This beautifully rendered novel is about the life of Christina Olson, the inspiration for Andrew Wyeth's famous painting 'Christina's World.' Moving back and forth between Christina's childhood and her long-term relationship with Wyeth during her middle years, Baker Kline does a masterful job giving us insight into a fiercely independent woman who has suffered so many disappointments, but who still manages to create a fulfilling life for herself and inspire those around her with her strength.
This is a hauntingly beautiful story about a woman who must face truths about herself and her marriage in the most unusual circumstances. She and her husband have kept the news of their separation secret. When he goes missing on a research trip in Greece, it is assumed that she, his wife, will go to Greece to find him. The cast of characters she meets and situations she encounters there give her much to ponder as she delves into the mystery of her husband's disappearance. Her journey to self-realization is deeply moving and will resonate with anyone who has had a tumultuous
This is a fabulous love story with unlikely protagonists! Lillian Boxfish, a fictionalized character based on the real life 1930 advertising phenom, Margaret Fishback, is in love with New York City and has been for well over sixty years. As she walks the streets of Manhattan on New Year's Eve, 1984, we are privy to her unique encounters of the evening but also her memories of NYC from the 1930s to the 1980s. A remarkable story full of love, sorrow, poetry, history, and even a good dose of common sense philosophy. You will fall in love with Lillian for sure!
This novel is a classic tale of the downtrodden striving to achieve the American dream, with some important unique new twists. Peelle's characters are so real and appealing, as are their struggles to bridge class divides as they come to grips with some of the more negative aspects of power. Set in Tennessee at the onset of World War I, The Midnight Cool gives unique insights into wartime rhetoric and bigotry, mule trading, and prohibition among other cultural issues of the times. Well written, fast paced and interesting!
This is a charming memoir of the author's transition from Nigeria to his life in America -- presented as a series of short stories. Ndibe's self-deprecating sense of humor lends an air of mischief and levity to issues as benign as miscommunication about cultural norms like "going dutch" and "personal space" but also hits hard around issues of racial profiling, colonialization, and discrimination. Ndibe's story resonates on a more personal dimension as he comes full circle as a writer and as a man of principle.
Irony and sarcasm lace this fabulous character study in classic Francine Prose style. We are introduced to a series of misanthropic characters who are loosely connected through an unremarkable off-off-off-off-broadway production of a time-worn children's musical. The realistic and unique rendering of these individuals is truly remarkable as Prose manages to combine humor and great depth with compassion in each life she creates. Great read!
Wow! Incredible writing meets an absolutely devastating story in this amazing poetic debut novel. The struggle to overcome brutal emotional and physical trauma in childhood colors every aspect of the lives of the Appleton sisters. Tucker's writing is edgy, sparse and inventive as she expertly shows us the inner thoughts and workings of a truly dysfunctional family that manages to maintain hope and grace despite incredible odds. Achingly beautiful!
Plagued by mistakes and regret, Josie takes her two young children, flees to Alaska, rents a beat up camper, and begins the most important adventure of her life. Eggers gives us a colorful ride through the breathtaking Alaskan landscape complete with gun toting parents, hippies, fire fighters, and more while simultaneously conveying Josie's mental anguish as she examines her past. Can she finally find peace and redemption?
Is the American Dream real? The Jongo family believes it is when they leave their native Cameroon to seek opportunity and democracy in New York City. As the family becomes enmeshed in the Wall Street crash of 2007 and experiences the effects of great wealth on the devastation of family values, they are not so sure America is the promised land. An immigrant story not often told, Behold the Dreamers is a realistic look at the choices and trade-offs immigrants must make to have freedom and wealth at the cost of family and tradition.
Odelle, a Caribbean native scraping out a living in London in the 1960s, finds herself in the middle of an intrigue involving a mysterious piece of art. Burton takes us back and forth between the origin of the painting in pre-war Spain and its dramatic entrance into the public eye at a posh British art gallery. Unique characters and unusual situations in both settings will keep you reading to understand the truth behind the layers of mystique surrounding the painting and the players involved in creating it. A fast paced and well developed literary thriller!
This is a compelling story about a family dealing with the substantial mental health issues of both the father and one of the children. Haslett does a masterful job illustrating the perspectives of five family members as they deal with issues large and small over a forty-year period. Small moments hold humor as well as heartbreak, including a fabulous scene of a birthday dinner held at a restaurant no one can afford. I was spellbound by the incredible writing, depth of characters, and insightful treatment of each individual's journey as an integral part of this family.
Hunger Games meets The Stand in this fast paced dystopian thriller. Imagine being a contestant in a survival reality television show. Sometime during your solo mission, unbeknownst to you, a deadly pandemic erupts, quickly killing most of the world's population. You believe every strange situation you encounter is a challenge issued by the producers of the show. One can only imagine the finale of this game show nightmare. A fascinating premise with page turning action -- just make sure you keep the lights on!
Did Anton Chekhov write a novel that has yet to be discovered? Anderson writes a vividly imaginative story based on the actual diaries of Zinaida Lintvaryova, whose family rented a guest house to the Chekhov family during the summer of1888. Life on a Ukrainian estate with a group of highly artistic Chekhovs and equally accomplished young women on the Lintvaryov side makes for a fascinating subject on its own. Add a modern twist in 2014 with a struggling British publishing house, a down on her luck translator, and the beginnings of the current Ukrainian struggles with Russia and you have a fabulous story that is difficult to put down!
This charming story takes us deep into the life of Steven Rowley and his amazing relationship with his enigmatic dachshund, Lily. This remarkable tribute to Lily helps Rowley deal with his own grief and loss and forces him to reassess his life and redefine what is most important to him. He combines humor, love, and deep emotion in this magical and sometimes surreal journey of the soul.
