Must Read Before EOY Minis: Where All Light Tends to Go and The Nightingale

December 3, 2015 Mini Book Reviews 9

This is the time of year when I try to get to all the 2015 releases that I missed out on earlier in the year, but that I got excited about after reading other bloggers’ reviews. Here are my thoughts on two of them…

Where All Light Tends to Go, David JoyWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Fiction (Released March 3, 2015)
274 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: Jacob McNeely, son of his small North Carolina mountain town’s biggest outlaw, struggles to separate himself from the life of crime he was born into and to fight for the girl he loves (Maggie).

My Thoughts: I’ve read some great “Grit Lit” this year (Bull Mountain, The Shore, The Animals), so I knew I had to make time for David Joy’s debut novel. It’s a story about fathers and sons, loyalty, love, and trying to claw your way out of your given circumstances. The writing made me truly feel the poverty and hopelessness of the mountainous North Carolina setting and it reminded me of a more reflective version of Bull Mountain. Jacob is an anti-hero who it was easy to root for; though he’s a bad kid on the surface, he is a victim of circumstance who is, deep down, trying to do the right thing.

I also loved the Riggins & Lyla (from “Friday Night Lights”) vibe that Jacob and Maggie had going on – the notorious troublemaker with a good heart falling in love with the golden girl who will most certainly go on to better things. My only complaint was that I guessed the ending, which caused me to love the book less than I thought I would. Nevertheless, it’s going on my Books for Guys, Page Turners, and Great Books Under 300 Pages lists.

Nightingale, Kristin HannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Historical Fiction (Released February 3, 2015)
449 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: The story of two French sisters, timid Vianne and reckless Isabelle, and their different experiences during World War II’s Nazi occupation of France.

My Thoughts: This book has been getting tons of hype all year long…and for some reason I kept not picking it up. The premise reminded me of All the Light We Cannot See…and I didn’t get past the sample of that one.

While I did enjoy The Nightingale, it wasn’t quite as out of this world as I’d been hearing. I loved the overarching question of “what are civilians caught up in the Nazi occupation willing to do to survive?” and the badass ladies that carry this story. While I was emotionally invested in the story, I didn’t find it to be particularly unique or surprising. And, though the writing was readable and engaging, it didn’t sparkle enough to separate it from the pack of other novels I’ve enjoyed this year. This being said, it is a solid historical fiction novel worth reading…it just didn’t break the “best of the best” barrier for me.

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9 Responses to “Must Read Before EOY Minis: Where All Light Tends to Go and The Nightingale”

  1. Carmen

    Two good ones. I just got The Nightingale at an awesome price on Cyber Monday, so I guess I’ll be reading it sometime. Where All the Light… reminded me of Bull Mountain as well (of your experience of course because I haven’t read either). At some point I said, haven’t I read this premise already?

  2. Catherine

    I loved The Nightingale, but don’t disagree with what you’re saying, although I think I was surprised by some of the plot (read it so long ago). Now I need to know: what are some of the “best of the best” historical fiction books for you?!

    • admin

      Oh gosh…that’s a tough question! Possibly The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. I really loved Circling the Sun this year. And Back Channel by Stephen L. Carter last year. But, that’s just recent stuff…I’m sure there are others from years ago that I can’t remember at the moment (this is how bad my book memory is…need to eat more blueberries!!). OH – my number 1 historical fiction is 11/22/63. Yes that’s it.

  3. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I’m so happy you enjoyed Where All Light Tends to Go. That ending just…GAH! I still have The Nightingale on my read before the end of the year list. It was on my must read summer list, but I still managed to skip it. I know I’ll have a case of the feels, so I’ve been avoiding it longer than I should.

    • admin

      I wonder what I would have thought about Where All Light Tends to Go if I’d read it before Bull Mountain. I feel like the first book I read between those two was going to be the winner.

  4. Shannon @ River City Reading

    The end of Where All Light Tends to Go was actually my favorite part! The rest of it was a little too familiar/predictable for me, but the end was just the gutwrench I needed. I don’t think The Nightingale is quite my style of historical fiction (I like more history and less additional plot), but it does seem like one that so many people love.

    • admin

      You know, I wonder how I would’ve felt about the ending of Where All Light Tends to Go if I hadn’t read Bull Mountain first. I feel like it alerted me to Grit Lit style plot twists and I may not have seen the ending coming had I not read BM first.

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