Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Book Review

Book Reviews


By Jenny Tinghui Zhang
336 pages
Flatiron Books

‘Four Treasures of the Sky’ 
I just can’t get enough magical realism these days. Lucky for me, there’s a bit of a renaissance happening, and I get to indulge my penchant in some absolutely beautiful books like this one by a debut author who has made her way onto my instant-read list.

Daiyu was named after a tragic, misguided heroine from Chinese legend. Determined not to follow the same fate, she continually reinvents herself as life throws her into impossible circumstances. Smuggled into America during the horrific Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Daiyu is subject to a side of the American Wild West that was not taught in the history books. I learned and cried and was aching for more at the end — all signs of a great book, in my eyes.

Part historical fiction, part fable, and rich with Chinese mythology and allegory, this was an incredible read. I was hypnotized by the gorgeous writing and equal parts heartbroken and awed by the story itself. If you enjoy westerns, histories and unusual plot devices, then this one is calling your name.

— Review by Julie Goodrich


By Hannah Gadsby
400 pages
Ballantine Books

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa
‘Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation’ 
I don’t read a ton of memoirs. Navel-gazing gets old and, most of the time, people believe themselves to be more interesting than they are. However, the Netflix special “Nanette” was a life-changing, lightbulb moment. Having had the utter pleasure of seeing Hannah perform live has made her a must-read for me. So I dove into this one with high expectations and a lot of excitement. I was not disappointed.

This book is not a retelling of her comedy routine; it’s much deeper than that. There are heartbreaking and raw and absurdly hilarious stories of her childhood in hyper-conservative Tasmania — while realizing that she is gay. There’s the powerful, transformative moment in which she is finally diagnosed with autism and ADHD as an adult.

Hannah’s sharp, dark wit guiding us through the never-quite-straight path she’s gone down is an incredibly entertaining, beautiful story for every person who’s gone through life with a label like “misfit” or “weirdo.” Whether you’ve seen Nanette or not, this is absolutely a book worth reading — even if you don’t like memoirs.

— Review by Julie Goodrich

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