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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

    I hope you saw my review two weeks ago of Leif Enger’s book Virgil Wander. Gosh I loved that book and was very intrigued to read more by this author.

    If you loved Ordinary Grace, you will love Peace Like a River.

    Written in 2001, Peace Like a River is the story of Reuben Land and his family and their small town life. Once again Enger’s character development is perfection, as we fall quickly in love with Reuben, his brother Davy, sister Swede and father Jeremiah – a miracle worker in Reuben’s mind.

    The family finds itself on a cross-country trek in search of outlaw brother Davy, after a murder takes place. The journey include miracles and adventure and tests the family’s faith to it’s core. Along the way the family will befriend strangers who touch their lives and find peace like a river in family, friends, love and faith.

    A beautiful story that will make you want to keep reading beyond the end. A remarkable plot with striking and indelible characters you will cherish.

    *****Five stars for Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

    Read last week’s review of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

    My current read Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemm

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

    Reading Wednesday

    Wow. This book is just wow. Poignant but also provocative. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents describes racism in the United States. But Wilkerson takes it further…further than I have heard or read before.

    I have never disputed the fact that the United States is a racist place, but Wilkerson guides us through her theory that racism in the USA is a product of a caste system, a society-wide hierarchy. A system of inclusion and exclusion. I found it gripping and truthful and honest.

    This book will make many people uncomfortable. It will make racists balk and claim it’s a farce. It will make people of color shake their heads in agreement and disgust. It will make people like me, someone who does not consider herself racist, stop and take stock of my own life and caste.

    Wilkerson guides the reader through eight pillars of a caste system, all clearly in use today in the USA. Many stem from the very founding of our country. Others are more recently developed and upheld. She guides the reader through the theory identifying the contagion of caste just like a virus and how the caste system self=perpetuates by rewarding those lower class people who abide by the unwritten rules.

    The New York Times claimed this book “an instant American classic and almonst certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the century so far.” Very high praise indeed.

    Timely, chilling, astonishing. The book likely won’t change the thinking of racists around us, but might give pause and hope and direction to those who flounder in the middle.

    *****One of the best books I have read in years. Five big stars for Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson.

    Read last week’s review of Virgil Wander

    My current read The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

    Reading Wednesday

    After a bit of a dry spell, I’ve stumbled thankfully into some lovely feel good stories lately. And this book is one of them. I hope you enjoy my book review of Virgil Wander by Leif Enger.

    It’s a funny coinkydink, because I downloaded this book after it showed up on a list of best books from 2018. I hadn’t started reading it yet and my friend Merry mentioned Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, claiming it one of her all-time favorites. I began to wonder who was this Leif guy and why have I not read anything by him?

    And so I began Virgil Wander, and found Leif Enger

    Virgil Wander nearly dies in a car accident, only to come out of the experience with a new life awakening. As he heals he begins to notice more clearly people and things in his small Midwestern town life. Given the small town setting, as you might expect, Virgil’s story is accompanied by a wide range of characters that Enger brilliantly develops. In fact the character development of this cast is one of my favorite things about this story; from the sudden appearance of Rune a kite flying old man or the reappearance of the town’s prodigal son Adam Leer, to the life long residents like down on his luck Jerry, town drunk Shad, widow Nadine and Mayor Lydia. These are the people who make the plot of Virgil Wander unfold in a humorous and captivating way.

    Enger has a talent I long for as a writing. He is gifted in his ability to turn a phrase, choose a word, fulfill a prose – in a way that puts you square in the heart of the moment, not just the story but the exact moment and believe you are there. Brilliant.

    “The surface of everything is thinner than we know. A person can fall right through, without any warning at all.”

    “He had a heartening bulk of the aging athlete defeated by pastry.”

    I really loved this book and I think you will too. A look into life in small town upper Midwest America, and the people who love their town and each other. Their journey is Virgil Wander.

    I hope you enjoyed my book review of Virgil Wander by Leif Enger.

    *****Five Stars for Virgil Wander.

    Read last week’s review of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

    My current read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

    This book kept showing up on lists of favorites by other readers I follow. But I was hesitant to read ANOTHER World War II story. But I relented and downloaded it to listen to on audible on our recent road trip. It was a very pleasant surprise. Please enjoy my book review of Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.

    Sullivan happened upon the story of Pino Lella, a real person, who became an uncommon hero in Italy during World War II. When Sullivan approached the aging Lella, Lella didn’t understand how anyone could think him a hero or want to write his story.

    But Lella is another, like many before him, who risked everything during WWII to do what he knew was right in his heart and save many, many people in the process. Pino Lella, an Italian teenager, was a real hero.

