It is book club day! Today I am reviewing my pick for May, Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane. I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago, so I hope I can remember it enough to write this review. I did enjoy this book, but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites. It was a quick read that kept my interest throughout. I did feel sometimes that the story changed tense and went back and forth between whose point of view the story was written from. I don’t know if it really was changing tense and point of view per se, but I did find it odd and a bit confusing at times. I also find it interesting that Keane chose this particular title for the book. While it is sort of a line from the book closer to the end of the story, I’m not really sure that it would have been the title I ended up with had I been the author. I guess it in a way captures the underlying theme of the book, but I just don’t know if everyone would have caught the quick few lines that the title came from as it isn’t a direct quote. I think I would give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was good, but there was just something about the writing style that was a bit off for me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though.
Ask Again, Yes is a story that revolves around two families, the Stanhopes and the Gleesons, and how their lives intertwined. The patriarchs of both families, Brian Stanhope and Frank Gleeson, met as young adults when they both entered the police force in New York at the same time and were rookie partners. While their friendship wasn’t a very strong one and they were only partners for a few months, they ended up as next door neighbors in a quaint little suburban neighborhood as they were just beginning their families. Not long after they became neighbors, the Gleesons had their third child, a daughter named Kate, and the Stanhopes had their one and only child, a son named Peter. These two youngsters quickly developed a bond that was unbreakable. Sadly, the Stanhope family was plagued by mental illness and alcohol abuse that led to an unspeakable tragedy that turned both families upside down and tore Kate and Peter apart the summer before their senior year of high school. That night was one that would haunt both families for the rest of their lives. It sent both Kate and Peter down very different paths. Peter suddenly lost both of his parents when his mother was sent to a mental hospital and his alcoholic father left him in the care of his uncle. He was left to cope with the loss of Kate and the terrible tragedy that ripped him away from her all on his own. As a college student Peter headed down a dark place as he himself became an alcoholic. Kate on the other hand was left with a feeling of abandonment from losing Peter and was conflicted over her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to Peter.
Years after being ripped apart, Peter and Kate found their way back to each other. Their love for each other and the bond they shared remained, but they were both very different people than the ones they knew as children. Despite this, they married and began a family of their own, but the two struggled to overcome the events of that night that ripped them apart all those years ago. The story continues as these two deal with the demons of their past that sent them down a path of discovery to find out if their childhood bond was enough to sustain their relationship despite all they had been through. Their story was one of tragedy and disappointment, but also one of great love, forgiveness, and redemption.
My pick for June is a New York Times Best Seller that was actually recommended by one of the founders of Trades of Hope. It is also a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick. It is entitled The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. This book is set in India and is the fictional story of a young girl who escapes an abusive marriage to the city of Jaipur. Here she becomes the most sought-after henna artist to some of India’s wealthiest women. This story reportedly gives a glimpse of India’s history, including their caste system. This very much piques my interest after learning the many stories of Trades of Hope artisans who have risen up from the lowest caste system in India. I am very much looking forward to diving into this book and learning more about India. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this story.
“What if, with the flick of a brush, you could paint yourself out of all your pain and unhappiness—and into a brand new life? For teenager Lakshmi, fleeing an abusive marriage in 1950s India means heading for the vibrant city of Jaipur. Once Lakshmi has settled, her artistic talents make her the city’s most sought-after henna painter, hired to adorn the hands and bodies of the rich, powerful women. Told through evocative, lush prose, Alka Joshi’s gorgeous debut novel uses one woman’s compelling story to explore a nation in the middle of earthshaking transitions. We were so wonderfully absorbed in Lakshmi’s journey that we didn’t even realize how much we were learning about India’s complicated history, and about colonialism, social upheaval, and the caste system. The Henna Artist is a full sensory experience, transporting us to another time and another place.”
Will you come along and read with me?
Anchored in a Good Book,
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