The Glass Hotel, The Beauty in Breaking, and Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Three books worth mentioning and worth a quick summer read:


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (2020): Starting out as a coming age drama about a sister and brother coping with loss (her) and failure (him), the story centers around a five start hotel on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. From there it turns into a mystery about who scrawled a disturbing message into the hotel lobby’s window, and from there it turns into a story about a Ponzi scheme. It kind of all fits together, but it also kind of feels a bit jumpy, like there’s no center.  Still, it’s a good summer read with some compelling characters suffering from guilt, loss, greed, betrayal, ghost hauntings, and lots more.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. I really liked the first half of this sweet story where a Jo, a graduate research student, meets 8-year-old Ursa, who appears to be homeless and hungry but won’t admit to either. Enlisting the help of her neighbor Gabe, the two of them care for Ursa while looking through missing persons reports to find Ursa’s family. There are many lovely nature scenes when Jo takes Ursa with her to check on her bird nest projects, teaching her how to be a scientist with scrupulous notes. The Jo/Gabe romance gets a little cheesy in the second half, but Ursa remains the star of the book–an intriguing character who draws us in.

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper (2020) is a moving memoir about an African American emergency room doctor working in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. I spent a breezy summer afternoon reading the whole book in one sitting, learning her story of a traumatic, yet economically privileged childhood and witnessing her journey of discovery that her own healing would come through healing others. She’s an inspiring woman (if not the best writer) with an inspiring story.


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