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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

    Don’t be misled by the title of this book. It is not a sappy love story. Far, far from it. Here is my book review Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.

    My friend Lisa sent me a note and told me she thought this was the kind of book I would like. She gets me. A nitty-gritty story of small town life in Texas in the 1970’s and the racist, good ole boy justice that permeates every aspect of the town of Odessa.

    Parts of this book were painful to read. The book begins with a violent rape and continues in this vein as the victim, 14- year old Gloria Sanchez of Mexican descent, is vilified in the small town long before the case goes to trial. The rapist, a white young man and the son of a preacher is presumed innocent…or said to have been seduced by the victim.

    This story delves deep into the back story of the women of Odessa, a town on the verge of an oil boom in 1976. The women see what the town has become, is becoming, as they try to protect their image, their reputation, their children. It’s all a ruse.

    Does anyone ever really know how a person is really struggling deep down? Behind closed doors, phony smiles, and everyday facade? The women of Odessa know.

    The brutal attack of Gloria will resonate throughout this community, and be told in this novel through the alternating voices of some remarkably developed and indelible characters. Characters you will not soon forget. Women of strength and perseverance in a time and place still so backwards in the late 1970’s that today we might think it’s all made up.

    Book Review Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore – A brilliantly written first novel for Wetmore, who was raised in West Texas. I couldn’t put it down.

    *****Five stars for Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.

    Read last week’s review of Olive Kitteridge.

    My current read Oona Out of Order

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout

    This book. Wow. A Pulitzer Prize winning narrative with an incredible leading character who will break your heart. Here is my book review Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout.

    Stout brilliantly writes a collection of short stories, each with an overriding character named Olive Kitteridge. Those 13 stories become this Pulitzer Prize winning book. Stout’s ability to pull the reader into each separate story reveals her creative aptitude. Although often sad and depressing I couldn’t put it down.

    This book. These characters. What you find here is the truth in living. How everyone has some hidden sadness we may never really know. How first impressions are often wrong. How the process of just living changes each person over time. In the small Maine town, these are the people Stout writes about, each dealing with something; lost love, addiction, suicide contemplation, lack of self-confidence, infidelity, loneliness, death.

    Throughout these stories there is Olive Kitteridge; wife, mother, retired school teacher. Sometimes tyrannical, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes kind, sometimes irritable. And often quietly insightful. Olive Kitteridge is a mirror of each of us, as we endure life’s trials and tragedies, joys and jubilation. A life too short and usually over before we really know how precious it was.

    Sad but amazing. I loved this book.

    *****Five Stars for Olive Kitteridge.

    Read last week’s review of The Cold Millions

    My current read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Cold Millions by Jess Walters

    It’s been about seven years since I read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters and it remains one of my all time favorite books. So when I saw he had a new book, I snatched it up not even knowing what it was about. Here is my Book Review The Cold Millions by Jess Walters.

    In the Cold Millions, Walters takes us to his own hometown of Spokane, here in the State of Washington where I live. But he takes us back to the early twentieth century, a time where Spokane was a hard-scrabble industrial town. It’s a changing time in America, a time where the rich are trying to keep their power over the poor as workers rights and women’s rights are coming to the forefront.

    Walters creates a magical collection of characters, including brothers Rye and Gig who are caught up in the unionization turmoil and the police brutality and corruption that accompanies it, as they try to make a better life for themselves. The story includes real life characters, like feminist activist Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn who is placed in this fictional story that also includes some true life historical events.

    If you liked This Tender Land or Peace Like a River you will like The Cold Millions. I enjoyed this book very much, especially learning some history about this era in Spokane that I was not familiar with, but more than anything enjoying Walters writing and character development.

    *****Five Stars for The Cold Millions by Jess Walters

    My current read Deacon King Kong

    Read last week’s review of The Rosie Project

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

    I’ve been reading some really amazing, but pretty depressing books lately. I recommend all of them, but indeed they were intense. So when I stumbled upon The Rosie Project I was gleeful. Here is my book review The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

    This book has been around for a few years, published in 2013 it has come in and out of my consciousness but for some reason I never read it. Until now. And I’m so glad I did.

    This is the uplifting story of Don Tillman, an Australian Professor who has extreme difficulty with social interaction, because of his own autism. Don is a genetics professor, and leads his life with a very rigid schedule he doesn’t like to deviate from.

