Recently Read Books

A review of three contemporary novels

Quinn Volpe, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover ★★★★★

In spite of this book’s continued popularity, it took me a while to pick it up. I’m not sure why because I really enjoyed Hoover’s novel All Your Perfects, but when it was available at the library, I knew I needed to check it out. While I will admit that a main character with the name Lily Bloom who loves gardening and wants to own a flower shop is extremely cheesy, I thought the arc of the story in which she follows this dream of hers was very well done and ties the story together in many ways through introducing important characters and shedding light on Lily’s personality. I really love how we get a glimpse of her past relationship with a homeless boy named Atlas through letters Lily writes in her childhood, though I did cringe at the fact that these letters in her diary are all addressed to Ellen Degeneres and include strange references to different Ellen episodes. This was just an unnecessary detail to me, no matter how much the Finding Nemo quote “Just keep swimming” applies to Lily’s and Atlas’s lives. Despite all of the cheesiness, this novel beautifully tackles the issue of generational trauma and domestic abuse, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover ★★★★

I’d had this on my bookshelf for a few weeks and didn’t even realize until I was a few pages in that I was reading two Colleen Hoover books in a row. In comparison to each other, I did like It Ends With Us better, but this book also has a deeper meaning that is very interesting to see pan out. It was sort of done in a less realistic way, though, which made it less intriguing for me. Though the entire point of the book is the main character Kenna trying to be in her child’s life after spending five years in prison for accidentally leaving her boyfriend Scotty to die after a car crash, the concept of motherhood is surprisingly not touched upon very often. I hate to say that the mentions of motherhood seemed to be used only to further her relationship with the male protagonist rather than to further her as a character. I did enjoy Kenna’s relationship with Ledger, though it was a bit strange to read if I thought about how they were both closely connected to Scotty when he was alive. Each chapter switches perspectives between Kenna and Ledger, which I often feel is necessary in books with romance in order to add humanity and realness to both people in the couple.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan ★★★★

Overall, this novel is particularly well-written all the way through. The narration by the main character, Frida, is very stream-of-consciousness. At one point she is explaining her experience at the school and at another, she is contemplating taking her life. Frida left her child at home alone for a few hours and is reported by her neighbors. She is then sentenced to a new program where negligent and/or abusive mothers are sent for a year to learn how to be “good mothers.” This concept really highlights how society’s standards for mothers are often unattainable and standardized and often force mothers to reject their own emotions. It is heartbreaking to read about how Frida is constantly judged as a failure of a mother simply because she is not perfect and able to see a fake child-like doll the same way that she sees her own child that she yearns for so much. Though this book can be boring at times, it mimics what it would be like if this school-type system were to be a real thing, which I can appreciate.