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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Rachel Joyce
Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
Ellen J. Prager
Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love and Revolution - Luisita Lopez Torregrosa 2.5 stars. I think this book would have gotten in a higher rating if I had been more in the mood for what it was, which is basically about being a journalist. I saw it at the library and read the first page or two--really really gorgeous writing--and decided to go ahead and check it out (even though I almost always regret those decisions later--I have a huge to-read pile that I'm pretty selective about, and then I just waltz into the library and just stack the books into my arms without any kind of vetting first?! But I digress...).

As it turns out, I had little patience for it. The book is billed as "a memoir of love & revolution," but it's not really either. The Philippine People Power revolution of the late 1980s is dealt with very superficially, which is okay with me (it is a short book after all), so I was hoping to at least get a good love story/memoir. Reading about people falling in and out of love can be really poignant. But...honestly there's not much of that in this book either. When it is covered, it's done well--especially near the end. The breakup and the aftermath were high parts of the book for me, because there was finally some emotion and something I could relate to. But it's too little. I understand that it's a memoir so we're talking about real people, and even though Torregrosa used a false name for her partner, the person is still known to many and I can understand how certain things wouldn't make it into the book. But...I didn't...I mean, there is basically nothing in here about their relationship. It's just like "oh yeah it was passionate." And that's it. There's a lot of telling us how passionate it was but she doesn't let us in on shared jokes or romantic gestures, the comfort and acceptance relationships can give, or any real disagreements or fights. I never felt it and I didn't get it, and I wasn't emotionally invested at all. Which made it really hard to sit through THIS bottle of wine at THIS restaurant, THAT bottle of wine at THAT restaurant, THIS wine THAT wine, wine wine wine, travel travel travel, food food food, travel, servants, phone call, "passion," wine, travel, moodiness about writing, travel. I don't really care what wine you had to drink at what place in what month. I forgot that stuff before the sentence was even finished. And there was a lot of that in here.

Also: I don't romanticize journalism or writing, and it's pretty clear the author does. I could still have related to that had Torregrosa told us what it means to her, but she doesn't. And then there are things likes this: "It was a fear growing in me that our life was changing, that something--I didn't know or didn't want to know exactly what--was pulling us apart. We were becoming ordinary." Yes. Being ordinary is definitely what tore you guys apart, not your hectic & incompatible schedules, or refusing to understand each other or to be kind to each other. It was definitely the dread "ordinariness." If only you guys could have lived in a new country every year I'm sure you'd still be together. ???????????

Anyway. The writing is good--often times it's great, but unfortunately for me the subject discussed weren't all that interesting. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in journalism, though.