    Sullivan walks the reader through the Italian side of WWII, in itself a refreshing storyline war story. Pino’s first hand account of what happened to him, as well as extensive research by the author, creates a suspenseful and often hard-to-believe tale of life in Italy during the war under Nazi occupation. Pino finds himself a spy, at the right hand of one of the Nazi’s most notorious leaders. His position, wit and savoir faire keeps him alive while also saving many Italians.

    Near death experiences, meeting Moussilini, falling in love, saving Jews, seeing death everywhere he turns, wearing the Nazi uniform and his greatest heartbreak – non of these things take Pino down. His uncommon valor as such a young man makes him an uncommon hero.

    My husband found some of the story not believable. But I’ve read enough WWII stories to except how living through such a unprecedented time created unprecedented heroes. I loved the book and Pino Lella. Thanks for reading my book review of Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.

    *****Five Stars for Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

    Read last week’s review of Dear Edward

    My current read Peace Like a River by Lief Enger

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

    Reading Wednesday

    Brilliant. This book is brilliant. Please enjoy my book review of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.

    I wasn’t sure I should read this book. All I knew about it was that it was about a plane crash, and since I am a bit fearful of flying (yes even with all my travel) I thought it might be a mistake. But I am sure glad I did.

    Because this beautiful story is not about a plane crash as much as it is about life and living. Napolitano’s luminous prose bring the reader so close and personal to the characters in this novel you feel you are right there with them. Not just the main character Edward, a 12-year old boy and the sole survivor of a plane crash, but each and every person who is touched by this experience.

    The web of connected lives, survivors and non-survivors, family, acquaintances and the entire world is beautifully illustrated in the aftermath and ensuing years as the story of Dear Edward unfolds.

    Yes there is a plane crash, but the real story is about living and loving and mending and how resilient we all are. Thanks for reading my book review of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.

    *****Five stars for Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.

    Read last week’s review of 28 Summers

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

    Reading Wednesday

    A perfect summer read, 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand is one of those romantic yet complicated stories to enjoy at the beach. Or anytime really. I didn’t recommend this one to my husband…it is more of chic book. But that’s okay, I enjoyed it. Liked not loved.

    We get pulled into the unexpected romance of Mallory and Jake when they are young and carefree and still trying to figuring who they are and where they are going. In 1993 twenty-something Mallory inherits a summer cottage on Nantucket and decides this is where she will spend her life. When her brother brings his bros to the island to enjoy a bachelor party, Mallory meets Jake. It’s Labor Day weekend 1993.

    Jake is semi-attached but not wholly committed to Ursula de Gournsey, a driven woman who get’s what she wants through will, wit and sacrifice.

    But on this weekend in 1993 Mallory and Jake will form a bond, and begin a love affair that will last 28 summers. Coming together on Nantucket no matter what, every Labor Day weekend.

    Based loosely on the story “Same Time Next Year” Hildebrand develops a love story, not always believable that it could be kept a secret in this day and age, but still sweet and sometimes sappy. Mallory and Jake were meant to be together, but status, distance, power struggles, politics and decisions and mistakes they each make along the way, cause their relationship to only be one weekend a year.

    You’ll spend the whole book rooting for their love, and shed a few tears when the middle-aged lovers spend their last weekend together.

    ****An easy summer read. Four stars for 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

    Read last week’s review of This Tender Land.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    One of the best books I have read in months. I have been struggling to find a really captivating novel for a while. I found it here in this beautifully written story. Here is my book review of This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.

    Set in Minnesota in 1932, our narrator is a 12-year old boy (nearly thirteen, he keeps telling the reader), finds himself caught up in an adventure of a lifetime. Leaving behind the cruel and corrupt Lincoln Indian School, Odie O’Banion and three other orphans set off to find a new life, and nearly perish in doing so.

    Odie (nearly 13, his older brother Albert, Moses ( a mute Sioux boy) and 6-year old Emmy are all searching for something – home. They become a little family as they navigate in a canoe from Lincoln School towards Saint Louis on the Mississippi.

    Of course a multitude of dangerous, funny, frightening and surreal adventures ensue…including murder, kidnap, snake bites and near starvation as the four orphans endure great loss and pain, reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath and Tom Sawyer all in one book.

    I enjoyed William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace (see my review), but I loved This Tender Land and think Krueger’s storytelling ability shines bright in this coming of age novel about life in the hard scrabble depression. With a backdrop of the beautiful American Midwest, Krueger brings the reader easily along the adventure and the characters of this novel easily into our hearts.

    *****Five stars for This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

    Read last week’s Year End Review 2019-2020

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