Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022 and Award Winners

Reviews by Techeditor

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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel
by Amor Towles
A story of a detour (12/3/2022)
THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY is the story of a detour from a plan to travel the Lincoln Highway west from Nebraska to California. Of the three books by Amor Towles that I’ve read, RULES OF CIVILITY, A GENTLEMEN IN MOSCOW, and now THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, this one is by far his best.

After Emmett’s stint in jail and his father‘s death, he and his little brother Billy decide to move to California. But after two of Emmett's old bunkmates, Duchess and Wooley, show up, Emmett and Billy have to first take them to New York, in the opposite direction. And this is their story, an adventure told by each one of them, plus some chapters told by Emmett's and Billy’s friend, Sally.

I loved their different perspectives of the same situations, I loved their dialogue, and I loved Towles' humor. Every bit of this is unpredictable, especially the end.

What a pleasure this book is! Its only negative is Towles’ lack of quotation marks, which I think is rude to the reader.
Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover
You can believe this is true and important (11/21/2022)
For about the first half of EDUCATED, Tara Westover's autobiography, she describes the circumstances she grew up in. Her father was a survivalist who did not trust the government. So he didn't do things like register his cars or send his kids to public schools. Westover's mother made a stab at home schooling her seven children, but, to say the least, it was inadequate. Luckily, Westover's older brother taught her to read. Her father was also careless with his family's safety and didn't trust doctors or hospitals. So, when they were hurt, often as a result of his carelessness, the family depended on their mother's homeopathic remedies, even for severe burns and head injuries. Westover also had a dangerous brother who was defended and supported by both her parents.

With this background, Westover sought education, beginning with Brigham Young University. She had never even gone to high school much less graduated. But she got in when she was 16 after (pretty much) teaching herself enough to pass the ACT. (Her explanation of this doesn't sit well with me. My college in Michigan would never have let me in without examining my high school transcripts and diploma.) She soon discovered how ignorant she was of even the most well-known history such as the Holocaust and Martin Luther King's civil rights movements. But she learned as much as she could on her own and ended up impressing her professors enough to continue her education in spite of not being able to afford it. Westover kept going to various schools in the U.S. and abroad and now has her PhD in (of course) history.

Throughout the years she devoted to her education, Westover made annual trips to her home in Idaho. She wanted her parents' approval, but her father and, therefore, her mother insisted she was siding with the devil and needed to stop sinning and accept their reality, not hers. They have tried (and have been successful in most cases) to convince the rest of her family to stop associating with her until she admits she is wrong and her father is right.

Although I generally suspect that memoirs are written by people who incorrectly assume that their life story is important, in the case of EDUCATED, you can believe that it is. Also, I call this an autobiography in my first paragraph rather than a memoir because she has convinced me through her footnotes, Acknowledgements, and endnotes that it's all true.
The Mother-in-Law
by Sally Hepworth
A Misunderstood Mother-in-Law (11/6/2022)
THE MOTHER-IN-LAW is about a misunderstood mother-in-law. It’s also about whether she really killed herself and who might be responsible. The story is told in both past and present from the points of view of, of course, the mother-in-law and of, of course, the daughter-in-law.

Diane and her husband Tom were rich and in love. Tom died first, and now Diane is dead too. Their daughter Nettie will do anything to have a baby, and their son-in-law Patrick is cheating on her. Their son Ollie owns a failing business, and their daughter-in-law Lucy has been dealing with her hateful mother-in-law for 10 years. They all have reason to kill Diane. Heck, even Ollie’s business partner, who was counting on Ollie's inheritance, might have done it. But it appears that she killed herself.

This is quite a convoluted mystery, and more and more mysteries continue to show up throughout the book. The main mystery I told you. But to tell you more might spoil any of the other mysteries. I can tell you this, though: I didn’t see any of them coming.

Sometimes a book that is a mystery is a thriller as well but not so in this case. That may be the reason that it wasn’t a page turner for me. But I would say the same of an Agatha Christie novel. So, although I would give it three stars for its pace, I give it four stars for its convoluted mysteries.

I won this book through bookclubcookbook.com.
Faithless
by Karin Slaughter
A Book in Karin Slaughter's Grant County Series (10/10/2022)
FAITHLESS is a book in Karin Slaughter's Grant County series. I’ve read most of her books, which is a testament to what a great writer she is, particularly of mysteries/thrillers. But I read them as I find them in used bookstores, so out of order, and I still enjoy the heck out of them. But good for you if you can read them in order.

