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“The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen Review

A shocking and unpredictable story, The Wife Between Us brings us characters who are deceitful, sneaky and withhold several hidden agendas, making for a captivating yet unsettling plot. Much of the reading of this novel is spent guessing what is going to happen next, only to find out what I thought made sense definitely doesn’t when the next twist heads your way. You will spend a lot of time thinking you know what will happen next, but you are proved wrong each time.

Readers are also lead to believe that a few characters are harmless and understandable, but others are untrustworthy and malicious. We are proved wrong again. I may also mention that this is not your typical “wife gets revenge on cheating husband” story (which are totally my favorite books)- you will be surprised. The 3 parts in this novel all bear a new lead to wrongs that you thought were right and lead you craving more information as the author finds it playful to convince us we understand the story and then prove us otherwise. I found myself writing notes in the margins (as I always do), and my notes from the beginning are contradicting to my notes in the end, which, as we accelerated readers know, is hardly ever the case.

By the time you finish the novel, the story isn’t over yet. DO NOT FORGET TO READ THE EPILOGUE. This is where we grasp the title of the novel completely, and the whole story comes full-circle.

Later, I plan to blog a more in-depth review of this novel, as I, and I’m sure a lot of us do, have many more specific opinions on how the story turned out. I write this as a way to not spoil the story and to draw those of you who haven’t had the chance to pick this book up to do so. Tune into that later if you have already read it. If you haven’t, read it. Join in on the hype and tell me what you really think of it. If we as readers know how to do one thing, it’s read-so read!

Side Note: I hope you have never been one to skip an epilogue, but we are all sinners, so I get it.

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“Turtles All The Way Down” Book Review

 

Hello Readers,

I have met my new favorite book.

It’s crazy to say that since I have read hundreds, how could just one be my favorite? That’s what I thought until last night at 4am when I finished this one.

It’s Phenomenal.

John Green- Phenomenal.

It’s a story of a teenage girl, going through normal teenage girl things, and some not so normal. But what part of life is ever normal? And who is to say your life is more normal than mine, or that the grass may be greener on the other side? It never is, so it seems.

Dead family members, stress anxiety, irregular friendships, wondering what life really means- but mostly an adventure. The 2-dimensional view of this book is a few friends get together to find a missing person in order to receive the $100,000 reward. Of course, there is more to it than that, and lives become at stake for the teens who just want their father back.

From the first page of the novel:

“But I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.”

“Of course, you pretend to be the author. You have to. […] You think you’re the painter, but you’re the canvas.”

Already John Green has you hooked with his reversed personification. What’s more in this book is the close-up view of millennials.

I read somewhere recently where someone said, “The students of the present generation are the first to not take their cultural identity from books.” This book was clearly written for this generation of young adults, and basically is the most relate-able book I have ever encountered. As far as what I take my culture from, I don’t know. But John Green seems to get it.

Aza, the main character, suffers from anxiety, to say the least. Constantly feeling like she is trapped in her own body that will inevitably kill her one day, her mind spirals out of control with the notion that she something is hurting her that she can’t control, and she won’t ever know when the bacteria is killing her because her mind will be taken over by then, by the germ.

Aza says eventually, “Rather it hurts is kind of irrelevant.” Also, “True terror isn’t being scared; it’s not having a choice in the matter.”

As I said, this is the part that is not so normal about her teenage life, but obviously, a frequent problem young adults deal with every day. Also, something that isn’t mentioned much, especially in a fiction novel such as this one. Thank you, once again, John Green.

The novel is quite humorous. I found myself laughing in many instances, especially at the narrator’s best friend Daisy. She is strong and a light to be around. Hilarious, and afraid of nothing. A little self-centered, but caring. A great counter-part for Aza, and a real reflection of a millennial.

In chapter 6, she receives a dick-pic as fan mail for her Star Wars fan-fic blog. She states:

“I mean, how am I supposed to react to a semi-erect penis as fan mail? Am I supposed to feel intrigued?”

Aza replies:

“He probably thinks it will end in marriage. You’ll meet IRL and fall in love and someday tell your kids that it all started with a picture of a disembodied penis.”

This is so 2018 because we all know dick pics hardly ever go over very well, especially as an introduction, and is always fun to talk about with your girlfriends at an Applebee’s with a coupon in hand. It would even be more cliche if we found out the perpetrator had taken the pic with a flip phone (haha).

Daisy also compares her new boyfriend’s looks to that of a “giant baby”. And later decides she doesn’t want a relationship with him, as they are difficult, but to instead be “friends with benefits”. Of course, a total 2018 reference as we live in the world of Tinder and such high divorce rates, it seems silly to even be in a traditional relationship anymore. Or so it seems.

