I always love reading, but there’s something special about books I take with me to read when I’m out in the mountains.

I spend a lot of time out in the mountains, both in the spring and summer for hiking and in the winter for skiing.

On a recent skiing escape in Abruzzo, I read two novels – one I loved, one that was just ‘meh’, but both were fun to read while recuperating after rigorous days out on the slopes.

Here’s a brief overview of my first novels of the new year.

All We Ever Wanted – Emily Giffin

This was an extremely quick read. The novel is told through the eyes of three individuals. Nina, grew up poor in Tennessee, but married into a wealthy Memphis family. As her older son prepares to fly from the nest, she begins to reassess her life and choices. Tom, a single father, is struggling financially while raising his teenage daughter. He wants the best for her, but worries about the environment in her privileged school. Lyla is his young daughter, desperate to fit in at her new school and intent on gaining more independence than her father is willing to provide his fifteen-year-old.

A drunken teenage party results in a photo shared on social media that will profoundly affect all three protagonists. The resulting events raise plenty of issues about wealth, teenage behavior, and the desire to assign blame and to protect one’s family. This is well handled from all sides, with realistic depictions of each character, and – from my perspective – wonderfully free from preachy messages or agendas one too often finds in modern novels when an author presents this type of dilemma. An excellent read.

The Other Mother – Carol Goodman

I’ve read quite a few Goodman novels, and they are either riveting, or they’re not. This fell firmly in the ‘not’ category.

Goodman is always a skillful writer, and this novel – the tale of two young mothers in Westchester, NY suffering from post-partum depression
– was no exception. The book was well-researched and technically impressive, but the plot was one big mess.

Without giving away the whole plot, there were some genuinely interesting developments in this novel, and I read with real interest the points of view of the two mothers, and enjoyed reconstructing events from these divergent perspectives. Goodman has also researched a great deal about post-partem psychosis ( a more severe form of what most readers will be more familiar with: post-partem depression).

However, the plot twists, confused identities, forced commitments to asylums, similar cases across generations, etc simply became a question of asking readers to suspend disbelief one too many times.