Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

A river runs through the town of Beckford and within that river, there’s The Drowning Pool. The pool lives up to its bleak name when a mother and a teenage girl are both found dead within the water’s depths one summer. There’s a large cliff above that leads to the question: Did they jump? Paula Hawkins’ latest release, Into The Water, shares the story of the women who’ve been lost to The Drowning Pool.

When Nel Abbott died, her daughter is left alone in a large creaking house with an estranged aunt who she’s never met. It turns out that Beckford, like many small towns, is filled with underlying connections and affairs. Throughout the book it seemed like half the town was looking for answers as to how these women died while the other half was keeping secrets.

My feelings about Into The Water are mixed. On the one hand, I was fascinated (and horrified) by the idea of The Drowning Pool and the myths that it’s a place where “troublemakers” are “taken care of.” The writing was infectious and I didn’t want to put the book down (similarly to Hawkins’ previous book, The Girl on the Train). On the other hand, the book is told from at least 10 different perspectives and all of the switching back and forth between characters took away from the depth of the story. I was lucky enough to attend an author event with Paula Hawkins a couple weeks ago and these alternating perspectives was an aspect of the book that she experimented with while writing.

Overall, I recommend reading Into The Water, but I also recommend having a pen and paper handy in order to jot down quick notes of each of the characters mentioned.

Standout quotes: 

“Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women.”  

“It must take a strange sense of entitlement, I would have thought, to take someone else’s tragedy like that and write it as though it belonged to you.”

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Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

When it rains, it pours and in Sunshine Mackenzie’s case, it’s pouring cats and dogs. Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave shares the story of Sunshine Mackenzie, a celebrity chef with a huge social media following. She’s living the perfect life…until she isn’t. A mysterious hacker begins to leak Sunshine’s devastatingly personal secrets out for the world to see. Just like that, everything she had built begins to fall.

When it seems like things can’t get any worse, Sunshine returns to her hometown and the doorstep of her estranged sister, Rain. Yes, you read that correctly, the sister’s names are Sunshine and Rain. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it’s not exactly smooth sailing from there for Sunshine.

While there were portions of the story that I thought were cheesy (starting with the sister’s names), I was really interested in the way Laura Dave examined the idea of living a “curated” life. During a time when social media rules all and sucks up so much of our time, we’re seeing people not only share, but share content intended to make their lives look a certain way. Is it possible to share authentically? If anything, Hello, Sunshine is a conversation starter. 

I enjoyed Hello, Sunshine – it’s a quick read that’s great for long summer days!

Standout Quote:

“‘Did it ever occur to you that if you weren’t living in fear of other people’s opinions of you, no one would have the power to take anything away?'”

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Sometimes you read a book that feels completely separate from and relevant to your life at once. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is that novel for me. This father-daughter story stars the gun-toting Samuel Hawley and his daughter, steel-toe boot-wearing Loo. Despite their rough exteriors, the duo charmed me.

Loo and her father have been on their own for as long as she can remember, her mother gone before she could walk. Moving from motel to motel, they have never stayed in one place for long. One day though, Sam decides that Loo deserves a “normal” childhood and takes her to Olympus, Massachusetts, the town where Loo’s mother grew up. As Loo gets older, she learns more about her father’s dark past (a life on the run) and she’s not sure how to reconcile this information with the father she knows and loves.

Throughout the book, there are twelve chapters that describe the stories behind each of Sam’s bullet wounds. Sam is a character who has done bad (illegal) things, but does that make him a bad person? The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley made me stop and think.

I really enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it!

 

 

Standout quotes: 

“’But the past is like a shadow, always trying to catch up.’” 

“…Never quite understanding the reasons but feeling the cause must be some personal defect, some missing part of herself that the others recognized…” 

“Changing where you were could change how much you mattered.”

“Hawley took her face into his hands and kissed her forehead, her eyes and then her lips, slow and grateful and brimming with the hundreds of ways he wanted to touch her.”

“My God, Loo thought, these men do it to all of us.”