Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes

Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.


what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

did like

The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.


Top Ten Books To Read If You Like Historical Fiction

I have been slacking so much with these and I am so sorry! I promise to be a better blogger. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the lovelies at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about book suggestions! I picked suggestions based on a genre because I read a lot of different books. I do have a few genres I generally don’t pick up, like romance and mystery, but I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I picked historical fiction for the theme today because it’s one of my favorite genres and it can host so many different books. So here are my ten suggestions if you enjoy historical fic!

books 1-5 9-29

books 6-10

Have you read any of these? Do you have any favorite historical books you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!


Top 10 Tuesdays| Fictional Bookworms

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by the lovely people at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about fictional bookworms! I’ll admit: sometimes adding a bookworm into the story feels like a cop out. As a reader, of course I want to identify with the characters; it seems like the easiest character trait to give them is to be as much of a bookworm as I am. The bookworms in my list are all characters I actually enjoy, who love books as much as I do.

10. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter
dont you read
Harry Potter came out when I was five, but I didn’t read it until I was in the third or fourth grade. How could I not love the only female lead until Luna’s appearance? Hermione was everything I wanted to be: brave, smart, sassy, and she didn’t let the boys boss her around. Hermione is and will always be one of the best role models for young girls to read about.

9. Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons
books and beers
Show me a person who doesn’t like this little feminist/bookworm/activist and I will show you a liar. I don’t think I really paid attention to The Simpsons until I was in my tween years, and I quickly fell in love with Lisa. She often felt ostracized by her intelligence and, while I am not saying I’m a genius, most people from my hometown probably don’t know the sun is a star.  Bless their hearts. (I’m actually surprised I haven’t used this line on one of the multiple alcoholics running around that town). Lisa is one of few female characters who is boisterous in her beliefs and extremely unapologetic. We need more Lisa Simpsons in the world.

8. Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones
tyrion books
Everyone’s favorite half-man couldn’t be more right. Tyrion, who often makes jokes about his sad existence, is a loved character because he will not sugar-coat things. He is blunt and crude, but extremely intelligent and witty. I know a lot of bookworms like this in real life. Martin’s books are successful because he writes his characters as if they are real people and he’s just copying their dialogue.

7. Daria Morgendorffer, from Daria

I didn’t watch Daria a lot. It was just barely before my time, and now I only have hulu and Netflix so I can’t catch any reruns on TV (unless it’s available through one of those services, in which case I need to get on it). I do know that had I been a teenager in the ’90s (and not born in ’92), I would have been a Daria kind of girl. To be fair, I still was. I was a royal bitch  an angsty thing from ages 11-17. I had a hard time figuring out who I was as a kid. One part of me wanted to be like my mom, who has always been very feminine, and the other part wanted to be like my dad, who took me to more than 10 rock/metal concerts before my 16th birthday. So, as you can imagine, I didn’t fit in with most kids and became a hater of the world. Yay teen angst!

6. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda
I loved this movie as a kid. Trunchbull scared the daylights out of me, and I’m pretty sure I was terrified to go into the first grade because of this movie. I distinctly remember being in pre-school and some older kids were helping us do arts and crafts. They were probably in middle school or maybe even high school, but for some reason I thought they were first graders. I was so scared! How was I ever going to be able to go to the first grade when I was nowhere near as tall as these people?! I’m sure I got over it quickly, because I don’t remember anything more happening about that. I wish I had read Matilda as a young child, because I feel like I wouldn’t have felt as alone, just like her. If we ever decide to have children, Matilda will be one of many books I’ll read to them.

5. Belle from Beauty & the Beast

Ugh I wish this .gif was bigger because which one of us would not be fucking thrilled with that library?! Belle is my second favorite Disney Princess for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is because she is one of the few animated characters who loves books as much as I do. The art in this movie is astoundingly beautiful, and only adds to my love for it.

4. Lizzie Bennett from Pride & Prejudice
elizabeth bennett
My mother has an ardent (get it??) love for anything written by Jane Austen. I could not tell you how many times she has watched Emma, and it was her who introduced me to Pride and Prejudice. Let me just say this: Keira Knightley is the queen of period movies. She is wonderful in P&P as well as Anna Karenina and The Duchess (all of which are based on books!). Elizabeth is a character who screws up a lot, but will not allow herself to be pushed around by anyone. She enjoys long walks and good books (sounds like the beginning of an eHarmony account).

3. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn from The Queen of the Tearling

He found her staring at her books with utter devotion, like a lover. 

There is so much more to Kelsea than being a bookworm, which is why she’s made it so far up in my list. Yes, she loves books. She adores them and understands their importance in our daily lives, but Johansen makes sure Kelsea’s life doesn’t revolve around these books. Many quotes in Tearling adequately describe Kelsea’s immense love of reading and literature, but they do not take away from the actual story. That alone is an extreme talent.

2. Wishbone from Wishbone
This dog. This dog right here. I loved this show. I loved this dog. I had a stuffed animal version of him and when you squeezed his tail, he’d say, “Don’t go there!” Surprisingly, I don’t remember ever reading any of the books based on the television show. I just remember this dog dressing up as literary characters, living in a library and having great wonderful adventures. Thanks, Wishbone.

1. Poussey & Taystee from Orange is the New Black

I am a huge fan of OitNB and I absolutely love the relationship between these two. Fun fact: I once had an interview for a job as a librarian at a jail. I did not go to said interview because it was a men’s prison and I am a paranoid person. Anyway, back to these two. The whole show has snippets of almost every cellmate reading, but it really focuses more on Taystee and Poussey since they are surrounded by books everyday. I loved their funeral for the burned books, and how hard they had fought for them. Taystee ate a bug. She ate a bed bug for those books! I don’t know any other fictional character who would go to such great lengths for their beloved books.

I know I’m probably one of ten people who don’t have Rory Gilmore on here, but I never watched the show. Ever. The only reason I know her name is because she’s pretty much worshipped in the bookish community. If I had put her here, it would have felt like cheating.

There’s my top ten! Who are some of yours? Let me know in the comments!


Top Ten Tuesday| Books I Recommend the Most

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish, will be all about the top 10 books I recommend the most. I don’t know that I would call these books my favorites, but they are definitely up there. I usually recommend these books to different kinds of people: friends, family, and random people in bookstores. These are also the books I recommend whenever a poor soul asks me to give them some “book recs” on Facebook.

10. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
the five people you meet in heaven

My husband and I were in a LDR for a little more than a year before we were married. Whenever we were on the phone or Skyping, we would sometimes lose stuff to talk about it. I scoured the internet for ideas on things we could do together when we weren’t together. One suggestion was to read a book at the same time and then talk about it. The book we picked was Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I am not a Christian, but I still enjoyed this book so much. Albom doesn’t choke the book with a religious agenda; instead of focusing on the fact that there is a heaven or a God, it focuses on the background characters in your life. It’s a wonderful book and is usually the first book I suggest to random customers.

9. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
heart shaped box

I would like to start off by saying this: I love Joe Hill. I have read most of his books and have yet to be disappointed. They are some of the best horror books I have ever read. Most horror authors get carried away with their writings so that they confuse the reader. Hill’s father, the famous Stephen King, does that to me sometimes. Yes, Joe Hill has the blood of Stephen King running through his veins. His talent is his own though. If you’re looking to be scared by a book, this is the one for you.

8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
71SXCz3ckRLI bought The Alchemist for my husband. He always complained that I never bought books he’d want to read, so I saw this one and thought, “That looks pretty unisex.” It’s a small book, so when my husband finished it in a day, I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised, however, when he smacked it down in front of me and said, “Put everything down and read this. I know you can finish it in a day, so do it.” I had never seen him so excited over a book before. I finished it in a few hours and oh my. I loved it. It’s a wonderful story for anyone who might not feel like their life is headed in the right direction.

7. Any books by Jodi Picoult
jodi picoult

One day, I came home and my husband asked me if Jodi was my favorite author. I said no, and asked why he’d ask. “I swear, you have fifteen of her books.” At this point, I had only had two. By now I have eight, five of which are unread. Picoult’s books can’t be read one after the other, unless you have a stone heart. They always have a law story involved, including a court room and everything, so the stories are definitely heart-wrenching. I am a huge fan of Legally Blonde, so I really enjoy these court books.

6. Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris
letters from home

As a fan of WWII stories, McMorris’ was the first to introduce me to them. This book follows the story of four women whose lives are changed by the war in different ways. Each story is beautifully written, the characters well thought out and the writing spectacular. I screamed, I cried, I absolutely loved it. If you are a fan of WWII Historical Fiction, I highly suggest reading any and all Kristina McMorris’ books.

5. Ex-Heroes Series by Peter Clines
ex heroes

Zombies. Superheroes. Military. POC characters. Well-written women. Well-written characters in general. Characters with disabilities. This series has it all. I usually get goosebumps from reading corny, cheesy romance stuff. This series gave me goosebumps just from the dialogue. One of my favorite female characters is in this series. Her name is Stealth and she is an ex-supermodel/contestant from Jeopardy who won like a million dollars. She is super smart, super-fast, and her dad was an assassin who trained her from a young age. There is a character in a wheel chair and a character who loses her memory every day. I can not rave about these books more. They are so good. Plus, the zombies are not the main story. Sure, it kind of is in the first book, but it’s not just zombies, it’s something else entirely and it’s just so good.

4. The All-Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
all souls trilogy

Part historical fiction,  part fantasy, part paranormal romance. These books are wonderful. Some parts of the first book were a little cheesy and boring, but I absolutely devoured the second book. It has vampires, demons, witches, dragons, all kinds of fun fantasy stuff and a really good romance. Thank goodness there’s no love triangle, or else I might shoot myself. Also, lesbian witches!

3. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

If you know me at all, you know this is my ultimate favorite book. The reason it isn’t number one on this list is because I know a lot of people aren’t very interested in reading about unicorns, no matter how absolutely fucking gorgeous this book is. Still, I recommend this book all the damn time. Most of my favorite quotes are from this book. The graphic novel version of this is only better because beautiful pictuuuuuuures. I mean it. Go check it out.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
the night circus

This is one of the most visually appealing book covers out there. It’s definitely the reason I actually ended up buying it, but the story is just as wonderful. All in all, it is a love story and it is a wonderful love story. It’s about two magical people pitted against each other by two old men and we, the reader, are invited to watch their lives unfold. The background characters are a great addition to the story and I can’t wait to re-read this.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
ready player one

Whenever I passed this book in the bookstore, I would point to it and say, “Oh, this looks so good! I want to read it so bad!” One day, my husband said, “Just buy it. You always say something when you pass it, so just buy it.” So I did. He read it before me and, when he was done, he could not stop talking about it. I had to finish it in a day just to avoid spoilers! There is so many pop-culture 80 references that I don’t even know where to start. I ended up giving my copy to my dad, who devoured it and then passed it on to my uncle. This is a book every geek or nerd should read because it is such a wonderful, crazy sci-fi ride.

And there you have it! What are some of your book recommendations?

Book Reivew| His Fair Assassin Books 1-3 by Robin LaFevers


“One heart cannot serve two masters.”

I had been in a very long, long, looooonnnggg YA book-rut after reading Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I have a TBR bookshelf with just about 78 books, but I keep buying more books. One day, I decided to take a look at my shelf and saw that I had Grave Mercy. I won it in a Goodreads Giveaway and just never bothered to read it. It had a 3.94 rating on Goodreads so I decided to give it a try. I finished this 549-page book in two days and immediately grabbed the next two from my library.

Synopsis for Grave Mercy via Goodreads:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I want to talk a little about all three books, but only posted the first book’s description to give you all a little information about it. Not only are they historical fiction, they are also full adventure books. With the girls following the God of Death, there is a fantasy element.

Each book follows a new character: Grave Mercy focuses on Ismae, Dark Triumph focuses on Sybella and Mortal Heart focuses on Annith. All three characters are present in the three books, so their stories don’t end at the end of their books. Instead of getting an epilogue at the end of the books, the stories continue in the next book. LaFevers writes with a gift of continuation; so many series are unreliable in the consistency of the story telling. Thankfully, His Fair Assassin is not plagued with this.

How I felt through the series (in .gif form)!

