Mini-Reviews: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy, and My Husband’s Sweethearts by Bridget Asher

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Genre: Middle grade science fiction
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Cynthia Holloway
First line: So Mom got the postcard today.

When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal, and the honor is definitely deserved. This story of a girl growing up in New York City in the late 70s is amazingly well-written. I loved the main character, Miranda, and her fascination with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Her best friend, Sal, is avoiding her; her new friend Annemarie has a secret; her Mom’s trying to decide whether to marry her long-time boyfriend or not; and she’s receiving strange notes that seem to be from someone with knowledge of the future. This truly is a must-read – and the reader of the audio version is perfect.

Title: Whitethorn Woods
Author: Maeve Binchy
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Irish fiction
Publisher: Knopf
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my own library, audiobook copy from the public library
Audiobook reader: Sile Bermingham
First line: Father Brian Flynn, the curate at St. Augustine’s, Rossmore, hated the Feast Day of St. Ann with a passion that was unusual for a Catholic priest.

This novel is more like a collection of connected short stories. The citizens of Rossmore, including their priest, Father Flynn, are all up in arms over a proposed highway near their town. Many people believe the highway is necessary to take care of the bottle-neck traffic in Rossmore. Others are against it because the highway will go through nearby Whitethorn Woods, which contains a shrine to St. Ann that is believed to have miraculous powers. Each of the people who visit St. Ann’s Well has something they want from the Blessed Virgin’s Mother – and those wishes and requests make up the heart of the stories. While not my favorite of Binchy’s novels, I still enjoyed it – and it is wonderful on audio.

Title: My Husband’s Sweethearts
Author: Bridget Asher
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Bantam
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: Careening past airline counters toward the security check-in, I’m explaining love and its various forms of failure to Lindsay, my assistant.

Bridget Asher’s writing style reminds me a little of Marisa de los Santos, who has a blurb on the front cover of my ARC copy of My Husband’s Sweethearts. While Asher may not have quite as unique a voice as de los Santos, or be quite as polished an author, her characters are fully drawn, quirky, and will make you love them.

Lucy hasn’t lived with her husband Artie for six months, since he confessed to multiple infidelities. Artie has been trying to win her back, sending her flowers every day, swearing that he still loves her, but Lucy’s not buying it. Then she receives the news that Artie is dying. She heads home to Artie’s deathbed, angry that she will have to go through this hardest of times alone, while Artie’s sweethearts got to be in on all the good times. She decides she won’t go through it alone, and starts calling the women in Artie’s “little black book.”
During the weeks that follow, Lucy will learn the meaning of forgiveness, letting go, and family. Is family simply the people we’re related to, or can family be something we choose?

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11 Responses to Mini-Reviews: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy, and My Husband’s Sweethearts by Bridget Asher

  1. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads

    I haven’t read a Maeve Binchy novel in years. I used to love her books. Maybe I should revisit her.
    .-= Marg´s last blog ..Brothers of Gwynedd Part 1 – Sunrise in the West =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Marg – I really love some of her earlier works – like Copper Beech and Circle of Friends.

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Hmmm…well, I have been trying to figure out what the kids and I are going to listen to on audio once HP is finished. Maybe I’ve found my next one! I’ve heard so much about When You Reach Me. I have to admit that when I read A Wrinkle In Time recently, I wasn’t all that impressed, still I’d love to read this book.
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Maui #10 =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – you don’t have to have loved Wrinkle in Time to love this book – I promise! And the audio is awesome. 🙂

  3. I really want to read When You Reach Me. I do enjoy Maeve Binchy’s work from time to time, but I’m not crazy about connected short stories, so I may skip that one.

  4. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    My Husband’s Sweethearts sounds like a great book! I’ll definitely add it to my tbr list! So glad you enjoyed When You Reach Me. I’ve seen Maeve Binchy’s name everywhere but haven’t picked up any of her books yet. What’s one that you recommend?
    .-= Vasilly´s last blog ..Read-along: Touch Magic by Jane Yolen =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Vasilly – I really enjoyed Binchy’s Copper Beech and Circle of Friends. 🙂

  5. I’ve been meaning to read Maeve Binchy. My mother-in-law gave me one of her books years ago for my birthday, but I still haven’t read it. How sad is that?

    When You Reach Me sounds good. I love the description of it you gave.
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..That Long Overdue Reading Day is Here! =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy- I have unread books that are multiple years old, too. 🙁

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