The Quality of Silence - I'm a big fan of Rosamund Lupton's other two thrillers (Sister and Afterwards) so I had high hopes for this one, even though the premise seemed odd. A mother and her deaf daughter trek across the Alaskan wilderness in winter to find a missing husband/father. Verdict - it's better than you might expect based on the dust jacket summary, but not that great. The mystery is a stretch and the frakking plot is a bit heavy handed. I did like the descriptions of the intense cold of an Alaskan winter. They were my favorite part of the book. But Lupton's idea of how a ten year old would speak drove me mad - it's possible that it's accurate, but if I had to read "super coolio" one more time I was going to scream.
When Breath Becomes Air - I've been on the waitlist for this since it was released. I read Paul Kalanithi's essays in the NYT and Stanford Medicine magazine and cried, like most other people in the universe. His book is a beautiful memoir that explores his career as a doctor and the process of coming to grips with his terminal diagnosis. I so wish that my dad could have read this. He had such admiration for compassionate doctors (we were extremely blessed that his two main specialists were not just amazing doctors but also wonderful people) and he was a philosopher who wanted to approach death straight-forwardly, so I know he would have loved reading this, especially as he wrestled with the same issues. It's a heartbreaking and thought provoking look at mortality.
The Weight of Silence - A traumatized little girl who doesn't talk suddenly finds herself in a position where she has to speak to save a life. The whole plot takes place over the course of 24ish hours and it's fairly tense but I didn't love the writing.
What She Knew - Obviously I was auditioning thrillers this month. This one is about a boy who is kidnapped from under the nose of his mother, and explores in depth the repercussions of the case on the mother and the detective most closely involved. The plot is good but I think it could have benefited from some editing to tighten it up - it's a little long for the amount of action. That said, the ending was a good twist.
My Name is Lucy Barton - Another gorgeous novel by Elizabeth Strout. So well detailed and lovely. The narrator is a writer who comes from deep poverty, and I loved reading along as she finds her voice and deals with the tricky matter of telling the truth about people she loves who aren't all good or all bad.
The Silent Girls - I almost quit this book immediately after the prologue, which is particularly gruesome and creepy. I was worried that it might be a supernatural type thriller (I will not, under any circumstances, read books about ghosts or anything like that). But I had nothing else to read so I decided to press on, and as it turns out it is a fairly straightforward detective story, albeit with some creepy aspects. But everyone is fully human! I'm a little torn on how to describe this one. I don't think it was necessarily an amazing psychological thriller (the pacing feels a little off sometimes and some of the characters are pretty flat), but I couldn't stop reading once I was into it and I was surprised by the ending. So, chalk it up as a win?
The Silent Wife - Okay, so I somehow ended up with four books with silence/silent in the title in this go-round. I can't remember if that's because I was searching for a particular one and then found these as well or if it's a coincidence. Weird. Anyways, I didn't like this book. The characters are a bit more like caricatures and they never came to life for me. This is billed as a thriller, but 90% of the book is just a description of a really depressing relationship as it falls apart. Other readers loved this, though, so it may just be that it wasn't quite right for me.