- Hardcover: 370 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1503949540
- ISBN-13: 978-1503949546
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 689 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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As Good as True Hardcover – January 1, 2018
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About the Author
Cheryl Reid grew up in Decatur, Alabama. She studied art and writing at Agnes Scott College and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia State University. She lives with her husband and three children in Decatur, Georgia. As Good as True is her first novel.
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Top customer reviews
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Beautifully written, to be sure. Cheryl Reid's minimalist style lulls you into a false sense of security, just so it can grab you at the most opportune time and take your breath away. I take no issue with her abilities, except that the narrative is aggressively bleak. As such, I can't say that I enjoyed the work itself. Essentially everyone is awful, and I feel the author tries to make us feel that way about the protagonist too, a victim of abuse who clearly does her best but is constantly thwarted from every accomplishing anything by her parents, her in-laws, her husband, her sibling, her neighbors, her community, her priest, and even her own children.
As a result, there wasn't much I felt I could take away from this besides, "The world is awful, and then you die." Which I already knew.
Maybe other readers will find joy in this. I hope they do. But I, unfortunately, could not.
I really try hard to stay away from anything that could be considered a spoiler. In fact, I have only typed this warning on one other review I've ever written. But I am just at a total loss on how to go about writing this review at all, and would like to include a little snippet to sort of frame the mindset of the entire book. I chose this book as my First Read, hoping to offer a difference of opinion, since that is what I love most about reviewing books. Reviewing is my way of trying to give back to the community, helping others to make informed decisions about the books they are thinking to buy, as others help me.
However, while that was my reason for choosing this book, I have no different opinion to give. The depression in this book is RELENTLESS, and I only give it two stars because the writing is so good. The story itself, I'd have chosen to not even finish had I been willing to write a DNF review. As it was, I did not want to write such a review, and I pushed through to finish the book, despite how much I wanted to set it down and walk away. Did I start skimming around 40%? Absolutely! Did I feel like I had to constantly protect myself from the endless procession of darkness? Absolutely!
The story opens on Anna, the daughter of Syrian immigrants, who has just killed her husband because he intends serious bodily harm to someone she is trying to help and protect. She also killed him, because for most of their marriage, he beat her. This is why I added the spoiler warning at the start of my review. Some might consider that a spoiler, however, it is literally how the book opens, from the first page. I just wanted to be extra careful. As for Anna, I instantly bonded with her. She was so honest and compelling, her actions wrong and against the law, but still done from a mindset that provoked sympathy and understanding. As the story moves on, the author deftly mixes past with present; memories, with the here and now. But no matter the time frame or circumstance, everything is bleak and ugly. Everything is full of sorrow and loss.
By about 30% I'd had enough. By 60% I wanted to scream. By 90%, I was angry. Is it really so impossible to instill even ONE redeeming quality in a book of this length, that you offer to the public and ask them to read? Is there so little that's good about life? Is there nothing redeemable about mankind? And by the attempted rape scene somewhere after 90%, I was fuming.
This book is awful. It's a beautifully written disaster that I wasted my time and life on, and I can't recommend it to anyone. Normally when leaving a critical review I try to at least look at the other side of the story. I try to think to myself about who might like the book even if I don't. In this case, I haven't got a clue. I have no idea who would willingly subject themselves to this kind of relentless darkness and doom. The day outside as I write this is bright and brilliant blue, and the second I hit submit on this review I'm going out to enjoy it, and enjoy life, and be grateful that this book is something I can block out as a bad memory or misguided choice.
If you get it and love it, then I really am happy for you. But as I said, I can, in good conscience, recommend it to absolutely no one!
It is extremely unfair for reviewers to give this wonderful book low ratings because it does an amazing job in fulfilling the usual expectations of historical fiction. These readers should have chosen something else for their Kindle First book. Those that want happiness in their fiction, please, read something else. Don't read historical fiction. Reid has done her job well. This book is well researched and the world building is beautiful. I know this isn't the place to talk about how Lake Union and other publishers should look to #ownvoices authors to find these rare stories of historical fiction. I have no idea what Reid's heritage is. Still, she has done a wonderful job in telling a truthful, absorbing story of a life that does not get an opportunity to be seen. For that, I, as a fan of historical fiction, am happy and wish I could give this book twice as many stars to offset the too many unfairly critical reviews it has received.