Title: Good on Paper
Author: Rachel Cantor
Date finished: 3/30/16
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Pages in book: 295
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I won it! On Reading with Robin’s Facebook page
Blurb from the cover:
Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene’s life hasn’t quite turned out as planned. She’s a single mom living with her daughter and her gay friend, Ahmad. Her PhD on Dante’s Vita Nuova hasn’t gotten her a job, and her career as a translator hasn’t exactly taken off either.
But then she gets a call from a Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet who insists she’s the only one who can translate his newest book.
Stunned, Shira realizes that—just like that— her life can change. She sees a new beginning beckoning: academic glory, demand for her translations, and even love (her good luck has made her feel more open to the entreaties of a neighborhood indie bookstore owner).
There’s only one problem: It all hinges on the translation, and as Shira starts working on the exquisitely intricate passages of the poet’s book, she realizes that it may in fact be, well … impossible to translate.
A deft, funny, and big-hearted novel about second chances, Good on Paper is a grand novel of family, friendship, and possibility.
My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5
My review: I won this book on the Reading with Robin Facebook page in a contest. This book is actually going to be discussed with the author on her Facebook page tonight at 8pm so be sure to check that out if you’ve read the book! And here is a listing of future books selected for the page’s book club in case you’re interested in participating in any of those. Anyways, so this book tells the story of Shira Greene, who lives in Manhattan with her daughter, Andrea (Andi), and her best friend Ahmad, who has been helping Shira raise Andi since birth. Shira is offered the chance to translate for Nobel Prize-winning Romei, much to her surprise. She accepts even though this action alone forces her out of the comfort zone in which she’s been living for years, never really having to strive to any potential heights or success.
After she gets engrossed in the story though, she begins to realize things she didn’t know about herself, her daughter and her odd little family she’s formed. And Romei isn’t exactly what she expects. Many pieces of his work are hitting a little too close to home, reminding her of things that she’s written in the past herself. To help her figure out what Romei’s all about, she enlists the help of Benny, a bookstore owner/Rabbi across the street. In the end though, this work of Romei’s ends up being more for Shira than she realizes.
Overall I honestly loved this book. The author did an amazing job of crafting the words just so, it felt almost like I was reading a 300 page poem because it was crafted so wonderfully. While I really enjoyed the book, I do have to admit that I had some trouble connecting with Shira’s character. She basically drops out of grad school in her late twenties (I think I’m remembering the age correctly) over a guy and lets her life basically fall apart after she finds out that he hasn’t been honest with her. That to me was completely baffling. There were a couple other things that didn’t sit right with me about Shira’s character but it definitely did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. Just the opposite, Shira was one of my favorite (and least I guess) parts of the book. The way she discussed literature was profound and moving and being able to insert myself in those conversations throughout the book was one of the most interesting aspects of the story. Overall this book had a sweet ending but what really captured me about this book was the character’s flaws and also the intense psycho-analytical discussions on literature. This was a great read for anyone who loves reading!
The bottom line: This book was just wonderfully well done. It was magical to read, the author honestly did an amazing job of stringing words together to make the text almost lyrical. I loved the in depth discussions included in the conversations between characters. Really just a lovely book to read, I would most definitely recommend.
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page