POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Category Archives: General Fiction

Book Review: Minor King by Jim Mitchem

Author: Jim Mitchem
Title: Minor King
Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: December 14, 2014
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Number of Pages: 200
Narrator: Jim Christianson

Minor King by Jim Mitchem

What’s It About?

Jim Christianson has everything he ever wanted. Having risen from a dark and broken past, he now has a beautiful wife, two great kids, and a job that many would envy. Finally, he has joined the ranks of the elite. Hovering between the world of the middle class and the wealthy, though, he begins to wonder if this is the life he really wanted after all.

Jim is a writer. He works for a start-up and, with his slick marketing copy and branding expertise, the company has taken off in just a few years. Despite his unquestionable importance to the organization, Jim begins to feel increasingly undervalued by his boss–the founder and CEO. Moreover, he is tired of using his gift to feed the corporate machine and wants to write something that matters.

When Jim’s child is mistreated by the entitled child of a rich neighbor, something in him snaps. In a moment of righteous indignation, he publishes a lengthy and incendiary blog post about the wealthy elite. When the rant goes viral and catches the attention of his boss, Jim must move quickly to salvage what he can from a rapidly deteriorating situation.

Should You Read It?

If you’re interested in the kind of story that centers around a man searching for identity and purpose in a world that is foreign to him, you might enjoy this work. It is marketed as a thriller and, while there is some suspenseful build up to an explosive climax, I would consider it more literary in nature. There is much more reflection, introspection, and dialogue than there is action. Prevalent themes include wealth, family, purpose, and the American Dream. If you find these ideas appealing or interesting, you may want to give this novel a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Note: This novel was published in December of 2014. My rule is to only review books published from 2015 on, but I had already read it and decided to review it before I realized when it was published. And this is my blog. I make the rules; I can break the rules. So, deal with it.

Book Review: The Sound of Glass by Karen White

Author: Karen White
Title: The Sound of Glass
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: NAL (Random House)
Number of Pages: 432
Narrator: Merritt (first person), Edith and Loralee (third person)
Quality Rating: TBD

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

What’s It About?

A few years after the passing of her husband, Merritt discovers that she has received the inheritance of his estate following the passing of her deceased husband’s mother. As she makes the move from her home in Maine to Beaufort, South Carolina, she begins to discover a side of her husband that she’s never seen before.

But Merritt isn’t alone. Shortly after her arrival, she is joined at the estate by her young, widowed step-mother, Loralee, and ten year old half-brother, Owen. Loralee is everything Merritt is not–peppy, southern, and pretentiously elegant. But Merritt lets them stay, because she feels as if she needs to get to know her young brother.

As Merritt gets to know Loralee, though, she discovers there’s more to her than meets the eye. To her surprise, the unexpected companionship of her new family may be just what she needs to face her husband’s past and find closure for the future.

Should You Read It?

This story is all about the characters–three women and the way they influence one another across time. If you’re interested in the kind of story that digs into the lives of its characters and slowly reveal secrets that both harm and heal, you’ll love this book. The tone is at once heart breaking and at once uplifting, but ultimately redemptive. If you enjoy a story about a family finding healing, you should give this a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Chicks Dig Lit, Kathy Reads Fiction

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Karen White: A Long Time Gone (2014), The Time in Between (2013), Sea Change (2012)

Book Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison
Title: God Help the Child
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 192
Narrator: Sweetness, Bride, Etc.
Quality Rating: 80.52

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

What’s It About?

Sweetness is a light-skinned black woman married to a light-skinned black man. They’re so light-skinned that they can pass as whites, and they live in such a time that it is beneficial to do so. Everything is going perfectly in their relationship until Sweetness gives birth to a baby girl who has extremely dark skin. Embarrassed, her husband leaves her to raise the girl on her own.

As the little girl grows, she feels the constant contempt of her mother. When she is six years old, she falsely accuses a woman of child molestation and sends her to prison for fifteen years–simply because she wants to gain her mother’s approval. The moment she reaches adulthood, Bride–as she comes to call herself–abruptly leaves the mother by whom she’s always felt scorned.

