I was able to fit in one more reading panel for ELLE magazine before the baby came; I sent my reviews during the last week before my due date. To my surprise, they said the results were quite close. I had to send in a weighted preference to help them rank the three books because they said there was a 3-way tie for first after they’d received the reviews.
As usual, the book that I much preferred to the other two, She Left Me the Gun, came in second in our panel. (But it looks like other publications agree with me: Entertainment Weekly gave it an “A” and put it on their Must List a few weeks ago.) I was struck by the author’s story of piecing together her mother’s past, traveling to another country (South Africa) to find out why she’d run away to England in her youth. Both the author’s journey and her mother’s narrative were equally compelling, and kept me turning the pages quickly.
As for the other two books, I can’t say I recommend either one. Both tales meandered and I felt that there wasn’t much narrative force or hindsight that tied anecdotes together.