterday’s Sun by Amanda Brooke (Adult Fiction)

Yesterday’s Sun

Amanda Brooke (Adult Fiction)

Tom and Holly Corrigan had only been married for two years when they moved into the gatehouse that sat at the entrance of the once majestic Hardmonton Hall. Holly—an artist—instantly fell in love with the residence despite its many years of abandonment and neglect and finds that she has plenty of free time to make it a home since Tom’s job requires a lot of travel. Their lives, like the gatehouse, is full of possibility and promise. One day while renovating, Holly uncovers a wooden box that contains a beautiful glass ball and soon discovers that it is the missing top of the moondial that sits in their garden. When Holly places the orb on the pedestal on a full-moon night, she realizes that she has unwittingly activated a timepiece that shows her a future full of life and loss…a daughter and a death. When she shares her vision with Jocelyn, her new friend and the previous owner of the gatehouse, Holly soon learns the extensive truth behind the moondial’s power and realizes the terrible decision that she must now make that will not only affect her, but everyone she loves.

Give me a book that begins with a partial peek at the ending and I’m instantly invested in the characters and story. That is what Amanda Brooke does in her Prologue as we see Holly in bed, gently stroking her swollen belly, as she looks at her sleeping husband and whispers, “You’ll be angry with me for leaving you both, but eventually you’ll understand. One day, you’ll look at our daughter and you’ll know what I know. You’ll know that she was worth the sacrifice.” It’s a deeply emotional, intimate, and heartbreaking moment that immediately connects you with Holly and her story that’s just beginning to unfold for us. We know the journey with Holly won’t be easy given the fact that we most-likely know how her story will end, but we’re fully committed now and determined to see this through with her to the end…no matter how painful.

Holly is a fractured and imperfect protagonist. Yes, her waffling between questions of “Should I” or “Shouldn’t I” become a little tedious, but given her sudden and callous abandonment by her mother…HER MOTHER…you can understand the doubts and reservations she has about her own maternal abilities. If you lead by example, then Holly is doomed. Because Brooke takes her time in unpackaging Holly’s history, we clearly give her a pass when it comes to her indecisiveness and it’s why we stay loyal to her as she painfully struggles between self-preservation and self-sacrifice.

Without spoiling any of the story, I do want to comment on the verbiage written on the cover of the book: How can she choose between her child and herself? Oh, gentle reader. If only it were that easy, because as you start to discover and understand the power of the moondial, this goes so much deeper than “well…I just won’t do that and everything will be fine. Right?” When Jocelyn tells Holly that the moondial can be cruel, she isn’t  joking.

Yesterday’s Sun is a suspenseful, thoughtful, and poignant read that will keep you engrossed, guessing, and second guessing until the end. It’s a satisfying story that reminds us how we shouldn’t take anything for granted and how important it is to live in the now. American actor James Dean, who was only 24-years old when he died suddenly and tragically, said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” Holly eventually understood this and hopefully all of us won’t need a moondial to realize this as well.

Rating: 5/5

* Book cover image attributed to: www.amazon.com

Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop (A Fiction)

Letter to My Daughter

George Bishop (Adult Fiction)

Arguments. Mothers and daughters have them often, but this argument was different. This one ended with a mother’s slap and a daughter’s angry exodus into the night. As worry and regret floods her brain, Laura sits down in her quiet kitchen and begins writing a letter to her daughter, Elizabeth. A letter that she hopes will give Elizabeth some insight into her upbringing and past in order to help bridge the divide that has grown between the two of them. Simple and honest words on paper that might heal both of their souls and perhaps lead to understanding and forgiveness.
Anyone who automatically dismisses this book because the author is a man will be depriving themselves of a thoughtful, reflective, and meaningful read. I quickly became lost in this story and often found myself thinking it a memoir rather than a work of fiction as the emotional details are strikingly vivid and the writing is genuine and immersive. Although it’s a quick read, it instantly draws you in and will either make you wish that you had received a letter like this from your own parent or that you had taken the time to write a letter like this to your own child.  
Through Letter to My Daughter, George Bishop reminds those of us fortunate enough to be a parent, that our children really don’t realize that we had an actual life before their grand entrance into the world. That whenever they utter, “You don’t get it” and “You just don’t understand” that we truly do get it because we also dreamed big dreams and had our heart broken and were disappointed by those people that we thought we could trust. We also laughed and cried and had horrible (and sometimes humorous) lapses in judgement and so yes, we really do understand because at one time, we were just like them—young, overly confident, woefully unprepared, and ready to take on the world…whatever that meant. And while we beat our heads against the wall trying to impart our hard-earned wisdom into their beautifully thick skulls, we find ourselves saying, “You don’t get it” and “You just don’t understand” and then we realize that just like that, the circle is now complete.  

