I read four books in March, three of them from my 2023 Reading List.
First up was The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr.
The main character of this book has a job as a porter on a cross-Canada train. These jobs were typically held by Black men and it was a tough life. Although not a true story, it was inspired by those men who worked on our trains.
I chose this book because it was a Giller Prize Winner, and it was a work of literature, just like I would have read in university. Sometimes those books make me tired because I just want the story, not the imagery, etc. since I don't need to write an essay on it! I liked reading about this time period, appreciating the racism that permeated Canada (and still does, we think we're so superior to the US, but we shouldn't feel that way). This job, like so many others traditionally held by Black people, like cleaners and shoeshiners, were just so tough and for little pay, no security, and people that treated them horribly. I was exhausted reading about what he needed to do in a day, day after day, never really getting a good sleep, a good meal, and always wondering if he would be fired. He also happened to be gay so that was another thing that could get him into trouble if anyone suspected. A decent book, and good to know about this part of history, but not a real page-turner.
Next was Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.
This was on my list as I heard a few people talking about it, and I've enjoyed a few others of Reese's Book Club picks. This story follows a couple who finds a mysterious package in the ocean while on their honeymoon. What they find and how they deal with it affects their entire lives. As is common with these suspense books, the first chapter tells us a few clues of where we are going, and then we go back several months before to fill in how they got to that point.
Although I enjoyed it, I felt like it wasn't as good as as a B.A. Paris or Clare Mackintosh book, both in the similar genre. The plot had a few things that were a little far-fetched, like that lined up a little too perfectly, and then the big twist wasn't as good as twists from other books I've read.
Anther book from my list and one recommended by many was The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.
This book follows a family during the Great Depression when the US was mired in poverty and the Southwest was suffering serious drought. It was a sad book, there never seemed to be a way out of the problems they were facing, and it was amazing to see how people lived with nothing. I liked the book and thought it was worth the read, even though some of the things seems a little simple at times.
What I noticed, and I wonder if the author is doing this on purpose, I can only assume she is, is that it's a commentary on refugees, and elicits sympathy for them. People who have to leave their homes and families, travel long, dangerous, and difficult paths to their land of opportunity, all for the promise of safety and health. Then they get there and are not welcomed but instead scorned and treated like dirt. I've always been supportive of welcoming immigrants to Canada, but I know it's a divisive issue, particularly at the southern US border. People reading the book likely feel sympathy for the main characters, but can they translate that into sympathy for refugees coming to their borders?
And since I was craving a B.A. Paris book after reading Something in the Water, I picked up The Prisoner at the library.
This one was a quick read, I practically read it in one day. The main character is kidnapped from her bed one night along with her husband. She is taken to a location where she is kept separate and in the dark. The story bounces back from the kidnapping situation to what happened before and how she got to this point. As I said it was a quick read and intricate enough that I didn't have everything figured out right away. The only thing I didn't like was that the main character was 20 years old, and I felt like that was too young to be as clever as she was. But perhaps that just me underestimating the kids these days!