Wednesday, December 6, 2023


Author:  Robin Yeatman
Publication Information:  Harper Perennial. 2023. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0063273004 / 978-0063273009

Rating:  ★

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Friday was Victoria's day off."

Favorite Quote:  "I just hate it when a character learns nothing through an entire book. Like, nothing... I'm not the reader here, but the character can't always learn the lesson. Otherwise all books would end up happily ever after, right?"

The title is Bookworm. There is a book on the cover. There is a reader on the cover. The caption reads, "Sometimes the best stories are the ones in your head." Agreed because, as readers, we bring all that we are to each book and create a vision from author's words that is uniquely our own. The descriptions states that the main character "finds solace ... in her beloved books" and "thinks back to all the stories she’s ever read in hopes of finding a solution." That resonates for solace and solutions in books are thoughts for all readers.

Based on all of this lead, I expect to be the reader for this book. In fact, in some way, I expect the book to reflect my story and the story of many readers. I expect to see myself.

However, sadly, I do not. In fact, I find myself completely not the right reader for this book. The descriptions terms this "a wickedly funny debut novel—a black comedy with a generous heart that explores the power of imagination and reading—about a woman who tries to use fiction to find her way to happiness." Unfortunately, I do not find it funny or generous, and I do not find the main character at all relatable or likable for many reasons.

First is the story line itself. It is the story of an unhappy marriage and an unresolved, uncomfortable relationship with parents. Fiction and reading has a definitely place as providing an "escape." Yet, for me, it cannot be an alternate reality to an extent that the actual reality is not faced or dealt with as an adult.

Second is the picture this book draws of a reader - especially a female reader. "Yes, you've got so much in your mind. From all the reading you do. You're a thinker. And you've got better things to think of than you hair or nails, or hatching plans to get a man to do something you want... It's so nice to be around a smart woman. Someone who thinks on a .... higher level, I guess." Really? It is one or the other? A woman can't be a thinker but also enjoy "hair and nails." Umm... ewww.  No. Just no.

Third is the negative commentary in this book about other books. I cannot get past that. I have never written a book. I have written many, many reviews of books. Always, my thought is that I am simply not the right reader for a book. I never presume to undermine the work of an author or that a book may resonate with a different reader or perhaps even me at a different point in my life. For me, it is not the book; it is whether or the not the reader is a good fit for the book. I find it surprising to find an author speaking negatively about another author's work in their own work.

Fourth is the introduction of magical realism into this story. The ability to float above life and live an alternate reality seems to be part of the escapism of being a reader. However, again, it is unclear where the boundary between this fictional life and the reality of this character lies. As a reader, I find it challenging to remain engaged as I am uncertain what is "real" vs. not in the storyline of the book.

For me, books are a way to travel the world, see alternate realities, and imagine other possibilities. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader to travel that road with this book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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