POVone: The First Person Perspective

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

Tag Archives: Friendship

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)

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Book Review: At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Author: Sara Gruen
Title: At the Water’s Edge
Genre: Literary; Historical
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
Number of Pages: 368
Narrator: Maddie Hyde (Pennypacker)
Quality Rating: 76.94

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

What’s It About?

As the second World War wages in the world around her, Maddie spends much of her time hanging around with her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank–who have avoided service for medical reasons. When they get a little carried away and make a scene at a high society New Year’s Eve party, Ellis’s father cuts him off from the family fortune. To get back at his dad, he and Hank drag Maddie to Ireland in search of the fabled Lochness Monster. Years ago, Ellis’s father achieved infamy by faking a siting of the beast, and Ellis intends to show him up by capturing footage of the real thing.

Once thy arrive at their destination, a small hotel in a rural area near the Loch, Ellis and Hank begin searching for Nessie and visiting people who have seen the beast–often leaving Maddie by herself at the hotel. As Maddie spends more and more time with the hotel staff, she grows increasingly fond of them–to the disappointment of Ellis, who insists that they are beneath her class.

When he returns from his expeditions, Ellis is always drunk and proceeds to cruelly insult Maddie in a variety of ways. His mistreatment of Maddie leads to many confrontations with the hotel staff, including disagreements with a man who has become specially interested in Maddie. As the story unfolds, secrets come to light about Ellis’s true character, why he isn’t serving in the war, and what he really thinks of his wife. All of this latent tension leads to a dramatic to conclusion in which the monster is revealed–although perhaps not the one they were looking for.

Should You Read It?

If you like the sort of story that centers around a woman’s struggle to escape a bad marriage, this will be right up your alley. Also central to the story is the theme of social expectations and the class divisions they create. Although the novel is set in Europe at the height of World War 2, the war is a minor theme. The rich depictions of Ireland and its people are emphasized more than the time period. Also, be advised that this isn’t really about a search for the Lochness monster–that point is merely a vehicle for the development of the deep relationship conflict that fills the pages.

Links and References

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

Book Reviews: Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Chicago Tribune, That’s What She Read

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sara Gruen: Ape House (2010), Water for Elephants (2006), Flying Changes (2005)

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: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Author: Ash Parsons
Title: Still Waters
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Philomel (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrator: Jason

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

What’s It About?

As a senior, Jason is known by all as the tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He gets into a lot of fights and has a scary reputation among his peers. But, in his view, he doesn’t start trouble; he is simply very efficient at finishing it. Defending himself and his sister against the abusive tirades of his father, experience has taught him to stand and fight rather than to walk away.

Jason is a loner. He is guarded in his relationships and only has one friend that he really opens up to. So, when he is approached by the most popular kid in school with an odd proposition, he is naturally suspicious. Seeking to build his reputation for an undisclosed reason, this other boy offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Reluctantly, Jason agrees–because the money may just give him and his sister their ticket to freedom.

As Jason begins to hang out with the popular crowd, he senses that something is off. The more time he spends with them, the more he feels like he’s being set up. As new people come into his life, he isn’t sure who he can trust. Suddenly, the lines aren’t so clear. Who will he need to fight? And who will he need to fight for?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the kind of young adult story that centers on a kid dealing with a bad home life, you’ll probably really love this book. For a YA novel, it was really gritty and disturbing–so it’s not for the faint of heart. The focus on a disadvantaged kid trying to make the most of the situation reminded me a lot of Where All the Light Tends to Go. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue built up throughout, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Also, there’s a good balance of introspection and fast-paced action–so it would appeal to lovers of both literary and genre works.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dee’s Reads, Bibliophile Gathering, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Ash Parsons: Still Waters is Ash Parsons’s debut novel.

Book Review: Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

Author: Lori Goldstein
Title: Becoming Jinn
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Azra Nadira

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

What’s It About?

Azra Nadira has just turned sixteen and, as is the custom set by the governing council of Jinn, she receives her powers as a genie. Although she begins to gain magical powers such as the abilities to teleport and conjure things into existence, she is resistant to the change because she knows it means she will eventually become a slave to another’s wishes.

Along with gaining magical powers, Azra’s sixteenth birthday blesses her instantly with stunning beauty. As such, she gains the sudden interest of the coolest guy in school. While she enjoys the new feeling of being desired, she is torn between this new love interest and that of a childhood friend. This love triangle forms much of the conflict throughout the story.

