Read One, Skip One: The Mother and Some Possible Solutions

May 19, 2016 Mini Book Reviews 16

The Mother, Yvvette EdwardsThe Mother by Yvvette Edwards
Fiction (Released May 17, 2016)
256 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Amistad)

Plot Summary: When Marcia Williams, drowning in grief following the murder of her sixteen year-old son, faces his teenage killer at the trial, she is forced to make sense of how something so horrible could happen to her son.

My Thoughts: This novel kicks off with an incredibly powerful first chapter that pulled me in immediately, even though it was obvious this would be an emotionally difficult read. The Mother is part story of a mother’s grief, part courtroom drama, part portrait of grief’s impact on a marriage, and part statement about race, poverty, and what happens to people born into a rough life on the streets.  

Edwards’ simple, yet impactful writing and powerful images take the reader on the emotional roller coaster ride of the trial along with Marcia…feeling how each subtle change in momentum sends Marcia’s emotions either tumbling or soaring. As the story progresses, the book’s feel changes from quieter to more action-packed, culminating in a particular scene that that felt out of place. I really loved that quieter book and a part of me wishes the ending had maintained the same emotions-focused feel. Despite my lack of love for some aspects of the ending, The Mother is a powerful book in a compact package and is going on my Great Books Under 300 Pages and Book Club Recommendations lists.

Some Possible Solutions, Helen PhillipsSome Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips
Fiction – Short Stories (Release Date: May 31, 2016)
224 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Henry Holt) via NetGalley

Plot Summary: From the author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat (one of my favorite books of 2015), a collection of short stories focusing on “an idiosyncratic series of “What ifs.”

My Thoughts: My love for Phillips’ The Beautiful Bureaucrat created sky high expectations for this short story collection…despite short stories tending to be hit or miss for me. Well…this collection proved just like most others…hit and miss (with more misses than hits). If you read The Beautiful Bureaucrat, you know to expect some weirdness from Helen Phillips and she delivers that here. But, Bureaucrat had me dying to figure out the weirdness whereas some of the stories in Some Possible Solutions (Game, One of Us Will Be Happy, Children) left me so confused that I wasn’t even interested in trying to figure out the point of it all (my notes literally say “didn’t get it”).

But, there are some bright spots! The first story, The Knowers, had me pondering whether I’d want to know my date of death in incredibly dramatic fashion. The last story, Contamination Generation, was a heartbreaking piece of social commentary. And, there were a couple that posed simple life questions in tongue-in-cheek ways. The MyMan Solution got me thinking about what wives are really looking for in their partners…via a woman who purchases a life-like robot/sex toy. And The Wife Solution explores what someone wants in a wife (or, what they think they want)…via a married couple that hire a “wife” to serve all their needs (his and hers). Though these bright spots shined, there weren’t enough of them to overcome my confusion with many of the other stories.

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16 Responses to “Read One, Skip One: The Mother and Some Possible Solutions”

  1. Literate Housewife

    I like this idea of the Read One, Skip One feature. I liked the way you wrote both your read and your skip review. I’m adding The Mother to my list. I might hold off on it until the fall, though. This time of year and emotionally difficult reads don’t always go together. 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Thanks! And, I agree, I don’t usually crave those reads during the summer either. But, it is short.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      You definitely should. I know Tara loved it and Shaina liked it more than I did, but had some issues. I also read it at a hectic time, so didn’t really have the mental wherewithal to truly contemplate the possible meanings of some of the stories.

  2. Tara

    I’m so glad that The Mother worked out well for you, Sarah; it sounds like a great, compact read. I did really enjoy Some Possible Solutions; I like the ambiguity and the fact that, after reading any of her work, I find myself taking time out to really contemplate what it means, for me, as I imagine she would expect readers to do. I also love that she has written these stories throughout the space of her adult life; I always wonder what brought her to a particular story/theme. Thanks for sharing these!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I read it at a really hectic time and wonder if I would’ve felt differently had I had the mental space to really contemplate. I definitely didn’t and was frustrating with not “getting” some of the stories.

  3. Andi

    I want to read both of these, but I am bummed that Some Possible Solutions didn’t work for you! I have (had?) high hopes!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I think you should still try Solutions..I know of some others who felt differently than I did!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Oooh – I’d love to know who b/c I haven’t seen it on any of the blogs I follow. But the child doesn’t technically die in the book…it’s happened before the book begins. But, there are obviously details shared.

  4. Athira

    The Mother sounds fabulous! I am not sure I am emotionally geared up for that read but it sounds worth it.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      It’s really great – and short so that makes it a little easier to handle.

  5. Michelle

    Hmmm…both intrigue me, but I doubt I will ever get to either of them. However, should the day come when I run out of on-hand reading material and need to go to the library, at the very least The Mother will make the library list.

  1. Book Club Recommendations That Are Great for Summer - Sarah's Book Shelves

    […] My Thoughts: This novel kicks off with an incredibly powerful first chapter that pulled me in immediately, even though it was obvious this would be an emotionally difficult read. The Mother is part story of a mother’s grief, part courtroom drama, part portrait of grief’s impact on a marriage, and part statement about race, poverty, and what happens to people born into a rough life on the streets. Continue Reading… […]

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