For this last issue of the year, I’m reviewing my five favorite books published in 2018. Choosing from so many wonderful books wasn’t easy, and I know many more will come out before January.
First up is The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy (Harper Collins, May 2018), about The May Mothers, a Brooklyn mommies group and what happens when they decide to have a night out without their small children. Single mother Winnie’s son gets kidnapped while they are out celebrating and circumstances result in the group pointing fingers at each other, especially at Winnie. I love how this book is not only a thriller, but a study on how society treats mothers who aren’t “perfect”— i.e. women who aren’t with their children one hundred percent of the time. I also love when I can’t figure out the ending of a book and this one, I did not see coming. An exciting and exhilarating read.
My second choice is an incredible memoir called Educated, by Tara Westover (Random House, February 2018). She was raised by a family of religious survivalists in the mountains of Idaho and didn’t step foot into a classroom or a doctor’s office until the age of seventeen. In order to become truly educated, she must leave her family and their way of life behind. This painful choice and the battle in her soul after making it is as honest as it is heartbreaking. The amazing things she both lives through and accomplishes in her life make this one of the most fascinating reads, not only of 2018, but ever.
My third selection is Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, August 2018). This part-mystery, part-love story and part-survival story centers around Kya Clark, or the “Marsh Girl”—as she’s called by residents in her rural North Carolina town. Abandoned by her entire family by age eleven, she cleverly finds creative ways to support herself, with no education, money or even electricity. A new friend teaches her to read and write, and then to fall in love, but eventually he leaves her behind. When the body of popular local ladies’ man is found in Kya’s marsh, the townspeople believe her history with this man and her mysterious ways make her responsible for his death. This novel is painfully beautiful and I enjoyed every second I got to spend in Kya’s world.
My fourth pick is The Wife, by Alafair Burke (Harper Collins, January 2018). Don’t be fooled by the generic title and cover, this novel is anything but. When Angela marries Jason Powell, she finally has the happy, stable life she craves. . .until Jason writes a bestselling book that brings the family into the spotlight—which Angela desperately avoids for her own reasons. When two women bring sexual accusations against Jason, their perfect life starts unraveling. Angela supports her husband, but after one accuser disappears, she must reevaluate her thoughts about him and the women she chose not to believe. Twisty, sneaky and relevant with the #metoo movement, this story will keep you guessing until the final sentence.
Saved for last is my absolute favorite book: Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh (A Pamela Dorman Book/Viking, May 2018). When Sarah meets Eddie in London, they have six perfect, magical days together before Eddie has to leave for vacation. They exchange information and make plans for the second he returns. Time passes…but nothing. Did Sarah say or do something to make Eddie change his mind? Friends tell her to move on—he’s obviously ghosted her—but Sarah knows there is more to his mysterious disappearance. She literally cannot move on until she knows what happened. I loved, loved, loved this book! It’s suspenseful and gut-wrenching and really, we all can relate in some degree or another. I never wanted it to end and purposely read slowly to enjoy every word of this marvelous novel.
Alright, fellow book lovers, I hope you find time to read this busy season or got an idea for the reader on your gift list. I wish you a wonderful holiday and all the best in 2019!