Not too many books got a five-star rating and inclusion onto The List this year, but these did:
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This book stayed with me for a long time. It's the story of two half-sisters in Africa several hundred years ago. One is in the ruling class and eventually married to a British slaver, while the other is from another tribe and sold into slavery and transported to the New World. The book follows the succeeding generations of the family and how their lives progress to the present day. It is a page-turner and really makes you think about race, race relations, slavery and how families work to integrate all the pieces of their history.
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I really cannot say enough about this book. It was so wonderful that I immediately went out and bought everything else Fredrik Backman has ever written. I don't do that too often. Ove is a curmudgeon in every sense of the world. A grumpy old man, he has Rules and gets annoyed at the world when they don't follow them. When a young family moves in next door, his world is turned upside down. There are a few surprises here, but you will find yourself laughing and crying and cheering as you read. And then you'll go want to find the curmudgeon in your life and give them a hug.
- My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. I told you I went and bought everything Fredrik Backman ever wrote :-D This one was wonderful as well, and there were enough twists and turns and "oh! that's what really happeneds!" to keep you turning pages and glued to the story until the last page. This one is about Elsa, who is aged 7 and a little different from everyone else. Her grandmother has always told her fabulous about a mythical land where everyone is different and no one needs to be normal. When her grandmother dies, she leaves Elsa a Quest in the form of letters that must be delivered to various people she feels the need to apologize to. And as Elsa meets them all she begins to wonder - .could the Kingdom of Miamas and the people who lived in her grandmother's fairy tales be real?
- Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon. Anybody who has ever visited the town of Mitford will fall in love with it all over again in this new book in the series. Dooley Kavanagh and Lace Harper are all grown up and planning their wedding. And in true Mitford style, the whole town gets involved whether Dooley and Lace want them to or not, mishaps happen and grace overcomes all.
- My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich. This book was so sweet! Emilia Brown is a woman of a certain age. She has lived her life in the background, always quiet and no frills and probably overlooked by most. But in her heart she has dreams. Dreams which suddenly seem to be embodied by an Oscar de la Renta sheath and jacket and somehow she must make them her own. And braving the trip to New York all alone to get it becomes necessary as well. Sometimes a dress isn’t just a dress.