When Davis comes in the picture, life hardly changes much for Aza, which we hoped it would. But again, does that happen in real life? Hardly is it ever convenient. Davis is the oldest son of our missing person. His father has become missing to escape a fraud and bribery investigation, leaving his two sons behind with the estate and it’s workers to take care of them. Aza and Davis knew each other as children, and Daisy convinces Aza to reach out to him in order to find the whereabouts of his father to collect the reward. At this point, I found myself thinking this was going to be a book of revelation and closure for the characters, as they may find a valuable lesson that is unclear at this point of time, but I was wrong.

In chapter 7, I made a note saying I thought this might end up being an interesting crime novel. At this point, the book is giving a lot of insight to the trouble Davis’s father is facing, and the peer-investigation between Daisy and Aza is intriguing. After chapter 19 I wrote in the margin, “For a while, I thought this was an adventure novel, not anymore.”

The novel moves forward with the relationship between Aza and Davis, and Aza and herself. She constantly is questioning the meaning of “me”, with her therapist and her peers, but mostly with Davis. Both Aza and Davis have a dead parent, and both constantly feel misunderstood by their remaining parents. It seems as though neither of them has a close relationship with anyone, even Aza and Daisy, who are best friends, seem to not really know much about each other, and the secrets they tell are on the surface.

Once it seems that Davis and Aza are dating (use the word dating loosely), they connect on a level that only the two of them can understand and seems like a once-in-a-lifetime event for the beloved characters. I understood in chapter 13 that John Green has his unstable characters fall in love to prove their presence. That they are relevant, even when they don’t think so.

In reference to Davis, John Green inserts many quotes from inspirational authors in this novel, along with some online-journaling of Davis’s. I thought about how creative this is, to write a story inside of a story, a story that is not the author’s, but also it is. John Green is able to write in words and sentences that flow so well that it seems like it comes easily to him. I couldn’t help but be envious at this point.

Daisy’s motive of the investigation was to earn the money so she could quit he minimum-wage job and live a prosperous life as a high school student. To Aza, although she was doing it for Daisy, she wanted to help Davis and Noah more, and later learned that that was more important than a large sum of money. Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more.

Our characters to tie up their loose ends by the end of the book, and I am glad for that, but also wanted to read so much more. On page 260 I thought to myself that I know there are only 20 pages left but so much more than I want to know that it would definitely need to take up more than 20 pages. Heartbreaking and unsettling as it seems, it was incredible. John Green is a master of breaking my heart and putting it back together with scotch tape, which somehow I am okay with, although it is not the same as I felt before, I am okay with it. Bravo.

Read it.

 

 

 

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Abby, a Mistress

I found her.

A person could see her unmistakable long, dark hair from across the grocery store. That’s where I saw her, at least.

My hair- short and blonde. He told me he liked my hair shorter, and when I cut it he told me I had never looked better. That I was even more beautiful that day then I was the day he married me.
There was never a time like the world we lived in when we were newly-weds. Being 7 years ago doesn’t seem like that long ago.
I never dreamed of leaving him, and I definitely never thought it would come to this.
A mistress.
Late nights at work, going to the bar with his friends- he still always had time for me. We had been on many dates as a married couple, several vacations, and countless late nights of talking and swooning. He kissed me goodbye every morning before he went to work, told me he loved me every day, and always made a point to make me feel beautiful and like I am the luckiest girl in the world.
But here I am. In the grocery store that I have been coming to since we moved here 7 years ago. Buying everything that fills our house with holiday aromas and dinner every night. This is where I buy his favorite coffee, no other store in town carries it. I have gone out of my way to come here for him, and today I found her here.
She is beautiful, clearly. He really did pick a good one. And she looks nothing like me, even better for him I’m sure.
I bet she never complains about his dirty clothes laying on the floor, or about how he walks through every room in the house while he’s on the phone, constantly picking things up and moving them around without even realizing it.
I’m sure she is an amazing lover, she probably does more than I ever would for him. “Tough Luck”, I always tell him. She probably has a closet full of lingerie that she wears for my husband, some that he might have paid for, with the money he makes for “our family”, as he calls it.
Should I have done better? Should I have catered to his every want and need and never had an argument? Wear high-heels when I do the dishes? Make myself be his whore every night after his long day at work? I could have ironed all his clothes, picked up all his messes, cleaned for 4 hours every day, wrote him loves stories and day-dreamed about him all day. Did I not do enough, just by loving him and being his home to come to every day?
Oh, please.
I am a human being, just like him. He should have known better, and he should have remembered the love we had for each other every single day.
Not fucking women like her.
I found out about her by accident.
Cleaning the house, no doubt, while he was at work not thinking about me, or her either, I’m sure.
She wrote him a note and he left it in his shorts from 2 weekends ago, when he told me he went to see his old friend from high school that just moved 2 towns away from us. “Sounds fun!” I said. And no, it was not stupid of me to not think he really meant he would be with someone else.
The note said “Think of me tonight while you are with your wife because I will be thinking of you when he comes home. -Abby”. What an amateur, I thought. Did she really think he did his own laundry or cared enough to clean out his pockets at the end of the day? Or did she think he would fold it up and keep it like a trophy of their undefined love? Don’t make me laugh.
I told you, she is nothing like me. I would never dream of sleeping with another man. Even now I can’t imagine, because I remember our wedding and how the basis of our marriage and our love was made that night. I knew then there would never be another man that I could look at the same way as I do him, and I knew that I would never feel the same way about love or how it feels because that night it was truly the best night of my life, where love was redefined.
It was better for him that she doesn’t look like me, but not because she is better or more beautiful, but because it would only make him feel guilty. And honestly, what is the point on cheating on your wife with someone that looks like her?
Abby, however, has no idea what any of that means. I feel sorry for her, truly. Does she think she can find that in my husband since she can’t find it on her own? Please. She has to find a way to stop being so pathetic, and she needs to find that without my husband.
I see her in aisle 9 as I walk by. I stop and stare for a minute, and remember that she is not better than me. Most women might feel that she is, of course, because my husband picked her over me. But actually, he didn’t.

