For the Love of Reading

Orphan Train

I had a personal connection to this novel because my mom was raised as an orphan in Chicago. Luckily, she never had to experience adoptions or sharing foster homes with unloving parents but she did start out on her own at age sixteen working as a salesgirl in the Chicago Loop.

This touching intertwined story of two orphans: one contemporary and one from depression era days, was a quick and touching read. It begins with Goth-looking Molly, a young, half-Native America girl from Maine who just got busted for stealing a book from the public library.  Really? Well not every detail in a novel has to be 100% authentic.   

In case you’re curious, Molly took the third and the most beaten-up copy of Jane Eyre.

Once in the West

Several best poetry lists of the year include this seventh title by Christian Wiman, former editor of the well-renowned Poetry Magazine, who now teaches at Yale Divinity School.

His interest in theology and his experience as a person with a terminal disease bring a unique focus to his writing as these lines attest: “A soul / extrapolated // from the body’s / need // needs a body / of loss.”  In another poem “The Preacher Addresses the Seminarians” he shows the power of the right words to hone in, “I tell you some Sundays even the children’s sermon / --maybe especially this—sharks your gut // like a bite of tin some beer-guzzling goat / either drunkenly or mistakenly decides to sample.”  

As he did in his memoir My Bright Abyss about life after a bone marrow transplant, Wiman dives deep. There is no surface skimming for him.  Several poems celebrate his

I Was Here

ImageI Was Here is the newest book from Gayle Forman, the author of If I Stay. This story follows Cody, a recent high school graduate who is stuck in her small town, cleaning houses, and attending community college. Her life has always revolved around her best friend, Meg. Meg, who's family is Cody's family. Meg, who has moved far away for school. Meg, who has just committed suicide.

Things I Should Have Told...Memoirs and Biographies in Honor of Black History Month

Pearl CleageThings I Should Have Told My Daughter by Pearl Cleage

After rediscovering boxes full of old journals, Pearl Cleage’s daughter suggests burning them.  Instead, the poet, author and civil rights activist chose diary excerpts from 1970-1988 and combined with little context them to form Things I Should Have Told My Daughter.  This candid memoir addresses Cleage’s struggle against racism and sexism, as well as her problematic relationship with her husband Georgia politician Michael Lomax, and her role as speech writer of Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson.

Deep Down Dark

Even though I knew the ending before I opened this book, this in-depth, emotionally and factually rich story of 33 miners trapped under the earth for sixty-nine days was a real thriller.

The book opens with a photograph of the 33 men who survived two months deep underground. Thirty-two were from Chile, and there was one young miner from Bolivia who had the amazingly bad luck to be stuck in a mine collapse on his very first day of work.

In his fourth book, journalist Tobar presents not only the San Jose mine but an overview of modern Chilean life. He begins with a rich description of many of the miners and their families, some of whom travelled almost the whole length of Chile for their jobs.

2015 Alex Award Winners

On Monday, the American Library Association announced the winners for their Youth Media Awards categories.   One of the awards, the Alex Awards, highlights ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year's publishing. We’ve highlighted four of the titles, but you can see the full list of award winners and nominees here.

 

Bingo's RunBingo’s Run by James A. Levine.

Bingo is the fastest runner in all of Nairobi-drug runner, this is.  For several years Bingo has gotten away with trafficking illegal substances in and around a luxury resort, mostly because he looks far younger than his 15 years and he can fly under the radar.  Until he witnesses a murder and is sent to live at an orphanage and subsequently adopted by an American Woman who challenges his sense of morality. Darkly humorous, this compelling novel draws on African Folklore.

 

 

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

While part of a mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Whatney gets separated from his team by a dust storm on the red planet and is assumed dead.  The team begins their return to Earth, but Whatney is alive and alone on Mars-with little supplies and no communication devices.  Think Gravity meets Survivor.  Read it before the movie comes out in November.

 

 

 

Terrorist's SonThe Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice,” by Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles

When Zak Ebrahim was 12 years old when his father was sent to prison for shooting and killing the leader of the Jewish Defense League.  During that prison sentence Ebrahim’s father helped plan the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.  This memoir is an important piece in the terrorism discussion and demonstrates that hate is always a choice-and so is tolerance.

 

 

Those Who Wish Me DeadThose Who Wish Me Dead,” by Michael Koryta

After 13 year old Jace witnesses a murder and narrowly escapes from the murderers himself.  The authorities send him to wilderness/survival training camp/witness protection program under an assumed identity to keep him safe until the murderers are caught.  What the authorities didn’t count on was the murderers infiltrating the program looking for Jace! Written by Bloomington’s Michael Koryta.

 

 

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