Book Reviews: Things You Won’t Say and Eight Hundred Grapes

Two on Tuesday–    The selection process for this weeks book choices was fairly easy. Both books have content that is engaging and great for summer reading; the first book due to current events, and the other emphasizes  wine.  I am a sucker for both topics, especially considering my infatuation with Keanu Reeves and A Walk in the Clouds many years ago.

–     The first book centers on a police officer named Mike and his family.  While coping after a shooting that almost killed his partner, Mike pulls the trigger and finds himself charged with the murder of a young Hispanic boy, sending his whole family into a tailspin.  The second reading is also about family dynamics, and making decisions that impact not only your future, but everyone around you. Did I mention this book is all about wine too?

Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen

“Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There’s been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn’t hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband’s insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting — but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.

But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie’s world. It’s about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike’s flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie’s younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.”

–     Things You Won’t Say seemed like the perfect choice for this week’s book review since it focuses on what appears to be the current social and media frenzy, police brutality, racism, and the lives it touches.   The book is well written and comes together, but that is part of the problem.  Racism and excessive force are serious concerns and the author chooses to neatly gift wrap a happy ending for her audience, which does not feel genuine.  Somehow the book just seems shallow, but then again it is a summer read with strong character development, not a true to life text.

–    You will get to know the female characters as they are the heart of the storyline.  We have a stay at home mom (Jamie), who is fighting to hold her family together,  her husband the police officer (Mike) who is unraveling, the “baby mama” (Christie) who comes across as self-interested and vain, as she seeks the affections of her ex, and Jamie’s little sister (Lou), who is complex but at times leaves the reader not sure where she fits into the whole story.  Maybe an outsider looking in on the situation?  Not quite sure.  I did like Lou though, there is something very special about a woman who gives up a career to work for pennies with animals at the zoo.

–     Overall I would recommend the book, it was an easy read, interesting and relevant.  The happy ending will appeal to many.  This is not a book I would read again though.  I found the dialogue between Mike and Jaimie painful at times.  It is probably because I have multiple kids, and I felt that Jaimie was being taken for granted. Sometimes Mike just seems downright cruel.  His reasoning at the end also did not seem acceptable, but Jaimie buys into it and they live happily ever after. The book is not going to leave you with a thorough understanding of the current political climate regarding the police and the use of excessive force.  The author, just like stay at home mom Jamie, just tidies everything up at the end.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

“You have to grow, mold, squish about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn’t an argument to finish the bottle, I don’t know what is.”

–     The opening quote instantly draws the reader in and even though you are unsure as to what adventure lies ahead of you, you realize there will be lots of wine and beautiful grape vines, and that my dear readers, is enough reason to snag a copy of this great summer read.

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

–     There are so many moments while reading this book that I found myself taking a step back and just reading a sentence several times.  The author not only has an intricate story that gives a reader insight into a family on the edge, the writing itself just leaves you spellbound.  Here are a few examples of some of my favorite quotes:

“Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.

In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.

In your life: epic failure.”

“I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped doing the things that someone does for the person he loves. Because I was tired. Because other things always seems to matter a little bit more…That doesn’t happen overnight, you know. It happens slowly. You should be careful of that. You should be careful not to take the person you love for granted. Not only because they’ll notice. But you’ll notice too. You’ll think it means something it doesn’t…Like that’s how much you care.”

–     Beautifully written, this book can be a bit predictable at times, but then again there are some big surprises, and they will help you overlook the mundane.  I strongly recommend this book with a glass, no, a bottle of your favorite wine.

–   J


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