Throughout the book, I kept being drawn to the character of Sister Mary Margaret, a kind and compassionate nun who taught at Sacred Heart Academy where Laura was sent. Laura quoted several of her sayings in her letter and every one of them is a gem in its own right: Never be afraid of the truth; Begin at the beginning; Avoid sentimentality at all costs; and my personal favorite, Be good, and if you can’t be good, at least be sensible. With advice like this, maybe Sister Mary Margaret should consider writing a letter, too?

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to: www.amazon.com

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping

Marilynne Robinson (Adult Fiction)

Marilynne Robinson’s book about two orphaned sisters (Ruth and Lucille) raised by their eccentric Aunt Sylvie in the dank and judgmental town of Fingerbone is a reminder that verbosity and detail are not the same thing and that more is not always better. Robinson clearly is on the “more” side as every character, mood, and setting in Housekeeping is described ad nauseum. She goes so far into the weeds in noting and detailing every memory, smell, glance, gasp, twitch, rustle, and shiver that when she finally finishes her thought, we’ve totally forgotten the point she was trying to make or where she was taking us. Worse…we no longer care.

I’ve read and reviewed hundreds of books and Housekeeping is the only book—the ONLY one—that I knew right from the very first page that I wasn’t going like it. Here is the fifth sentence where Ruth (our narrator) is describing her grandfather’s upbringing: He had grown up in the Middle West, in a house dug out of the ground, with windows just at earth level and just at eye level, so that from without, the house was a mere mound, no more a human stronghold than a grave, and from within, the perfect horizontality of the world in that place foreshortened the view so severely that the horizon seemed to circumscribe the sod house and nothing more. This level of detail and imagery succeeds in allowing the reader to better understand why Ruth’s grandfather was so motivated to travel, but there are so many layers that you have to dig through that by the time you’ve reached the pearl, you’re so exhausted that you’re unable to enjoy its luster and beauty. Further along in the book, Robinson dedicates seven pages (I counted) describing the sisters’ fishing trip and their having to spend the night alone in the woods. Seven. Pages. It doesn’t take long before you realize that Housekeeping isn’t a cohesive story, but rather a series of lengthy paragraphs that you might find in the Reading section of the SAT: “In line 64, the word simulacra most likely means…”

The story is at its strongest and most interesting when it centers on Ruth and Lucille and their complicated relationship, but these moments are few before we are left with just Sylvie and Ruth and wondering who we should rally behind while we venture down yet another word rabbit hole and pray for daylight. Housekeeping does present several important themes—the illusion of permanence, the cost that comes with conforming to expectations, and how family doesn’t shield you from feeling alone and isolated—but after enduring so many mental gymnastics, we’ve neither the energy nor the interest to fully appreciate these revelations.  

I wish I had enjoyed this book more because slogging through a two-hundred-plus-page book only because you’re hoping that everything will come together in the end is a miserable relationship to have with an author and their story. Reading should be a joy, not a chore. However, I am glad that I did finish it for no other reason than to provide an honest review. Besides, I did manage to increase my vocabulary with a few interesting words so not all bad.

If I had to sum up my final thoughts, it would be that more isn’t necessarily a good thing or, as Leonardo da Vinci said so eloquently in just five little words, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Rating: 2/5

* Book cover image attributed to: www.amazon.com

Once Upon a Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

Once Upon a Time, There Was You

Elizabeth Berg (Adult Fiction)

DISCLAIMER: This is going to deviate a lot from my normal review format because I just can’t bring myself to devote any more time to this book, so here goes…

Synopsis: Two people (John and Irene) who never wanted to get married to each other get married to each other, have a kid (Sadie), get divorced, and are brought together again because their now eighteen-year-old daughter did something ridiculously and mind-numbingly stupid.

