It’s Friday! Even though I have big plans this weekend … to get lots of work done and organize my taxes, Friday feels, as always, like a relief. Another week checked off. It also means it’s time for Friday Reads!
That title up there is a little misleading. What I’m actually reading TODAY is The Diviners by Libba Bray, a supernatural mystery set in 1920s NYC. However, that book is incredibly long, and I’m less than halfway through, so I am going to talk about it next week, once I finish it. (But rest assured, I’m enjoying it! Creepy and fascinating and funny!)
Instead, I have to talk about what I read since last week’s post. I finished Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls on the airplane on my way to visit my family last weekend. I couldn’t put it down, even though my plan for our early morning flight to Tennessee was to sleep and sleep some more. Not that it’s a page-turner in the same way as other recent reads, like Gone Girl, or like The Diviners, but the story propels you forward, getting more and more claustrophobic and uncertain, until you, like the drowned girl in the first chapter, can’t breathe.
Drowned girl, you ask? Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Imaginary Girls is the story of two sisters: Chloe and her older sister Ruby, who has a mysterious hold over everyone in their small upstate New York town, from the men she uses to her bosses at work to Chloe herself. Their mother is a drunk who couldn’t take care of them, and their fathers both left, and so Ruby basically raised Chloe. They’re inseparable. The book opens with Chloe swimming out into the reservoir on the edge of town, after Ruby tells a crowd at a party about Chloe’s swimming prowess. In the middle of the reservoir, scared and alone, Chloe finds a boat. With a dead girl in it.
She’s sent off to live with her dad and his new wife in Pennsylvania, where two years pass. Then Ruby comes back for her. New life forgotten, Chloe runs back to Ruby, where she finds that things in town haven’t changed at all. Ruby still has men wrapped around her little finger. Their mother still hangs out at the same bar. And … the dead girl is still alive. And no one but Chloe seems to know that she shouldn’t be.
I don’t want to spoil anything else, because Imaginary Girls takes you so many places after that initial revelation. Is it a ghost story? Is Chloe slowly losing her mind? Is Ruby responsible? Are there bigger forces at work? What I will say is that the relationship between the two sisters is intense and powerful. The writing is lyrical and beautiful and perfectly fits the moody content of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even while it was completely unsettling. Highly recommend!
On the flight home, I read Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants (recommended by Ghenet after I posted about A Girl Named Zippy). As I expected, I liked it! Fey’s writing is so similar to her performance persona that it felt familiar, but it was also nice to learn more about her life and what led her to her current stardom. I also loved the chapters that felt more like personal essay than memoir—meditations on beauty, weight, and the challenges of being a woman in a “man’s profession” (comedy). The chapter “The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter” in particular was a funny, thoughtful, heartfelt meditation on motherhood and on growing up.
This book definitely made me laugh throughout! If I were to have any criticism, it would be that I wish I’d gotten to spend more time with her before she hit the public eye. A large portion of the book takes place during her “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” days. While the behind-the-scenes info is fascinating, I loved her recollection of her childhood so much that I wish she’d devoted more chapters to her youth. Also, she barely mentions Mean Girls, and it made me curious as to why that didn’t get its own chapter. Basically, as a loose collection of chronological essays, this is a great book, but as a memoir, I felt like it had holes! But that could just be my take. I definitely recommend this one.
It’s been a good week for reading! Hope you’re enjoying the same book luck as I have been.
Until next time,