Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner. This is the new second book in the Manon Bradshaw series and it was just as good as the first, if not a little better! Manon has returned to her old job, but since she is very pregnant, she’s assigned to a desk. Her adopted son, Fly (from the first book) is having trouble adjusting to life in the suburbs and gets accused of a crime. Manon is not allowed to help out with the investigation, but of course does so. There are also chapters in the voice of another woman, Birdie, who owns a liquor store, and it is interesting how Manon’s and Birdy’s story intersect. It was very well written and excellently mapped out. I definitely think Steiner is as good as Tana French and Denise Mina.
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby. I really enjoyed reading this book of essays. Irby is very bawdy and blunt and funny, and is hilariously unapologetic about her enjoyment of junkfood and television. She has a vicious cat named Helen Keller, a job at a veterinarian hospital, and a spot-on way of viewing the world. The whole book is funny –even when she is writing about topics that are not – but the second half of the book in particular I enjoyed. I frequently laughed out loud while reading it, and will definitely seek out more of her writing.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This is an excellent, hilarious, and poignant novel and I was sad to reach its end. Eleanor is a woman in her early thirties living in Scotland and whose interior monologue reveals how she interprets the world literally. She has trouble understanding human niceties, yet also has a sly sense of humor, and it is hilarious to listen to her half-inward reactions to people reacting to her own bluntness. When the book begins, Eleanor has decided that she is going to marry a local musician whom she does not know. She sets about planning their meeting, while also working as a finance assistant at a design firm. She “befriends” the IT guy at her workplace, Raymond, and a series of events ensue in which Raymond tries to teach Eleanor more normal human responses. Eleanor also has trauma in her past, and slowly comes to terms with accepting what has happened to her. It’s just so delightfully written, and I loved reading Eleanor’s responses to life’s daily idiocies. I highly recommend this book.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raising Boys by Laurie A. Helgoe & Barron M. Helgoe. This is a book about parenting boys from infancy until they leave home, assuming they do, and as such remained a bit general. That would be my main critique. The Helgoes have interesting and sensible advice to offer, but in this format they are forced to reign themselves in. I’d prefer a more in-depth approach on the whole. I was also uncomfortable on occasion with their declaration of how girls are one way and boys are another. I think in some instances that is true, but there’s of course a danger in making that divide too pat. In summary, however, they impart useful advice and I’m sure I will reference it in the future.