Serena's Top 5 of 2022
What a unique and unforgettable character Bonnie Garmus has created in chemist, mother, partner, and friend Elizabeth Zott! I loved her and this book!!! The early 1960s sexism that Elizabeth and her fellow female humans had to deal with made me want to scream, but the real lessons in "Lessons in Chemistry" -- about how believing in oneself and in the strength and potential of others (dogs included!) -- made this a feel-good, genuine pleasure to read. Looking forward to reading more from Bonnie Garmus!
I loved this powerful story of female grit and perseverance in early 1800s Scotland and Salem. The earlier witch trials in both locales cast long, dark shadows in this tale that imagines the inspiration for the protagonist in "The Scarlet Letter." Even non-crafters will enjoy the vivid descriptions of needlework and color, which are both essential to Isobel, the talented seamstress -- and married woman -- who has a doomed affair with Nathaniel Hawthorn. Don't pass this one up!
I was completely drawn into this inventive and touching story centered on a platonic relationship over 30 years. Sam and Sadie, childhood friends and later successful 90s game designers and business partners, love each other but...it's complicated. Another wonderful tale by Gabrielle Zevin ("The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry")! P.S. A passing familiarity with older video games would be helpful, but you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy the book.
SMALL WORLD took my breath away. This suspenseful epic seamlessly weaves the stories of “outsiders” in America during the 19th century – Irish, African, Chinese, and Indian – and their present-day descendants, all connected to the railroad in some way. Rich with authentic characters and a spectacular sense of place and time, this is historical fiction at its finest.
JOAN IS OKAY is so, so good! I loved this contemporary story about family, immigration, and life expectations. As unique as her experience is, it was easy to relate to Joan's struggle against the pressures to conform that come at her from all sides. Wang's smart prose sparkles with spare intensity, just like Joan herself. I can't wait to tell readers about this book!