Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy again for her monthly Quick Lit linkup, where we share short reviews of what we've been reading.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. I've read two of Cleave's other novels -- Little Bee and Gold -- and loved them, so I was eager to read his latest. It didn't disappoint. (I run the risk of oversimplifying the plot here, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone.) Set in World War II England, the novel is about a young woman and man who have a fateful meeting near the start of the war but are forced apart by the circumstances of battle and other commitments. Cleave is so good at blending realistic detail with a true love of his characters -- as well as plenty of witty dialogue. The World War II setting has become such a common one for fiction that it risks being overdone, but Cleave gives it a fresh take as he plumbs the significance of small moments of friendship, sacrifice, and courage in the midst of world-changing events.
A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold. This book by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two teenage boys who killed 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999, is absolutely riveting. The contrast between Dylan's totally normal, healthy upbringing and the terrible events he perpetrated comes through starkly, showing how the stereotypical answers -- neglected, outcast kids and clueless parents -- don't always apply; sometimes there truly is no rational explanation. An amazing book by a woman whose life (like those of the people Dylan killed and wounded, and their families) was forever altered by her son's actions and who now works to bring attention to issues of depression, suicide, and violence.
On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light by Cordelia Strube. Don't let the lyrical title fool you the way it did me. This gritty novel is about Harriet, a precocious, foul-mouthed 11-year-old whose divorced parents are distracted by what she sees as their selfishness and immaturity as well as by her handicapped brother Irwin's needs. She dumpster-dives to find scraps for her art projects and makes money by running errands for the elderly residents of her building. I sympathized with the resourceful but lonely Harriet, but I quickly tired of her unrealistic language (really, what 11-year-old says "Beat it"??) and of the onslaught of interchangeable, eccentric old people with their odd last names (Mr. Shotlander! Mr. Pungartnik!). There are some humorous moments, and there's a somewhat redemptive thread running through the book -- but there's also a shocking plot twist that really disappointed me and made the second half of the book seem like a retread of the first. This novel got some great reviews, but though I was glad I pushed through and finished it, I can't say I recommend it.