Mini-reviews: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor; and Hate List by Jennifer Brown

bernadetteTitle: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Kathleen Wilhoite
Audiobook length: 9 hours and 39 minutes
First line:

Goodreads blurb: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

What everyone is saying about this book is absolutely true. It is full of awesome-ness, and I couldn’t stop listening to it until I finished. It takes a blazingly brilliant audiobook to make me want to just sit and listen, instead of multi-tasking, and this is one of those books – I sat on the couch and just soaked it in. I loved the story, I loved the characters, and I loved the inventive way the story was told – in e-mails, faxes, and letters. And the narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite, who I have loved in TV series such as Gilmore Girls (Luke’s sister) and ER (Susan’s sister), has found her true calling – she should simply read aloud all day, every day.

dublinstudentTitle: A Dublin Student Doctor
Author: Patrick Taylor
Genre: Historical fiction, Irish ficiton
Publisher: Forge Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, edged the long-bonnetted Rover out of the car park.

Goodreads blurb:
In the 1930s, fresh from a stint in the Royal Navy Reserve, and against the wishes of his disapproving father, Fingal O’Reilly goes to Dublin to study medicine. Fingal and his fellow aspiring doctors face the arduous demands of Trinity College and Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital. The hours are long and the cases challenging, but Fingal manages to find time to box and play rugby—and to romance a fetching, gray-eyed nurse named Kitty O’Hallorhan.

Dublin is a city of slums and tenements, where brutal poverty breeds diseases that the limited medical knowledge of the time is often ill-equipped to handle. His teachers warn Fingal not to become too attached to his patients, but can he truly harden himself to the suffering he sees all around him—or can he find a way to care for his patients without breaking his heart?

The Irish country series is one of my favorite comfort series. Usually, the stories are set in the 60s, and involve older Dr. O’Reilly and his young partner, Dr. Laverty. Once in a while, though, Taylor veers from the timeline and gives us some history. I am so glad he did, because I loved getting to know more about what shaped Dr. O’Reilly as a young man: the relationship with his father, his early struggles as a medical student, and his early romance with Kitty. It was also fascinating to realize how far the world has come in medical advances since the 1930s. This book ends before Dr. O’Reilly is called up to serve in World War II; I hope Mr. Taylor has plans for continuing O’Reilly’s earlier adventures.

hatelistTitle: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: YA Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: The scene in the Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the Commons, is being described as “grim” by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning.

Goodreads blurb: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

It has been a long time since I have read a book in a day, just gulping it down in chapter-sized chunks, but that’s what I did with Hate List. I read about half of it while sitting in a Barnes & Noble, and then finished it when I got home in the afternoon. It is disturbing, yet hopeful, and should be read by all parents, teachers, and high school students. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Jennifer Brown’s work.

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13 Responses to Mini-reviews: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor; and Hate List by Jennifer Brown

  1. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I need to read more Patrick Taylor…I’ve only read the 1st in the series.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Melissa – I’ve enjoyed every book in the series. 🙂

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    Wow, lots of good reading! I loved the audio of Where’d You Go, Bernadette too.

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Bernadette is awesome of course…everyone should listen to the audio. And Hate List scares me to death, but I do realize these books need to be read. And the fact that you read it so fast tells me something (whereas it took me forever to read We Need To Talk About Kevin because it just gutted me).

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – Hate List has a completely different focus than We Need to Talk…. It wasn’t as difficult as a read, in my opinion.

  4. I still haven’t read a Patrick Taylor book, although I’ve been wanting to. I have A Country Christmas in my TBR pile – at this rate, maybe I’ll get to it at Christmas, which, amazingly enough, is now not that far away! AGAIN!

  5. Kathleen says:

    Hate List is definitely one to add to my list!

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