Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Books That Left Me Speechless

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Have you ever finished the last page of a book, closed the cover, and then just stared at it because you didn't know what to say? I have. Sometimes a book blows my mind. When it's time to write the Goodreads review, I just want to type *incoherent screaming* and leave it at that. Some books are too good or important to review. My thoughts aren't worthy! Today, I'm going to attempt to talk about those books. I'm probably going to fail. Here are 10 that left me speechless with their awesomeness.

(I promise I enjoyed these books. They left me speechless in good ways. Please read them!)

Books I Couldn't Review Because They Exploded My Brain

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

Adult Literary Fiction

When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings—the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec—struggle along with their mother to care for Michael's increasingly troubled and precarious existence.

Why I couldn't review it: The characters are too frustratingly realistic. They feel like real people, and just like real people, they got on my nerves. Then the sad ending happened, and I felt bad for hating them. Just like real life, this book is messy and complicated. It's a raw, honest look at the impact of mental illness on a community.

The Last Girl: My Story Of Captivity, And My Fight Against The Islamic State by Nadia Murad

Adult Memoir

Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon.

On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia's brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade.

Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety.

Today, Nadia's story—as a witness to the Islamic State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi—has forced the world to pay attention to an ongoing genocide. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.

Why I couldn't review it: Did you read that synopsis right there ^^? This memoir is intense. The author watched her family be murdered and then became a sex slave. What am I supposed to say to that? I guess I should say "Read this book." The world needs to know Nadia's story so crap like this ^^ stops happening.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Why I couldn't review it: It's too relatable. I grew up as a lonely outsider in a small town. The author truly understands what it's like to have different interests and values than the people around you. I can relate to the teenage characters' feelings of being trapped and their desire to escape into fantasy worlds. This book is a shout-out to all the weird kids in the wilderness. It's brilliant.

There There by Tommy Orange

Adult Literary Fiction

Twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American.

Why I couldn't review it: The ending. It was . . . a lot. And it was unexpected. You spend the whole book getting attached to the characters, and then everything goes spectacularly wrong for them. It's a good book, though. Beautiful writing and realistic fictional people.

How To Breathe Underwater: Stories by Julie Orringer

Adult Short Stories

In "When She is Old and I Am Famous" a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin's beauty. In "Note to Sixth-Grade Self" a band of popular girls exerts its social power over an awkward outcast. In "Isabel Fish" fourteen-year-old Maddy learns to scuba dive in order to mend her family after a terrible accident.

Why I couldn't review it: The stories in this book are bleak and oddly fascinating. Have you ever read a plot twist that horrified you so much that you set the book down and backed away slowly? Yeah, that feeling sums up these stories. So much shock.

Evicted: Poverty And Profit In The American City by Matthew Desmond

Adult Sociology / Economics / History Nonfiction

Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America's most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

Why I couldn't review it: It's like a distressing peek into my future. I can easily imagine myself living in grinding poverty and spending all my money on rent. If you're curious about homelessness in the US, you have to read this book. It's compassionate, well-researched, and offers possible solutions.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Adult Literary Fiction

Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

Why I couldn't review it: That ending. The characters' relationships are so messy that they trap themselves in a corner. There's no easy way out, so the reader has to watch as they destroy everything.

Daughter Of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Young Adult Fantasy

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands," she speaks many languages— not all of them human—and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why I couldn't review it: I was in awe of the author's talent. The world building, the plot twists, the magic system, the characters. They all feel unique and fresh. I thoroughly enjoyed uncovering Karou's past with her. If you think you don't like fantasy fiction, please give this book a try. I've never read anything like it.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Adult Classic Crime Fiction

Suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie's ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante.

Why I couldn't review it: Have you ever finished a book and immediately wanted to turn it over and start again from the beginning? I want to know all this book’s secrets! How much research did the author do to create such an intricate plot? How did she make Tom Ripley so normal and so twisted at the same time? I am obsessed with this novel. It's like a beautiful puzzle.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who's thirteen and an "official juvenile delinquent." When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They're heading South to Birmingham, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in America's history.

Why I couldn't review it: What's the first book that traumatized you? This might have been my first traumatic reading experience. A teacher read this novel to my class when I was in elementary school. It started off as a funny road trip story, and then . . . it wasn't so funny anymore. I have a feeling it will become a classic.

Which book left you speechless?


  1. The Zentner book sounds wonderful. And I agree- some books I'm afraid to review because it feels like- how do you do them justice? :)

  2. I read The Serpent King years ago and while I didn't love it, there was no denying it was a powerful read. There is one particular scene that has stayed with me all this time and I still think about it.

  3. I haven't read any of these, but I definitely know what you mean!

  4. NIce list. Yeah that ending of There There I didn't see coming. It made me bummed as I liked many of the characters. Also the ending of Home Fire ... between the brother & sister ... Oh my. that novel sort of blew me away. But with each of those books you can't say Too much. Cheers.

  5. The only one I've read is Daughter of Smoke and Bones. Nice list!

  6. Oh, yes, The Watsons Go to Birmingham. An excellent book. Evicted is, too.

  7. The Serpent King sort of destroyed me, but that's what Zentner does to me. Even his "funny" book made me a bit emotional.

  8. Last Girl is a book I really want to read. Also Julie Orringer's book. I loved Home Fire, fantastic book.

  9. These all sound like heavy reads. That kind of book can be really hard to review, I agree.

    Happy TTT!

  10. I really enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone though sadly I hated the sequel and have yet to finish the trilogy!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2022/02/15/top-ten-tuesday-355/

  11. Great list! I'm hoping to re-read DoSaB this year and to try and review them (I read them ages ago and remember loving them)! I also can't wait to read There, There this year. Hopefully I'll be able to review the books when I finish reading them! 😂

  12. I Loved There, There, The Serpent King, and The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963. Such great books!

  13. Oh, yes to several of these! Memoirs are always so hard to review properly. And I recently finally read There There. I didn't even try to do a full review. The Serpent King is waiting on my shelf and seeing it here has made me even more excited to pick it up. Nice list!

  14. So I have not read any of these books..which means I am adding all of them to my TBR (though Last Girl might rip my heart out based on what I see here on your post)..
    My TTT: Books That Are Too Good to Review Properly

  15. 'Books I Couldn't Review Because They Exploded My Brain' legit. sounds like a Fall Out Boy song-title, lol. <3

  16. This is so interesting because about half of these are books I wouldn't think I'd want to read. But you have made me want to read them. Maybe I'll have to add some to my audiobook list.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction