Book Review: Cartwheel + Brave Enough

January 4, 2016

Behold: my Christmas reading list. A bit lofty, but unrealistic expectations are what the holidays are all about.

One murder mystery and one book of quotes that I can’t stop talking about.

As always, all book reviews are spoiler free.

Happy reading.


1. Cartwheel.


If You’re Looking For: Crime thriller, suspense, mystery

If You Liked: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl On The Train, Her, Sharp Objects

My Review: Mindy Kaling recently tweeted that being obsessed with crime shows is the new green drink for girls. It made me laugh. Do you know anyone who isn’t watching Making A Murderer? I do not. Since having kids I don’t watch any scary tv shows or movies, but I do enjoy the podcast Serial and crimey suspense novels written for millennial girls. I picked up this book after reading over a list of pageturners to read in 2015. The novel is inspired by the real life story of Amanda Knox, the American accused of murdering her roommate while living abroad in Italy. Although it’s fiction, the similarities are abundant–contributing to much of the book’s negative reviews. As a whole, I enjoyed Cartwheel. It was gripping from the first few pages and I zipped through it in a few days. Basically it did what it was designed to do–hold my attention. I wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve read in its genre, but I didn’t mind the similarities to Knox case and I thought the writing style was great. If anything, the book is unmemorable.

Their Review: Cartwheel is so gripping, so fantastically evocative, that I could not, would not, put it down. Jennifer duBois is a writer of thrilling psychological precision. She dares to pause a moment, digging into the mess of crime and accusation, culture and personality, the known and unknown, and coming up with a sensational novel of profound depth.”—Justin Torres, New York Times bestselling author of We the Animals

Quoted: This was the elasticity and permanence of parental love; everything vile about your children was to some degree something vile about yourself, and disowning your child for their failings could only compound your own.


2. Brave Enough.

brave enough

If You’re Looking For: Non-fiction, gifts for women, self-help, humor, philosophy

If You Liked: Tiny Beautiful Things, Wild, Rising Strong

My Review: I got this book in the mail a few days ago from a friend/soulmate who knew I’d love every page. Brave Enough is a collection of quotes from bestselling author Cheryl Strayed, drawn from the wide range of her writings. The book captures her wisdom, humor, and insight and is presented in a lovely gift-sized package that’s as fun to give as it is to receive. Open to any page and at the very least—be amused. As Cheryl so bluntly puts it in the introduction, “Read it like a motherfucker.” I read it in a day, and will continue to reread to find the gems that spoke to me the most. Themes include body image, friendship, inner strength, and love. If you haven’t read Tiny Beautiful Things, read that first. Five out of five stars. The perfect gift for a sister or friend.

Their Review: “A short, taut, Swiss Army knife [book] of quotations, one that applies to deciding whether to have a third doughnut or an extramarital affair, make a mean-spirited joke—or get up from the desk before a book review is finished. Cheryl Strayed is a tough-love truth-teller. In the introduction she writes that a good quote can provide in a sentence or two ‘a clear eyed perspective, or a swift kick in the pants.’ Hers do both. Brave Enough amount[s] to a galvanizing call to be bigger, bolder, more generous. We already know what to do, Strayed believes; we just need to heed that inner voice . . . ‘I believe in the power of words to help us reset our intentions, clarify our thoughts, and create a counternarrative to the voice of doubt in our heads—the one that says, You can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t have,’ she writes. [This book] helps you create that counternarrative. [It shouts,] ‘Yes!” —Jennifer Reese, The Washington Post 

Quoted: Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or, rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this.


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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Cartwheel + Brave Enough

  1. Natalie

    I have your next book – “Kitchens of the Great Midwest.” It’s the latest book for my book club and I read it in just over 24 hours, pausing briefly to kiss my husband at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s a super fast, easy read with a lot of substance, a fun story and very different, unique format. I LOVED it and I think you will too!

    1. Bekah

      Natalie, I flew through Kitchens of the Great Midwest over New Years, too and just loved it – I wholeheartedly second your recommendation!


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