Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. This week’s prompt is Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful…. Freebie!
Hello Readers! While the Thanksgiving that we grew up celebrating here in the States isn’t historically accurate—and we’re still trying to come to terms with the fact we were lied to—I still think it’s good to set a day aside to be thankful and spend time with those we love (as long as it’s safe to do so). This year we’ve chosen to stay home in the hopes that we can keep everyone we love safe and be back together next year.
I’ve been terrible about blog hopping lately, and I’m missing you all so much! I’ve managed to keep up with Nanowrimo and read a few books, as well. I’m only one book away from finishing my yearly Popsugar Reading Challenge! Last week we drove a few hours away and stayed in a cute Airbnb house for a few nights. My husband works from home and my kids all do online school, so we’ve literally been in our house since March. We were going a bit stir crazy. It was nice to look at different walls for a few days. And I had a fun book photo session, some of which you can see in my latest review of Super Fake Love Song.
I started working on the 2020 books I’m most thankful for for this freebie, but I realized it was just a list of my favorite reads from 2020 (which I’ll be sharing closer to the end of the year) so I started thinking about books set around Thanksgiving or that feature a Thanksgiving dinner scene. It’s an event that is usually ripe for drama. 😉
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.
But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh.
As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
If you’ve read To All the Boys you know Lara Jean loves to cook. She whips together Thanksgiving dinner for her, her younger sister Kitty, her dad, and her Asian grandmother, who swiftly begins to ply her father with questions about his lack of a love-life since their mother passed away. I’d eat any dinner Lara Jean had a hand in preparing—with or without the drama.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.
Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness.
First published in 1952, East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis.
Cal presents his father with a gift at Thanksgiving dinner that doesn’t go over well…
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
Weiner’s witty, original, fast-moving debut features a lovable heroine, a solid cast, snappy dialogue and a poignant take on life’s priorities.
For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.
But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.
It’s been a few years since I read the very funny Good in Bed, but there is a Thanksgiving dinner scene. And I also just saw news that Mindy Kaling is set to star in and produce an adaptation of Good in Bed! Looking forward to that.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward-with hope and pain-into the future.
An American Marriage includes a very tense Thanksgiving dinner with secrets and revelations.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Fangirl features a somewhat sad Thanksgiving for Cath as she’s still trying to grapple with her sister’s distancing.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Astronaut Mark Watney spends Thanksgiving like no other person ever has in The Martian.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
A multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.
When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.
As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.
One of my favorite reads last year, The Most Fun We Ever Had even has a “Second Thanksgiving.”
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done.
The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen.
But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
With the Fire on High is full of delicious meals, and while Thanksgiving isn’t a big part of the book, it is mentioned.
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
Nothing is ever the same.
Miles gets out of going home for Thanksgiving so he can stay at school with his friends, who he ends up sharing Thanksgiving dinner with.
The Ice Storm by Rick Moody
The year is 1973. As a freak winter storm bears down on an exclusive, affluent suburb in Connecticut, cars skid out of control, men and women swap partners, and their children experiment with sex, drugs, and even suicide.
Here two families, the Hoods and the Williamses, come face-to-face with the seething emotions behind the well-clipped lawns of their lives – in a novel widely hailed as a funny, acerbic, and moving hymn to a dazed and confused era of American life.
The Ice Storm is the only book on my list I haven’t read, but I did catch the film adaptation late one night. It’s set during Thanksgiving and is full of all kinds of family drama.
Can you think of other books with Thanksgiving scenes? Let me know in the comments!