#5Books: Book recs and The Hate You Give movie review

#5Books for the week ending 27 jan 2019

Last week Monday I had the pleasure of attending an early screening of The Hate U Give thanks to @missannieboo28

We’re both fans of the show Grimm (Nick + Juliette forever; except maybe on the show, so I take great delight in knowing they got married in real life), which did fairy tale retellings well before they were a genre in the book world. And Russell Hornsby, Nick’s partner on the show, plays Starr’s Dad Maverick. So yes, aside from the book, he was a major reason for us to go!

The movie begins with Starr and her siblings sitting down at the dining room table to have a conversation with their father, Mav, in which he tells them what they have to do if a cop pulls them over; what they have to wary of — to always show their hands and never argue with a cop for fear of what they might do. And he tells them that one day, they’ll be with him when he gets pulled over by a cop, and explains what they will see him do even if he hasn’t done anything wrong.

It’s a devastating to know their are families that have this conversation with their children — and I don’t think i would be out of order saying that the Indigenous people of Australia, Aboriginal people, will be having the same sort of conversation with their children, given the rates of incarceration they experience.

But, this is Starr’s story and about how she finds her voice for her friend Khalil, who is killed by a cop. It is a story you’ve heard, wherever you may be. Starr is the witness to his death and has to decide to risk coming forward to testify at a grand jury trial for her friend, or to stay quiet and not risk the wrath of the King Lords, the drug gang in her neighbourhood.

I should have said earlier I didn’t read the book, so I am not sure how much this reflect the book. But the movie’s characterisation is rich and complex, as we follow Starr who spends her days navigating being white enough to be accepted at her white school before she goes home to be Starr version 1.

Her family are all impeccably cast, with her parents, Mav and Lisa (Regina Hall), her OTP (of cuteness) providing the amazing support she needs to figure out what she has to do, and the foundation their kids need to go out into this world they have to live in.

Her relationship with her white school friends and boyfriend is explored as well, and the casual racism some are capable of without even realising it. I did wish more of her relationships at the school were explored, but in this movie, the focus is her family.

It’s one of the most powerful movies I’ve watched in a while. Go watch; if you’ve read the book or you haven’t.

The Perfect Liar  

A seemingly perfect marriage is threatened by the deadly secrets husband and wife keep from each other, for fans of B.A. Paris and Paula Hawkins.

Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?

Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other —secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built. The Perfect Liar is a thrilling novel told through the alternating perspectives of Susannah and Max with a shocking climax that no one will expect, from the bestselling author of The Headmaster’s Wife

I am genuinely confused as to what Susannah and Max are hiding, and who is sending those notes. But also — so intrigued as to how it all comes together.

Last Night

How can you get lost in a city that never sleeps?

Nineteen-year-old Titus ‘Crisp’ Crespo is a smart kid on his way to a bright future. But on the eve of his high school graduation, a chance encounter with a cop who can’t see beyond the colour of his skin puts everything in jeopardy.

When he doesn’t return home two nights later his mother knows something is wrong. Seeking answers, she turns to Detective Lex Cole, who starts to follow his traces: a bad decision, a trip into a dangerous part of the city; blood…

As Crisp heads into trouble and discovers the New York he’s lived alongside for years but never really seen, Lex, a day later, must find out what happened last night – before it’s too late.

Just reading this I can feel the urgency around Crisp’s night out and what could have happened to him. Pacing is going to so have to work *well* in this one. Also that tag like is brilliant!


After the sudden death of her ex-husband Brian, Lauren helps Brian’s much-younger widow, Jessica, arrange the funeral and settle his affairs. Although they were once adversaries in the battle for Brian’s heart, Lauren agrees to pitch in for the sake of their troubled sixteen-year-old daughter, Emily. But Lauren gets much more than she bargained for when information comes to light about Brian’s shady business deals with his old college friend Jordan Connors and the crime lord Jorge Arena, jeopardizing Brian’s estate and throwing the women into the world of high-stakes illegal gambling.

With only a few days to find out where Brian hid millions of dollars in bonds and in fear for their lives, Lauren, Jessica, and Emily must set aside their differences and work together to secure their inheritance and evade Jorge Arena’s murderous crew.

Widows-in-Law is a gripping tale of mothers and daughters, wives and ex-wives, broken and remade families, and unlikely partners-in-crime. Most of all, it is a moving story about the women left behind to clean up the messes men make.

So. I am getting Widows vibes from this, but I can’t say I mind: I find the idea of these three women working together fascinating. Each knows a different part of Brian, and together might have reaslied just how much of a douche he was had they talked to each other.

Good Riddance

The delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, in which one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn’t quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of ’68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, “spark joy”), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it’s found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook’s mysteries—not to mention her own family’s—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.

Good Riddance is a pitch-perfect, whip-smart new novel from an “enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original, and Austen-like stylist” (Washington Post).

I think I might have liked Daphne’s mother — and read what she had to say after every reunion! But how does a year book lead to a new urgency and poignant and absurd events — and her family’s mysteries??

House on Fire

In the bestselling tradition of Jodi Picoult and Celeste Ng, a tightly wound and suspenseful novel about a blended family in crisis after a drunk driving accident leaves the daughter of one parent dead—and the son of the other parent charged with manslaughter.

Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett knows all too well that most second marriages are doomed to fail. But five years in, she and Pete Conley have a perfectly blended family of her children and his. To celebrate their anniversary, they grab some precious moments of alone time and leave Pete’s son Kip, a high school senior, in charge of Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter Chrissy at their home.

Driving back on a rainy Friday night, their cell phones start ringing. After a raucous party celebrating his college acceptance to Duke and his upcoming birthday, Kip was arrested for drunk driving after his truck crashed into a tree. And he wasn’t alone—Chrissy was with him.

Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead and Kip is charged with manslaughter.

Kip has always been a notorious troublemaker, but he’s also a star student with a dazzling future ahead of him. At first, Leigh does her best to rally behind Pete and help Kip through his ordeal. Until he changes his story, and claims that he wasn’t driving after all—Chrissy was, and he swears there is a witness.

Leigh is stunned that he would lie about such a thing, while Pete clutches onto the story as the last, best hope to save his son, throwing his energy and money into finding this elusive witness. As they hurtle toward Kip’s trial date, husband and wife are torn between loyalty to their children and to each other, while the mystery of what really happened that night intensifies.

This richly conceived and tightly plotted psychological exploration of family and tragedy will have you racing toward its shocking and thought-provoking conclusion.

So. So many questions: if Chrissy was driving, how did a 14 year old kid end up behind the wheel? And, how does a family survive this? I can’t see how this is not going to end up with my wondering why the hell I picked up this book if I knew I was going to end up a bawling wreck by the end?

Whew. House on Fire. It’s going to hurt isn’t it??


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