ASK Musings

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Books. CBR8 Archive



October 2016



The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

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Three Stars

I purchased The Perfect Girl at an airport newsstand because I’d heard good things about What She Knew, Ms. Macmillan’s previous novel. I ended up staying up really late finishing it the day after I bought it (I’m probably the only person who got 5 hours of sleep in Vegas not because of the gambling or the drinking, but because I wanted to finish a book).

However, even though I really enjoyed reading the book, I don’t actually think I liked the book. It is written the way many books seem to be these days (and I enjoy it) – something has happened, we go back in time and forward in time to get some glimpses and start to put together the Real Story. In this one, a teen named Zoe is a piano prodigy, and is performing a concert with her step-brother when someone comes into the church and screams at her. We quickly learn he is the father of someone Zoe killed – accidentally – a couple of years ago.

We also learn that by the end of the night Zoe’s mother will be dead.

We get chapters from the point of view of at least five characters, and the storytelling is engaging. But in the end, I kind of didn’t care that much, and found one of the storylines completely useless, and another a bit of a … I want to say cliché, but that’s not right. Honestly it felt a little like what I might do if I were writing a story when I was in middle school. Basically, one of the characters uses a film script to convey autobiographical information to another character. But there’s no need for it.

This is a fine time killer, and might even suck you in, but it’s nowhere near as interesting as other similar books, such as pretty much any in Liane Moriarty’s body of work.



May 2016



Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Four Stars


What a delightful surprise. I’ve read Ms. Sittenfeld’s writing before (Sisterland), and I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, so I knew it would be entertaining. I also knew how it would end, sort of, so it wasn’t exactly suspenseful. And yet I read 500 pages in 24 hours. I stayed up too late reading last night, and started up first thing this morning.

If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice you know the characters – the basic personality types are still there, but everyone is aged up a fair bit, and the two sisters who don’t live at home have returned because of the patriarch’s heart attack. It continues from there, and it is mostly delightful. The title stems from the Bachelor-style TV show that one of the male love interests had previously appeared on.

A couple of things – I vaguely recall Mr. Bennet being a quiet but kind father, and Mrs. Bennet being extremely obnoxious but perhaps with her heart in the right place. This telling, however – hoo boy. Mr. Bennet is mostly a jerk who seems at times unable to accept that his very smart daughter is in touch with reality while he is not. His dismissiveness comes across as misogynistic, as opposed to just suffering 80s sitcom dad-ness. And Mrs. Bennet – racist, transphobic, obnoxious. I really wouldn’t have minded a diversion in the retelling that involved her running away and never returning, possible because she was being detained forever by the TSA. Just a wretched character.

I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if not recommended by a book club, but I’m really glad I did. I think it’s a fun read, especially for a long, lazy weekend.