Most of the story, however, focuses on the relationship between Azra, her mother, and her mother’s Jinn friends–known to Azra as “the sisters.” This group of ladies guides Azra into understanding her powers and her place as a young woman in the world of Jinn.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the newer genre of young adult genie literature, you’ll probably enjoy this–as the author goes to great lengths to describe and develop the rules of the world Azra inhabits. That being said, if you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns, this probably isn’t for you. I would describe the story as relationship-driven rather than plot-driven. It’s more or less a teenage “chick lit” story set in a world of genies. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dark Faerie Tales, Snuggly Oranges, Fiction Fare

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lori Goldstein: Becoming Jinn is Lori Goldstein’s debut novel.

Book Review: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

Author: Juliana Romano
Title: First There Was Forever
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Number of Pages: 400
Narrator: Lima

First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

What’s It About?

As they enter their sophomore year, Lima’s best friend reveals that she’s lost her virginity to a stranger over summer break. Shrugging if off as “no big deal,” Lima’s friend becomes increasingly more involved in the party scene–a space in which Lima is extremely uncomfortable. Eventually, Lima’s friend all but abandons her for another girl who is more interesting and fun to be around.

Lima has never had a serious relationship with a boy, and she has no plans to start one. That is, until she meets Nate. Never has a boy so cool and so attractive shown an interest in her. And, as painful as it is for her to admit it, she’s starting to have feelings for him too. There’s only one problem–this is the boy her best friend has always had a crush on, and Lima has promised never to be with him.

As the sophomore year draws to a close, Lima must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she try to sustain a dying friendship and, in doing so, lose her first real chance at love? Or, will she follow her heart and accept the diverging paths she and her best friend have begun to take?

Should You Read It?

Essentially, this story is about the complicated interplay between self-discovery, friendship, and romance experienced during female adolescence. You could call it “teenage chick lit.” If you are interested in love triangles in young adult literature, you’ll probably enjoy this story. But, at its heart, this book is really about the fleeting nature of friendship during the time in a person’s life that is most filled with change.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, YA Love, Rather Be Reading

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Juliana Romano: First There Was Forever is Juliana Romano’s debut novel.

Book Review: Silence by Deborah Lytton

Author: Deborah Lytton
Title: Silence
Genre: Romance; Young Adult
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (Deseret Book)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrators: Stella Layne and Hayden Rivers
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 29 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.45%.

Silence by Deborah Lytton

What’s It About?

Stella is a shy, fifteen year old girl who is having trouble adjusting to her new school–following the divorce of her parents and the relocation of her, her mother, and her sister to a new town. She feels out of place, even as her only friend tries to pull her into the popular crowd. The only thing she has going for her, she believes, is her voice. When she sings, she doesn’t feel invisible. And, when her voice lands her the lead in the high school musical, she feels like she actually has a shot at being normal.

Hayden is an awkward and quiet boy with a speech impediment who is new to the same school as Stella. While he tries to keep his distance, he can’t help but be drawn to Stella–there’s just something about her that makes him want to reach out. But he is emotionally scarred by an abusive past and prefers to keep everyone at an arm’s length. Besides, he is embarrassed by his slow speech and prefers to stay quiet. How could he start a relationship with Stella if he can’t even speak to her?

When Stella is accidentally knocked unconscious and falls into a swimming pool at a party, fate intervenes and Hayden is there to save her from drowning. But when she wakes up, she has lost her hearing–and the only dream she ever cared about. Temporarily deaf, she loses her spot in the musical and falls into a depression. While waiting for an operation that can restore her hearing, Hayden begins to show her all that she can do without it. As the two spend more and more time together, they begin to fall in love. But, can Hayden really give his heart away when his past has already broken it? Is he good enough for Stella? And, is Stella willing to abandon her former dream when she discovers things about herself she never realized until Hayden showed up?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy young adult love stories, like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, you will love this book. The alternating first person narration between Stella and Hayden gives insight into how each character feels about the blossoming relationship. The tone, despite the characters’ damaged childhoods, is light and laced with hope. With an uplifting conclusion, this tale is a love story–not a tragedy. The chapters are short and language easily digestible. There are also many references to various arts–music, poetry, painting, etc. So, if you’re nostalgic about the role that the arts played in your high school years, you may also enjoy this story for that reason.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Reading Bifrost, Mel’s Shelves, Bookworm Lisa

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Deborah Lytton: Jane in Bloom (2009)

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.