POVone: The First Person Perspective

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

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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: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

Author: Jen Brooks
Title: In a World Just Right
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 432
Narrator: Jonathan Aubrey

In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

What’s It About?

When he was a young child, Jonathan Aubrey lost his family to a plane crash in which he was the only survivor. The accident left him burned and scarred–rendering him a social outcast throughout his childhood. Now on the verge of adulthood, he has fallen in love with a girl who barely notices him. But Jonathan has a way of remedying this situation.

Ever since the crash, Jonathan has been able to create worlds. When he wants to escape the real world, he simply closes his eyes and then opens them again to a world of his own fabrication. At his pleasure, he travels back and forth between his worlds–the latest of which is a reality in which the girl of his dreams is his girlfriend…and she is deeply in love with him.

But, there’s a problem. When he creates a world that so closely mirrors the real one, his dream girl starts to notice him in real life. Suddenly, he finds himself torn between reality and the fantasy he has created. When he receives an unexpected visit from his past, he discovers that there might be a way to merge his worlds together. Or, on the other hand, he might just lose them all…

Should You Read It?

At first, the novel seems to simply be a story about a kid dealing with tragedy through escapist fantasies. But the reader quickly discovers that the “fantasy” is real, and Jonathan really does have the power to create worlds. Or, does he? This is one of those stories that leaves the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined. If you enjoy that sort of metaphysical ambiguity, you might find this novel interesting.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook. Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, YA Midnight Reads, Afterwritten

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jen Brooks: In a World Just Right is Jen Brooks’ debut novel.

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Random House)
Number of Pages: 464
Narrators: Laia and Elias
Quality Rating: 87.98

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

What’s It About?

Laia is a “Scholar,” the oppressed class in a world divided between masters and slaves. When the remainder of her family is slain by her oppressors and her one remaining brother is taken captive, she goes out in search of the only people she believes can help–The Resistance. This ruthless band of rebels agrees to help free her brother with one condition: she must become a spy for them. Secretly working for the Resistance, Laia must become a personal servant of the most feared woman in existence–the cruel and merciless commander of the oppressive regime that slaughtered her family.

Meanwhile, Elias is graduating from the military academy to become a “Mask,” the murderous infantry of the ruling class that oppresses, exploits, harasses the slaves of the land. Elias hates the violence and despairs over the blood which will inevitably fall on his hands. Not only is he destined to become the very thing he despises, but he also has the misfortune of being the son of a mother who hates him–the commander of the army. Despite risking torture and execution, he plans to desert the empire before they can make him a muderer.

Just as he is about the leave, he is persuaded to stay by an Augur–the empire’s class of wisemen, in order to fulfill an obscure destiny. Shortly after deciding to remain, Elias and several of his classmates are selected to perform in the Trials–a prophesied and long awaited event whose victor becomes the next emperor and losers are promptly executed. As the Trials begin and Elias’s world becomes interwoven with Laia’s, both characters must fight to overcome their bleak circumstances and attain their own forms of freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy darker young adult, dystopian fantasy, you will probably love this book. It’s a lot like Red Queen and The Fire Sermon in terms of class divisions, but the divisions are less on genetic lines and more simply on political lines. Although there is a vague semblance of a love triangle, the attraction between characters is less composed of flighty romance and more composed of shared identity and purpose. The story is told in alternating narration between the two protagonists–giving the reader insight into what it’s like to be both the oppressor and the oppressed. Themes include the interplays of betrayal and friendship, slavery and freedom, cruelty and mercy, and death and survival. While classified as YA, the realities of an oppressive regime are not hidden–and the resulting tone is somewhat dismal. And, while there are certainly dystopian and fantasy elements, the writing is layered and somewhat complex–so it would also be appealing to those interested in more literary works. If this sounds appealing to you, I would definitely pick this book up.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Redeye Chicago

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes is Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Given World by Marian Palaia

Author: Marian Palaia
Title: The Given World
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Riley

The Given World by Marian Palaia

What’s It About?

Riley is a young girl living in rural Montana. As she enters her teenage years, her older brother–whom she cherishes dearly–goes off to the war in Vietnam. Upon receiving notification that he had died in combat, her life spirals out of control. Her parents grow cold and distant, and Riley gets into drugs to numb the pain.

When she’s seventeen, Riley becomes pregnant with the child of a man who goes off to the war in Vietnam and–like her brother–never returns. Unable to bear the loss, Riley leaves the baby with her parents and leaves Montana. Traveling as far west as she can go, she winds up settling in San Francisco.