Why I read this: I read Berg’s Open House and rated it 3/5. It was okay enough that I decided to take another chance and read The Story of Arthur Truluv, which I rated 4/5. I was feeling pretty good and dived into Once Upon a Time, There Was You. I now find myself in a hate-love-hate relationship with Elizabeth Berg. I blame Arthur for this false sense of security.

Questions: First, What was the actual point of this book?!; Second, What in the world was Berg thinking when she wrote the event involving Sadie that sets the stage for her parents’ reunion? It felt forced and came absolutely out of left field. I don’t mind a shocking event if it’s going to add some depth to the story, but this one felt wildly out of place and came and went faster than promises made on election day; Third and Fourth, Who wrote the synopsis for this book and Did they even read the book? When tragedy strikes, Irene and John come together… Tragedy? That’s REALLY overstating what happened. What takes them longer is to remember how they really feel about each other. That might be the case if it wasn’t for the fact that Irene’s mouth has been estranged from her brain for quite a while so that any relationship involving her is doomed as soon as her lips part. There are more examples, but my brain is beginning to hurt a little bit now.

My rating: Every book I read automatically begins with a star. I mean, the author actually published a book and I haven’t so there’s that. I gave it another star because the relationship between Sade and her father was nice and the ending between John and Irene—unlike other parts of the book—actually made sense and was appropriate.

Moral of the story: Always go with your gut instincts, no matter how terrifying or humiliating the consequences may seem to be. Just suck it up, buy yourself an iced white chocolate mocha, hide under the covers, and wait for common sense to kick in…or the sugar and caffeine, whichever comes first.  

Rating: 2/5

* Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com

Ain’t No River by Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain’t No River  

Sharon Ewell Foster

Everyone and everything in Garvin Daniels’ life seem to be going wrong: her 70-something Meemaw is hanging out with a young and handsome fitness instructor named GoGo, her friend Ramona is embarking on a bicycling fundraiser with a pastor that she just met, and her high-powered law firm has given her a case that will surely mean the end of her career. Has the world gone crazy? After an involuntary leave of absence, Garvin decides to leave Washington, D.C. and head back to her hometown of Jacks Creek where she is determined to set things right…no matter what it takes.

If you were to search Google and look for ideal character traits of lawyers, you’d get things like compassion, willingness to listen, good judgement, and great emotional balance. GARVIN DANIELS HAS NONE OF THESE! Instead, Sharon Ewell Foster gives us a whiny, insensitive, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, spoiled, selfish, petulant…well, the list goes on and on. I understand why an author would make their main character absolutely insufferable because their end goal is for that character to finally realize the error of their ways and be redeemed. They clearly realize the hell they are putting their readers through by having to deal with this horror of an individual, but we remain loyal because we know—we just know—that all of this emotional turmoil will be worth it because the character’s ultimate salvation will be our reward, too. Not so with Garvin Daniels. Nope. Even when she begins to understand that maybe she isn’t her best possible self, it doesn’t take long before she’s back to slinging insults, scorn, and contempt. And by the way, complaining about life in your tailored suit while standing in a gleaming marble restroom of a prestigious law firm to a woman who is currently busy cleaning the toilets is NOT a good look.  

I would have enjoyed this book so much more had Foster instead focused on the complex, quirky, and beautifully damaged residents of Jacks Creek: Monique, the teenager forced to give up her child and then has live with the shame and stigma afterwards; Big Esther who runs her own salon and dispenses truth and wisdom in never ending supplies; Smitty, the seller of snowballs who basks in the glow from the attention of the women at the hair salon but is looking for something more; GoGo, retired pro-football player who can’t seem to outrun his past; and Meemaw, the town matriarch who always seems to know just what a heart and stomach needs and is ready to graciously fill both. I wanted to know more about these people and spend a few more nights on the front porch with them to understand their pain and share in their journey towards healing. But those opportunities didn’t come often enough and instead I was sent back to Garvin where I counted the pages until I might be rewarded with Meemaw’s words of wisdom or one of Smitty’s deluxe snowballs with marshmallow on top.

