RavePopMattersChoi\'s sentences are dense: more happens on one page in My Education than in entire chapters of other books ... complex characters. Martha, in particular, is one of the finest fictional creations I\'ve seen in a long time ... the ending...surprises ... Choi is fearless about moving her characters back into one another\'s lives. In so doing, she achieves something rare in real life: closure. An imperfect closure...of what\'s left after passion has burned itself away.
PositivePop MattersTanner writes in third person, in the fractured language of a Russian coming to English as a second language. In a lesser writer’s hands, this tactic would be profoundly annoying, but Tanner ably utilizes the narrative to illuminate her characters ... If Tanner falls down anywhere, it\'s in her rendition of Vaclav, who is almost too good to be true ... Lena is far and away the book’s most complex character, the axis which everyone else spins round ... If Vaclav and Lena doesn’t bowl you over with depth and complexity, it will win you over with the purity of its intent, its evocation of what for many readers is a foreign milieu, and its fervent belief in the possibility of happy endings.
MixedPop SugarNever have I read a memoir—or a book purporting to be one—revealing so little of its author. Abjuring the memoir’s traditional structure of a life cycle, Mann instead opts for an idiosyncratic course delving deeply into the lives of her ancestors ... But rarely do these often painful revelations return to Mann herself ... The decision to write a book and call it a memoir suggests a tacit agreement to disclose at least some personal information: the trajectory of an artistic life.
PositivePopMattersThis double biography of Bronson and Louisa Alcott necessarily skews toward Bronson’s life, a long 86 years compared to Louisa’s 56. And though Pulitzer Prize winner John Matteson does an excellent job enlivening his subjects, Bronson Alcott was an utterly exasperating man ... Matteson goes into great detail about Concord, New Hampshire and the thinkers who lived there during the last half of the 1800s ... Matteson takes great pains to draw connections between father and daughter: their identical birthdays, their writing, their deaths ... While the comparisons can seem forced, there is no question that their deaths were uncanny ... Author John Matteson won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, and deservedly so. The depth and scope of his research is admirable. Yet he occasionally falls prey to applying modern-day interpretations to events that transpired over a century ago ... But this is a minor quibble in an otherwise fine and often moving biography.
PanPopMattersBy turns harrowing and bewildering, Sick is neither easy nor pleasant reading ... Khakpour...describes herself as a \'bad sick person,\' somebody taking perverse pleasure in further damaging her health by continuing to smoke, drink, and indulge in occasional illegal drug use. Perfect patients do not exist. Every sick patient deviates from doctor\'s orders. Yet Khakpour clearly expects her parents, boyfriends, and the American medical establishment to believe she is ill and help her through the worst parts of said illness. That\'s a heavy expectation to impose when she won\'t help herself. And herein lies the crux: in Sick, we have a book whose subject matter could be neither more timely nor more fraught: a highly debated illness, the status of women in the Me-Too era, and the status of minorities and LGBTQ individuals during tumultuous times presented by a writer who is not entirely honest with her readers—and, perhaps, herself. And that is unfortunate.