    Don has never had a serious relationship, and thinks his good job, intelligence and even financial status should make him an attractive mate. He believes the problem is with the women. So he embarks on the Wife Project, creating a list of criteria for the perfect women.

    This of course leads to a hilarious set of events, women and activities. Don finally meets Rosie, who defies all his criteria. But he enjoys her company. Of course you can imagine how things unfold.

    It’s a delightful book. Laugh out loud and sweet. An easy read. I’m so glad I found it.

    *****Five Stars for The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

    Read last week’s review of A Burning.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review A Burning by Megha Majumdar

    Astonishing and heartfelt, A Burning will grip you from the first page. Here is my Book Review A Burning by Megha Majumdar.

    There have been many books written about the difficult and sometimes horrific life of those who are born to live in the slums of India, including two of my all time favorites; A Fine Balance and Behind the Beautiful Forevers. This debut novel A Burning by Megha Majumdar deserves it’s place among these.

    Jivan is a young Muslim girl from the slums who desires to move up in the world, find a job and have a better life for her and her family. But so many circumstances block her path and then she is accused as a mastermind behind a terrorism attack. Did she do it?

    People around her, including a former teacher and a illiterate friend, find themselves caught up in the drama. They can disown young Jivan, essentially throwing her under the bus, to better their own sorry lives. Will they?

    The masterful writing by Majumdar had me up late with this page turner, at once riveting, sad, astonishing and emotional.

    *****Five stars for A Burning by Megha Majumdar.

    Read last week’s review of The Vanishing Half

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

    Reading Wednesday

    The Vanishing Half is the second book I have read by Brit Bennett. Her earlier work The Mothers was not one of my favorite reads, so I was hesitant to tackle The Vanishing Half. But I found a surprising story of family, race and identity. Here is my book review The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

    The Vignes sisters, Stella and Desiree, are twins growing up in the 1940’s in a rural southern town called Mallard. There hometown is known for being the place where fair skinned black Americans live. The people of Mallard shun their darker skinned ancestors but aren’t able to break into the white world where better jobs and futures await.

    Stella and Desiree are close and dream about the day they can leave Mallard. When they are 16 they run away to New Orleans. But then Stella disappears and Desiree is left wondering where her Vanishing Half has gone.

    Desiree marries a black man, but eventuallyleaves the abusive marriage. She returns to fair skinned Mallard with her ink black eight year old daughter Jude. Jude is looked down upon her entire life by the people of Mallard. Meanwhile Stella is living a life far away in California, putting her entire past and ancestry behind her, she has married a white man who believes she too is white.

    Eventually Jude arrives in California on a track scholarship and through a collection of events finds Stella there living secretly as a white women. The charade begins to unravel as secrets are revealed, lies are questioned and entire lives sit on the brink between two worlds; one black and one white. The Vanishing Half is a fabulously told story of race, family, emotion and the desire to be accepted for who we are. The story explores so many questions about choices we make throughout our lives and how those choices affect future generations.

    *****Five stars for The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

    Read last week’s review of The Girl with the Louding Voice

    My current read The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’

    Book Review

    I waited a long time for this book from the library, and it was worth the wait. The critically acclaimed story of a Nigerian girl who never gives up. Here is my book review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’.

    This is a story of neglect and triumph. Of heartbreak and inspiration. The story of a young Nigerian girl named Adunni, born poor and female – two strikes against her. Both work against her in a culture where men decide what happens to girls, and money is controlled by men.

    Adunni just wants to go to school. She craves learning. She craves a different life. She craves having a voice, a voice to speak up for herself and be somebody.

    This inspiring tale of young Adunni’s determination to break free from the poverty, violence and control she is born into. Despite every obstacle in her way she never gives up on her desire to learn and break free from the chains that bind her.

    The book is written in beautiful detail and you will be captivated by the characters. Not just those who befriend Adunni but those who control her. Even their sad state of affairs will touch your heart as Dare’ perfectly describes life in Nigeria for all economic levels.

    Adduni’s courage is an inspiration. I loved this book I hope you enjoyed my Book Review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’.

    *****Five Stars for The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare’.

    Read last week’s review of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

    My current read The Cold Millions by Jess Walters

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