At the end of one of her poor-me pity parties, Garvin wondered to herself why everybody around her expected her to fix everything for them. If only she had searched Google and used one of those ideal lawyer character traits. If she had, she would have quickly discovered that nobody does.

Rating: 2/5

* Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com 

Life with Bingo by Jim Black & Jim Lewis

Life with Bingo    

Jim Black and Jim Lewis

(Reviewer’s Note: I normally review older books, but this newly released book was sent to me personally by the author, Jim Black. His kindness continues to overwhelm me and reinforces the unique bond shared between author and reader. Despite my appreciation for his kindness, my review—as with all of my reviews—is honest and impartial. To provide anything less would be a disappointment and a disservice to this author and I would never do either.)

Life can be daunting on your own—especially when you’re only sixteen years old. But things can be a lot less scary and intimidating when you have your best friend by your side. This is the story of two best friends who escape an abusive home and make their way from Texas to Montana. Along the way, they experience both the dark and light side of humanity and while mankind’s seedy nature allows our travelers to learn valuable lessons about life, it’s the random acts of decency, generosity, and kindness that carry them through to the next day and remind them that there is still good in the world. Good that is just waiting to shower itself onto a teenage boy and his dog.

Jim Black and Jim Lewis take readers on an unforgettable journey told in the alternating voices of our young man and his furry sidekick. Armed with nothing more than a backpack, sheer determination, and each other, our travelers embark on a nearly two-thousand-mile trek that tests their resolve, challenges their trust, and opens up their heart to the possibilities of faith and providence. Life with Bingo is not just a story about running away, it’s about running to and that indescribable force that enables us to keep putting one foot in front of the other or that promises us that things will be better tomorrow if we can just make it through today. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone right there beside you to remind you that you are not alone.

Life with Bingo is a fast-paced read with the narration providing poignant and often humorous points of view. While some might see this story as a bit schmaltzy when compared to the stark truths of modern-day reality, I enjoyed immersing myself into this world where good people do good and selfless things—not for clicks or views or likes or fifteen minutes of fame—but because it is the right thing to do. Because helping others not only makes us feel good, but it reminds us of our connectedness. Our understanding that we are merely just one little piece in a very big puzzle and that even though we’re uniquely shaped, we all fit together to form something quite wonderful and special. Aesop wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Schmaltzy or not, that’s the kind of world I want to live in…especially if there’s a trusty friend by my side.

Special Note: If you are a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit http://www.thehotline.org.

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com 

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Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Interred with Their Bones

Jennifer Lee Carrell (Adult Suspense)

There are many who regard William Shakespeare, often called the “Bard of Avon” or simply “the Bard”, as the greatest writer in the English language. There are others, however, who believe that Shakespeare’s works are not his, but were written by another writer—or perhaps a group of writers. These two schools of thought belonged to Stratfordians who recognized Shakespeare as the true author of his works and Oxfordians who believed the rightful author to be Edward de Vere. While history may look upon this as mere conspiracy theory, others loyal to Shakespeare are willing to die—even kill—to keep the truth from ever surfacing. No one knows this better than Kate Stanley, Shakespeare scholar and theater director who finds herself thrown into a complex and dangerous mystery after her mentor leaves her with a box and a warning: “If you open it, you must follow where it leads.” Where it leads is a journey tangled with secrets, lies, danger, and death, but Kate must rely on her wits and her knowledge of the Bard to help her navigate the clues and to stay alive.

Like most, I am aware of William Shakespeare and I’ve read many of the Bard’s works—sadly, all while I was in either high school or college. Although I appreciate his work, I never fully reached “fan” status and so it was difficult to totally immerse myself in this book. However, I was unaware of the controversy surrounding Shakespeare’s credibility and so I found this topic to be extremely compelling and thought provoking (I may never look at the man born in Stratford-upon-Avon in the same way again). Shakespeare and Hamlet devotees will appreciate the numerous references made to the tragic play about power and revenge while those of us on the respectful fringe might find that parts of the story seem to languish at times under the burden of historical facts and literary details. Also, readers are taken on an exhaustive trek from Europe to America and back again with many stops in between. It’s a lot to take in, but the story’s momentum quickly gains steam and reaches a heart-racing pace near the end. That and several twists and turns will ensure that your tenacity is well rewarded.  

