2016 Book #51 – People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper

51XE0ajiVKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: People Who Knew Me
Author: Kim Hooper
Date finished: 5/24/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Pages in book: 294
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: The Reading Room NOTE: I received this book for free from The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Everything was fine fourteen years after she left New York.
Until suddenly, one day, it wasn’t.
Emily Morris got her happily-ever-after earlier than most. Married at a young age to a man she loved passionately, she was building the life she always wanted. But when enormous stress threatened her marriage, Emily made some rash decisions. That’s when she fell in love with someone else. That’s when she got pregnant.
Resolved to tell her husband of the affair and to leave him for the father of her child, Emily’s plans are thwarted when the world is suddenly split open on 9/11. It’s amid terrible tragedy that she finds her freedom, as she leaves New York City to start a new life. It’s not easy, but Emily—now Connie Prynneforges a new happily-ever-after in California. But when a life-threatening diagnosis upends her life, she is forced to rethink her life for the good of her thirteen-year-old daughter.
A riveting debut in which a woman must confront her own past in order to secure the future of her daughter, Kim Hooper’s People Who Knew Me asks: “What would you do?”

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Reading the description of this book I was intrigued, and while not dying to read this book at first, I definitely wanted to know more. This book hooks you right from page one though and sucks you in for the rest of the story, only spitting you out at the end feeling lost and a little heart-broken. I couldn’t put this book down, the story line really progresses masterfully by alternating between the past and the present, consistently only giving the reader enough of a glimpse so that you’re dying to learn the rest of what happened. This book was about Emily Morris, who disappeared from New York a week after the tragedy of 9/11 without telling any of her family or even her husband that she was still alive. As a reader, when I first heard that she had done this I was appalled. How could she abandon her life and her loved ones without a word? What about the pain she was causing them? These are questions, I have to be honest, I struggled with through most of the book. As we learn more about Emily/Connie’s background, there is a certain understanding of why she took the path she did, but it is still heart-breaking. When Emily/Connie learns that she has cancer though, she has to start thinking about where her thirteen year old daughter Claire would go if she died. And with these thoughts come the realization that she must tell her daughter Claire the truth about her past and Claire’s parentage.
Overall I liked this book a lot. Like I said, I couldn’t put it down and I was hooked on the story from the very beginning. Some of the subject matter was tough for me since I could not at all imagine myself doing what Emily/Connie did. At the same time though, put in that extreme situation I couldn’t help but wonder, who can say what I would actually do? Emily had to deal with way too much stress on her young marriage and its no wonder that her unhappiness from that situation manifested in such an extreme way and that she walked away without looking back. That is one of the things that I ended up really liking about this book: even though some of the decisions that Emily/Connie made really turned my stomach, I couldn’t help but really think about what I would have done put in the same situation. It is easy to say I would be noble and honest when I’m not faced with making that choice and dealing with the consequences of that choice. But it is hard not to wonder if I might end up taking the easy way out. Who can say what any one of us would have done in Emily’s shoes.

The bottom line: This book had a couple of great plot twists included and even beyond the excitement of those I just couldn’t put this book down. It was like when you’re watching a video of a car crash and you know the crash is coming but you want to see really just how much the car caught on fire in the end. This book was heart-wrenching, scandalous and for me was really thought provoking psychologically. I would say this one is a must-read for this summer!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #57 – The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

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Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Date finished: 6/14/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Pages in book: 343
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group. I have been thinking about joining the group for awhile but even though it is only one night a month, I always find it hard trying to add one more thing into my schedule. I realized a couple months ago though that I have such a passion for reading and that I get such joy out of discussing good books with other people that I really should be making this group more of a priority. I had planned to start going with the May meeting (the book was one of the Liane Moriarty books and she’s been on my to read list for awhile) but we were on vacation when they were meeting in May so I decided to wait for the June meeting. And when I saw what the book for the June meeting was, I was excited since this book is on my to read list as well. And thank goodness I was able to finish the book since the meeting is tomorrow! (I’m writing this on Sunday 6/14 and waiting to post it until after the meeting tomorrow so I don’t give away my thoughts!)
I was hooked on this story from the very beginning. And though it was a tiny bit slow to start up in the beginning, the last half of the book just flew by for me, I couldn’t put it down. I could barely convince myself to look away from the pages long enough to eat my dinner. The characters of the story will completely draw you in and you’ll feel as if you’re there living on Janus with the Sherbournes and you’ll be a witness to everything that happens through the story. The emotions that are woven into the story will take your breath away. When you’ve raised a baby its whole life, even if that baby isn’t biologically yours, is it right to have that baby taken away? What is really right and wrong in a situation like that? What is fair? The contents of this book and the questions it brings up in the reader’s mind are just so thought provoking. What would you do if you were in this exact situation? Though for much of the book I was mad at Isabella for some of the choices she made, once she fell in love with that baby, I can’t say that I can know whether I would have done anything differently.
For those of you who would like to have your own book discussion with this book, here is a site with some reading discussion questions you can use.

The bottom line: I loved this book so so much. It was amazingly touching and moving and just so great. Everyone should read this as soon as possible, be ready though it’s going to tug hard at your heart strings.

Favorite quotes:

“He struggles to make sense of it- all this love, so bent out of shape, refracted, like light through the lens.”

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

“I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page