He found her, at a bar I’m sure, and it was fun for one night. And then he thought maybe this was the life he wanted, being her play toy on nights they can both ditch their spouses and be together. Does that sound like a relationship to you, Abby? Pathetic. It sounds pathetic to me.
He didn’t find me at a bar on a drunken night like he did you. We met at a luncheon for a company we both were applying for 8 years ago. We talked all night and he took me on dates for several weeks before we slept together, which I’m sure wasn’t the case with you.
Perhaps it has been fun, running around with a woman who looks like she hit puberty about 5 years ago. Her body is rockin’, I’m sure, and she makes him feel young again, I bet. She looks nothing like me, as I said. What I mean by that is I look better. Funny, isn’t it? He still makes love me right after making love to you. Is that petty sex, you think? Doubtful. The sex with you is fun and meaningless, but my body is where his home is, and its the only place he has ever made real love to a woman.
So, Abby, have fun, you pretty little thing. I could honestly not care less. Anything he’s ever told you about his feelings for you, or feelings he may have for me, they are all a lie. An adult would know that, so surely you could use that explanation.
We’ll fight about it later, I’m sure, at my own timing and with my full control. No, it’s not over. However, I may decide that it should be, later on my own terms.
I’ll get what I want, out of both of you, when the time comes. And I promise you this, I won’t be the one feeling stupid when it’s all over.

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Chapter Excerpt #6, “My Son is Missing”

Extreme Bipolar Mania
The tendency to have mood swings that turn to violence.

My husband sent me here because I kept forgetting what I was doing, to him and myself, and it caused to much pain for him to handle anymore.
I don’t care about his pain.

What he doesn’t know is that i never actually forgot the things I did to him.

Once, in the beginning, I was driving myself and my son to the grocery story a few miles away. I wanted to make a nice dinner for him when he got home from work, back when I still cared about his wants and needs.

I put our son in his carseat in the back, buckled him up and shut the door. When I got myself inside and started the truck, I saw her. She was right outside our house. She looked at our house as if she had stolen it as well as my husband, as if everything in my life is hers instead.

She stood there with her hands clenching her over-priced handbag. It seemed like she was waiting on something, like maybe she thought he was going to come outside to meet her. I thought to myself, “You stupid bitch, he’s at work, only his wife and child are home. It’s the middle of the fucking day”. How stupid of her to make herself so noticeable, although I already knew about her.

As I look at her through my rearview mirror, with my foot on the brake to move the truck in gear, our eyes meet. I realized then that she wasn’t here to see him, she’s here to see me. We stared at each other for several moments and I think she must feel guilty for stealing my husband. But why would she? Do women like her every really feel guilty for destroying a marriage and a family? Well, it isn’t destroyed yet I guess, since he doesn’t know I know. But she does. Women always know.

“Well honey, he’s yours now”, I think to myself. He hasn’t been the man I married in a long time. Her standing there with puppy-dog eyes makes me almost feel sorry for her, but not quite. She looked so pathetic, and disappointed. Well, I’ve been disappointed myself lately.

I continue to put the truck in gear and back out of the driveway, my driveway, with my son, and drive off. I see her walk off past the house from my side mirror, and that’s when I decided it was finally over between us, our marriage is finished. This is where it all began.

Our fights went from me crying all alone, to me tearing things off the walls and throwing them at his face. From me feeling defeated and pathetic to taking action and making him pay for what he did to me- to our family.

