Book 46 of 52: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

After my dog died, I was looking to sink into a book that I knew would keep me occupied while I also tried to get used to being down the shore without her. I’ve read a bunch of Pam Jenoff’s books, and have marked them all “aggressively fine.” I saw the title of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach and thought great: sweep me away to WW II England, ahoy!

Except Chelsea Beach doesn’t refer to anything in England. Instead, it’s Chelsea Beach in Atlantic City, about 30 miles from where I took this picture.

My fault! Though the book does eventually move to England, the bulk of the narrative is set in Philadelphia and in this part of Absecon Island. Adelia Montforte is a 16-year-old Italian teenager whose parents somehow get her on a boat to the U.S. in 1941. She’s Jewish, and her parents are political activists. They know the writing is on the wall and send her to safety. Adelia arrives in Philadelphia to stay with an aunt and uncle, who also rent a place down the shore in the summer.

Next door is the Connally family, a boisterous group with four sons. She spends the summer with them, […]

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Book 45 of 52: TBA

Hey readers! I can’t talk about the book I just finished, because it’s for work. But when that piece is out, I’ll update here, and in a new post. Read on!

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Book 44 of 52: The Pet Loss Companion by Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio and Nancy Saxton-Lopez

When Emily, my first dog, died in 2017, I wrote about her death for The New York Times. In the process of putting it together, someone recommended that I read The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies by Wallace Sife. The book started out okay, reassuring me that the profound grief I was under was normal. Then he veered into misogyny, particularly when writing about to child free women and grief about the death of their pets. I was so mad I almost threw it across the room.

When I went to put Annie down, I was lead into a room the animal hospital has set up for that purpose. And there it was, on the shelf: The Loss of a Pet.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!” I yelled through my tears.

I’m not happy to report that The Pet Loss Companion by Ken Dolan-Vecchio and Nancy Saxton-Lopez is a much better book,  because that means I needed it. Losing one dog did not prepare me for going through it again, especially because it happened far sooner than I ever imagined. Emily was 15 years old when she died. Annie […]

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Book 43 of 52: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I don’t know if it’s fair for me to write a review of The Mothers by Brit Bennett. When I started the book, my dog was either lying next to me on the grass when I read outside; or at my feet when I read inside. When I finished it, she was gone. I still read the book, but my brain was only making a glancing connection with the material.

But here’s what I can say:

The Mothers is about Nadia [corrected thanks to a reader], a 17 year old whose mother just died by suicide. The Mothers of the title are olden women who are members of a Black church, and they act as an omnipotent Greek chorus narrating the novel. Her father is the guy with a truck who helps everyone out. From the jump, we know that Aubrey had an abortion, and that news of it eventually gets out.

When and how is part of the plot, so I won’t spoil it here. I’ve seen other contemporary writers try to use a Greek chorus before, and Bennett is the best one to do it yet.

However, the last third of the story unraveled, with the primary players making decisions that […]

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On hiatus

Hey folks, I’m going to take some time off from writing the blog, for a very sad reason. Annie Oakley Tater Tot, the action adventure wonder dog, died on Tuesday. She was only nine years old. It was very fast and sudden. I had six years with her, and it’ll never feel like enough.

I’ve shared more here. In addition to being the perfect travel companion, she was also my reading buddy, usually snuggled up right to me while I did so. I already miss her so much.

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Friday Folio: July 7, 2023

Great piece in High Country News: "Let's talk about Indian romance novels." Two authors have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI for training ChatGPT with their...
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Book 33 of 52: Magnate by Joanna Shupe

Hello from [checks map] Arizona! I'll soon be headed to my final destination, where I'll spend a week before turning back home again. Fun! I...
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Book 32 of 52: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Troublemakers by Nick Offerman

Hello from [checks map] Oklahoma City! I am well into my road trip, and trying to reshuffle and repack my stuff for the next leg,...
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Friday Folio: June 30, 2023

News? News! The New York Times on review bombing (I don't read reviews of my books on Amazon or Goodreads. So if you left a...
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Book 31 of 52: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

I DID squeeze in one more book before I left. Huzzah! And what a book it is: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley. You might remember...
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Book 30 of 52: The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke by Sallie Bingham

Last month, a friend and I met up at Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre environmental center in Hillsborough, N.J. We spent the morning biking around the...
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