Book Club Mom’s Short Reviews of Recommended Reads – March 2023

Weldome to a new feature on Book Club Mom: Short Reviews of Recommended Reads. I hope you’ll take a look!

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave: Hannah Michaels doesn’t know what to think when she reads a hasty note from her new husband, Owen. “Protect her” is all it says, referring, she thinks to his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. When Owen doesn’t return home from his chief coding job at a California software startup, and when police arrest the CEO for embezzlement and fraud, Hannah suspects that Owen is on the run. But why is Bailey in danger? With limited information, Hannah must decide whether to hide or seek out a hunch she has. Soon they’re in Austin, chasing down memories that lead to Owen’s secret and dangerous past. Here, Hannah faces a difficult and irrevocable choice, but she’ll do anything to protect Owen’s daughter. A fast, light and easy read about families and secrets, good for the beach or a plane ride.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I liked this book that parallels the story of a young girl sent west on an orphan train from New York City in 1929 and a present-day Native American teenage girl who has struggled in the modern foster care system. I think Kline does an excellent job showing us how Niamh Power and these destitute orphaned children, both numb and frightened, must have felt as they traveled and met up with their matches, which were often far from perfect. In present day, Molly Ayer is a rebellious, Goth girl whose father has died and whose mother is addicted to drugs. Molly meets ninety-one year-old Niamh, now named Vivian, when she is assigned to a community service punishment for stealing a book. The two form a friendship as Molly helps Vivian sort through her attic and together they relive Vivian’s story.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: The Giver is a terrific thought-provoking middle school read, great for adults too. It is the story of a controlled society in which there are no choices or conflict. When Jonas turns twelve, he must train with The Giver and prepare to receive all the memories of love, happiness, war and pain. During his training, Jonas learns the hard truth about his community and its rules and knows he must act decisively to bring about change. The best part about this book is that every word counts. Lois Lowry is great at describing her characters and their community. She includes meaningful foreshadowing that leads the reader through a gradual understanding of what might initially seem like an acceptable way to live. She accomplishes this by revealing just enough details and we realize the facts just as Jonas does. The Giver ends just as you want to learn more. And thankfully, there is more to the story in Messenger, Gathering Blue and Son.

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

40 thoughts on “Book Club Mom’s Short Reviews of Recommended Reads – March 2023

  1. Great reviews. I have read The Giver and it is one of the best middle-grade books I’ve read. You are right, the author does choose her words carefully. The other two books sound good as well.

    1. Hi Darlene – I read it when my kids were in middle school and I liked it so much I read the rest in the series, including the last one, Son. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Barbara, I welcome short reviews right now. I have my hands full birthing my own book.

    By the way, authors with an award seal on their books catch my eye. Thanks!

  3. my middle school grandson read the giver and gave me his copy so we could discuss it and I recently read the last thing… which I really enjoyed. on to the orphan train, thanks!

    1. We have similar tastes! How nice too that you and your grandson could talk about The Giver. I read it years ago when my kids were in middle school. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Beth.

    1. Yes, I enjoyed it – thanks, Robbie. Hope you are doing well. Catching up, as usual here! I worked last weekend so I lost my WordPress time. 🙂

  4. Great reviews, Barbara. Thank you for sharing. I’m drawn to the Orphan Train. My MIL was a child on the Orphan Train — from NY to the Midwest. When alive, she didn’t talk about her experience, so now the family is trying to piece together her story. 💙

    1. Hi Gwen, oh that’s fascinating. I had not known about the orphan train until I read this book. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope you’re able to piece together your MIL’s story.

  5. All three of my kids read The Giver in High School, and I had at one time three copies of the book in my house. Gave them all away. Never bothered to read it, I’m afraid. But my kids liked it (as much as they could, that is).

    1. Hi Priscilla – thank you for the visit. I found the train orphan concept really strange. I never new about it until I read this book. I’m glad your aunt had a good experience.

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