New Year, New You

It’s a new year, 2016. This decade is almost over, and I still can’t tell you the difference between things published pre-2010 and post-2010. It’s all modern to me. That being said, the new year is often a time where people make resolutions, promise to work on themselves, and begin life full of hope. For me, the new year just reminds me of that one Death Cab for Cutie song I really like. (It’s entitled “The New Year” if you were wondering.) But I’m not that cynical. I have a couple of goals that I’d like to accomplish this year as well.

One of them is to average reading 3 books a week, which equals out to 156 books in 2016. If you’d like to follow along with my Goodreads account and what I read during 2016, you can feel free to click here. Another one of my major goals for this year is to consistently blog. When I got the idea for this blog, I knew that it’d require reading a lot of books, a lot of news, and doing a lot of research. At the end of 2015 I did a ton of research, but didn’t write down anything constructive. This year, expect lots of updates – including some video!

But starting anew reminds me of a book I recently read entitled Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. This novel was long listed for the 2015 National Book Award, and it was well deserved.

Bill Clegg’s debut fictional novel follows several voices in the aftermath of a tragedy that takes the lives of one woman’s entire family (daughter, future son-in-law, ex-husband, and boyfriend). This woman, June, must take the steps to attempt to make sense of the chaos in which her life has fallen. The novel also follows how those close to the event struggle with picking up the pieces. I must mention that I have a strong bias in favor of novels that utilize multiple points of view to craft a story, and Clegg does an excellent job blending  6 different voices to tell this story.

Did You Ever Have a Family has mystery, strong character development, and excellent writing which make it a insightful and fun read. Each character holds a part of the story that is unknown to the others. As the narration continues, the reader finds out more about each of the characters who died in the explosion. Clegg kept me guessing until the very end, not even realizing that I was trying to guess.

Another thing I really liked about this novel is the diversity of characters that Clegg portrays. Not only do the characters expand across the US, he touches upon race issues, infidelity, same sex marriage, and domestic violence. These topics do not feel forced within Did You Ever Have a Family, but rather flow naturally, as intersectionality does in real life. It’s important to read diverse authors and for authors to write diverse characters. I really appreciate how Clegg didn’t shy away from creating multi-dimensional characters.

As we think about the people we want to become in 2016, this novel also allows the reader to reflect on how those around us and the ideas of us they hold influence our thoughts and shape our behavior. Consider picking up a copy of this book; it will definitely give you something to think about.

Until Next Time World…