The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This. Book. Michaelides tells the story of Alicia and her stay in a mental facility due to becoming mute following an incident between Alicia and her husband Gabriel. Alicia’s story unfolds with the assistance of Theo, a psychotherapist working at the facility where Alicia is a patient. Theo’s therapeutic skills brings out Alicia’s story and brings the reader on a journey while learning more about Alicia and the incident that took away her voice.
I am not usually scared reading a book, but this book had multiple scenes where I was literally scared to read! Michaelides also does a good job with character development, which is important in making a story cohesive and believable. Each character is pivotal to the story and there are no extraneous characters leaving the reader asking, why was this person even in this story?! Great read.
Conviction by Denise Mina
I had high hopes for this novel. I think with Reese’s Book Club, I enjoy the picks about 80% (I have done the math) of the time and the other 20% are, meh. This book is a meh. The hilarity of this book rivals Eleanor Oliphant. Anna, the main character of the story, is on a mission to solve a mystery and she takes along a companion, Finn. Each of the main characters have a story, a deep story that is, well, convoluted and highly improbable. However, the interactions between the characters, which includes wry humor and constant jabs, had me chuckling throughout out the book. While the humor was particularly good, the plot itself was too convoluted to feel real, which I felt took away from the story.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
This book is fairly recent and covered just about every issue facing society today packaged in a story of finding one’s self. Reid presents the story of Emira, a 20-something college educated Black female and her journey in the world of employment, love, and social media! In this story, there are many characters that orbit Emira, all impacting her current and future life. Once positive aspect of this book is the interweaving of the characters. At some points, I had to ask myself, is this level of coincidence even possible? But Reid presented each interaction in a manner that did not take too much away from the story.
This book got me thinking quite a bit about viral events in our day and the trajectory of the individual after the viewing of the event by others who do not know the full context of what occurred. This would be a good story for a book club because the personalities of the characters leave much to be discussed. It may sound melodramatic, but there is an opportunity to discuss race relations with this book using the list of characters that are presented by Reid.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
This book should be renamed: The Introvert’s Manifesto! I re-read this book, so minor cheating here, because this is a re-read. However, I think it is important to let introverts know that it is okay! In the interest of being transparent, I am an introvert. However, my introversion was something that was always looked down upon by others and in the end, I felt the need to be social…until I read this book.
Cain does more than write that it is okay to be an introvert. She presents evidence of the positive outcomes of introversion. She also presents some famous introverts to make the point that being successful, and extroversion are not synonymous. My a-ha moment with this book came with Cain’s explanation of introverts that have jobs that require a public persona and how those individuals balance their need to be social for work and their need to be quiet after their job is done. This book does more than explain the importance of introverts in today’s world. It is also a resource for introverts to learn to function in a world that is not always quiet.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter: A Novel by Kim Edwards
This book was off my radar until it was recommended for a book club read from theotbookclub on Instagram. The fact that this book has sold over 4 million copies, I was eager to read this novel to understand what drew people into this story. I was also eager at the prospect of being able to use the book to provide some insight into the caregiver role from Caroline, the character raising Phoebe, the young lady with Down Syndrome. This a multi-layered story and one that provides answers, but also leaves the reader with questions, of the impact of being a caregiver to a child with special needs. This book provides perspectives on relationships, growing together, growing apart, the impact of secrets, and parental hopes for their children.
Edwards presentation of this story is truly genius on many levels. With the way the plot was developed, the reader is presented with the parallel lives of the main characters and the impact of David, the father’s decision, many years ago. This book can be used in an occupational therapy curriculum and the following questions can be asked to develop clinical thinking:
- Why did the father make the decision he did after Phoebe was born? (This can be done looking at the impact of Phoebe’s disability. However, looking outside of Phoebe and more at the father, there are other components that may have impacted his decision: loss, socioeconomic status, and more).
- What was the impact of IDEA on Phoebe’s education? How did Caroline impact Phoebe’s education?
- Compare the trajectory of Caroline and Nora, what was the impact of Phoebe on both characters?
- What levels of support would be needed for Phoebe to be successful with Robert?
There are so many other questions that can be formulated to guide learning. This book is one that can serve many functions from teaching in a classroom to discussion in a private book club.
If you have any recommendations, please feel free to comment below. I am always on the lookout for the next great book!