A Couple of Slower-Paced Novels

This week was a slower reading week that the weeks that I have had recently. The reason for the slowness is that I read two slower-paced books. Have you ever done that? Felt like you’ve been reading and reading and never quite finished a book? Or maybe you’re looking for something just a little slower paced to read that you can relax yourself into it. In that case, I have two books for you.

Mexican Gothic is a book that is perhaps best classified as a horror novel. Noemi receives a letter from her newly-married cousin Catalina and this letter is jumbled, strange, and deeply disconcerting. Noemi finders herself immediately leaving Mexico City for the rural Mexican countryside to her cousin’s husband’s ancestral estate. When Noemi gets there, the atmosphere is creepy, the house and the family are unwelcoming, and Noemi feels deeply unwanted and out of place. She is often even barred from visiting with her cousin. She is demanding answers, but receiving none, trying to decide how best to help her cousin, and then, she begins having very strange dreams. . . .

This book relies heavily on atmosphere. For much of the first half of the novel, nothing much truly happens. Noemi is in a gloomy house with strange rules, surrounded by unfriendly people, and having strange dreams. Unless the reader truly likes the character of Noemi, it’s going to be a bit of a push to read. Luckily for me, I really liked Noemi. Once the action starts in the second half of the book, the book becomes harder to put down, and I really ended up enjoying it. If you enjoyed books like Rebecca and Wuthering Heights, I think you’ll like the atmospheric feel of this one.

In All Adults Here, Astrid is the widowed mother of three adult children. Her relationships with these children are somewhat distant, and after seeing another townswoman get killed after being hit by a bus, Astrid realizes that she wants to tighten her bonds with her children and make some changes in how she’s living her life. At the same time, her youngest son, Nicky, sends his own teenage daughter, Cecelia, to live with Astrid after Cecelia experiences some trouble at school. In addition, Astrid’s daughter, Porter, and son, Elliot, are going through their own personal trials.

This one was really buzzy when it first came out. It was a Read with Jenna, and it was all over Bookstagram. The book is a family drama with a well-established author, and as I began the book, I found the characters to be rather quirky and interesting. Unfortunately, the charm kind of wore off and I plodded through this one. So many big issues are addressed–online pedophilia, artificial insemination, adultery, lesbianism, coming out transgender, parenting failures, sibling rivalry, friendship issues, bullying, and more. Yet, all are dealt with blithely, and in many cases, kind of unemotionally. This made it difficult to connect with the characters. Also, some of the plot lines are left either unfinished or not woven very well into the storyline. I think Straub might have just been over ambitious for a 350-page book. I could have easily read a whole book about each of these characters, and I think that, if I had, the stories as a whole would have been more impactful for me.

As an aside, I found Straub’s writing to be beautiful, and I copied several quotes into my notebook. This one is just an okay book from a very good writer.

Well, that’s all my reading for this week. What have you been reading?

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