Tag Archives: Amy Einhorn Books

Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

3rd July 2013

pg1*I received this book from the publisher, Riverhead Books, in exchange for an honest review.

In the opening pages of The Other Typist, beginning with the first line, “They said the typewriter would unsex us,” Suzanne Rindell immediately displays her writing chops, linking the typewriter, the women who use them, and the distance between the woman and the men for whom she types in a fitting criticism of the workplace in the 1920s.

Rose Baker is a typist for the police department, transcribing the confessions of those who walk through the precinct. She marvels at being thought too weak to handle the graphic talk, aptly pointing out that as a typist, she must hear the confession twice – once as it is dictated and again, as she types it.  Rose presents herself as clever, punctilious, and slightly prudish, a fact excused by her past – an orphan, she was raised by nuns.

But the other typist – Odalie – switches everything up. As Rose says, when Odalie enters the precinct, “I knew: It was like the eye of a hurricane. She was the dark epicenter of something we didn’t quite understand yet, the place where hot and cold mixed dangerously, and around her everything would change.”

Drawn in immediately by the confessional nature of Rose’s tale, the reader has no choice but to wonder at the tone Rose takes when she talks about the vivacious Odalie. At first wary of Odalie, Rose soon becomes enamored of someone so different from herself, calculatingly vying for her friendship. When Odalie does turn her light on Rose, it’s fast and bright, and Rose can’t turn away, bound by the dangerous mix of glamour and daring that Odalie exudes.

Along the way there are signs of distress, but Rose is in too deep, and the rumors of an inappropriate relationship with a nun hint at the possibility that Rose feels romantically toward Odalie, adding to her dependency. At the same time, The Other Typist briefly comments on the changing social sphere as well, as Rose says,

In a flash it came to me, and I suddenly understood something about my own generation….Their youth was what kept them moving, a sort of brutal vitality lingering in their muscles and bones that was all too often mistaken for athleticism and grace. But their innocence was something they were obligated to go on faking in order to maintain the illusion something fresh and spontaneous and exciting was just around the next corner.

But for Rose, the reality is that something spontaneous and exciting is around the corner; it just may not be what she thinks.

The Other Typist, though not as tight as perhaps the deft fiction of Sarah Waters, is an enthralling read I’d  compare to Affinity. It’s well worth the read as well as the edginess most readers will feel as Rindell unwinds this novel of love, obsession, and corruption.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta

6th February 2012

If Jack's in love, he's no judge of Jill's beauty. - Benjamin Franklin

*Bought at Barnes & Noble after reading the first 20 pages and being unable to put it down.

What it’s like to be Jack Witcher: like running through a field full of land mines.

It’s 1967, and Jack is a smart kid, but he comes from the kind of family where his dad wants to fight the neighbors, his brother is the “bad kid” no one wants his or her daughter dating, and his mother isn’t all that pretty. The Witcher family is the house in every neighborhood where the residents leave broken chairs on the porch and piles of trash on the side of the house, a beat-up car left with its hood up at all times. If that’s not bad enough, Jack Witcher is in love with Myra, whose brother Gaylord is missing and who everyone suspects met trouble in the form of Stan, Jack’s brother.

Jack fits nowhere, not with his family, not with the kids at school. In fact, the only person who really pays attention to Jack is Mr. Gladstein, a Jewish jeweler who is also a bit out of place, and for some reason, Jack divulges his love for Myra to Gladstein, who gives him a trinket to win the heart of his girl. Myra doesn’t seem to be anything special, though she sticks up for him once or twice, but as Jack says, “Myra was everything to me, probably because there wasn’t much else.”

When I first opened this book, I was waiting for my Nook upgrade at Barnes & Noble, so of course, I was picking up books every chance I got [Hm. I wonder if this was their ulterior motive]. If Jack’s in Love  was on one of the tables, and I flipped to the first page, and then (as there was some trouble with my Nook), kept flipping until my low back began to hurt and I desperately began missing the nice armchairs that have gone in lieu of some crazy toy area. By the time my Nook was ready, I was hooked.

This is no typical coming-of-age novel. Jack is in a truly precarious position, not only in terms of age, but also because of the family dynamics. Witchers ain’t Snitchers, his dad and brother menacingly warn him again and again, and Jack is party to too much knowledge. What do you do when you’re 13, your dad is planning to commit a crime and your brother already has? Witchers ain’t snitchers. Is loyalty worth more than right? There are moments when Jack is genuinely afraid his father or brother may try to kill him because they know Jack’s just not like them. He is frightened of and for his own family, an alcoholic, violent father, a pot-smoking, sadistic brother, and a mother who has checked out.

If Jack’s in Love is a glimpse into that rundown house, that family who yells at one another and can’t control their kids, and it’s pretty petrifying. Now imagine being one of those kids.

Jack – and I – were simply waiting for the moment when one of those land mines would explode.

Other reviews:

The Literate Housewife

largehearted boy