I rarely bother to read books that are rated less than 3 stars on Goodreads. That community generally has decent taste. Sophie Hannah’s latest (or second to latest, I’m not sure) has a 2.76 rating. But I love Sophie Hannah! Most of her books are great, and the ones that aren’t great are at least pretty good. So I ignored the rating and grabbed a copy of The Orphan Choir at the library.
I’m sorry, Goodreads — I should have listened. This book was so, so bad.
“It gets 2 stars only because the protagonist gets what I wanted her to get at the end.” — that’s a Goodreads reviewer’s quote, not one from the book, and I’m repeating it because YES.
Louise Beeston’s seven year old son has gone away to boarding school (against her wishes) due to his incredible vocal talent. She and her husband remain behind, and she’s slowly (and grumpily) losing her mind. She’s fighting with her neighbor, admittedly an asshole, because he plays loud music all evening. And then, in the middle of the night, he quietly plays boys’ choral music through the walls to disturb her. She contacts the noise ordinance people, and while waiting for them to do their thing, begins dreaming of a second home in this eerily quiet community, where everything will be wonderful again.
At first, I really felt bad for Louise. I’m a super light sleeper, and I’m totally that chick in the neighborhood who calls animal control on neighbors who let their dogs bark all night. So I sympathized with her. And she was obviously going through some stuff.
But then she goes NUTS. And here’s the thing about Sophie Hannah novels — usually, there’s really creepy/weird stuff happening throughout, stuff that can only be explained by a supernatural force or something. But then, you get to the end and it turns out that there’s this really rational explanation for it all — unreliable narrator, secret stalker, etc. This book — fuck this book. You get to the end, and it’s like she cranks up the crazy to eleven. And it’s not fun crazy, it’s stupid crazy.
One plus (besides the main character getting hers by the end of the damn thing) — it’s only 280 pages, and I managed to hate-read it in one evening.