This month was very light on the reads for two big reasons:
- I went to Italy.
- I decided to read It by Stephen King which, on my iPad, was 1174 pages I know that because I kept anxiously checking, certain I would miss my window to finish it and have to wait again to virtually check it out.
And some months are like that. I think that’s ok, maybe even healthy to have a month where I’m not in bed every night at 8pm reading for hours. I love to read, but I’m also finding fulfillment in other activities.
Presenting the two and only reads of this month.
The Two Lives of Sarah Catherine Adel West
Know what would have improved this book? Understanding it was as sequel. I didn’t find that out until after I finished the book and went to read some reviews. I found The Two Lives of Sarah, a fictional novel about a young Black pregnant woman fleeing Chicago in the 1960s for Memphis to have a deeply unsatisfying conclusion. As we come to find, Sarah has been through a lot of trauma, but the boarding house that takes her in, in exchange for help with the cooking and cleaning under Mama Sugar’s tutelage and tough love, starts to heal her. Without giving too much away, I felt like the last 100 pages or so completely pulled the rug out from under the reader in an almost unnecessary, cruel fashion. At the end Sarah makes a few major decisions that are difficult to grapple with. I’m not even sure I could have seen them coming and that’s not in a good, “wow what a surprise” kind of way. Reviews of the book say that the first novel is better, so I may give that a shot.
Rating: 2 Lindsey Buckingham’s
It by Stephen King
Something to know about me is that I stopped watching horror movies in high school. I do not find being scared a form of entertainment personally and the fu*kery in my head nights on end after watching a horror film is never worth it.
The same doesn’t apply for books though. With a scary book I can skim over the gore, pause and take a break, etc. I have more control.
I also generally love Stephen King books although I haven’t read one since college. I had never read It. I think the movie promos kept me far, far away.
If you’ve never heard of It here is the basic plot from Goodreads:
“Welcome to Derry, Maine …It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real …They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name. “
So I think an important caveat to keep in mind with this book is that it was written in the early 1980s and Stephen King is a straight white man from New England. Here are a few of the issues I had with the book.
- It’s too dang long: Like I said up top, this book is 1174 pages long and I think 500 or so pages could have been cut and it still would have been a fantastic, thought provoking book. I’m not going to say what I think could have been cut because it might spoil the novel.
- Gratuitous language/violence/sex: Yes, I understand that that it’s a horror novel, but there were a few scenes of sex and violence that didn’t add one iota to the story. Also, the fact that, and I’m sorry this is a spoiler, that Beverly realizes the only way they’ll make it out of the tunnels of Derry is for each of the 6 boys to bang her in a row is W I L D. She’s TWELVE. They’ve just finished 5th grade. I honestly still can’t get over that. Finally the use of the N word, which I get that part of the story was based in the late 1950’s, but it felt excessive.
Still, as with most King novels, It has stayed with me. I’m still considering what It is and what It means in the larger context of our lives. It’s psychological, but also very real for these kids. It’s also somewhat of a wonderfully melancholy look into childhood, the imaginations we have during those early years, the belief that anything can happen and how that fades away as we get older.
Rating: 3.5 Lindsey Buckinghams (the writing overall is still very good)
And that wraps up November! I can’t believe I have one more month of reading wrap-ups. What started as a fun little side thing to keep my blog going has kind of become the cornerstone – something to come back to – as I continue to explore and hone my writing.
Thanks for sticking with me.
One thought on “November 2022 Reading Wrap-Up”
Well, reading It is equivalent to reading 4 or 5 novels, so you didn’t exactly slack off.
Yeah, It… first of all the jacket text is a LIE. They aren’t teenagers, they’re PRE-TEENS. Honestly, when I read it/It as a teenager in the 80s that scene with Bev pulling a train with the boys made a lot more sense. I think it was the water we were swimming in then. Now it’s just…[shudder]. If they could cut that scene from the movie/miniseries versions, they could have easily cut it from the book. I started reading Stephen King in junior high (Carrie, Christine, Firestarter) and I would absolutely not let my middle schooler read It.
That said, I *love* Stephen King. I stopped reading him when I was pregnant with my first and lost my taste for all things dark and twisty, but this year decided it was time to play catch up. I read (most listened to) everything I had missed and was blown away, especially by his more recent stuff. (There was a period in the late 90s/early aughts when his writing really went to shit what with his various addictions. See especially Dreamcatcher.) Am currently making my way through his latest, Fairy Tale, and I highly recommend Sleeping Beauties, his collab with his son.