This tender and charming novel is delightful in its exploration of inter-generational relationships. Outwardly, we learn about a quirky boy, who dreams of setting a Guinness World Record, and his friendship with an 104 year old woman. As Wood takes us deeper into the story, we gain valuable insights into parental love, deep friendships, and the myriad forms of grief. Wonderfully powerful and uplifting, The-One-in-A- Million Boy will leave you revitalized and ready to pay it forward and maybe even set a record or two of your own!
Quindlen does it all, effortlessly weaving realistic and well-drawn characters into a compelling tale. The Millers refuse to sell out to big business even though their home sits in the middle of a man-made flood zone. We learn about the struggles and determination of this remarkable family through the narration of the sharp witted Miller daughter, Mimi. Deeply moving and unpredictable, Miller's Valley is a pleasure to read!
This is a beautifully crafted story about the mysterious disappearance of a 17 year old boy in Nigeria during the oil boom of the 1990s. Ile masterfully and ever so subtly interweaves the ordinary everyday lives of a middle class family against the backdrop of big oil company corruption, police brutality, and general anarchy. The dramatic contrast between city life and village dwelling, as well as the devastating emotional toll on the family, are seamlessly rendered and deeply moving.
The State We're In is yet another truly wonderful collection of short stories by Ann Beattie. All of these particular tales take place in the state of Maine with several shared characters to offer differing perspectives of the same situations. These snippets of individuals of all ages and walks of life are so vivid that I felt more of an eyewitness to a scene unfolding before me than a reader!
Yapa takes us into the streets and inner workings of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle from a myriad of fascinating perspectives including policemen, protesters, and even a delegate from Sri Lanka. Vivid prose and character development fully capture your attention, but the lasting effects of this engagement on the psyches of those involved are even more compelling. A wonderful book to challenge your own thinking regarding civil disobedience and a terrific gateway to wider discussion of important issues.
The Good Shufu is an hilarious and emotional account of the author's transformation from a fiercely independent American career woman into a good Japanese wife. Full of wit and charm!
The Shore is an engrossing compilation of grimly realistic and interrelated vignettes which take place on the isolated islands off the Virginia coast between 1876 and 2037. Although an element of misery is common to most stories, Taylor manages to balance the gloom with doses of mysticism, inner strength and redemption for her favored protagonists. The Shore is heart wrenching, emotional and addictive from beginning to end.
Barefoot Dogs is a powerful collection of stories about the Artega family's experiences in Mexico City and abroad. Tragedy strikes when the powerful patriarch is kidnapped and the majority of the family disperses rapidly to begin again in new locales. Each story highlights a different aspect of displacement and loss from various family member perspectives. Ruiz-Camacho's treatment of grief and disorientation is compelling and real!
Delicious Foods is a compelling and disturbing tale of the devastating effects of crack cocaine addiction. Darlene is a young wife and mother who is deeply in love with her activist husband. When he is violently murdered, her grief turns into despair which leads to experimentation with and finally addiction to crack. Hannaham demonstrates the slow insidious path to addiction by invoking the voice of crack itself. The need to feed her habit leads Darlene and eventually her son to a life of near slavery. As one horrific event leads to another, we witness the constant struggle between freedom and addiction which haunts Darlene and her co-users. This exposé-type novel debunks the stereotypical crack addict and highlights the extreme difficulty in breaking free of addiction.
The Nightingale is the story of two French sisters who offer resistance to the Nazis by employing very different but equally powerful methods. Hannah captures the impossible choices the French women were forced to make on a daily basis and the grim realities of hunger, fear and uncertainty which were endemic under war time occupation. A fresh twist on a difficult period in world history.
I am Radar by Reif Larsen is an ambitious novel populated by well drawn and unique characters whose lives collide in the strangest places including Belgrade, Cambodia and the Congo. Central to this riveting story is a longstanding performance installation group which developed in the aftermath of World War II and struggles to exist with each successive show. Larsen manages to combine humor and absurdity with horrible crimes against humanity to illustrate the power of human resilience.
Luigi's Freedom Ride is the fast-paced, quirky story of Luigi Ferraro, "a bicycle man of the highest order". As a youth, Luigi rebuilds a discarded bicycle, and from then on the business of bicycles becomes his life's passion. Luigi's adventures as an Italian conscript in World War II and his ensuing journey to the "farthest place in the world" are by turn humorous and heartbreaking. Murray 's satirical style highlights disturbing truths about Mussolini's regime and strikes a wonderful balance between his light, free spirited characters and the hard-hitting realities of wartime survival.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James is a marvelous tale of friendship, love, honor, duty and self discovery as lived by three of the most memorable characters you will ever meet. This well told story shifts from current day octogenarian wisdom and soul searching back to depression era farm life in Western Canada and the grim realities of World War II. Etta's decision to venture to the sea on her own marks the beginning of her individual journey but also sets off a chain reaction in the lives of the men she holds dear. Enchanting!
This Dark Road to Mercy is a fast paced novel about the plight of two motherless sisters, their wayward father, a damaged legal guardian and a violent ex-convict with revenge in his blood. Although the plot steals the show, Cash's beautiful prose and believable, poetic characters give this literary thriller depth and emotion. You will not be able to put it down!
Friendswood transports us to a small oil refining community in Texas where an unusually high percentage of the population contracts cancer. Steinke takes us deep into the lives of well drawn main characters to highlight the interconnectedness as well as the tensions among the residents of Friendswood. The chain reaction of events both in the adult world of fighting big business and the teen world of fighting for social acceptance all climax to dramatically affect the lives of all involved. Fast moving and suspenseful!