While we still have a few months to go, there are a few books that I already know will make my favorites of 2019 list. It has been a great year for fiction, and these three books were five-star reads for me. When I think about what makes a book memorable, not only is it completely engrossing while I am reading it, but I think about it long after I have finished it.
All of these books were not on my reading radar until they were recommended by some fellow book-loving friends. There is something so special about finding a book that isn’t overly hyped up by publishers and magazines, and I hope one of these recommendations works for you!
In August I dove into the 500-plus-page The Most Fun We Ever Had, and it ended up being one of my favorite books ever! Author Claire Lombardo pulled me right into the lives of the members of the Sorrenson family, and I had a hard time putting this one down. The writing was both captivating and completely absorbing. I ended up going back and forth between both reading the hard copy and listening to this on Audible. This made it an absolutely amazing and engrossing reading experience and was perfect for this style of writing.
While there were a lot of well-developed characters and the narration jumps back and forth from present (2016) to the past, I never felt confused or had difficulty in keeping track of it all. This is all such a testament to Lombardo’s skilled writing ability.
The story was compelling and the characters were both raw and relatable. I loved that their relationships showed the intricacies of both families and just being human. The nuanced history and complexities of relationships that spanned decades were presented in a completely compelling manner. There were humorous parts and so many memorable quotes that I will never forget.
When I wasn’t reading or listening to this book, I was thinking about it. It was difficult to leave this fictional family at the end of my reading journey, which for me makes this truly a remarkable read. I highly recommend this debut novel, and I can’t wait to read what Lombardo shares next.
I wasn’t sure what I should follow this with, but I knew I wanted to read another family saga. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall fit into this category, so I decided to give it a go. Wall introduces us to two couples, Charles and Lily, and James and Nan. The beginning of the book gives us a rich background for each character, from their childhoods through early adulthood. These couples’ lives become intertwined when Charles and James become pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church. Over the years we see them struggle with their faith, beliefs, marriage, parenthood and friendships.
This book is a deep dive into these four characters, who navigate many joys and heartaches over the decades we follow them. I loved seeing how they each evolved as individuals and in their relationships with each other, and having the rich backstory to these multi-dimensional characters made this storyline even more rewarding.
While there are religious themes in The Dearly Beloved, Wall presents them without judgment or bias toward any belief system, and the writing never feels preachy. I appreciated that she showed all four characters struggling at some point with their own belief systems.
Finally, last week I finished The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer. This book ended up checking all the boxes of a memorable historical fiction reading experience. Told in a dual narrative format, we meet Alina, a girl who is growing up in Poland during World War II, and Alice, a mom who lives in present-day Florida with her husband and two children. We quickly realize that these two storylines are connected, and the story unfolds beautifully over 400-plus pages.
This was my first book by Kelly Rimmer, and I was blown away by her ability to share multifaceted characters who felt so real and raw, while also diving into a heartbreaking part of our not-so-distant history. I love the dual storylines and how they wove together and kept me guessing until the end. Rimmer captures the power of sharing our stories, while also reminding us that many people have a history we might know nothing about.
As well as being completely enthralled by Alina’s harrowing and heartbreaking time in Poland, I connected so much with present-day Alice and her struggles to find herself amidst the daily challenges of family life. This book captures heartbreak, resilience, persistence and the power of standing up for what is right, not only for yourself but for those around you.
I’ll see you next time—if you’re interested in reading more book reviews and recommendations. In the meantime, you can find me at this website.