Over the course of her adult life, Riley wonders around in search of herself and her place in the world. In her travels, she meets new friends and experiences new things. All along, the question looms heavily in her mind–will she have the courage to return home? Will she go back to Montana and face what she’s left behind?

Should You Read It?

The story is told in alternating first and third person perspective, with the former revealing Riley’s feelings about her circumstances and the latter shedding light on how Riley’s life fits in with the lives of those around her. The novel is largely character-driven, rather than plot-driven. Great emphasis is placed on how inescapable circumstances rule the lives of Riley and the cast of characters she encounters throughout her life. With the major theme built around the struggle to overcome tragedy and find meaning, the tone is one of aimless searching, grasping, and hoping. If all of this sounds interesting to you, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, SF Gate, Meanderings and Musings

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Marian Palaia: The Given World is Marian Palaia’s debut novel.

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: The Damned by Andrew Pyper

Author: Andrew Pyper
Title: The Damned
Genre: Supernatural Thriller; Suspense; Horror
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Danny Orchard
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: I, Insufficient data; there are not enough ratings to accurately gauge the average reader rating.

The Damned by Andrew Pyper

What’s It About?

Danny Orchard is a thirty-something year old Detroit native coasting along on the dwindling fame and fortune from a book he wrote over a decade ago. The book, an inspirational memoir about his experience coming back from the dead, has led him to associate with a group of people with similar experiences who hold largely optimistic beliefs about the afterlife. Danny never really thinks about hell but, as the events of the story unfold, he finds out that it is just as real.

Danny had died attempting to save his fraternal twin sister, Ashleigh, from a fire. After he is brought back, the memory of his sister continues to haunt him. But Ash was no innocent victim–she was a developing psychopath that destroyed their family and left a path of destruction everywhere she went. While Danny is glad she’s dead, he cannot shake the feeling of her presence as he goes about his everyday life.

When Danny falls in love with a woman and her young son, Ash becomes more than a memory. Her ghost comes back from the dead seemingly to drag Danny back into the fire she feels he should have died in. With the safety of his new family in jeopardy, Danny must solve the mystery behind Ash’s death and find out exactly what she wants–before he runs out of time and she kills him for good.

Should You Read It?

If you’re into fast-pasted, supernatural horror–a good haunting story–you’ll probably enjoy this book. With a few chapters of backstory, the author jumps right in with scene after scene of disturbing imagery surrounding the haunting. If you’re sensitive to such content, you may want to pass. But if you enjoy the genre, this book embodies it. The writing is quick and the mood eerie–with graphic descriptions of terror largely outweighing depth of characterization and complexity of plot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: NOW Toronto, Kirkus Reviews, That’s What She Read

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Andrew Pyper: The Demonlogist (2013), The Guardians (2011), The Killing Circle (2008), Etc.

Book Review: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Author: Cynthia Swanson
Title: The Bookseller
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Kitty Miller
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 119 reviews, the average reader rating was 86.22%.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

What’s It About?

Kitty Miller is a thirty-something year old bookseller from the 1950s working in a small Denver bookshop she owns with her best friend. As business starts to slow and the success of the bookstore is threatened, she begins having vivid dreams about another life–the life she would be living eight years in the future had she taken a different path.

In this other life, she is married to her dream guy and she has three children. She’s a family woman. Every night, when she goes to sleep, she enters into this dream life. When she wakes up, she’s back in the real world.

At first, everything seems perfect about her dream life–like it’s everything she ever wanted. As time goes by, though, she realizes that some things are missing from her dream life that would make it the perfect world. Soon, the dream even becomes somewhat of a nightmare.

As her dreams become more vivid, Kitty finds it increasingly more difficult to determine what’s real. She knows her brain is inventing one of her worlds, but which one? And why is she caught between these worlds?

Should You Read It?

This story is built around a psychological mystery with a touch of magical realism. While set in the 1950s and 1960s, the writing style, characterization, and dialogue are more or less contemporary. The theme involves the difficulty in coping with tragic circumstances and coming to terms with the way life works out. At its heart, The Bookseller is literary work dealing with the central character’s regrets and repressed memories, but the mystery through which these concepts are revealed to the reader make it an engaging read.

Links and References

Author Information: Integrity Modern (Author Website), Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Denver Post Interview

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, My Novel Opinion

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Cynthia Swanson: The Bookseller is Cynthia Swanson’s debut novel.