Welcome back to my Best Of 2011 posts, where I am highlighting my favourite book from each month of the year.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I went into this book expecting a story about a hermaphrodite, and it is that, but it's also so much more. It's an epic family saga of three generations of a Greek-American family and each story is distinct. My favourite was the story of Cal's parents, who immigrated to America from Greece, and who shouldn't have fallen in love with each other. I was expecting to be disappointed with this book as The Virgin Suicides is one of my all time favourites, but I loved it. Recommended for literary fiction fans.
Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
Tiger, Tiger is a controversial book. It's the true story of a relationship between a fifty-one year old man and a seven year old girl. It's also brutally honest, to the extent that many reviews I've read of this book have been a bit victim-blaming, as Fragoso perfectly describes the process of grooming and how she eventually became the instigator. It's a disturbing read, especially as many of the adults around Margaux do seem to be aware to some level of what is going on, but unwilling to face the horrible truth. Recommended especially for anyone who works with young children.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
On Chesil Beach is the story of newly-weds Florence and Edward on the day of their wedding. Both nervous about the intimacy that is to follow, for different reasons they are apprehensive about their wedding night. Edward has performance anxiety but Florence is repulsed by the very idea of sexual contact. Unable to communicate effectively, as a reader you watch as they effectively throw away their love for each other. This is a short book but packed full of astute observations about being human and relationships. Recommended for anyone who has ever felt awkward.
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
This was my pick for the Booker prize. Eleven year old Harri arrives in London from Ghana with his Mum and sister and is overwhelmed by the new sights and experiences. Without realising exactly what he is doing, he soon becomes caught up with local gangs and the murder of a teenager. I loved this as you completely get inside Harri's head and it's a perfect examination of how growing up in an inner-city area like the one in the book can destroy childhood. Recommended for anyone who wants to escape themselves, or has connections with the inner-city.
Next time, the last installment: September - December.
I'm really enjoying looking back over all of the books I have read this year.