POVone: The First Person Perspective

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

Tag Archives: Memory

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins
Title: The Girl on the Train
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead (Random House)
Number of Pages: 336
Narrators: Rachel, Megan, and Anna
Quality Rating: 81.34

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What’s It About?

Everyday, Rachel takes the train into town so that her roommate thinks she still has her job. Ever since her husband cheated her and left her for another women, she has dissolved into a pitiful drunk. Eventually, her new slovenly manner had cost Rachel her job. Now, she rides the train everyday and makes up stories about the people she sees. One of these people just happens to be Megan.

Megan has grown restless in her marriage. She is tired of simply being a housewife. In an attempt to experience something new and exciting, she starts an affair with another man that has recently come into her life. One day, Rachel happens by on the train and sees her kissing a man who isn’t her husband.

Soon after Rachel sees her betraying her husband, Megan disappears. Trying to help, Rachel tells the police about the affair Megan was having. Given that she’s a drunk, though, her testimony is deemed unreliable. Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, had recently hired Rachel as a babysitter. As the worlds of Rachel, Anna, and Megan collide, all three women must face a truth that neither of them are prepared to face.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller built around dark secrets and hidden relationships, you’ll love this book. It has rightly been likened to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and it also bares a resemblance to Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her. Themes include drunkeness, adultery, abuse, female independence, and broken memory. While the story does contain a good bit of reflection and introspection, there are a large number of twists and turns that build mystery and keep the reader guessing until the end.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkins’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: 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.

Book Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Author: Sandra Block
Title: Little Black Lies
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central (Hachette)
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Zoe Goldman
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 50 reviews, the average reader rating was 85.6%.

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

What’s It About?

Zoe Goldman, a young psychiatrist newly relocated to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, has started having the dreams again. She is a small child, cowering in a corner with blood on her hands. She smells something burning, hears an eerie whirring noise, and someone is calling her name…

Zoe knows the recurring dream is part nightmare and part memory. She has been told by her adoptive mother (who now has dementia) that her real mother died in a fire when she was really young. When she has the dream, she reasons, she’s remembering fragments of that incident. But she can’t shake the feeling that there is more to the dream than what her mind is letting her remember. So, she works with her own psychiatrist to try and figure it out.

Meanwhile, she resumes her work at the mental hospital engaging in everyday dialogue with her colleagues and assisting a number of patients. One new patient in particular, Sofia Vallano, really draws Zoe in. She can’t help but think there’s something more to Sofia, but she can’t put her finger on it. But, whatever it is, it makes her uncomfortable.

As Zoe digs deeper to uncover the meaning of her dream and understand the truth about her birth mother, she discovers the reality of her past and why her mind has kept it hidden for so long. She may not be who she thinks she is.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, you will love this book. The story doesn’t have a great deal of action; most of the plot revolves around Zoe trying to figure out her dream. But there are plenty of twists and turns–plenty of mystery and intrigue that build up to a dramatic conclusion.. There is also a great deal of dialogue. While Zoe’s internal state is troubled and dismal at times, the conversations she has with her colleagues and adoptive family are light and witty. The tone keeps your emotions on edge, oscillating beautifully between comic and eerie.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Examiner, The Big Thrill

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com