Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Book Review: "Is It Hot in Here? Or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth?" by Zach Zimmerman

How can you resist a book with a title like this? Comedian and writer Zach Zimmerman provides fodder for laughs, tears, and even some a-ha moments in this memoir-esque collection of essays and anecdotes about making peace with yourself.

Zimmerman chronicles growing up in a religious home (and his need to escape), coming to terms with his sexuality, trying to find love amidst online dating disasters, and other situations, including his family’s reactions to the COVID pandemic.

Interspersed between these essays are lists with titles like “Seven New Sins–and Tortures Too.” (Among those sins are “suggesting a book club book you’ve already read” and included among the tortures is “You are given six delicious Cadbury Creme Eggs and told one is filled with mayonnaise. (They are all filled with mayonnaise.)”

Some of these essays made me laugh out loud, some made me roll my eyes at the absurdity of the events Zimmerman described, and some actually made me think.

But after a while, everything started to have the same sarcastic tone, and some of the content was a little too precious for me. Yet this surely was an enjoyable break from heavy fiction!

Book Review: "Adelaide" by Genevieve Wheeler

This was a powerful debut that really has stuck in my mind since I read it.

Adelaide has always dreamed of finding the person to sweep her off her feet, someone with whom she can spend the rest of her life. But relationships never seem to last for her, and as her friends pair off, it becomes more difficult to be happy for them when she is alone.

Living and working in London, one night Adelaide meets Rory, and she falls quickly for this handsome Englishman. He seems genuinely attracted to and interested in her. Sure, he’s far from perfect–he doesn’t always respond to texts, remember that they have plans, or reach out proactively to set up dates. But his good looks, charm, and intelligence truly appeal to her, and it’s not long before she realizes she’s in love with him.

Rory’s unpredictability takes an emotional toll on Adelaide. There are days, weeks that she doesn’t hear from him, and while her best friends support her unequivocally, they also wish she would give up pining for him. But every time she’s about ready to call it quits, he reappears, talks sweetly, and she is putty in his hands once again.

When Rory is impacted by tragedy, Adelaide puts all of her feelings on hold in order to take care of him. But the more Rory falls apart, and the more Adelaide tries to hold him together, the more her own psychological health frays. She tries to believe that at some point he will come around and realize how she has stood by him, but his unpredictability, coupled with his blatant disregard for her feelings, takes its toll.

Adelaide is a very emotional look at mental health and depression, as well as how at times, we can only depend on friends and chosen family to save us.

I’ll admit that I didn’t understand Rory’s appeal after his flaws became obvious, but I know that you cannot always help who you love. I was tremendously moved by this book, although its depiction of depression, grief, attempted suicide, and pregnancy loss might be triggering for some.