Just two books to write about this month, two more from my 2023 Reading List.
First was The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah.
I read another book by this author in 2022 (recap here) and it was one of my favourite books from that year. This book was just as good. The story starts from the point of view of a mother who left her baby in a parking lot near a woods trail while she drove away with her other two kids, when she remembered the baby and went back, the baby was gone. After that she makes some interesting decisions, ones that I wasn't sure I could get behind. Then we get the point of view of a different character, a young girl starting at about 6 and through to her as a teenager. She lives a sheltered life with just her mother, homeschooled, and no outside friends. They are very in touch with nature and the girl believes she is part human, part raven.
Even though terrible things happened in the book, what I liked is that they were described in a matter of fact way, and then dealt with, there wasn't anything that was drawn out in a frustrating way. That's kind of hard to explain, hopefully you know what I mean. I could feel empathy for the characters even if I didn't always agree with what they did. My only complaint is that I wish the book went on longer so I could enjoy more of the characters' lives.
The second book I finished this month was The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.
I always love reading books that take place in different parts of the world and this was certainly one of those. The main character lives in a massive city dump in Cambodia, they pick trash (valuable metals, etc.) to earn a living. The degree of poverty is something I had a hard time grasping. It amazes me that people live with so little and how they survive (although certainly many do not survive, dying by accident, disease, crime, starvation). One day the husband finds a children's book in the dump and brings it home, although they cannot read, he thought their child would enjoy the pictures. This book is the beginning of an unlikely connection between the main character and another figure at the dump. The novel is based on real people and there are photos of them at the end. The writing and imagery is beautiful and I found it hard to believe the author is a white American man, as he captures the young Cambodian woman so well.
I really liked this book and it may one of my favourites of the year, simply because of the emotion elicited at the end. I was happy I was reading it at home instead of on the subway (not that I haven't cried reading on the subway before!). It talked about how people thrive when they are needed and wanted and feel useful.