2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · historical fiction · LGBTQIA+ Books · Literary Fiction · Uncategorized

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Published: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Viking

Pages: 421 

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction, LGBTQ

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: historical fiction about the AIDS epidemic in the 80s

Read with food: Chinese takeaway

 

Synopsis:

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the publisher and author for a copy. As always, an honest review.

I was disappointed by this read. The story takes place in the art world in 1980s Chicago and also present day Paris. The main focus is the lives of the gay community during the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, which the author does justice. Despite what could be a phenomenal book, it fell short for me.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, nor did the story draw me in. Therefore I went through the book appreciating and enjoying certain moments, but overall not invested in either story due to lack of connection. Also the two separate stories barely had anything to do with each other. They honestly could have been 2 separate books or even eliminated most of the present day Paris storyline.

The Great Believers had some redeeming benefits though. It told a story that isn’t always portrayed in the media and actually went into detail instead of glossing over unfavorable moments. A part of the history books that isn’t always done justice.

If you can connect with the characters, then you will probably enjoy it more than I did. But if not then take my thoughts into consideration. The tone of the book and writing doesn’t really change as you get farther along in the book.

 

I liked the overall concept, but it didn’t pan out for me.

 

Anyone have any other similar books that you really liked and would recommend to me?

 

 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · Literary Fiction

Book Review: Most Precious Blood by Vince Sgambati

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Most Precious Blood by Vince Sgambati 

Published by Guernica Editions On March 1, 2018

Pages: 300

Genres: literary fiction, LGBTQIA+ fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: authentic stories, struggles with one’s sexuality

Read with food: any sort of authentic Italian food . . . be sure to make enough for the whole family

 

Synopsis: 

Hard Luck Lenny Lasante is the quintessential good son, brother, and father. He fears a calamity will derail his son’s future the way his own dreams were derailed years ago and is adamant that Frankie leave home for college, but Frankie is preoccupied with thoughts of Gennaro DiCico, the son of a small-time mobster. Lenny’s fears are realized when a cabdriver’s son avenges his father’s murder. Most Precious Blood, set in the eleventh-hour of a declining Italian-American neighborhood, speaks of complex and often destructive loyalties, consequences, and forgiveness.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Most Precious Blood tells the stories of Italian Americans living in New York City. Like most families, life is messy, filled with heartbreak, struggles, and attempts to find oneself despite what family might think. It’s Italian family life written into a story format.

At the beginning, I wasn’t really enjoying the book. It didn’t really draw me in. As I kept on reading, I learned more about all the characters and grew to enjoy their stories more and more.

Most Precious Blood mainly focuses on Frankie, a teenager growing up in the neighborhood. He’s in love with Gennaro, the son of a small time mobster. They don’t want to reveal their relationship to others, for fear of judgment and lack of acceptance. I ended up really enjoying the story as it continued to unfold. I could even see a sequel being written.

Overall, I would recommend Most Precious Blood for it’s traditional but open minded characters, rich storytelling, good food, and relevant topics.