Pat S: News of the World by Paulette Jiles. “Jen promised this was truly special, and boy, oh boy, did she deliver. Set in post-Civil War Texas, our hero is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a seventy something veteran of three wars, and currently an itinerant news reader, somewhat weary with life. Asked to return a ten year old rescued Kiowa kidnap victim to her only remaining family after her parents were massacred, the Captain and Johanna depart. Johanna speaks only Kiowa, eats with her hands and has no memory of her life pre-kidnapping. In fact, her only goal is to return to her Kiowa family;the only family she remembers. With historical period accuracy, the 400 mile trek is studded with weather disasters, devious outlaws and various other trials which will serve as the backdrop to a deep and abiding friendship between this cranky old man and this achingly lonely young girl. We watch as Johanna and the Captain struggle first to communicate, and ultimately to forge unbreakable trust. Little by little, we see them both come back to life. Jiles began her writing life as a poet and this is clear from the fullness of her descriptions delivered with such economy. The single fault of this tale is its' brevity because I never wanted this one to end.”
Kaitlin: The Nest by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney and The Girls by Emma Cline. “I have not one, but TWO books to share this week! First, I listened to the downloadable audio book of The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. I was hooked from the first chapter! It's the story of the grown-up Plumb children, four siblings who are not particularly close and have drifted even further apart with their own lives and families. The siblings have been eagerly awaiting the youngest's 40th birthday, the day in which their very large inheritance would be released to them. The inheritance, referred to as ‘the nest’, will help the siblings out of some major financial messes. But when much of the fortune gets diverted to Leo, the oldest sibling who has found himself in a major scandal, the siblings get intense! The story meanders among the four siblings, but also among some outlier characters that ultimately help to tie the entire story together. I loved listening to it! I'm also just finishing up reading The Girls, by Emma Cline. The story takes place in 1960s California, and follows Evie, a 14-year old girl who gets caught up in a cult/commune of other girls led by Russell, a Charles Manson-type figure. Much of the story relays Evie's emotional ups and downs over the summer--her love for the other girls on the commune, her anger with her mother, her confusion about who she is and who she wants to be. It flashes back between Evie as an adult and her 14-year old self. The story so beautifully told; I really feel as though I'm in Evie's mind, on the (super creepy) ranch with her. I picked it up thinking it might be a creepy thriller, perfect for the Halloween season, but it really is more of a coming-of-age story. I DID get a bit freaked out doing some research on Charles Manson, since those events seem to be the inspiration for the book. In any event, I highly recommend it!”
Mallory: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. “This novel absolutely wrecked me this weekend. Told in alternating chapters, the story follows two teenage boys, Rashad and Quinn. Rashad, who is black, is beaten by a police officer in the first chapter. Quinn, who is white, witnesses the violent event in the second. The rest of the novel has the two boys navigating through their new reality and struggling to come to terms with their past. It's a timely story on race, loyalties, and power that will leave you in tears while also filled with hope”
Nevine: Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi. “This book follows the life of a celebrity from her humble beginnings to her fame as a model, actress, author and judge of one of the most popular food shows on television, Top Chef. Padma Lakshmi came of age in the cultures of two worlds, Indian and American, and her story details her struggles to fit in and assimilate as a young immigrant living in the United States. I found it interesting to learn that she grew up in a household dominated by women. These women greatly influenced her upbringing and her culinary interests. The book is interwoven with stories of food, family and childhood memories, creating a sense of nostalgia and giving us an insight into the diversity of Indian culture. Padma, as an adult, did not always lead the life of glitz and glamour that we usually associate with celebrities. Through her accounts, we learn much of her personal struggles to cope with the dissolution of her marriage to Salman Rushdie, her medical diagnosis of endometriosis and her life as a single mother to her daughter.’
Pat T:A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman. “I am a little late to the party, but I just finished listening to, A Man Called Ove. Since the movie adaptation of this book was recently released, I thought I should read the book before seeing the movie, since the book is almost always better than the movie! This story is about a curmudgeon named Ove who had 2 great loves in his life; his wife and his Saab! His first and great love was his wife Sonja. Ove felt his life only truly began when he met Sonja. After Sonja's death, Ove became bitter and isolated, filling his days with visiting his wife's graveside and enforcing the block association rules. Then Ove concocted ways to join Sonja in the afterlife. Each suicide attempt fails humorously until slowly his neighbors started to rely on Ove's competence and abilities. Ove's second love were the Saab cars that he owned throughout his life. His best friend and next door neighbor named Rune was a Volvo man. Their relationship was a bitter rivalry for many years. It's only when he begins to connect with his needy, noisy neighbors that he begins to live again. It's a very poignant story that has the reader routing for Ove and all his neighbors. I laughed and cried with this story.
Virginia: Home by Harlan Coben. “What is the saying, ‘good things come to those who wait?’ It has been more than five years since Harlan Coben has written a book for his Myron Bolitar series, but he finally brings the full cast of characters back in his recent novel, Home. This action-packed thriller reunites Myron and Win, his eccentric and mysterious best friend, as they search to discover the fate of Win’s nephew. Ten years ago, the boy along with his best friend, were kidnapped from their home never to be seen again. That is until recently, when the other boy returns home under suspicious circumstances. Now, Win and Myron are determined to find his nephew using whatever means they feel are necessary. I am happy to report the book did not disappoint and was well worth the wait!”
Laura: The Witch. “For those looking for a scary movie I highly recommend The Witch. It is not a teenage Halloween horror film in the least. I repeat, it is not. The acting, directing and story are way too sophisticated for that genre. Set in 1630, the story revolves around Thomasin a coming of age adolescent girl whose family has been banished from the safe confines of the village. At their new homestead closer to the woods their newborn child, who Thomasin was caring for, is suddenly missing. Mother and Father suspect witchcraft is afoot and wonder if their daughter is a witch. Strange happenings continue to occur to Thomasin's brother and two young twin siblings as she fights to prove her innocence. The story comes to a creepy and dramatic end when the mother and father confront her. As a slow-building horror story, I thought this film was superb. The writer-director, Robert Eggers, actually used the true diaries of New England colonial settlers of the 1630's and wove their words and their actions into this story. The film strives, and does a good job, in being historically accurate to the diaries however, at times, the actor’s language is difficult to understand because they are speaking in Colonial English but overall, this is a superb scary movie.”