As April ends and May begins, a new roundup of titles the Library staff have enjoyed!
If you love a long family saga to get involved in, try The Son by Philipp Meyer. The story of the McCullough family starts with the kidnapping in 1849 of Eli, a 13-year-old white boy, who is carried off by Comanche Native Americans. Though he adapts well, times are changing and as the Comanche become unable to maintain their lifestyle, Eli finds himself back in the white man’s world but no longer fully feeling a part of it. Eli’s telling of the story is interspersed with his son Pete’s voice, centering in the late 1910’s, and his great-granddaughter’s, Jeannie, who carries the family’s story to the present. The morals and choices needed to become a wealthy ranching-and-oil dynasty are set against the background of Texas history. I found the descriptions of Comanche life and customs particularly fascinating.
Another historical novel is The Kept by James Scott. Set in the 19th century in upstate New York, this is a deeply atmospheric book with finely-drawn characters that will linger in your memory long after the last sentence has been read. In the harsh winter of 1897, Elspeth returns home to a grisly crime scene that only her 12-year-old son Caleb survived. Together they seek revenge and as secrets are unfolded, ultimately, they are able to form a new bond.
On a much lighter note, Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith makes a great vacation read, especially for someone lucky enough to be traveling by train from Edinburgh to London, where it takes place. The pace of the story itself conjures up the feel of the train’s rhythm, as each character shares his/her own experiences involving trains and their personal relationships. There’s the comfort of anonymity here, similar to sitting next to strangers on an airplane for hours and discussing life’s little details with no concern for future ramifications.
In nonfiction, there is something for almost everyone in Ann Patchett’s collection of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She is so wise, and these essays and previously-published articles cover everything from the controversy surrounding her commencement address at Clemson University to how she got started in the business of writing, to opening her bookstore, to training to be a member of the LAPD.
Also in nonficion, Pat & Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage by Will Swift concentrates on the relationship rather than the politics. For everyone who thought the President and First Lady were America’s original odd couple, Swift’s revelations about a kinder, gentler Nixon and his tougher, more independent wife will open some eyes to the private story behind a very public relationship.
And last, some fiction for those who enjoy Young Adult books. Reality Boy by A. S. King is one messed up book about one very messed up family. Sixteen year old Gerald Faust is trying to live a normal life after having been featured on a reality TV show. Network Nanny, similar to Super Nanny, tried to “fix” the problem children of the household but failed to address the real problems- a violent psychotic sister and an emotionally detached mother, leaving a very resentful Gerald, who acted out the only way he knew how. Gerald is now sixteen and still trying to emotionally cope with his anger, hurt and resentment about what he has to deal with in his crazy, dysfunctional home. The characters are amazing in this book, and King does a fine job of making you hate this family and reality TV. Relevant, uncomfortable, difficult, heartbreaking and shocking all describe this book.