Okay, nobody freak out, but I forgot to take a picture or even note the coffee sent to me in the March Thrifty Books box. However, I know it was there and I feel confident telling you it was good because I’ve received two bags of coffee in boxes this month and I liked them both. Hurrah!
I like this box because it’s pretty darn affordable and it’s introduced me to some great books. I pre-paid for a year and it came out to just over $17 per box including shipping, which is on the lower end compared to other book boxes. You can read reviews of past Thrifty Books boxes here.
The box consists of a literary fiction book, a bag of coffee (or I believe you can choose tea as well), and a newsletter. There’s also access to an online book club for subscriber’s eyes only. Exciting stuff.
This month the book was Monkeys by Susan Minot. It’s a sort of novel told through numerous short stories, which, you should note is a little different than something like Olive Kitteridge, which is a series of connected short stories.
The difference here is that it’s linear, all the same characters are covered, and the story moves at a similar pace and in a similar way than a novel would. But chapters are written from different perspectives and things that happen between stories are introduced as though they’re new things, not a change in the old way. For example, when a character dies, the next story begins at a totally different point and later has just a line or two that says essentially, “When XX died, my family _blah blah_.” And that’s how you find out about a lot of things that happen to this family.
The family in question consists of a depressed mother, an alcoholic father, and a whole bunch of Catholic children. Mother refers to the children collectively as “monkeys,” hence the title, and each story feels very delicate, as though it’s built out of the most fragile of glass that will shatter if you breathe too hard.
I read a lot of reviews of this book on Goodreads and people seem to either love it or hate it. The dislikers said that they couldn’t relate to anyone, that they were not emotionally invested at all, and that the language was too sparse.
I get all that but for me it’s not true. Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic and could see a lot of my family in this family, or maybe it’s because I’m a recovering alcoholic and could understand the insanity of their father’s actions. Whatever it was, I found this book to be sad, certainly, but to be very rich and touching too. It’s a book that I loved but that I would only recommend to certain people.
Rating: 9/10 Such a beautiful book but one that’s easy to see is not for everyone.
Recommended for: Children of alcoholics, alcoholics, people who were raised Catholic, people from the east coast, fans of sparse language and dead emotion
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / Y / Y