As an adult, Bride has become incredibly successful as an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She is in a serious relationship with a man whose past demons make it difficult for him to commit. When the man suddenly leaves her, Bride begins to investigate how her mother’s abuse has shaped her own disposition in life. As the story unfolds, child abuse is explored in a myriad of ways through the lens of several characters.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the prior work of Toni Morrison, this book–though set in the modern day–carries her signature style. The story is about racism–but not really about racism. It’s really about child abuse, and Sweetness’s contempt for the color of her daughter’s skin is just one of many examples in the novel of how children are exploited, abused, and ruined by the adults they trust. If this topic is important to you, you would probably find this book very helpful in understanding the impact abuse has on children as they claw their way into adulthood.

Links and References

Author Information: Wikipedia, The Toni Morrison Society

Book Reviews: New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, LA Times

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Toni Morrison: Paradise (1997), Beloved (1987), The Bluest Eye (1970)

Book Review: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Author: Claire Fuller
Title: Our Endless Numbered Days
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Tin House (Bloomsbury)
Number of Pages: 382
Narrator: Peggy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A, Excellent; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 96.67%.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

What’s It About?

Peggy is an eight year old girl whose mother has gone off to work in Germany. After witnessing an argument he has on the telephone, she is abruptly taken from her home out into the wilderness to live alone with her temperamental father. After a torrential storm occurs shortly after their arrival at an abandoned cottage in the woods, Peggy’s father informs her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. The two of them are the only ones alive and, just over the hill across the forest, the world melts away into nothingness.

Peggy’s father teaches her to take care of herself in the wild, at times coming to the brink of starvation. To alleviate his anxiety and boredom, Peggy’s father comes up with endless projects–from creating a makeshift piano for Peggy to rebuilding the cottage they’ve come to call home.

Over time, Peggy’s father slowly loses his mind. To escape his violent and mercurial outbursts, Peggy begins to venture off into the woods by herself. Soon, she meets another man who has been living in the forest. As she develops a relationship with this mystery man, he becomes a refuge from her father. As she grows into her late teens, Peggy’s father reaches his wit’s end–leading to a dramatic showdown between Peggy, her father, and her new secret lover.

Should You Read It?

If you like a good psychological mystery, you’ll love this story. Told through the lens of a child, the author captures the world–not as it is–but as it is seen through damaged eyes. The narrative and tone leave the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined–all the way up to the dramatic and cathartic conclusion. If you enjoy a good survival story, you’ll probably like this book as well–as it is set in an isolated wilderness. While the writing style creates a strong sense of mystery and movement, the themes are darkly and deeply literary. So, whether your tastes tend more toward the high brow or the nitty gritty, this story will likely appeal to you if enjoy a good tale of mystery and madness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Socratic Salon, The Chicago Tribune

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Claire Fuller: Our Endless Numbered Days is Claire Fuller’s debut novel.

Book Review: The First Bad Man by Miranda July

Author: Miranda July
Title: The First Bad Man
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 288
Narrator: Cheryl Glickman
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: D, Bad; of the first 116 reviews, the average reader rating was 67.24%.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

What’s It About?

Cheryl Glickman works at a non-profit in which she trains women in self-defense. She is withdrawn and experiences life in her own fantasy world rather than interacting with people in real life. When her bosses request she take their twenty year old daughter in as a houseguest, her world is thrown off kilter.

Cheryl’s new houseguest is ungrateful, rude, and sometimes downright abusive. To avoid confrontation, Cheryl loses herself in deep sexual fantasies and obscure beliefs about reincarnation.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy books that revolve around the surreal, you may enjoy this story. It’s a little like Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf without the philosophical coherence. The narrative consists primarily of Cheryl’s explicit and sometimes disturbing sexual fantasies–so much so that it’s difficult to tell what is actually happening and what is simply going on inside the narrator’s head. Although it’s obscure, there is also a good bit of subtext on feminism. So, if this sounds interesting to you, I would give it a shot. If you’re sensitive to graphic sexual material, I would avoid it.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Wikipedia, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Miranda July: The First Bad Man is Miranda July’s first novel, though she has written a collection of short stories called No One Belongs Here More Than You (2005), and she is an acclaimed artist and filmmaker.

Book Review: Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

Author: Mark Wisniewski
Title: Watch Me Go
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 2, 2015
Publisher: GP Putnam (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrators: Deesh and Jan
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 66 reviews, the average reader rating was 85.15%.

Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski

What’s It About?

Deesh (Douglas Sharp) is a 30-something year old absentee father doing odd jobs with a few friends from his high school basketball team. When he and his friends take a nice-paying job to remove a large drum from under a woman’s house, his world is turned upside down. Through a series of missteps, Deesh ends up being framed for three murders. As he discusses his actions with a court appointed attorney, he sees little hope of proving his innocence.

Jan is a young woman growing up in the culture of thoroughbred racing. As she develops a relationship with the son of a legendary jockey, she reveals that she herself wants to be jockey–even though she is a woman. As Jan learns more about the world of thoroughbred racing, though, she discovers a culture of corruption that ultimately leads to her losing someone she has grown to love dearly.

With each chapter told alternately through the eyes of Deesh and Jan, the relationship between the two narrators is tied together within the final few pages. Deesh may just get the chance to have his innocence proven, and Jan may find justice for the victims of the culture in which she lives.

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of story that weaves together multiple seemingly unrelated stories in a dramatic conclusion, you’ll probably like this book. The mood that hovers over each narrative is grim–with both characters feeling stuck in the circumstances of their respective environments. Nevertheless, the novel ends on somewhat of a hopeful note. If you like a good character-driven work that builds up steadily to a dramatic climax, I would give this a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Interview with Huffington Post, Interview with Examiner

Book Reviews: Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Mark Wisniewski: Show Up, Look Good (2011), All Weekend with the Lights On (2007), Confessions of a Polished Used Car Salesman (1997)

Book Review: Making Nice by Matt Sumell

Author: Matt Sumell
Title: Making Nice
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt (Holtzbrinck)
Number of Pages: 240
Narrator: Alby
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: D+, Bad; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 69.17%.

Making Nice by Matt Sumell

What’s It About?

Alby is a crass and aggressive 30 year old man from a dysfunctional family. When his mother dies of cancer, he begins to reminisce on various instances in his life. He talks of fights he gets into with his siblings, conversations with his drunken father, and his awkward encounters with strangers.

Within each episode Alby recounts, the reader gets a sense of how complex Alby is–at once brutally honest and psychologically disturbed. Despite his vulgarity and inexplicable rage, a subtle undercurrent running through his narrative suggests he wants to do better–to “make nice” with those around him.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the sort of novel that consists more or less exclusively of the discursive ramblings of a mentally disturbed narrator, this book is for you. Think The Catcher in the Rye with a lot more F-words and crude sexual references. (Needless to say, if you’re sensitive to vulgar language, this is not for you). All of that being said, the tone of the novel–despite its graphic content–is surprisingly light and witty. The narrator’s non-sensical observations are laced with sarcasm that is quite comedic in all of its randomness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Irish Times

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Matt Sumell: Making Nice is Matt Sumell’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Author: Rachel Joyce
Title: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Queenie Hennessy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 167 reviews, the average reader rating was 86.95%.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

What’s It About?

Queenie Hennessy has reached the end of her days and she lies ready to pass in a hospice facility of southern England. Then, she unexpectedly receives a message from an old friend whom she has always secretly loved. “Wait for me,” says Harold Fry. Her friend, she discovers, is walking all the way from the northern end of England to see her–believing that he can keep her alive as long as he is traveling.

Partly overjoyed and partly panicked, Queenie begins writing Harold a letter that she insists he read when he arrives–before he sees her. All her life, she has been harboring two secrets–the secret of her love for him and a secret that can destroy any love he might have for her. As she writes her letter, she tells her story in a series of flashbacks and slowly reveals these secrets in her narrative.

As Queenie waits for Harold, she becomes the center of attention among the other residents of the hospice and its staff. Everyone gets involved in waiting for Harold Fry–giving a group of dying men and women a reason to hang on and inspiring an outside world with a remarkable love story.

Should You Read It?

Although I haven’t read it at this time, I understand this book to be a “companion novel” to the story of Harold Fry–I
in which Queenie is a minor character in the tale of Harold and his wife. So, if you enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you’ll definitely want to read this. While carrying a serious, melancholy tone throughout, there is plenty of dialogue laced with humor. With much of the story unfolding through flashbacks and dialogue, the novel is largely character-driven. If you enjoy contemporary British works focusing on memory and longing, you’ll love Queenie’s story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Guardian

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Rachel Joyce: This book is the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012), which takes place concurrently with The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.