Grave Mercy:

embarrassed gif

Poor Ismae and her past with abusive men.

now kiss

Isval 😀 😀 😀

Dark Triumph:

blushing gif

Beast aka my big giant baby ugh ugh ugh



Mortal Heart:

thats my baby

Annith sticking up for herself through the entire book!

just kiss

Annith x Balthazaar = <33333

surprised gif

So many parts of the book had me like


Weeping. So much weeping

I am a romantic, so any stories with well-written romances make me swoon. All of the romances in the His Fair Assassin series are beautifully different and very well-written. I think I was most satisfied with Dark Triumph‘s romance than the other two, but only because I felt absolutely awful for Sybella. She was the character I was rooting for the most, and felt she truly deserved a chance at a happy ending. Ismae and Annith’s romances were great in their own ways, and I loved both of them as well. Annith’s was the most surprising (cue Jim Carrey’s reaction) but each of them were plausible. I can’t stand books where two characters are in love within the first two chapters. LaFever makes sure her characters have a friendship of some kind before any romance evolves, which makes these more realistic than some of the YA I’ve tried reading.

Some parts of the books were slow. LaFevers does make note that these books are historical fiction, so much of the series is set in the 1490s during a war. This leads the characters, some of whom are royalty or nobles, to have a very large hand in the fate of the kingdom. I found these parts the least interesting to read, but that’s just my opinion. I ended up skimming through those passages to get back to the parts I cared about the most (aka my OTPs).

I give the whole series a very solid 4 stars out of 5.

four star

Have you read this series? Did you enjoy it as much as I did??


Book Review| A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

book reviewImage

Before you roll your eyes and stop reading this, hear me out! This was the first romance novel I have ever read. I received it from my Quarterly Book Box (along with Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A,S, King and The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin, as well as other goodies, some seen here). I was the person who hated going into the Romance section, always rolling my eyes at the absolutely ridiculous titles. Even this title is too corny for me, but I decided to give it a try. I really do enjoy books with romance, but a lot of romance novels I can’t take seriously. Here’s a good quote from How to Seduce an Angel in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde: “Deep inside, it felt like someone had kicked her in the taco and was pinching her ovaries for good measure.”  Taco?? TACO?! I rest my case.
But the good (smart) folk at Quarterly added a little blurb of reason as to why they chose this romance novel, and they said it was the first one they had read that they actually enjoyed. So I figured, “Hey, why not.” (The letter also mentioned how MacLean’s females are well written, not the wispy “fall for anything” type, which also pulled me towards it).

The synopsis from Goodreads
A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.
A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.
Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them… even her heart.

Spoilers Ahead!
This isn’t a book to read if you’re looking for some mind blowing, life-changing story. This is a book to read when you’re feeling lonely and missing your significant other (or lack of one). Penelope was already such a sad character after her broken engagement eight years prior; so when she’s forced into another unhappy marriage, her sadness only grows. Michael Bourne is a man she knew as a child who she hadn’t talked to in at least 10 years. She knows Michael is only marrying her to reclaim the land he lost in a card game, but she knows she can use this marriage to her own advantage by using his reputation to secure good wives for her younger sisters. The two of them go in expecting unhappiness, but Penelope is so full of hope that he may love her, she has a tendency to forget that Michael (now known simply as Bourne) is no longer the young boy who used to make her laugh. He’s now one of four leaders of an underground casino known as The Fallen Angel, and has no interest in a wife. As time goes on, the two of them grow attracted to each other, first physically, then emotionally.

As I read, all I could do was feel so sorry for Penelope, who was such a fearsome woman who deserved nothing but love. And damn Michael! He was so caught up with being this rough-and-tumble tough guy that he couldn’t see how much he loved Penelope and how much she loves him. When he finally does figure it out, Penelope is so used to him using her for the sake of making their “love story” seem real, she has no idea whether she should believe him or not. Eventually, she realizes the only way to get through to him is to just stand up for herself and tell him how it is, no matter how much he may not want to hear it.

Their relationship may not be the healthiest (in fact, I wanted her to slap him more than I wanted her to kiss him), but for a lonely military wife, this book helped fend off the loneliness. It was a fun read, and it sucked me in from the first chapter. I would recommend it for those who need a good romantic story.

