Alcohol & Advil: The Mothers and Hungry Heart

October 25, 2016 Mini Book Reviews 17

Alcohol and Advil Literary Style
Welcome back to Alcohol & Advil, where I pair a book likely to cause a “reading hangover” (i.e. the alcohol) with a recovery book (i.e. the Advil)! For me, the “alcohol” is usually a book that I either absolutely loved or one that punched me in the gut in an emotionally depleting way…and, in this case, it’s the former.

The Alcohol

The Mothers, Brit BennettThe Mothers by Brit Bennett
Fiction (Released October 11, 2016)
288 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Riverhead Books)

Plot Summary: While seventeen year-old Nadia Turner is mourning the shocking loss of her mother, she starts a relationship with Luke Sheppard, her pastor’s son, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.

My Thoughts: The Mothers was one of the most hyped books and the big debut novel of this Fall (author Brit Bennet is only 25 years old and was named to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35). And, it completely lived up to the hype! The first page is one of the best first pages I’ve ever read and I highlighted three passages before moving on to Page 2. I could immediately tell that Bennett’s writing was my kind of writing (which I will try to clearly articulate in an upcoming post) and the tone and style reminded me a bit of Ann Patchett’s in Commonwealth.

Grief was not a line, carrying you infinitely further from loss. You never knew when you would be sling-shot backward into its grip.

What I loved most about the actual story is that it takes on a number of serious topics, but none of them dominate the book. It’s about a young girl trying to make sense of her mother’s death and being left with a father who has withdrawn into his own grief. It’s about a teenager’s relationship to her church…and the feelings that come along with doing things the church likely wouldn’t approve of. It’s about the ongoing repercussions of those actions. It’s about friendship. It’s about race (the story takes place in a black community in California). It’s about the aftermath of trauma. Bennett handles all this in a subtle way…it’s there, a part of Nadia’s life, impacting her feelings and decisions, but life goes on. For me, this rang true to how life really happens. The Mothers will no doubt make my Best Books of 2016 List and would also make a fantastic book club selection.

The Advil

Hungry Heart, Jennifer WeinerHungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released October 11, 2016)
432 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Atria Books) via NetGalley

Plot Summary: Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner’s memoir-style essay collection about her childhood, writing, her struggle with her weight, marriage, and motherhood…and the Bachelor/ette.

My Thoughts: You probably know Jennifer Weiner from her bestselling novels Good in Bed and In Her Shoes or her hilarious and pointed live-tweeting of the Bachelor/ette shows. But, her memoir reminded me that there is far more to this lady than enlivening my Twitter feed on Monday nights. Hungry Heart is an incredibly relatable memoir about a girl gradually growing comfortable in her own skin. After reading about her childhood (which includes a horrific father and adjusting to her mother starting to date women at age 54), I came to respect her determination, work ethic, and ability to recover from her father’s abandonment. She worked her tail off to become the writer she is and was never swept up in the glamour of the “writer’s life.” This memoir also confirmed my belief that she is an author who should host a podcast and I can see her dispensing Dear Sugar-style advice to women as successfully as Cheryl Strayed. Though the book was overly long and a bit repetitive towards the end, it was the perfect mix of light-hearted humor and real-life struggle to help me adequately recover from The Mothers!

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17 Responses to “Alcohol & Advil: The Mothers and Hungry Heart”

  1. JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    Another great pairing, Sarah! I cannot wait to read The Mothers… loved the first few pages I previewed. The writing pulled me right in. Almost purchased with 1-click, but then remembered I had to read Commonwealth first 😉

  2. Susie | Novel Visits

    Alcohol and Advil…two of my favorite things! No! Really, this is a super fun way to write about two books. I agree with all you had to say about The Mothers and Brit Bennett. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on “my kind of writing.” I suspect it may be similar to what I like.

  3. Naomi

    I think I’d be more interested in reading Weiner’s memoir than her books. Even before knowing anything about her, she has done incredibly well for herself, and I’m always interested in hearing about the lives of writers. Have you read any of her novels?
    The Mothers is in my giant pile! 🙂

  4. Andi

    Ok, I love this and want to read them both. The Mothers is basically the only buzz book that’s managed to creep through my non-reading lately, and your “best first page” opinion is really persuasive. I need something to grab me that fast. As for Weiner, I love her. Her blog was one of the first ones I read, and this sounds like just the thing.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’d say you picked the right book to creep through your non-reading 🙂 The writing is fantastic.

      And I need to check out Weiner’s blog…I didn’t realize she had one until I read the memoir! I do follow her on Twitter.

  5. Ottavia

    I love this concept post. I didn’t need any more encouragement to read The Mothers, but this made me even more excited to do so 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I saw some on Amazon that weren’t so positive, but I think if the writing can do it for you, then it will definitely live up to the hype!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      The stories are drastically different, so don’t take it that way. I just thought the writing style and tone were similar.

  6. Athira

    I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about The Mothers. I love that it can cause a reading hangover!! Definitely psyched about reading it.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Very few books do that for me, but that was one of them! No way I could follow it up with another literary fiction novel.

  7. Elizabeth (Silver's Reviews)

    Oh wow on THE MOTHERS. I don’t know if I could read it, though. My mom just passed away in July.

    Sounds good, though.

    Great review. That sling-shot comment is VERY true.

    Thanks for sharing.

    I am stopping by from Carole’s Books You Loved November Edition.


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