This is when he started telling me that I was crazy, that I was making things up and was just paranoid. Well, maybe I am crazy. But I don’t care. He deserved it. I was angry that he did this to us, and I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

He kept lying to me. Every single day was a lie. He’s been selling pharmaceuticals for 10 years, and never has he been needed to stay late as often as he has the last 10 weeks, and definitely not every Monday Wednesday and Thursday. He thought I was stupid, that it was something I wouldn’t notice. I stay at home all day taking care of our son and waiting for my husband to come home, how could I not notice that he was gone on such a timely schedule? He can accuse me of being irrational, and angry, and paranoid, and even crazy, but it started with him, and that woman, and now they expect me to sit here in the hospital alone while they have my son.

Well, it’s not going to be like this forever, trust me, I’ll be out of here soon, and I will have my son back.

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Read Like a Writer

I recently was asked what it means to read like a writer. This question enticed me to do some digging. Being a book-blogger, how I read a book and how I choose to write about it all depends on how the book speaks to its readers and how I can interpret that into a text for my readers.

When I read for leisure, even as a fellow writer, I drive into the story and see where it takes me. I spend little time dwelling on the structure of the text and more on the entertainment it provides me. The books I enjoy are ones that leave me turning pages because of character and plot development, and the sensibility the words bring to the story.

Reading like a writer requires the attention to the technique of the writing and if the message of the story is effective or not. I sometimes wonder if the technique and structure the writer has used would be the same way I would choose to tell my story. I think about a specific instance in the story and study it. I try to experience the story most a reader but as a writer by applying my story with the same technique and ask myself if it would lead my reader tot he most valuable outcome of the text I am forming.

I spend a lot of time looking for an error in the text when I read like a writer. To me reading what doesn’t work in a text helps to remove error in other texts. If I see something in a story that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t lead to a clear answer, I make a short list in my mind as a reference in my own writing.

Reading like a writer helps me when I write my story when I think about what the reader is going to receive from my story. Based on what I receive from a story I read helps me discover with my own story that my reader may receive something entirely different.

As a college graduate with a BA in English Literature, I know that reading like a reader, reading like a writer and reading like a scholar are three different types of reading. Analyzing a text in a literature classroom or as a stand-alone scholar is different than how a writer would read the same text. A scholar will spend a lot of the time examining the text next to the other texts of it’s time, history books and critic pieces to entirely examine the work and make a scholarly interpretation of it.

Writing my own book requires as much help and as much reading-experience I can possibly get. I could read 100 books a month and still not have learned everything there is to know how to write a book that is effective, clear and a pleasure to read.

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Chapter Excerpt #4, “My Son is Missing”

I found him.

Finally, after all this time.

I see her, with him, my son. My beautiful boy. He’s gotten so big. He has hair just like his dad, curly and bouncy, blonde with a hint of red. He has such little hands; I see as she takes one in hers, and leads him down to the swings. That should be me.
But it can’t be. Not here. There are too many people around. I have to wait until she takes him home, or somewhere safe for what I’m going to do.

To her home, not his. His home is with me, with his mother. She is not his mother. She is no one. I don’t understand why she has had him for this long. Where is Kevin? Why isn’t he taking care of our son?

Our son. He is so amazing. I don’t know how long it has been since I have seen him, but I know he will remember me. He’s having such a good time; she is pushing him on the swing. I know he is enjoying it because he is laughing. What a majestic sound. I have missed him.

I want to get closer, but I don’t want her to see me. I don’t want them to leave, I will have to find him all over again. She has stolen him from me, and I am here to collect what is mine, what was never hers to take.

It is time for him to come home. Come home, where he belongs, where his room is, next to mine. Mine and Kevin’s, what a joke that was.

I haven’t been back there since I left the hospital. They let me out, what did they expect? I’m going to find my son; they shouldn’t have made it so easy if they didn’t want me to see him, with her. He belongs to me; they can’t just let her have him.

I didn’t want to be there, at the house, with all of his stuff, and remember that he’s not there with me.

I am ready to take care of him again; I don’t care what they say. I am his mother, and he belongs with me. I am perfectly capable of taking care of my own son. Nobody knows him like I do. How does nobody get that? He is mine, and I want him back.
She can have Kevin. She took him from me as well, but all I want is my son back. Kevin should have never left, I needed him, but that’s over now. He wants to be with her, fine, but I want my son back, and he can’t do anything about it.

He’s wearing little light-up shoes when he steps they shoot colors all over the sole of his foot. He laughs, and jumps, then smiles at her. He has my smile, even though I haven’t seen mine in a while. It’s the same as his grandfather’s; I can’t wait to share that with him one day.

I need to get him back; it has been too long.