* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Gray Mountain by John Grisham
When the subprime mortgage crisis during the U.S. recession turns the corporate world upside down, young attorney Samantha Kofer is put on furlough by her law firm and given no choice but to work at a legal aid clinic in Brady, Virginia. She immediately becomes caught up in an ongoing showdown between the residents of the local communities and the big coal mining companies in the area.
GOOD: Surprisingly, the book fulfilled my wish for a female protagonist and a plot that doesn’t place heavy emphasis on the romantic relationship. (Although, she does sleep with one character, but makes it clear that it’s just for fun.)
BAD: After building up to a certain point, the plot just peters out and the story ends with not a heck of a lot resolved. Is there meant to be a sequel?
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George & Rue by George Elliott Clarke
Born into poverty and witnessing years of violence between their parents, two black Canadian brothers, George and Rufus Hamilton, start their life of crime early. As the years go by, the brothers attempt to find purpose and love, but can’t seem to stop crossing moral lines in order to relieve their hardship. As a result, the luck of both brothers runs out and one fatal act seals their fate. The novel is based on the true life story of George Elliott Clarke’s relatives.
GOOD: Even though I didn’t have a high opinion of the brothers, you can’t help sympathizing with their struggle since childhood to make it through just one more day. In addition, I enjoyed learning about the New Brunswick black community during this time period.
BAD: The description of the murder and some of the following events was hard to read and I cringed the whole way through, not only because of the violence, but because of the stupidity of one brother and the cold-heartedness of the other.
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If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie
Will is a teenage boy who has been kept indoors by Diane, his agoraphobic mother for years. When he meets a young boy in his backyard who isn’t afraid of the outside world, Will is inspired to start leaving his home and become a normal teenager. He becomes obsessed with the boy after learning he has gone missing and pisses off an underground grain alcohol running gang with all of his snooping around.
GOOD: Michael Christie’s story is unique and unpredictable, and even though I found her annoying at times, I could relate to Diane’s fears of death and loss when it came to her son.
BAD: I found the dueling plots and narratives (I think there were four storylines and three different narrators), quite confusing a times.