The three main characters in this series are Jeffrey Tolliver, Grant County’s police chief; Sara Linton, Tolliver's ex-wife, a pediatrician, and Grant County's coroner; and Lena Adams, a Grant County detective who works for Tolliver. All three become involved in the workings of a church (or is it a cult?) after Tolliver and Linton stumble across the body of one of its members in a coffin buried in the woods. She had been buried alive. Did she suffocate? Or was she poisoned? Have other church members suffered the same fate?

Both Tolliver and Adams investigate, while Linton mostly acts as Tolliver's sounding board, although she too becomes involved to a lesser extent. They find a church run by a particular large family. Now can they find out why the dead woman, a member of this family, was buried alive and who did it? As a result of their investigation, they find so much more about the church and about the family that runs it.

Because I’ve been reading Slaughter's two series out of order, I’ve already read the next book, BEYOND REACH. Luckily, I have it in my bookcase so I can skim through it to remind myself of what happens next.
The Whisper Man
by Alex North
First half is too easy to put down (10/1/2022)
3 1/2 stars. The first half of THE WHISPER MAN rated 3 stars, the second half 4.

The mystery in this book is good. Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake are learning how best to live since Rebecca, Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, died. So they decide to move to a house that will not remind them of Rebecca, especially Jake’s memory of his mother body at the bottom of the stairs. It is their move to that particular house that involves them in the mystery of the whisper man.

In the city where Tom and Jake have moved, the whisper man has taken the lives of several young boys. The body of one of the boys killed 20 years ago has never been found.

The whisper man of the 20-year-old crimes has been found and is now in prison. But he seems to have had an accomplice, although he will not say so or indicate who it is. Is this other whisper man now coming for Jake?

Even though this mystery is good, I did not find it spooky, and the first half of THE WHISPER MAN is not thrilling and too easy to put down. Mysteries and thrillers should be unputdownable books.
Mercury Pictures Presents: A Novel
by Anthony Marra
My warning (9/3/2022)
Anthony Marra‘s A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA was so wonderful that I read his second book, THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO, without bothering to first read its reviews. So I was disappointed; it did not measure up to CONSTELLATION. Still, when his most recent book, MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS, came out, I bought it. And, again, it doesn’t measure up to CONSTELLATION “Fool me twice, shame on me."

If you want to read MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS because you loved CONSTELLATION, be warned that you will be disappointed.
Anthem
by Noah Hawley
Ostensibly about teenage suicides; really about politics (8/23/2022)
Ostensibly about a post-pandemic plague of teenage suicides, ANTHEM is really about politics. The book flap calls it thrilling; it’s not. Does Noah Hawley not realize how boring this is?

Hawley seems to try to not take sides at first. But if you can read 100 pages, his political persuasion is clear. Does Hawley really think this book is a winner if he alienates at least half his readers?
Missing, Presumed
by Susie Steiner
A mystery concerned more with character than plot (7/11/2022)
MISSING, PRESUMED's story is a mystery. An upper class 24-year-old woman is missing, and police detectives search for her. But MISSING, PRESUMED is more than its plot.

The story is told through the eyes of various characters involved. Not only that, but the lives of these characters apart from the story are also examined. You might even say the book is more concerned with character development than it is with telling the story.

Although the best books develop both character and plot, the first half of MISSING, PRESUMED can be tiresome because of its concentration on the characters’ lives almost to the exclusion of plot. For this reason, I almost rated it three stars. But I think this is better than most three-star books.

Give this book a try. You may be glad to know that it is the first in a series.
Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade
by Walter Kirn
A True Mystery of a Murderer (6/24/2022)
BLOOD WILL OUT, though a true murder mystery, is not the murder mystery you would expect. Although there is a murder and many mysteries, particularly about the man who committed it, the author, Walter Kirn, plays a big part in this story, too. Not only that, but Kirn theorizes about the mysteries, and his theories are good, almost certainly correct.

Kirn does not begin with the murder or even what led to it. Instead, he begins with how he met the murderer, Christian Gerhartsreiter. Except Kirn thought he was meeting Clark Rockefeller, yes, of THE Rockefeller family. Turns out, "Clark Rockefeller" was only one of Gerhartsreiter's many aliases. (Kirn makes, in my opinion, the mistake of calling him Clark throughout the book because, Kirn says, that's how he knew him for a long time.)

