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The Net Beneath Us/When We Were Bright and Beautiful


Author events are one of my favorite ways to connect with the book community. One of my favorite independent bookstores hosts Literature Lover's Night Out where they highlight a handful of authors. The event I attended last week featured two new to me authors that I am highlighting in today's post. Both shared what inspired their stories and what went into finishing their books. It was fascinating and gives you a deep appreciation for their craft.


The Net Beneath Us

Set in the secluded woods of northern Wisconsin, young mother Elsa loses her husband unexpectedly in a logging accident. Winter is on the way and the house they were in the process of building in unfinished, without running water and powered by generators. Elsa is determined to carry on her husband's legacy, while caring for her two young children and struggling with her grief.


The Net Beneath Us is a story of love and grief, as well as who is there to lift you up when you hit rock bottom. Dunbar has plenty of imagery with nature, specifically trees, and she uses trees as a metaphor for human connection. I really enjoyed this story and connected with Elsa on several levels. (I also love a book set in Wisconsin, so I was immediately drawn in.)


Trigger warning: death of a loved one


Fun fact: Dunbar shared a little about her life, much of which inspired this book. She currently resides in a secluded section of woods in northern Wisconsin. Her house is powered by sunlight, and she lived through some similar situations as Elsa (living without running water while raising young children, chopping firewood for heat, her husband experiencing an unexpected logging accident, etc.) Fascinating!

When We Were Bright and Beautiful

If you are looking for a propulsive and polarizing book that will make for an amazing book club conversation, look no further than When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff. Set in the exclusive world of affluent New York society. The Quinn family seems to have it all, until middle child Billy is accused of rape and has to stand trial. Told from the perspective of the youngest sibling, Cassie, the truth behind Billy unfolds and Cassie starts to piece together her own trauma.


This one is controversial. It has plenty of trigger warnings and is not a "feel good" book, but it will make you think. This book reminded me in many ways of Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, in the sense that the ending doesn’t end in resolution with a perfectly tied bow on top. I truly think this one would make an amazing book club choice because there is so much to unpack.


Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, grooming



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