A fresh semester brings fresh book reviews, fresh from the student assistants who work in Gleeson Library | Geschke Center. This week is part one of this semester’s recommendations… stay tuned for following parts, in case you have enough free time to squeeze in some extra reads.
Sharp Objects, reviewed by Hannah Bunting
In this chilling novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, a recovering alcoholic and self inflicting journalist, Camille Preaker, is faced with a challenging assignment to return to her small eerie hometown of Windgap, Missouri to learn more about the recent mysterious murders of three young girls. While home Camille is forced to stay with her hypochondriac and psychotic mother and young, but very mature, sister. She struggles with the ability to remain focused on the task at hand while dealing with her mother’s bizarre behavior and her sister’s wild rendezvous. The result of her findings leads to a very interesting and intense twist that is not expected from the first page of this story.
The God of Small Things, reviewed by Jenner Wells
Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things explores the stringent expectations and arising conflicts of traditional Indian society and politics through the eyes of fraternal twins, Rahel and her brother Estha. The novel takes place in the 1960s when they are seven and incorporates glimpses into their adult lives in the 1990s.
Rahel and Estha grew up in their grandparents’ household with their uncle and mother, Ammu, who had returned home to escape the abusive relationship of Rahel and Estha’s father. From a young age, the twins are reminded of the values within Indian society—men hold the greatest power, lower castes are undeserving in all respects, and love will never trump these establishments.
While Roy addresses the degradation of these values that was occurring at the time as Western influence increased, she also incorporates the struggle of conservatives hoping to preserve their traditional culture. Throughout this period, the twins experience everything from gender discrimination, sexual assault, and love for everything Western, to being involved in the death of a cousin and witnessing the punishment of their mother and her “untouchable” lover of a lower caste. The God of Small Things has become one of my favorites due to the intriguing aspect of examining such complex topics through the innocent perspective of Rahel and Estha who, with the reader, develop an understanding of this culture and time period while curiously questioning its value and purpose.