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A Window Opens: A Novel by Elisabeth Egan
 
Confusing, Optimistic, Inspiring
A Window Opens

Our rating was actually 2.5. We did not dislike the book but didn't feel that it rang true in some ways. It was exhausting to read about how Alice handled her full time job and her responsibilities as mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. It was hard for us to reconcile the subtle message of questioning the advisability of seeking a career while raising a family and our own experiences as working mothers. Ultimately Alice makes a decision that makes sense for her family's survival and her personal need to cultivate a career that fits her passion about books.

Pretty Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
 
Graphic, Dark, Dramatic
Pretty Girls

Pretty Girls is the story of a family who has lived with the grief and terror that resulted from the disappearance of the oldest daughter, Judith, from a family of three pretty girls. The story is set 20 years after Judith's disappearance and circumstances result in the reuniting of the estranged family members. In the course of the story the reader learns about the dark side of the youngest sister Claire's husband. This is where the book becomes graphic and grisly as the author repeatedly takes the reader through the horrific torture and mutilation of innocent and pretty young girls. Redeeming features of the book are the actions of the female characters in bringing justice to their small town and the respite the reader experiences through the diary entries of the grieving father. Our club would not recommend this read which should be rated "X" as a warning to future readers.

After You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Insightful, Inspiring
After You

We selected After You because we all loved Me Before You, the first novel about Louise's relationship with Will Traynor. Events in this second book find Louise unable to shake her grief about Will's death but persevering through the help of the grief counseling group Moving on Circle, caring for Will's abandoned daughter Lily, and developing an intimate relationship with EMT Sam to overcome her emptiness and find meaning and purpose in her life.

The author does a stellar job of immersing the reader into the world of grief, transition, and finally reconciliation with loss. It ends on a hopeful note.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
 
Book Club Recommended
Fun, Romantic, Optimistic
Good in Bed

This is a book written about serious topics in a humorous way due to the personality of the main character Cannie. Throughout the book, Cannie deals with abandonment, lovelessness, and struggles with body image. The story is about events in a year in her life when she finally faces the disappointments in her life and glories in her hopes for the future.

The book was written a little over ten years ago and the topic of body image in women has already been explored in the media and in health education classes and seemed a little outdated. That is not to say that it is not still an issue for today's woman.

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
The Nightingale

This book is about how a father and his two daughters rediscover their love for each other through their heartbreaking experiences during the German occupation of France during WWII. The father returned from WWI a broken man. After his wife's death, he sends his daughters away. The oldest daughter, Vianne, is a compliant rule-follower who is frightened of life. Her younger sister, Isabelle, is headstrong and rebellious. All three characters act courageously in their resistance to the Nazis, while being unaware of the courage each demonstrated.

Kristen Hannah did a superb job in describing life within France at that time, describing the extent of the work of the French resistance, and describing the ways the French acted honorably as well as dishonorably. Love seemed to be the unifying element in the personal and individual stories of each of the main characters.

Have tissues on hand.

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