Review: The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele

Book Review #1. Here goes…

Back before little brother was born, I picked this ARC up at the ABA’S Winter Institute, with every intention of reading it on my maternity leave. What did I actually do on maternity leave? Stare at my newborn baby in wonder. A lot. Return to the hospital with a staph infection on my newborn baby for a scary three days (as it turned out, it was as mild as a staph infection on a newborn might be). Try to entertain a toddler while also nursing an infant once we returned home. And watch all four seasons of Outlander. More than once. Reading was not my priority. Hence, blog as motivation.

I read this book in the physical form, although audiobooks are currently saving my reading life a lot. So, no news on the narrator for this one. When I picked this ARC up, it was purely because the author called it literary science fiction, which is my jam. I actually knew nothing about the plot. But it’s also post-apocalyptic, and who doesn’t love that? (To be read with absolutely zero sarcasm.)

Generally, I like my post-apocalyptic fiction like I like my literary fiction: the more broken my heart is at the end, the better. This book did not break my heart. There were some gritty bits; it’s post-apocalyptic, after all. Overall, though, it just made me think about our current world and my place in it. Other than producing new citizens of the world, am I contributing something good? At three months postpartum, I feel like raising my tiny world citizens may be the best I can do, and it’s not a small thing, but looking to the future, when I’m out of the sleep-deprived haze, I’d like to do more. These are not little things for a work of fiction to have me considering. Bravo, Kimi Eisele.

The most important thing for me to say about this book is that it’s beautifully and entrancingly written. I love genre fiction that’s focus is tight plotting as much as the next person, but damn do I also love pretty writing. The plotting of this book starts slow and meandering, but gathers speed as it goes on. You get to know the lovely, flawed, human characters along the way. It’s gorgeous.

The premise is that a large portion of the population dies from a horrid flu and somehow technology is wiped out, but this all happens before the story. A school principal from the east coast decides to trek across the country to find his love on the west coast. We swap perspectives periodically, so we get to follow both his journey and his love’s efforts to help rebuild her community while staying put. You get to see the good and the bad in people on the road and in a neighborhood. It’s a debut novel, but you’d never know it. It’s sweeping and hopeful and will restore your faith in humanity.

I definitely recommend The Lightest Object in the Universe.

Why This Blog?

I am the mother of three boys. My first son was born when I was just 19, so obviously my whole life was changed. My last two, much younger boys entered my life when I was 33 and 35, respectively. I felt much better prepared for them, and in some ways, I was. In others, less so. I had fourteen years between my first son and my later two to get used to being able to go places and not watch someone every second, cook dinner uninterrupted, and most importantly (to me, at least), get some quality reading time in. The arrival of the younger boys threw all that out the window.

I am a lifelong reader. I did go through a bit of a dry reading spell after the birth of big brother, but recovered quickly with Twilight. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with only one child, so reading was still possible. Between his birth and middle brother’s, I found my way into a career in bookselling at my local indie bookstore: all the books I could possibly want and full-time hours. I had just worked out some reading time with a little one at home when, less than two years later, we welcomed little brother to the family. I have one book club book a month that I finish most of the time, and that was the extent of my reading, outside of picture books at storytime. As a bookselling professional and a reader, this was not acceptable.

I have been struggling to get back to what I consider an acceptable number of books to be reading. No judgement of anyone else’s reading habits; I just need a certain number of books in my life to feel even. They are my “mommy time” and my safe haven, and I need them.

In some ways, this blog is just to give me extra motivation to make time for my reading. But in others, it is because I know there are other moms out there who struggle to balance motherhood with their “reading”, whether that actually is books for them or represents some other hobby that they set aside for time for their children but now feel like a fundamental piece of them is dying.

So, what can you expect on this blog? Book reviews, obviously. There will probably be more picture books than adult titles in the beginning, both because you go through them a lot faster, and because I am still working on building in my reading time; little brother just turned three months. But I’m also hoping to write about how making time for self-care, which looks a lot like reading for me personally, makes me stronger for my boys. I’m hoping as these little ones grow to be able to share how seeing me read has encouraged their love of reading or passion to pursue whatever their loves are. I’d love for this blog to have the balance of books and motherhood that I’m trying to achieve in my life.