Why does it always feel like summer goes by faster than the other seasons? Probably because you are so busy having fun! August days conjure up images of summer carnivals, day trips to the beach, barbecues, farmers’ markets, crickets, fireflies, and vacations. As the last days of August approach, we hope you hold on to the beauty that summer still has to offer by enjoying a good book at the beach, poolside, or in the comfort of your home.
Mary Oliver perfectly captures the essence of summer in her poem, The Pond.
Now on to our book reviews for the month...
“What happens when a therapist needs a therapist? We find out in the absolutely delightful memoir, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb. She gives us a candid view of the therapist's office from both sides of the couch.
At the age of 44, Gottlieb thought she had it all: a thriving and challenging career, a precocious 8-year-old son, and a loving, committed boyfriend. That is until ‘the boyfriend’ decided he didn’t want kids, including her kid, and he abruptly ended their relationship. The unexpected break-up had Gottlieb reeling and questioning everything in her life. So, she turned to therapy. This is her story, and how through the help of her therapist, she was better able to meet the needs of her own patients, including those suffering everything from a cancer death sentence, to the loss of a child, to a fear of happiness.
Through compassion, grace, humor, and honesty, Gottlieb demonstrates the value of therapy and why our mental health is just as vital to our well-being as our physical health. I highly recommend listening to the audio book version. The narrator is pure magic!”
“Travel Light, Move Fast is another deeply personal memoir by Alexandra Fuller. The author reflects on her father’s life as an open-hearted, loving man, living life to the full in his beautiful Africa. Fuller details her travels to Budapest to be with her father for his last days, while also supporting her mother’s needs and whims.
After her father’s death, she and her mother journey back to Zambia to lay his ashes to rest and grieve their huge loss. Reflecting on the lessons she learned from her father about resilience and survival, she is strengthened to navigate all other loves and losses she has faced in her life. Fuller is a true storyteller and it is through her candid retelling that makes the reader see humor in the chaos of her family’s extraordinary life, and the sadness she experiences while dealing with her personal losses.”
“Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is an attention grabbing, gripping novel. This book contains an intense courtroom drama, an immigration story that leads to much heartache for a mother and her teenage daughter, and the frustrations and difficulties of parents raising children with special needs.
Young and Pak Yoo are Korean immigrants who have settled with their teenage daughter, Mary, in the rural community of Miracle Creek, Virginia. They set up a hyperbolic chamber in their barn that people use as a way to try to heal either themselves or their loved ones by breathing pure oxygen. They have a loyal clientele including Matt, who comes grudgingly every week to treat his fertility issues, and three moms who bring their young children for treatment; Elizabeth and Kit with their autistic sons, and Theresa with her physically handicapped daughter.
There is an explosion at the chamber that kills two people and injures others. This explosion was not an accident. The novel begins with the incident and it takes off from there.
The author has the reader guessing the motives and secrets of all of these characters and there are twists along the way. The trial scenes are amazingly well-written and you will feel the discomfort of those on the witness stand as well as those in the galley. Miracle Creek is a great read and I can't recommend it enough.”
“Nicola Harris transports us to the elite shore of Long Island in her debut novel Montauk. In 1938, the wealthy find a place other than Providence to summer—Montauk, Long Island. Here we encounter the wives of the wealthy who have escaped the hot city to enjoy the summer. The novel provides insight into the lives of the women and the limitations placed upon them by society norms. This is the story of love and loss, betrayal, determination, and survival.
The book follows Beatrice Bordeaux, a newlywed, who thought she made the right choice in her husband and is determined to make her marriage work. Until the day Beatrice is confronted with her husband's transgressions and finds that she just couldn't can’t forgive him. It is only when Beatrice finds the courage to stand up for herself and others does she find personal happiness and true love. I truly admired her.
I thought this was a great debut novel, although the ending was a bit disappointing!”
“In The Porpoise, Mark Haddon has written a masterful version of the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, with all its Greek tragedy and a good deal of violence, but also adventure, romance, and mythological legend. Haddon writes in the present tense, almost as if he is reporting. The story moves fluidly between a modern day plane crash in which a film actress perishes, but her unborn child survives and the ancient story of Pericles, who loses his wife at sea, but their baby survives.
I admired many of the female roles that Haddon portrayed as being resourceful and strong. There is a lot going on with the characters and the issues are many, and most of them have dire secrets, yet I found the tale of Pericles’ ship, the Porpoise and his voyages to be thrilling. I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want the book to end!”
Note to shelf JR:
In The School Book, it is the first day of school which brings emotions of excitement, and anxiety, and everything in between! Author/illustrator Todd Parr depicts the feelings of the first day of school with words of encouragement, bright pictures, and a touch of humor.
But don’t stop there. Todd has a wealth of books on feelings and topics for all occasions. Favorites include It’s Okay To Make Mistakes, Be Who You Are, and The Family Book.