Other books have been written about the man known as "Clark Rockefeller," but it looks like Kirn was careful to be different. He begins with his drive from his home in Montana to "Clark's" home in New York to bring him a crippled dog he wanted to adopt. Upon their meeting, "Clark" started dropping several clues that his stories were not true. And Kirn berates himself for not catching the lies at the time, with just being impressed with his new friend. For friends they did become. And Kirn continues to berate himself for that.

But good people tend to trust that most people are good. Most people ARE good. Gerhartsreiter is the exception. I hope Kirn has stopped being angry with himself for being one of the good ones.
The Good Sister
by Sally Hepworth
A pleasant surprise (6/19/2022)
THE GOOD SISTER was a pleasant surprise and my first Sally Hepworth novel, the reason for my surprise. The book met my number-one requirement of a good book: it must be one I don't want to put down, even to eat or sleep.

Rose and Fern are twin sisters. Fern has issues with sensory perception. She also takes everything said to her literally. Perhaps she has a high-functioning form of autism, although the book never says so. But, apparently, Rose has always taken it upon herself, even when they were children, to watch out for and protect Fern. We know this from a journal Rose is keeping now that they are adults.

In alternating chapters we see Fern's and Rose's lives from Fern's perspective. She feels indebted to Rose. So, because Rose wants a baby but can't have one, Fern decides to have one for her. Once she gets pregnant, though, we learn more and more about Fern's and Rose's lives, and it becomes more and more difficult to determine who is the good sister.

I've heard THE GOOD SISTER called "women's fiction." That term is such a turnoff for me! Please don't call it that. I just call it a really good book. And now I get to read Hepworth's backlist.
Under My Skin
by Lisa Unger
Romantic suspense (5/27/2022)
Lisa Unger has it in her to write a really great book, and I have read several. But UNDER MY SKIN isn’t one of them. It’s not bad, though. So, although I didn’t enjoy it, you may.

UNDER MY SKIN irritated me right away because its main character’s name is Poppy, which I think is a silly name but which is not a good reason to dislike a book. And it didn’t make me dislike it. It’s just a warning that my irritation may have contributed to my estimation of it.

Poppy’s husband, Jack, was murdered. Other reviews will tell you that UNDER MY SKIN is about her search for the murderer. Wrong. Part 1 of the book, that is, approximately the first half of it, is constant repetition of her love for and memories about Jack and her drug–induced dreams/memories. Unger also manages to tell you several times that Poppy dislikes her mother and loves her lifelong friend Layla.

Because of all the repetition in Part 1, I could easily skip paragraphs here and there. I got it already. Part 1 could have and should have been half as long.

Part 2 is where Poppy searches for her husband‘s murderer, but this part was mostly silly. I often felt like I was reading a romance novel. And it was so, so predictable.

UNDER MY SKIN could be called romantic suspense. That’s a genre many readers like. But not me.
The Night Strangers: A Novel
by Chris Bohjalian
Although the story is well written, its subject matter didn't appeal to me (5/17/2022)
I thought I had already read everything written by Chris Bohjalian, but I missed THE NIGHT STRANGERS until a few days ago. I love Bohjalian's books but might not have read them if I had started with this one. That is not to say this book is poorly written. It was the subject matter that didn't appeal to me. I would still call it a four-star book; it just isn't worth the five stars I usually give him.

After Chip Linton, an airline pilot whose plane crash landed in a lake, and his wife, Emily, and twin daughters move to an old home in New Hampshire, he begins experiencing what appeared to me to be hallucinations. One of their new neighbors, Anise, regularly brings them her homemade food, and I believed she was spiking it with a hallucinogen.

It's easy to understand why I believed that. Anise is among a group of especially friendly and helpful neighbors who are all herbalists with greenhouses in their backyards where they grow both normal and exotic herbs. Each member of this group is even named after an herb.

THE NIGHT STRANGERS is about Chip seeing and speaking with the ghosts of dead passengers on his ill-fated plane but, also, about this group of herbalists. Are they a cult?

The book is told from the points of view of various characters, mostly of the family members, including the 9-year-old twins, Hallie and Garnet. It is these girls who are in danger throughout THE NIGHT STRANGERS from both their father and his ghosts and from the herbalists.

