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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin

29/60 | Started 06.04.23 • Finished 06.14.23 | 4 stars

Have been excited about this since it was announced, as I'm such a huge fan of Zevin's novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This was really unlike anything I've ever read. It centered so much around the gaming world and culture that it just felt super unfamiliar. There was even a whole section that was from the perspective of being within a video game. At the same time, in a way, it featured one relationship as the main character.

"It isn’t a sadness, but a joy, that we don’t do the same things for the length of our lives."

We meet Sam and Sadie early in life, right as they are about to enter their teen years. They become fast friends over video games in a hospital rec area. Their shared love of said video games leads to them through some volatile ups and downs over the next few decades. Their relationship really becomes the driving force of the narrative. Sometimes there for each other, and other times absent, there is a bond between them that even tragedy seems unable to break.

There is no purity to bearing pain alone.

I could have done without some of the political issues Zevin wove into the story. (I doubt it was unintentional.) I don't think it would have suffered from their absence. That aside, I think Zevin showed great skill in arranging the timeline and even managing to have Sam and Sadie's relationship come full circle after what seemed like an irreparable schism. As with A.J. Fikry, Zevin is a master at creating depth in her characters and the relationships between them. But where A.J. Fikry was tender and sweet, this one was edgy and darker. It's hard to say if you'd enjoy this one after reading the other - they really are quite different from one another.

Flatlands, by Sue Hubbard

28/60 | Started 05.28.23 • Finished 06.04.23 | 2.5 stars

This is my first ARC - Advanced Reader's Copy - and I have to say I wasn't thrilled. I found this to just be okay. The setting was gorgeous and haunting, the characters were decently complicated, but I felt like the story dragged on for quite a while and then ended suddenly on a rather hopeless note.

Silence, he was beginning to understand, was a form of letting go. An abandonment of the chase, which allowed us to see the world more clearly.

The story follows two main characters, Philip and Freda, during the beginning of World War II. Philip is probably mid to late twenties, and following a nervous breakdown related to his leaving his life's goals behind, finds himself holed up in an abandoned lighthouse. There, he falls in love with the landscape and finds himself again through art and rescuing birds. Freda, meanwhile, is a London evacuee of about 12, taken in by an abusive family in the English Fens. She survives tragedy, great violence, and parental abandonment. The two become unlikely friends, but just when you think things will take a turn for the better, in comes the end of the book.

I feel bad because this got multiple 5 star ratings on Goodreads from other ARCers but I just did not feel as drawn in as others did and the ending really ruined it for me.

The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel

27/60 | Started 05.23.23 • Finished 05.28.23 | 4 stars

I've been holding out for this one for a while now and am so glad it finally came in. The story follows a character named Vincent as she ages through high school and into middle-life. Though she has a troubled start, she finds her way into a lot of money and a major change in lifestyle.

She tried them on and bought them without looking at the price tag, because in the age of money her credit card was a magical, weightless thing.

Having loved Mandel's Station Eleven for its character development, overall storyline, and thoughtful prose, I was excited to dive into this one. It did not disappoint. The majority western Canadian setting got me hooked (big fan of BC right here) and then the characters grew deeply as the intricate story unfolded. Personally, I'd call it a slow burn. It starts out very oddly but then jumps into the narrative and progresses fairly normally. It's only at the end that the reader can understand the beginning.

It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.

I didn't find the writing quite as good as Station Eleven but there were still plenty of gems. I appreciated the way she wove art of all kinds into the story - painting, music, and video. It's too bad the island is fictional because you can bet I would figure out a way to visit! I did find out that it's based on a real place called Quatsino, but that the hotel itself does not exist. Anyway, I can't say too much about the book without giving it away, so the ambiguity will just have to do. Vincent has a difficult life, and unfortunately it doesn't end with much hope for anyone really. In that way, I'd say it's a somewhat dark read, but compelling nonetheless.

There is exquisite lightness in waking each morning with the knowledge that the worst has already happened.

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