Book Reviews

Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words for Rain is at once achingly sad and poetically beautiful. I love a heart-wrenching plot and complex characters, and Asha Lemmie delivers in one sweep with her debut novel. Prepare to get lost in the range of emotions you’ll feel at every turn. Whether it’s friendship, siblinghood, parenthood, hope, or survival, there is a theme in Fifty Words for Rain that will speak to your heart.

Fifty Words for Rain tells the tale of a young girl named Nori who goes to live with her grandparents – only to be forced into the attic and punished for things beyond her control.

In a world where she is to be neither seen nor heard to save face for her highly esteemed family, Nori eventually finds an ally in her brother Akira.

Akira shows Nori new possibilities that Nori had previously been denied. As Nori learns more from her brother about the outside world, it becomes harder and harder to return to the isolation of the attic.

Throughout many ups and downs, Nori’s adoration for Akira blossoms into a love that transcends both of their circumstances and leads to daring and courageous acts.

After a lifetime of suffering, Nori feels like a shell of her former self. Although the siren call of death can be disguised as an endearing temptress, Nori must persevere to protect herself and her loved ones. When motherhood presents itself, Nori’s harsh reality becomes even more evident.

Throughout life we make many choices, some big and others small, but all can have lasting impacts on other people. Nori must eventually come to terms with her choices, especially when it comes to love. Will she have room in her heart for more than one person?

As a single mother, I think about this issue sometimes. One day if “true love” presents itself again, how will I balance it with the love of my child? Can’t the love of your sibling or your child or your parent also be true love, just in a different way? Love is multi-faceted.

Nori’s journey is deep and devoted. There were times when I was overcome with sadness or anger and literally had to put this book down to compose myself.

Asha Lemmie has proven herself an expert at eliciting emotion. The only thing you could regret is not reading this book!

Learn more about Asha Lemmie and Fifty Words for Rain at her website.

Book Reviews

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

CW/TW: depression, suicide, death

Nora Seed is trapped – in the Midnight Library.

Matt Haig’s latest novel The Midnight Library tells the story of a woman named Nora, who finds herself in the ultimate position between choice and fear of the unknown.

After a series of events leaves Nora feeling despondent, unwanted, and more alone than ever, she finds herself in the Midnight Library.

This library is like limbo, the place between your physical existence and your final resting place.

Its librarian is none other than Nora’s former school librarian, Mrs. Elm. Some of Nora’s most memorable childhood moments occurred with Mrs. Elm.

I purchased The Midnight Library at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport and absolutely devoured it. This phrase is old hat but it’s true: I could not put it down!

In the Library, each book represents a different life Nora could have led. There are infinite possibilities.

All you have to do is pick one and it pulls you into the story of What Might Have Been. And you can try out more than one.

The smallest decision have deep consequences. How would you feel if you found yourself in such a library? How do you even begin to choose or guess what life would make you the happiest?

Will Nora find happiness? Will she even make it out alive? Will she pick a new life to live?

No spoilers here!

Stylistically, this book is easy to read. The language is straightforward while remaining engaging and the chapters are short. I’ve found the older I get, shorter chapters are better for keeping my attention span – they seem to keep the flow going better.

The supporting characters have unique personalities and all serve the story well.

Very importantly, The Midnight Library is emotional. Nora’s feelings of aloneness and despair are very real. My desire for Nora’s situation to improve was compounded by the fact that I so badly wanted her to feel better.

I connect easily to books that are tinged – or in some cases, saturated – with sadness. If you’re like me, you may cry at least once while reading this story.

Don’t get me wrong. This book is more than sadness.

The Midnight Library represents hope and overcoming the dark places our minds can take us. Happiness doesn’t just magically appear because we think we did everything right or everything that we were supposed to. It is cultivated. It is crafted. It is built piece by piece from all the ways that we give ourselves grace and love and extend them to others.

Have you read The Midnight Library or any of Matt Haig’s other works? Drop a comment below!

A master of inciting emotion, if the rest of Matt Haig’s books are like this one, I can’t wait to read more. Learn more about Matt and his other works at his website.

If you or anyone you know is struggling or has concerns about their mental health, check out these resources listed on the National Institute of Mental Health website. Domestic violence resources can be found at the Hotline. An internet search of resources will also yield results specific to your local area.