If I had ever known for sure that Chip's ghosts were all in his head and certainly not real, I might have taken this story more seriously. More than that, I didn't see how the end could be as it was written. To me, it is unacceptable, especially Emily, who finally understood the danger of the herbalists if not of her husband.
We Begin at the End
by Chris Whitaker
The Best Kind of Mystery (4/27/2022)
WE BEGIN AT THE END is the best kind of mystery. It involves many twists throughout, not just one. Plus, although there is one main question (who killed Star?), which isn't truly answered until practically the end, even though you may think you have it figured out several times before then, more questions emanate from that one.

Simply put, Star and Vincent and Martha and Walk were a teenage foursome in their small California town until, when they were 15, Vincent accidentally killed Star's little sister Sissy. He was convicted of manslaughter as an adult and served time in an adult prison, where he murdered another prisoner. Now it's 30 years later, and he's out. When someone kills Star shortly thereafter, Vincent apparently did it, so he goes right back to jail, even to the same cell.

But Walk, now chief of police in that town, is sure his old friend is innocent. So he sets out to prove it. He investigates while Martha, now practicing family law in another city, prepares a defense.

Initially you'll agree with Walk, then you may not be so sure. Then maybe you will agree again when it looks like it's someone else. Then Walk, himself, isn't so sure. Then you may think you have it figured out. But maybe not.

At the same time all this is going on, we follow 13-year-old Duchess and her little brother Robin. These are Star's children, now orphans sent to Montana to live with their grandfather. Duchess is tough and in trouble. Will she be found by the person who thinks she has what they are willing to kill for? Can she protect Robin? Will she make it back to California to take care of the person who she thinks killed her mother?

From the first chapter of WE BEGIN AT THE END, this book reminded me of books written by one of my favorite authors, John Hart. So I was delighted when I watched a Zoom interview with Chris Whitaker, and he said that Hart influenced him. Whitaker also thanks Hart in the Acknowledgments.

That said, I found some irritations and some mistakes that irritated me.

*Constant irritation: Duchess talks like a 10-year-old. She calls herself "outlaw" to nearly everyone, often. But she contrasts that childishness with her use of the F word every other sentence.
*WE BEGIN AT THE END contains many, many runon sentences, each using a comma where one sentence should have ended and another begun. Misuse of punctuation is more than irritating. It can ruin a reading experience.
*I think I'm a smart reader, yet I didn't feel so smart while I was reading this book. I had to reread too many sentences; they seemed deliberately evasive.
*Although Whitaker said during the Zoom interview that copyeditors fixed all what he called his "Englishisms," I found many. For instance, he called a doctor "Mr." In America, we call doctors "Dr."
*I didn't like the end, what ultimately happened with Duchess and Robin.

Finally, I wish I had been able to read WE BEGIN AT THE END before I saw the Zoom interview rather than after. I would have asked Whitaker why he chose the book's setting to be in California and Montana rather than the UK and why all the characters are Americans. Most writers write what they know.
Small World: A Novel
by Jonathan Evison
It's a small world (4/19/2022)
What an appropriate title! "Small world" really is what SMALL WORLD is about.

But know this right up front: SMALL WORLD has lots of characters, so many that you may have a hard time remembering who's who. This book should include a list of characters with who each is. Because it doesn't, I suggest, if you own your copy, keep a highlight marker handy and highlight each name when it first appears so it's easy to flip back and find that name if you forget it by the time it next shows up. My friend keeps notes on borrowed books.

You will probably need one of these tricks to help your memory because this book has several stories going on:

One story is about twins who came to New York from Ireland in the 1850s and were each adopted out to different families in different parts of the country, with another story about their present-day descendant, a train engineer about to retire.

There's a story about a Chinese man in 1850s California and another about his present-day descendant (whose husband may have descended from Irish people who helped the Irish twins in New York).

Another story is about a black slave in the 1850s who came with his rich Kentucky owner to Illinois and escaped, and another story is about the former slave's present-day descendants, a mother and her giant teenaged son who excels in basketball.

And, yes, there's another story about an (American) Indian girl/woman in the 1850s who ran away from her adoptive parents, and, yes, another story is about her present-day descendant who is escaping her abusive boyfriend.

All the main characters from the present-day stories are on the same train. How did they all come to be there at the same time? What are their stories?

Throughout SMALL WORLD are occasional coincidences, such as the blue locket that young Finnegan, one of the Irish twins in the 1850s, kept his whole life to give to his twin Nora when he found her. Yet the present-day story about the Indian girl running from her boyfriend mentions that she now has that locket. Somehow, a character from one story came in contact with a character from an unrelated story. It's a small world.