Rating: 3/5

Do you have any favorite romance novels?

Book Review| Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall


When my husband and I lived in Virginia, I had my dream come true: I got a full time job at Barnes and Noble. My husband is a sailor in the USN, so I was only able to keep that job for a year. After leaving, a few of us fellow bookies decided to keep in touch and, just recently, decided to start a book club. Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall was the first book of the Literary Ladies book club, and it did not disappoint!

The Synopsis from Goodreads

The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.
When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.
As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.

This was probably one of the few books I’ve read this year that I absolutely could not put down! We had an anonymous poll for which book we’d read this March, and I’ll admit: I didn’t vote for this one. I am so very glad it won because this was such a beautiful story, and I fell in love with the characters.


Emotions While Reading:

What I Liked Loved

Starla Jane Claudelle – Firstly, her name is just the best name I have ever heard for a character without it being unbelievable. I can just picture a poor, pregnant, 17-year-old Southern girl with big dreams realize she’s having a baby girl and think the best name she could give would be Starla. She is a wonderful little ball of fire who hates backing down from a fight, and always ends up seeing right into the core of everyone she meets. My mother’s cousin has a daughter who is so similar to Starla (her name is Ireland, so they have that “different-name” in common, too!), it may have something to do with why I absolutely adored her.

Eula – To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Eula’s at first. I thought she was a little crazy, what with having a random white baby in the car and then her more-than-abusive husband. I did not know what the story was going to hold for Eula. As soon as that pan hit Wallace’s head, I knew I was going to like this woman. She did for Starla what no other adult had: she protected her. Starla’s father was off working, her mother was gone, and her grandmother was one of the people she needed to be protected from; Starla had to begin protecting herself at a young age. Even when Eula came into her life, Starla was busy protecting Eula for a good while. Once Eula was able to finally come into herself, she was able to show Starla the same love and protection Starla had been showing her. (And honestly, I really wanted Eula to tell Lulu off).

The Characters Met Along the Way – From Mrs. Cyrena to the Jenkins Brothers to the boy Starla met at the fair, the cast of Whistling Past the Graveyard was just perfect. Each character was essential to the story, and nobody felt awkwardly crammed in or just forgotten. Mrs. Cyrena was another favorite of mine, simply because of her compassion for others. When Starla was sick and Eula had $4 to her name, Mrs. Cyrena took them in and allowed these three strangers (including baby James) into her home, knowing how much trouble they could get in for having two white children in their home. When Eula & Mrs. Cyrena decided to allow Starla to go to the carnival, I think I fell in love right then. Poor Starla never had anyone care about her happiness before, and here are two women who have known her for less than a month and could already see the goodness in her. Even the Jenkins brothers were well-written characters. We all have “those people” in town; the white trash, racist, hillbilly folk that just make you ashamed of being from the same town as them. People who are mean just because they can be. Isn’t it funny how this book was set in the 1960s, 50 years ago, and we still have the same problems?

Every Character Grew – The amount of character development in this book was almost too much for my emotional state. When Starla’s father finally does come save her (from her awful egg donor of a mother), the amount of love he has for his daughter really shines through. It’s the first time we’re really introduced to him, but I could see then that the only reason he was not home with her was because he believed he was doing the right thing by having his mother (Mamie) raise Starla. He then quits his job, finds an apartment for them both and begins to raise her on his “own” (own in quotations because Eula did stick around, of course). Eula’s own character growth was glorious and lovely and all I wanted was for her to live happily ever after and I’m glad that she kind of did.

What I Disliked Didn’t Love

Another “Dead Beat” Mom – So many books I’ve read lately have single fathers, with the mother either dying from childbirth, leaving the daughter, or just disappearing completely. While I am all for being different and breaking the mold, we do realize that the majority of single-parent families have the mother as the head of household, right? Women mainly win custody cases because they show up and actually want the custody. When men do show up and try to get custody, most of the times they do.  It would just be nice to have a book where the mother and daughter had a coming-together of sorts. We women have enough nonsense to worry about without having to worry about books making us out to be creatures who will flee at the mere sight of responsibility.

My Rating:

If you’re looking for your next good read, I highly recommend this be it! I swear, you will not regret reading this book!