Mini-reviews: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch; The Cradle by Patrick Somerville; and Requiem by Lauren Oliver

girlsintrucksTitle: Girls in Trucks
Author: Katie Crouch
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: If you are white, are a girl or boy between the ages of nine and twelve, and, according to a certain committee of mothers, are good enough to associate with Charleston’s other good girls and boys, then Wednesday night is a busy night for you.

Goodreads blurb: Sarah Walters is a less-than-perfect debutante. She tries hard to follow the time-honored customs of the Charleston Camellia Society, as her mother and grandmother did, standing up straight in cotillion class and attending lectures about all the things that Camellias don’t do. (Like ride with boys in pickup trucks.)

But Sarah can’t quite ignore the barbarism just beneath all that propriety, and as soon as she can she decamps South Carolina for a life in New York City. There, she and her fellow displaced Southern friends try to make sense of city sophistication, to understand how much of their training applies to real life, and how much to the strange and rarefied world they’ve left behind.

When life’s complications become overwhelming, Sarah returns home to confront with matured eyes the motto “Once a Camellia, always a Camellia”- and to see how much fuller life can be, for good and for ill, among those who know you best.

I have had this book on my shelf for a long, long time. I think I won it in a blog giveaway a few years ago, and I don’t even remember which blogger gave it to me. I normally love Southern fiction, and fully expected to love Girls in Trucks, but I didn’t like it at all. The main character was a total mess, which I don’t mind as long as there is some growth or change in the book, but there wasn’t much here. I know some readers would argue with me, but I didn’t like Sarah at the beginning of the book, and I still didn’t like her – or her choices – at the end of the book. I don’t have to love a main character to love a book (see Gone Girl), but if I don’t, then the plot and writing had better be stellar. In Girls in Trucks, the plot was rambling, and the writing was just all right.

cradleTitle: The Cradle
Author: Patrick Somerville
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Marissa could not be comforted, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Goodreads blurb: Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline’s sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife’s mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline’s trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa’s life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Sometimes I am left cold by a book and honestly can’t figure out why. The Cradle was really well written – thus, the three-star rating – but I had very little feeling for the characters. This is another book that sat on my shelves for a long time. Maybe I have some inner sense that I’m really not going to enjoy a book as much as I thought I would?

requiemTitle: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Sarah Drew
Audiobook length: 10 hours and 13 minutes
First line: I’ve started dreaming of Portland again.

Goodreads blurb: After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

I think I waited too long to finish this series, and I probably would have been more wowed by Requiem if it hadn’t been so long since I read the first two books in the series. I did like the way things ended, though, and I’m glad I finished it, but I didn’t have the huge emotional connection with the characters that I had when I read the first book. I will say that Sarah Drew, who plays April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy, is a wonderful audiobook narrator, and I loved listening to her.

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9 Responses to Mini-reviews: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch; The Cradle by Patrick Somerville; and Requiem by Lauren Oliver

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I liked The Cradle more than you did but it seems to me it had an abrupt ending or something along those lines that bothered me.

  2. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    Now that you’ve reviewed Girls in Trunks, I can take this off of my tbr list. 🙂 The last thing I need to read is a mess of a book.

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I don’t know much about the first two books (although I have heard decent things about the first) but I did just finish Requiem a couple of weeks ago. I was underwhelmed. I absolutely fell in love with Delirium, but Pandy felt like a filler, and this one ended so weakly and open-ended. I still have to write up my review, and I just have no idea what I’m going to say 🙁

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – It’s hard to review books that are such a disappointment.

  4. I think I am going to try Lauren Oliver’s series. It’s kind of nice going in after it’s been finished–no wait time until the next book.

    That is too bad about Girls with Trucks. I’ve heard mixed reviews about it overall. I really like to see a character grow over the course of a book as well. It’s more than disappointing when that doesn’t happen.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy – I like starting series after they’re all out, too – I hate having to wait!

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