I won SMALL WORLD from the publisher.
Carolina Moonset
by Matt Goldman
This book grabbed me from page 1 (4/12/2022)
Don't you just love it when you read a really good book by a new-to-you author, and now you get to read his previously unknown-to-you books? That's how I feel now. I just read the really good CAROLINA MOONSET by Matt Goldman, a new-to-me author who previously wrote four books I now get to read. And, if author blurbs mean something to you, I'm joined in my praise by William Kent Krueger.

Joey, a 45-year-old divorced father from Chicago, is visiting his parents in South Carolina. His father is suffering from dementia, and his mother needs a break. While there, Joey meets Leela, the daughter of his parents' next-door neighbors. She is also in her 40s and divorced, and she also has children. Together they discover secrets about long-ago unsolved murders in this area. Then another murder occurs, and the police want to accuse Joey's father, who is not only physically and memory impaired but will die in a few years. So Joey and Leela investigate further and find even more secrets in this town, most from long ago, all involving his father and friends and rich brothers and their women.

Oh, so what if parts of the story sound a bit soap opera-ish.

From CAROLINA MOONSET's first page, I knew I was going to like the book. Goldman's writing is superb, and it grabbed me right away. Pay attention, even in Chapter 1, to every little thing. These are clues to what comes later.
Fragile: A Novel
by Lisa Unger
You should enjoy this story of two missing-person's cases (4/5/2022)
Lisa Unger is one of those authors whose books I know I’ll enjoy even before I start reading them. And once again she has proven me right with FRAGILE. This book is a quick read not only because it’s relatively short; also, you won’t want to put it down.

FRAGILE is set in The Hollows, a fictional town in upstate New York. The Hollows is a mysterious place where people grow up and never seem to be able to leave, at least not for good. So most everyone knows everyone, went to high school together, and judges each other on the basis of who they were back then.

Maggie is one of those long-time residents who left for a while but then felt compelled to return. So she married another long-time resident, Jones. He had been the handsome football star when they went to high school together. Now he’s a police detective and Maggie is a psychologist in private practice.

Their son’s girlfriend is missing. Because everyone in town knows everyone, everyone is concerned, even if only because they knew her mother in high school (because, of course, everyone attended the same high school).

For many residents of The Hollows, the investigation into this missing-person's case brings up the memory of another missing-person's case back when Maggie and Jones were in high school. Questions about this old case are finally answered during the investigation into the present case.

It’s probably a little too convenient that most people in town grew up together. I suppose that makes it unrealistic. Also unrealistic is Maggie’s practice as a psychologist. Both the good guys and the bad guys are her patients, and that, too, seems a little too convenient.

But FRAGILE's Prologue is one of the best prologues I’ve read. It seems to me that most authors add a prologue to the beginning of their book in an effort to make it interesting right away. That usually doesn’t work well for me. This time, however, it did. I kept thinking of that prologue while I read the rest of the book. It was the hint of something that is not fully clear until nearly the end.

Accept the conveniences and, maybe, disregard the psychic, and you’ll enjoy this story of a small-town psychologist and her cop and their involvement in two missing-person’s cases.
Falling
by T. J. Newman
Suspend disbelief (3/22/2022)
If you can suspend disbelief here and there, you'll really enjoy FALLING. I did, and so did everyone else in my book group. FALLING is a fast read because you won't want to put it down.

Terrorists have given an airline pilot a choice: crash his plane with 140 "souls" onboard and save the lives of his kidnapped family, or land the plane, saving passengers and crew but resulting in his family's deaths. His answer is that neither the people on the plane nor his family are going to die. At that I admit that the book is ultimately predictable, but it was so much fun to read about how everyone--the passengers and crew on the plane, the pilot's wife and two children, the two (yes, just two) terrorists, the FBI, the air traffic controllers, the President of the United States, and even the baseball players and fans at Yankee Stadium--learned about and dealt with this terrorist threat.

My criticism is T.J. Newman's waste of time describing the pilot's dreams. They add nothing of consequence to the story.

Others poke holes in this story and criticize its authenticity. I don't at all. I'd be willing to bet that, once you start FALLING, you'll be willing to suspend disbelief and you won't want to stop.
The Berlin Exchange: A Novel
by Joseph Kanon
Another great historical thriller from Joseph Kanon (3/12/2022)
Every time I finish reading a Joseph Kanon book, I'm afraid he might retire and not write another. I feel that way now after reading his THE BERLIN EXCHANGE. Please, do it again, Joe!

