Review: ‘Round Midnight by Laura McBride

30753569It’s been awhile since I actually finished this book, but I’ve been bogged down by finals so I haven’t had time to write a proper review. However, finals are OVER and now I have all the free time I could want (for like two weeks…). ‘Round Midnight tells the story of four women whose diverse stories all weave together. The story is centered around El Capitan casino on the Las Vegas strip, beginning in the 1950s. The El Capitan ties all these woman together, through present and past events.

When I first saw the cover of this novel, I thought it would be a sappy romance, but it is anything but that, and I am so glad. Instead, McBride gives us a story about womanhood, family and sacrifice. We see a variety of social and economic situations and how that effects each characters life. Everyone’s story is so tightly, but subtly woven together, creating a seamless reading experience.

First, we are introduced to June, who runs a casino with her husband Del in 1950s Vegas. The two are savvy business people, and make a good team, but perhaps not the best marriage. Del’s actions connect June to Coral, a elementary school music teacher who has recently moved back to her hometown of Las Vegas. Coral brings us to Honorata, a young woman from the Philippines who has recently moved to the United States. And finally, Honorata lets us learn about the story of Engracia, her housemaid. I found that knowing less about each character allowed me to enjoy the story more, so I don’t want to give away too many details. I really enjoyed thinking about the relationships between each character, and how they contrasted with each other.

However, some characters stood out more than others. I found June’s story especially compelling, and I wish McBride would have spent a little more time with her, especially  after the events that occur at the end of her section. Both Honorata and Engracia’s stories were ones that I had not read much about in contemporary literature, and I really enjoyed learning about their lives and what they had to do to survive. I didn’t connect as much with Coral’s story, possibly because there isn’t much mystery as to how she connects with the other characters, and nothing much happens during her sections. I wish that there was more to Coral’s sections to make them pop more, and stand alongside the other three women’s sections. Even so, all of these women have unique and individual stories that introduce us to their admirable and inspiring personalities and histories.

The plot itself was ok. I found that the intense age jumps towards the middle of the novel were slightly jarring. I think that if McBride had chosen to focus on less characters, we could have received a fuller picture of each person’s life, and their complete story, making the transitions less awkward. To this end, I think Honorata and Engracia had the most interesting stories and personalities, and their sections were my favorite to read. I think it would have been nice to have focused solely on their stories, to offer more detail and continuity.

Overall, I still really enjoyed this novel, and it was a really quick and absorbing read, regardless of its length. I received an advanced copy from a giveaway hosted by the publisher. I gave it 4/5 stars, and if you are a fan of family dramas, and stories about women, I would definitely recommend this novel!


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