What Am I Reading – Chapter Eleven

Hi Everybody!

I’ve been going through books like a pack of Oreos! I finished Carry the One by Carol Anshaw and The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp recently. Now, I’ve started two new novels that I would love to share with all of you.

Let’s get started!

Translated from Russian, Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko is basically a dark version of Harry Potter. While vacationing with her mom, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov. He directs her to perform certain tasks, and she is powerless to refuse. Every time she completes a one, she is rewarded with strange gold coins. As her schooling and summer end, her domineering mentor makes her move to a remote village and use her gold coins to enroll in the Institute of Special Technologies. Even though Sasha doesn’t want to go, she feels that this is the only place she should be. She quickly finds out that the institute’s “special technologies” are unlike anything she has ever encountered like the books being impossible to read and the lessons being maddening. The institute uses terror and coercion to keep students in line, yet they don’t outright punish them. Instead, their families pay a price. Despite her fear, Sasha goes through changes that defy matter and time as well as experiences which were nothing she ever dreamed of and suddenly all she ever wanted.

As one can see from this summary, it’s a lot. But, it’s truly like Harry Potter. Like Sasha, Harry also goes to a magical school and experiences things that he couldn’t ever dream of while living with the Dursleys. The difference is how more intense Vita Nostra is, especially with how Sasha is forced to go to the school almost against her own will.

It grabbed me from the very first page. I could vividly imagine a lot of the locations like the remote village, especially when Sasha and Kostya – Farit’s son – first encounter it. I want her to be free, but I also want to see how she does in the school. We’ll see how it goes.

Now, let’s move onto the second and final book of this latest installment…

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova revolves around Joe O’Brien – a 44-year-old police officer, husband, and father of four adult children from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. After experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and involuntary movements, Joe goes to a neurologist and gets diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Sadly, the disease has no treatment nor a cure. What’s worse is that each of the children has a 50% chance of inheriting it, and a simple blood test could seal their fate. The youngest – 21-year-old Katie – struggles with whether or not she wants to know. As his symptoms get worse, Joe loses his job and battles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose. In the meantime, Katie and her siblings must find the courage to live their lives “at risk” or take the test and learn their fate.

Going into this novel, I knew that Genova was a neurologist. This makes sense as her previous and most famous book Still Alice deals with a woman struggling with the early onset of Alzheimer’s. I’ve not read that book, but I refuse to compare it with Inside the O’Briens because it isn’t fair for the time being.

I started reading Inside the O’Briens today, and it’s going good so far. I like how the main character tries to give excuses for his more unusual behavior like stress on the job. He even doubts them at the same time, thinking that it could be something worse (a mentality he has undoubtedly developed while working as a police officer).

I’m listening to the audiobook, and it’s narrated by Skipp Sudduth – an actor best known for his role as Sully in the series Third Watch. He gives a Bostonian vibe to the main character that doesn’t come off as a caricature. I look forward to hearing the rest of Sudduth’s performance as well as reading the rest of the novel.

We now have come to the end of the eleventh chapter of “What Am I Reading?”

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Published by emilyblakowski

I work at two public libraries in southeast Michigan, and I facilitate a book club for one of them. I also hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Theatre from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI; a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration also from Wayne. In my downtime, I love hanging out with friends, listening to music (like classic rock and K-pop), and watching shows like "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!

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