As the story’s protagonist, I liked Kate Stanley and will probably read Carrell’s sequel Haunt Me Still which focuses on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. However, I did find it somewhat irritating that whenever Kate found herself in a potentially dangerous and unfamiliar situation, her first instinct was to let anyone and everyone know her exact location by saying, “Is anyone there?” Several times I found myself shushing her from the safety and security of my living room couch. Aside from this and a few other questionable choices, I gave Kate props for her intellect, loyalty, and all-around mettle. She’d make a fine Shakespearean heroine. Her mistakes and miscalculations only reinforce her humanness and vulnerability and make her a believable, relatable, and likeable character.

I think the one thing that Carrell points out in the book that is worthy of highlighting—and perhaps remembering—is that you should never judge a book by its cover. This may seem an oversimplification of what Carrell is conveying with her novel, but this is the main crux behind Shakespeare’s detractors: how can a simple man who came from nowhere and had nothing author some of the world’s greatest plays and sonnets? But it was the story’s Sir Henry Lee, a legend of the British stage, who reminded Kate of the unpredictable and serendipitous nature of greatness: “Like your Abraham Lincoln in his log cabin, the Stratford boy’s story illustrates a point that matters a great deal: Genius can strike anywhere. Anyone can be great.” So, whether you’re a Stratfordian, an Oxfordian, or just a lover of suspense novels, I think we can all come together and agree on that.

Rating: 4/5

*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com

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The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the Professor

Yoko Ogawa

I was used to absurd demands from my employers—that I wear a different color ribbon in my hair every day; that the water for tea be precisely 165 degrees; that I recite a little prayer every evening when Venus rose in the night sky—so the old woman’s request struck me as relatively straightforward. “Could I meet your brother-in-law?” I asked. “That won’t be necessary.” She refused so flatly that I thought I had offended her. “If you met him today, he wouldn’t remember you tomorrow.”

By the time that Akebono Housekeeping Agency had sent her to work for the Professor, his card had already amassed nine blue stars—one for each time a housekeeper had to be replaced. If she failed, she would be the tenth. The job seemed easy enough: care for a man in his early 60s, work Monday to Friday from 11 am to 7 pm, prepare lunch and dinner, perform basic housekeeping, and do the shopping. The only caveat? The man—a former math professor—had a memory that only lasted eighty minutes. So began a unique friendship that would start over every hour and twenty minutes. A relationship as mysterious, complex, and intricate as the numbers that filled the Professor’s life.

Ogawa gives us a hauntingly beautiful story about kindness, loyalty, and friendship. Despite giving her characters no names (with the exception of the Housekeeper’s son who is nicknamed Root), these individuals still manage to leap off the page and burrow their way deep into your heart. Both the Professor and the Housekeeper are sympathetic and deep characters who justly deserve our compassion. The Professor remains largely unaffected by the new memories and friendships he’s made; however, when he becomes aware (either vocally or visually) of his loss, you can feel the torment, anguish, and misery literally slicing through his soul. Likewise, the Housekeeper bears an equally heavy emotional burden as she lives each day with the realization that after eighty minutes has passed, the Professor will neither remember nor miss her. This book will tug on every single heart string you possess, yet Ogawa still manages to give us a story filled with joy and hope.

The only minor downside is that The Housekeeper and the Professor does go deep into the mathematical weeds on several occasions with lengthy explanations of various theorems, laws, and formulas. Fans of Pierre de Fermat, Leonard Euler, and Pythagoras will appreciate their numerous references (with Euler’s Formula being specifically highlighted). While the majority of us will tend to glaze over these facts (while reliving some uncomfortable high school math memories), math is the singular means with which the Professor has to communicate and connect with those around him and so these enthusiastic explanations are easily forgiven as they provide valuable insight into a complicated and troubled individual.

Galileo Galilei wrote, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” No matter how much had been taken away from him, the Professor realized that math connects us all. It is indeed a universal language without barriers or limits. Understanding this now makes me wish that I had spent just a little bit more time appreciating my high school math teachers and everything they patiently tried to teach me.

Rating: 5/5

*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com

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