Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

family treeTwo words: maple syrup. Not only is Family Tree by Susan Wiggs filled with the delicacy, I also think it’s a good representation of this sweet feel-good story. Family and friends, love and heartbreak, forgiveness and struggle, these are all themes within the story along with some incredibly decadent descriptions of food.

When the walls of Annie Rush’s well-constructed life (charming husband, dream job as a producer for a hit cooking TV show, beautiful LA house) come falling down, she retreats to her childhood home of Switchback, Vermont. Returning to her family, and seeing her long lost high school sweetheart so many years later, Annie must find herself again after losing so much. The book moves between scenes of her childhood, teen years, and adult life as we’re navigated through her experiences.

The characters were easy to like, especially Annie’s tell-it-how-she-sees-it nature. The Vermont setting is what differentiated this book in my mind from other easy-going reads. Wonderful descriptions of orange-hued fall leaves, softly falling snow, and maples trees pulled me into the story and left me thinking that it might be time to book a trip to New England.

Family Tree by Susan WiggsFamily Tree is a good chick-lit read, one that’s easy to fall into, with a satisfying ending.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

the-song-of-achillesIf you’re looking for a story filled with heroes, gods, passion, bravery, and a whole lot of heart, look no further than The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. A retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War, this book is quick-paced and easy to get drawn into.

When our narrator, prince Patroclus, is a young child he is exiled from his home. By a twist of fate, he winds up at the court of Achilles’ father King Peleus and a strong bond forms between the boys. I was really touched by their relationship, an incredibly honest and deeply loyal one. They grow up together and before long they are called to the Trojan War and with it, risk losing everything important to them.

I’m not very familiar with Greek mythology (I paused many times to look up various Greek gods and historical figures) so I really enjoyed learning more. The story didn’t just dive into Greek mythology and history though. It also shared insight into the culture and motives of the Greek people, which I found fascinating.

the-song-of-achilles-by-madeline-millerI try to keep my reviews spoiler-free and I don’t want to give anything away here, but I felt completely emotional at the end of the story. To be honest, I felt a little emotional throughout the entire book! The story really got to me.

I definitely recommend The Song of Achilles!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

imageIncredibly powerful and moving, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is full of honesty and empathy.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with 20 years of experience. When Ruth begins a routine check-up of a newborn baby, she’s quickly reassigned cases. The parents are a white supremacist couple and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, on their case. Ruth is told to stay away from the child, however when the team is short staffed she is the only one left to care for him when he goes into cardiac distress. Ruth is left with the impossible decision of whether to obey orders or intervene…

Ruth is charged with a serious crime and we are brought along for the court case that ensues. Small Great Things is told from the perspectives of Ruth, Turk (the white supremacist father of the baby), and Kennedy (Ruth’s lawyer). It was both fascinating (and at times horrifying) to get into the heads of these 3 characters.

I was extremely impressed by Picoult’s ability to make these hard and uncomfortable topics approachable through her writing. To me, this is a book that everyone should read.

small great things It was also really interesting to read about Picoult’s research for the story and motivation for writing this book. I definitely recommend reading her author’s note.

Top quotes:

“It just goes to show you: every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.”

“…I knew that sometimes when people spoke, it wasn’t because they had something important to say. It was because they had a powerful need for someone to listen.”

“She is hunched over in her seat in the gallery, a human question mark, as if her whole body is asking why this happened to us.”