Books We Read: March


This was the other choice for our March Book of the Month, which ended up being Girls on Fire, voted in by an overwhelming gush of interest towards the winner. Nonetheless, the reason why the choice was between Marlena and Girls on Fire is because these two novels are very similar in their general concept: a sheltered teen girl meets a wild, troubled girl and the overwhelming friendship-love begins. We've all been there, haven't we? You meet a girl in high school who instantly becomes your best friend and you two get sucked into a collection of misadventures. And it is so for fifteen-year-old Cat after her move to new town in rural Michigan: it is lonely and boring until she meets her beautiful, pill-popping neighbor Marlena. What follows is a procession of firsts: first cigarettes, first drinks, first kisses, first rebellions. Within the year, Marlena is dead. And now, decades later, Cat must try to move on and detangle herself from the memories of Marlena from the past. Our honest opinion? Definitely worth it. We read Girls on Fire and Marlena one after another, which prompted so many amazing discussions about friendship, addictions, growing up. 


Uhhhh, so Lady Chatterley's Lover was almost like the 50 Shades of the early 20th Century. It seems tame now and it's even school reading material, although this is definitely a corset-ripper in disguise, which makes you look super intelligent in public (although you're reading naughty things). This novel was published privately in 1928 in Italy. An uncensored edition was not published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960. The book was also banned for obscenity in the United States, Canada, Australia, India, and Japan.The story is about a young married woman, Lady Chatterley, whose husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed from the waist down in WWI. Their now-platonic relationship leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors. The novel is a meditation on class difference, the mind and the body, love, and female sexuality. D.H. Lawrence writes the inner workings of women in a thoughtful and advanced way. At first, you're going to want to highlight amazing quotes, such as, "They lived freely among the students, they argued with the men over philosophical, sociological and artistic matters, they were just as good as the men themselves: only better, since they were women.” Then, you're going to want to earmark pages with the sexy bits. Have fun, you're welcome. 


This one hit close to home because our editor Daphna is always telling us stories (complaining) about being a part-time expat in Prague because of her partner, and the general consensus has always been, "You get to live in Europe, what is your freaking problem?" Well, we've since changed our tune.  Feast Days is about the relocation of Emma with her new husband to Sao Paulo, Brasil because of his promotion. Emma arrives and realizes that there are no prospects for her in Brasil, while her husband throws himself into work. What follows is an intimate dissection of what it's like to be an American expat abroad after the "exotic travel" glow of new experiences fades. MacKenzie writes beautifully. We are always careful to recommend books about women written by men, as you know, but we officially give this one our blessing. Go forth, Gems, and take time with this one.