Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today; I’m so glad you’re here 💙. Today, I’m sharing another late wrap-up, this time discussing what I read in September 2021. I’ve been working hard on creating a plan for blog posts next year, and I’m getting really excited about creating content again. Thanks for your support and patience with my inconsistency in the meantime. 🥺
What I Read in September 2021
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
The first book I read in September 2021 was Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Novel. The story begins when Emira Tucker takes the child she babysits to a grocery store after receiving a late-night, emergency call from her boss. There, she is confronted by a security guard who only sees a Black woman in a party dress with a little white girl. This confrontation leads to a series of increasingly surreal events for Emira. Her boss bends over backwards to ensure Emira knows she’s one of the good ones. Emria begins a tenuous friendship with a bystander who filmed the incident. And nearly all of her personal relationships are turned upside down.
For me, the weakest aspect of Such a Fun Age was the writing. Reid foreshadows twists with such emphasis that I often felt gaslit by the plot when I was really just misled. Without spoilers, there’s a line in this book that heavily implies the plot will take a thriller turn in the second half. However, this “big reveal” remains a secret between author and reader for a while. When it is finally revealed to the characters, it comes as a surprise to all involved. These are undoubtedly things that will be polished up as Reid writes more novels. See more of my thoughts in my Goodreads Review.
If you like contemporary fiction and want a story with fun dialogue and timely social commentary, then Such a Fun Age might be for you.
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
Caves of Steel is Isaac Asimov’s 1954 novel and the first installment in the Robot series. In this book, Elijah Baley, an NYPD detective, is assigned a case to solve the murder of a wealthy space-dweller. Elijah’s partner is R. Daneel, a robot who, for all his superintelligence, just doesn’t quite get it. Elijah already has it out for robots, but matters are made worse when he meets R. Daneel and discovers his robot partner looks just like a human. R. Daneel was designed to look lik his creator, who was… [insert dramatic music here]… the man whose murder they are trying to solve!
Overall, Caves of Steel was quite enjoyable. The sci-fi philosophy elements Asimov pretty much pioneered were the best parts of the story for me. I often found myself inwardly cringing every time Elijah deviated from the mission to accuse R. Daneel of one thing or another. I just wanted him to get on with solving the murder already. Also, it probably goes without saying that the only female character in this book is not written very well. I’m not entirely sure what I expected from a book written by a man in the 1950s, but at least nothing violent happens to her for the sake of the plot. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
If you like classic sci-fi and want a light, fun buddy-cop mystery to go with your futuristic philosophy, then Caves of Steel might be for you!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars
Read on Kindle, 350 pages
Read for Prompt #33 of the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
Also read for my personal, abbreviated Goodreads Choice Awards challenge.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Vanishing Half on Bookshop.org.
The next book I read in September 2021 was Brit Bennett’s 2020 novel and winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction: The Vanishing Half. The story follows the Vignes twins, who come from a small town of (proudly) light-skinned Black folks in Louisiana. Desiree Vignes has just returned to this town with her dark-skinned child. Meanwhile, her twin sister, Stella, has been making and building her life in Los Angeles, California — as a white woman. Over the next several years, the divergent lives of the Vignes twins reconverge in unexpected ways. This is a slow, deliberate read with a diverse cast of characters, each with their own struggles and motivations.
While I had some issues with The Vanishing Half, these issues were primarily to do with the story’s execution and not with the novel’s message. It’s a highly inclusive story with genuine and sensitively-portrayed characters. Bennett discusses a lot of challenging and complicated topics, and she handles them well. But difficult discussions can’t always make up for one-dimensional characters or a meandering plot. Despite its flaws, I still think this is an essential book for people from all backgrounds. Approach and read it with an open mind; learn and discuss it with others in your life.
If you’re looking for a beautifully-written literary novel with lots of diverse, human characters and thought-provoking messages, then The Vanishing Half might be for you.
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The final book I read in September 2021 was Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2017 novel, The Beautiful Ones. This is a Historical Fantasy about a young woman named Nina who falls in love with a telekinetic man named Hector. Hector reluctantly agrees to tutor Nina in telekinesis, but she doesn’t realize that Hector has his own motivations for getting close to her. As I mentioned in my August 2021 Wrap-Up, Moreno-Garcia is fantastic at refreshing classic genres. In Mexican Gothic, she perfectly captured the essence of the Gothic novel while infusing it with unique cultural elements. Here, she perfectly captures the heart of a novel of manners while giving it a fresh, updated perspective.
A traditional novel of manners would have us identify with the proper, society lady, feel her heartbreak, and resent the impropriety of her petulant young cousin. However, in The Beautiful Ones, the petulant young cousin is the protagonist. This is a story about struggling to belong in a society that wants to quash your identity to fit you in a more desirable box for others. Moreno-Garcia captures the feelings of love, loss, and longing permeating this vignette of our main characters’ lives. A semitragic romance with many of the familiar motifs of the classics, The Beautiful Ones gives a much-needed update to the genre while still including the elements that have endeared us to those stories for centuries.
If you’re looking for a fresh and modern take on a Jane Austen-style novel that features lovable characters, The Beautiful Ones is definitely for you!
Wrapping Up the September 2021 Wrap-Up
And there you have it! This is everything I read in September 2021. My favorite book was definitely The Beautiful Ones. My most disappointing read was probably Such a Fun Age, although I’m more lukewarm on it than wholly disappointed.
I didn’t include a “What I’m Currently Reading” or TBR section like I usually do in my wrap-ups because, well, it’s not September anymore. But, fear not! I’ll be back soon with my (hopefully less late) October Wrap-Up, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon. 💙