Page Count: 180
Publication Date: 1925
Summary: The classic American love story. Jay Gatsby has built the perfect life for himself except for one thing – he is watching his beloved from afar. This book has something for everyone – love, betrayal, murder, crime, money and fantastic parties.
Recommended: YES. At almost one hundred years old, this book still has a modern feel and you will find yourself rooting for Gatsby until the very end.
Watch Out For: There are a few instances of racism due to the time period in which the book was written.
Noteworthy Excerpts: “She got up slowly, raising her eyebrows at me in astonishment, and followed the butler toward the house. I noticed that she wore her evening-dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes – there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon golf courses on clean, crisp mornings.” “It was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.”
Author: Christine Reilly
Page Count: 318
Publication Date: 2016
Summary: This is the story of Claudio and Mathilde – how they met at a party and fell in love and eventually got married and had kids. It is a story about life – about growing up and living in New York, about tragedies and miracles and the ordinary moments, about the passage of time. It is a story about keeping secrets and telling truths. It is a story about how different we are and yet how our lives are all the same. The story spans from the late 1980’s through 2016.
Recommended: YES. This book is edgy, raw, and very real. I felt myself connecting to many of the characters, even the ones who are most flawed. The author’s choice of words is delightful; however, in my advanced reader’s edition there were numerous typos which I assume would have been fixed upon publication.
Watch Out For: I thought I could include this book in my classroom library but after reading it, no way. Watch out for inappropriate language (34 instances of the F-word), several drinking and drug references, multiple sexual references including sexual assault and prostitution, an attempted suicide and a violent death scene.
Noteworthy Excerpts: “There are dreams out there for everyone, – Jane soothed herself upon waking. Dreaming was a more finished version of hoping.” “On good days, her doctor would say, let’s see if we can try a smaller dosage. On bad days, he’d say, I’m sorry, and after supper they’d feed her more of what made her feel like she was made of soft-serve ice cream.”
Page Count: 321
Publication Date: 2008
Summary: A group of women bonded by a secret garden in the center of Manhattan University. One woman is trying to gather the courage to leave her abusive husband. One woman is stuck in a loveless marriage and is torn between her lover and her husband. One woman is a stay-at-home mom who misses the drama of being a Hollywood talent agent. One woman lives with her girlfriend but is too afraid to come out to her overbearing parents. A mystery involving Edgar Allan Poe in the background.
Recommended: Yes, this is a fast read with lots of drama! This would be a good choice for a reading group because there is a reading guide at the end of the book.
If You’re Offended: Beware of moderate swearing and sexualized scenes.
Noteworthy Excerpts: “She would come home later and his anger would be forgotten. It was only the times when she stood up to him, the times she argued her point, that he got really mad and then violent.” “She tried to remind herself that this was her husband, the man she loved, the man she might even have a child with soon. But as she studied him further, he seemed more and more like a stranger, and more and more like someone she used to know and used to love.”
Page Count: 342
Publication Date: 2005
Summary: Ivy Ames is a Jewish socialite living the New York high life – she has everything money can buy. Suddenly her life begins to crumble and she is left without a job and with no real prospects. Her best friend asks for her advice on how to get her children into the best and most elite kindergartens and Ivy thinks of it as a fantastic business opportunity. She faces all kind of zany problems trying to help parents get their children into the best schools and has relationship drama of her own along the way.
Recommended: Yes. Some of the scenes are far-fetched (I’m thinking of the alligator disaster) but some of the scenes are pretty funny and certainly outrageous. I wouldn’t say it is a romance novel but there is certainly a lot of romance thrown in.
If You’re Offended: This book includes a lot of swearing and sexual references. The sex scenes are short but explicit.
Noteworthy Excerpts: “The cases were filled with every artery-clogging Jewish delicacy that I adored – blintzes, chopped liver, gefilte fish, beef kishke, knishes, rugalach, kasha varnishes. Living above the deli would be hell on my diet.” “And that’s how Winnie Weiner, nice Jewish girl from the Upper West Side, adored student of Rodeph Shalom Sunday School, became WaShaunte Washington.”