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Three books we've read recently and what we thought of them

Three books we've read recently and what we thought of them

Held by Anne Michaels 

Held is the perfect novel for anyone who loves to follow the threads of life through multiple generations. Dropping readers into 1917 and the mind of John as he lies in the aftermath of a battlefield blast, Held is told through vignettes that follow John and his family throughout the decades, giving us glimpses into the beauty and adversity to be found at every moment. 

It would be easy, in such a novel, to get stuck on the minutiae or to only focus on the larger story, but Michaels manages to find the balance between both, transporting you completely with each shifting chapter. 

We found ourselves pausing to absorb the lyrical prose just as much as we wanted to keep flicking through to find out where the next chapter would take us. 

Good Material by Dolly Alderton 

Dolly Alderton has quickly become the voice of millennials everywhere, and for good reason. In Good Material we follow Andy, who has just been blindsided by the ending of his relationship with Jen as he tries to work out where he went wrong. Swinging from heartbreak to laugh-out-loud moments with ease, Good Material is full of Alderton’s signature wit, observation and life advice. 

In a recent interview with Elle, Alderton reflected on the experience of writing Good Material from the perspective of Andy, a man, saying “I think there was definitely a bit of a hole in my empathy for a while [when it comes to men and their feelings], and I’ll be working on that for the rest of my life. But I think this has gone some small way to re-address that for me personally.” A sentiment that echoes through every page. 

Central Places by Delia Cai 

A thought-provoking debut from Delia Cai, Central Places explores themes of race and class in America.

A 27-year-old woman’s past and present collide when she brings her white fiancé home to meet her Chinese immigrant parents. As she locks horns with her demanding mother,  confronts an unrequited love from high school and a long lost best friend, our protagonist is forced to reckon with the life she's been working towards and the life she really wants. Can she hide the person she's become from the person she once was?

The perfect book club pick, with plenty to unpack in conversations over tea and biscuits, Cai forces us to question what we are willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of an picture-perfect image, how to make amends when the people we love get caught in the crossfire, and how to muster the courage to carve out a life that feels true to who we are.

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