From 1962 to 1989, West Germany traded (exchanged) goods or money for political prisoners in East Germany. That is the background of THE BERLIN EXCHANGE.

Martin, an American who was a KGB spy and has been in an English prison for the last 10 years, is swapped for three political prisoners in East Germany. He was not forced but has chosen to go there because his ex-wife, Sabine, and son live there, even though he has heard nothing from her during the entire 10 years and even though she has divorced him and married an East German. This is the trouble I had with Martin: he cares too much for that long-gone wife. I expected nothing good from her and was always suspicious of what she said and did.

Martin wants out of the spy business now, but that seems to be why the East Germans want him there. Then again, it’s hard to tell who wants him there and why. Martin doesn’t know if anyone in East Germany can be trusted.

After Sabine's East German husband commits a crime and it looks like Martin may be implicated, he knows he needs to get out of that country. All his spy training comes in handy as he plans his escape into West Germany with his son and ex-wife.

This is a great historical thriller with that Kanon style. He tells much of the story through dialogue, and he spares no words.
The Sun Down Motel
by Simone St. James
Spoiled by the supernatural (3/2/2022)
The story is promising. Actually, THE SUN DOWN MOTEL appears to be two stories at first, one Vivian's in 1982, the other Carly's in 2017.

In 1982, Vivian runs away from home and ends up in Fell, New York, with a job as night clerk at the Sun Down Motel. She disappears later that year and is presumed dead. In 2017, Carly, Vivian's niece, is curious about what happened to Vivian and why no one noticed she was missing for four days. So she goes to Fell to find out. Chapters of THE SUN DOWN MOTEL alternate between these two stories.

Turns out, this is really one story with a then and a now. Both are of the same locations, most of the same people, and even the same ghosts.

And about those ghosts: They spoil the story. Not many authors can successfully write a ghost story for adults. Stephen King can do it, and I wonder how he does it every time I read one of his books. But Simone St. James should stick with real life and forget about the supernatural or paranormal.

The story: In 1982 Vivian is bothered when she learns about the deaths of three (later four) women in Fell. She investigates and becomes convinced of one man's guilt, a frequent guest of the Sun Down Motel. She sees ghosts during her night shift there. She is frightened but not enough to quit. In 2017, after Carly gets to Fell, she takes the same job that Vivian had, night clerk at the Sun Down Motel. She conducts her own investigation of the murders of those same four women because Vivian, Carly thinks, was a fifth. She also sees some of the same ghosts.

I would have rated THE SUN DOWN MOTEL higher if not for those silly ghosts. But another thing also irritated me: St. James speaks of 1982 as if it were ancient times. Perhaps that was before she was born.
Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro can do better (2/24/2022)
I never thought I’d say this, but KLARA AND THE SUN is too mysterious. By the end of the book, I’m still not sure I solved all the mysteries. Kazuo Ishiguro alludes; he doesn’t give answers.

Klara, the narrator, is a robot. Ishiguro is pretty clear about that from the beginning, but he still leaves a lot of unknowns about her. What does she look like? Someone about halfway through the book calls her cute, whatever that means. Is she intelligent? Again, he doesn’t say so outright, but throughout the book Ishiguro speaks of her keen observational abilities. I suppose that means she is. But if she looks and acts like a human being, which it sounds like she does, how could her owner store her in a utility room or leave her in a junkyard?

Klara’s owner, 14-year-old Josie, is tired and weak almost all of the time. She is sick to the point of death. Ishiguro never says why. But he does allude to the answer, of course, once the reader gets well into the book. It seems that children who are “lifted” often get sick like this. But he never says what "lifted" is. For my own satisfaction, I assume it means that they were made smarter.

Klara’s job, as Josie‘s companion, is to watch over her. So Klara innocently observes and accepts everything almost always without question while the reader questions everything and tries to figure it out. I found it frustrating.

The title, KLARA AND THE SUN, lets you know that the sun is important to Klara. Its rays rejuvenate her. I imagine that Klara’s sitting in the sun‘s rays is like my plugging my iPhone to its charger.

Because Klara realizes her life depends on the sun, she worships it. She also talks to it, probably the way people talk to God. She is sure the sun can work miracles, and in the end maybe it does. Ishiguro never makes this clear.

KLARA AND THE SUN bored me. It’s not as bad as Ishiguro’s last book, but I still know he can do better. Let’s hope he writes a more adult book next time.

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Cradles of the Reich
by Jennifer Coburn
Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race.
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