Book Review: My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg

Author: Mike Greenberg
Title: My Father’s Wives
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 240
Narrator: Jonathan Sweetwater
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C, Average; of the first 98 reviews, the average reader rating was 77.35%.

My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg

What’s It About?

Wall Street executive Jonathan Sweetwater has the perfect life. He is moderately wealthy and happily married with two young children who adore him. Traveling frequently for work, he doesn’t get a chance to spend much time at home. But, when he is home, the Sweetwaters are one big happy family–that is, until Jonathan comes home from work early one day.

Meaning to surprise his wife, Claire, he instead ends up being surprised by her. Hearing a noise coming from the guest room, he approaches the door and peers through the keyhole. What he sees rocks his world–a man he doesn’t recognize is getting dressed and sitting on the bed is unmistakably the nude back of his wife. Claire is having an affair.

Rather than confronting her, Jonathan leaves and returns later. The man is gone, and the bed is made–like nothing ever happened. After attempting to subtly weasel a confession out of Claire to no avail, Jonathan resorts to hiring a private investigator at the suggestion of his boss–just to be sure.

As Jonathan waits for news on his wife’s affair, he begins to explore the life of his deceased father–who had been married to six other women besides his own mother. Meeting with each of his father’s wives, Jonathan seeks to understand more about him. What kind of man was he? Why did he marry so often? In understanding the life of his father, Jonathan hopes to gain some perspective on his own–and perhaps even save his fragile marriage.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of Mike Greenberg as a sportscaster, you will get a taste of the play-by-play action in Jonathan’s one-on-one game with Michael Jordan. But, aside from the passion for basketball shared between Jonathan and his boss, the novel has nothing to do with sports. If you enjoy a good literary work on mystery in relationships and past secrets that shape characters in the present, this novel will be right up your alley. There is a good bit of dialogue, but most of the story consists of Jonathan’s introspection about himself, his father, and the family he is trying to keep together despite being his father’s son.

Links and References

Author Information: Wikipedia, Mike and Mike, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, BookNAround

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Mike Greenberg: All You Could Ask For (2013), Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot (2007)

Book Review: The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James

Author: Tania James
Title: The Tusk that Did the Damage
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Alfred Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 221
Narrators: Manu, Emma, and the Gravedigger (third person limited)
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C+, Average; of the first 35 reviews, the average reader rating was 78.29%.

The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James

What’s It About?

A young elephant witnesses the brutal killing of its mother and becomes a local legend among the villagers in the Indian rainforest. Dubbed “The Gravedigger,” the elephant grows into a wild beast racing through villages and leaving people trampled to death in the aftermath.

Manu is a young farmer whose brother has served time in prison for poaching. Through his eyes, we catch a glimpse of the mixed feelings the villagers have toward the wild elephants who raid their villages, destroy their crops, and threaten their lives. Moreover, we get a sense of the distrust they feel toward the elephants’ advocates, the conservation wing of the government that seems to be somewhat in the pocket of the logging industry.

Meanwhile, Emma is a young college student who has come to India to film the exploits of an acclaimed wildlife veterinarian and elephant rescuer. As she gets to know the veterinarian and his work with the wildlife conservation group, she gets caught up in the moral complexities of wildlife poaching and protection. As she develops personal feelings for the veterinarian, her objectivity is put to the test and she must decide between multiple loyalties.

As the story draws to a close, the story of these three characters converge and the motivations of all are revealed–leaving a stew of moral uncertainty that highlights a pressing social issue in the developing world of India.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy stories that raise complex moral and social issues, where there are groups with opposing incentives in place of good guys and bad guys, you’ll love this book. The various perspectives–the animal, the man, and the outsider–are captured masterfully by the narrative tone chosen by the author for those characters. The story moves slowly in parts, with descriptive imagery and poetic reflection taking up much of the narrative. In other places, dialogue shapes the narrative. There is a bit of mystery built around how the stories of each narrator will come together, but this novel is for the most part a literary work highlighting the “man vs nature” theme. If that sounds interesting to you, I would give it a read.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: New York Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, San Francisco Gate

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Tania James: Aerogrammes (2012), Atlas of Unknowns (2010)