Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang (4 out of 5)

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This was a nice, quick read. Also an uncomplicated plot and characters that were easy to ease into. I wished it had a longer story arc, but again, it would not have fit within the span of the sixteenth of June, which is not only your book’s title but a backbone to it throughout. I love the cover, and I love how easy it was to follow what was going on here. I have read some books lately where I had no freaking clue which way was in and which way was out. That was not the case here. And I love the quaintness of the cover, if that is the cover they are going to press with. It fit how easygoing the book was. 

Leo Portman is a young IT manager who just wants to settle down in the Philly burbs, and live a simple, peaceful wife with Nora, his wife. Nora is mourning the loss of her mom and wondering what the hell is going on with her life; what to do, when to do, and ultimately, the path of her mind’s wandering leads you to wonder, “Is Leo part of her future?”. Nora’s a talented singer who has everything on hold while she battles with herself over the path her life has taken and will continue to take. Stephen, Leo’s younger brother and Nora’s best friend, is close to finishing grad school and has serious questions about Nora and Leo’s relationship. With a setup like that, you wonder how this is going to end up. The three meet up on June 16th, first to attend a funeral and then to head to the annual Bloomsday party. (Side note: A Bloomsday party is an annual Irish tradition celebrating the life of James Joyce and his book Ulysses, which takes place on June 16th, 1904, in Dublin. You got all that?). The fact that such parties are held was a whole new concept for me. I have never heard of them prior to this book. And since James Joyce struck me as a stuffy wordsmith or shoe thief whenever I needed to read him for school, I wasn’t caring to know of anything remotely like this. I am now enlightened and it serves well as a plot device for the book. 

What did I like? I liked the character of Leo, although at times he struck me as a little insipid. Nora is really my favorite character, because really, how many of us haven’t been in that frame of mind at some point in their life? Where you question everything, even the safe harbors you’ve come to depend on (in this case, Leo)? Stephen is a character that drove me crazy with his quiet mind bombs that he could lob at any time, yet at the same time I felt that the character was stuck in the endless nameless known as grad school, and likely was trapped in some sort of intellectual inferno and thus needed to stream some of his discontent onto Nora and Leo. The easy flow of this novel was what kept me reading it. I wanted to see how this whole thing was going to play out. I also wanted to beat Stephen with a shoe for a good portion of the book, but again, each character had multiple sides that are quietly exposed by the end of the book. It was simply delightful, and I wish it had gone on for longer than it did. The advantage of the one day plot is that it’s all wrapped up quickly, succinctly, and with a big red bow. And that is indeed the case here. 

 

~ by generationgbooks on March 26, 2014.

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