Deep Relationships

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow book cover

There has been a lot of hype this year about Gabrielle Zevin’s novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. It is all deserved. The book is a tale of lifelong friendship that starts in a children’s hospital. Sadie and Sam go on to become world-famous video game programmers. Many reviewers have focused on that last aspect of the novel, but the story is much deeper than that.

This is a story that any person can identify with. These friends support each other, fight, go through periods of not speaking, and still care deeply and struggle together and with each other. It is a tale of relationship more than anything else. And it is an engrossing story supremely well-told.

The author uses what some may call gimmicks in a few places. For instance, one chapter is a he said/she said where the same experiences are told from the point of view of each of the main characters. Another chapter is told in the second person (you). However, in each case, the method of writing serves the storytelling well. At the end of the book I felt I had been taken a deep into the lives of very real people from whom I learned a lot about the struggles and rewards of deep relationship.

A Story of Trees and People

The Overstory book cover

I finally got around to reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, and it did not disappoint. The simplest description of the novel is that it is the story of trees and forests. But that is over simplified. It is the story of humans, their experience with trees, how they learn and grow in relationship to them, and how they come into conflict because of this. Still doesn’t sound very enticing or interesting, but it surely is.

The storytelling is gripping. In the first section of the book, each chapter is a separate story about a person or family. These are internally complete and gripping stories themselves. The second section starts to bring them together. The language is flowery and descriptive as well as immersive. I found myself sucked into every person’s life story. I am very grateful to have read this as an ebook as there were a lot of words new to me. This ease of looking up word definitions is one of the main reasons I prefer to read ebooks.

The theme of the book is very ecological and makes a strong statement about the place of trees. I found the ending a bit of a let down as it does not wrap things up neatly. There is no happily ever after or prescription for a better future. The book is more an exploration of how we got here and some ways some of us have and might address this condition. After thinking about it a bit, I feel like that was the ending the book needed regardless of my expectations or desires.

Change is Hard

Goodbye, Vitamin book cover

I no longer remember how I learned about Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. It’s the story of a young woman who moves back home to her parents’ home to help her mom take care of her dad who is dealing with a worsening case of Alzheimer’s disease. I’m interested in stories about how people deal with hard times, so I recently picked this one off my “to read” pile.

The format of the book is unique. The main character moves back into the home she grew up in just after Christmas with the promise to stay a year to help her mom with her dad. Each chapter is a month in that year. The writing is from the perspective of the daughter and is almost like a diary. There are date entries that are further divided into sort sections, some of which are only a sentence long.

The result of this unusual format is a very intimate look at how a young woman deals with the dynamics in her family caused by her dad’s condition. Just before moving back home, she was left by a fiance so she is dealing with change in her own life as well. She doesn’t always handle things well (who would?) and struggles not only to understand what is happening to her father but to herself.  Overall this is an excellent piece of literature exploring the challenges we will all face with end of life care for those we love.

Connecting Through Books

The Reading List book cover

Recently I’ve been interested in books about books, bookstores, libraries, writing, stories, etc. One of these is a debut novel by Sara Nishi Adams called The Reading List originally published in August of last year. A list of books gets passed around in the Wembley section of London. One of the recipients of this list is Aleisha, a seventeen-year-old reluctantly working at the local library for the summer. An older gentleman named Mukesh come into the library looking for advice on what to read. Thus begins the primary relationship of the book.

The story is as much about the neighborhood and its Indian residents as it is about the people and the books. My one complaint about the story is that it refers to a lot of Indian words, foods, and experiences that are not well-defined or explained in the text. I would like to have better understood what these were. That said, anyone familiar with Indian cuisine and Hindu living will feel right at home.

The story follows the two main characters at they read and discuss the list of books. This may not sound very interesting, but both people learn lessons from each book that they can use in their lives. It is a book about relating to others through the shared experience of reading, and it is beautiful! I highly encourage everyone to read it.


In case you were wondering, here is the reading list itself. How many of these have you read? It won’t matter if you have read them or not when you read this book. The author does a marvelous job of sharing what one learns from reading these books without spoiling any of them. And if you have read them, you will get even more out of the story.

  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Rebecca
  • The Kite Runner
  • Life of Pi
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Little Women
  • Beloved
  • A Suitable Boy