Welcome to Friday Reads. Each Friday, I’ll review any books I’ve completed that week, as well as share what I’m reading right now. And by “Each Friday,” I mean “some Fridays.”
Yes, it’s Friday Reads on a Tuesday so I can neatly finish reviewing my December reading before I complete my December and 2019 reviews.
Ask Again, Yes—Mary Beth Keane 3.5* (Dec 21)
I’ve delayed reviewing this book while I try to decide how I feel about it. It’s not the flashiest book, nor is it the most satisfying. However, in many ways, it’s a book that feels relatively true to the human experience.
The story unfolds from multiple POVs over several decades. It begins with a young couple and their neighbors as they start their families in the suburbs of NYC. When the mother of one family shoots the father of the other in the head, the fallout is devastating for everyone involved. Several characters, including the victim of the shooting and his daughter and the mother who pulled the trigger and her son, narrate the aftermath.
It’s hard to read at times, not only because the emotions and circumstances are difficult but also because the POV shifts sometimes mean events unfold from an observational perspective rather than the firsthand experience. I initially found the ending somewhat dissatisfying, but after further reflection, I think the ending was probably fairly common. Even in the most outlandish of circumstances, the world goes on, and we find a way to cope with whatever new normal is defined.
2012: It was kind of neat how the stories all sort of fit together and as a writer, I like how three writers collaborated on it. It was a fun, quick holiday read. Harmless, which is sometimes OK. Not anything that will change your world or really make you think.
2019 update: I read this book again after watching the new Netflix movie adaptation because I was interested in what they had changed for the film. The answer? A lot. A whole lot. And as I read the book, I couldn’t help but wish they’d stuck closer to the original storylines. When I first read this book, I was only familiar with John Green. This time around, I’m far more familiar with Maureen Johnson. Both times, I found the third story by Lauren Myracle to be my least favorite. Very few of the characters in that section were likable—especially the main character, Addie—so I was actually glad the film decided to focus instead on one of the supporting characters from that arc. Book and movie both = 3* for different reasons.