No, there’s no writer’s strike…but every blogger needs a break, so I’m leaving you with a ‘best of’ post for your reading pleasure!

First, here’s a title I haven’t mentioned, which is perfect for summer chick lit:

A Mile In My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson

This one is extremely light and fluffy, yet with Christianity weaving through it (I loved this aspect, but ironically a reviewer on the Chapters website was annoyed by it.) Main character Gretchen is a single thirty-something kindergarten teacher who makes a crazy decision to buy and flip a rundown house. I loved following the progress of the home renovations, and of course the developing relationship she has with carpenter Noah. The ending is way too cheesy, but if you’re in to home renos and predictable romances, you might enjoy it as I did.

A second, significantly heavier book which I recently devoured is:

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This novel (a Globe and Mail bestseller) was incredibly moving, and I found it very hard to put down. Here’s the publisher’s description:

In a tiny hit in rural India, Kavita gives birth to Asha. Unable to afford the ‘luxury’ of raising a daughter, her husband forces Kavita to give the baby up — a decision that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When her husband Krishnan shows her a photo of baby Asha sent to him from a Mumbai orphanage, she falls instantly in love. As she waited for the adoption to be finalized, she knew her life would change. But she was convinced that the love she already felt would overcome all obstacles.

In a braided narrative that unites the stories of Kavita, Somer and Asha, Secret Daughter, the debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss and belonging. As the story moves between the two families, one struggling to eke out an existence in Mumbai, the other grappling with the challenges of raising a brownskinned child from another culture, Gowda poignantly parses issues of culture, identity and family loyalty.

What I loved about this book was the way the author weaves the stories together, and the vivid, well-described emotions. I think women who have either adopted or given a child up for adoption would connect to it on a different level as well. I also enjoyed learning more about India and the Indian culture.

What didn’t sit very well with me was the portrayal of the adopted family. Although I have no experience with adoption, and therefore cannot pretend to understand the associated feelings, I would like to believe that there are situations where the adoption does not hang over the heads of everyone involved on a daily basis. In the book, daughter Asha never feels like she fits in, and Somer (who was not portrayed as sympathetically as her husband Krishnan) always seems to feel inadequate and awkward. I think the fact that the book covers the stories of the three women over more than 20 years, all in 330 pages, has affected the character development. At times, I felt like information was missing from the years that were skipped between chapters, but I did finish the book feeling fairly satisfied.

So, those are my two new suggestions, one being much lighter than the other!

If you’re looking for something to read for the rest of the summer, check out some of my past recommendations:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The First 13 Books Selected By My Book Club (that’s not the title of a book, it’s the title of my post!)

Good To A Fault

Notes Left Behind

There are also a couple of titles in my sidebar “Bookshelf” which aren’t mentioned here, so check those out as well! Happy reading, and stay tuned for my NYC recap!

By the way, I’m always open to hearing your must-read suggestions…feel free to leave a comment about what you’ve loved recently, or your thoughts on any of the books mentioned here!

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