A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Book Review

 


A Visit from the Goon SquadBook Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Audiobook

Book Series: N/A

Released: 6/8/2010 by Knopf

Pages: 288 Price:$14.95 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed the audiobook from the library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. 

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

My Review:

I was in charge of selecting the two Book Talk books for June and July at the library where I work.  Wanting to tie into our Summer Reading Program, which is open to all patrons this year (adults for the first time).  I sought out books that would work well with the theme which is Library’s Rock.  After finishing this book I feel that it works well but am a bit nervous about what the ladies in our reading group will think of it.  A couple of them will love the Rock n’ Roll theme of the book but a few might have issues with the sex, drugs, and swearing in the novel.  The books arrived today so I guess there is no turning back…

Now, onto what I thought of the book.  I’m not sure exactly, the book lost me a little in the middle as I tried to listen to it during a time I couldn’t concentrate.  I didn’t hate it but I don’t think I got it either.  Being told from a new POV each chapter giving a slightly different perspective on different events over the span of years this book follows meant if I didn’t care for a character I only needed to suffer through them for one chapter.  While that was nice in some instances you also have the problem of not being able to become attached and invested in any one character either.  So you need to either be really excited about the overall picture the book is trying to paint or wander through the book wondering what the point of it all is.  I think I fell into the latter group.  I think I get the message the author was trying to give me but by the end, I didn’t really care.

I did like how the story came full circle at the end but listening to the audiobook left me out of the loop for the chapter told in PowerPoint slide as I don’t think it had the same effect being read to you instead of seeing them in person.  I do plan to check out that chapter before the book talk.  I also found the chapter dealing with the concept of evolving language over the years.  How words are adapted over time by each generation that uses them.  This is something that I have noticed working in the library.  The conflict between an older generation that thinks their ownership of language and communication should not be challenged and a younger group that could care less about what they think.

While I’m nervous about the book talk I’m also looking forward to seeing what others in my community think of the book.  Perhaps they will help me see what I missed.  Without further input, however, I’m going to shrug my shoulders and say eh.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either and never found myself excited to listen to it.

My Rating: 2 Stars

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Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

Book Review

 


Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalBook Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic, YA, Superheros

Book Series: Ms. Marvel #1

Released: 10/30/14 by Marvel

Pages: 120  Price: $15.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I Borrowed this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey! 

My Review:

Teens are a fickle group of readers and one area that is severely lacking at the library where I work is in the graphic novels section of YA.  With the popularity of the Marvel movies, I decided to start there and came across this comic.  Now I’m not really a fan of GN but even I have heard of Ms. Marvel from when it came out and decided to add this one to our library.  Of course, when it came in I needed to check it out for research purposes.  The wink is implied here…

I actually quite liked the GN and finished it in one sitting.  I liked that the hero is female and Muslim yet remains relatable to most anyone from the age group.  She faces much of the same problems any teen is going to have of fitting in, peer pressure, overbearing parents, struggling to find one’s own identity.  I liked that the comic wasn’t over sexualized which will make it an easier sell to parents.  It was fun and I hope teens in my community give it a chance.

Overall this book isn’t quite my style and didn’t convert me over to GN or Comics.  I still struggle to appreciate the graphics part of them.   Ms. Marvel wasn’t really written for someone like me however and I’m keeping that in mind with my rating.  I liked it.  I see the value of it and look forward to introducing it to others.

My Rating: 4 Stars

CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington

Book Review

 


CatStronauts: Mission MoonBook Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Comic, Cats, Humor

Book Series: Catstronauts #1

Released: 4/18/17 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 160 Price: $16.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

Book Synopsis:

CatStronauts, you are needed!

When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the Worlds Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet! 

My Review:

Not the typical type of book that I review on this blog but it was new book day at the library and the first couple of pages of this one made me chuckle so I decided to check it out.

I was actually the one that suggested this title be added to the catalog where I work.  Cat books have been fairly popular with this age group and I thought the premise sounded cute.

First impressions turned out to be spot on as this was a charming read that tackles quite a serious topic of renewable energy.  The gags were cute and each catstronaut had a unique personality quirk that carried through the book.  The artwork is well done and I made sure to pay attention to what was going on in the background imagery and not just read the text which I tend to do with graphic novels.  I did catch a few clever details that I would have missed had I not been forcing myself to pay attention.   I’m still pretty new to the graphic novel scene so cut me some slack…

Anyway, I’m glad I suggested this book to our library and look forward to my young patrons discovering a new series.

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Taster by V.S. Alexander

Book Review

 


The TasterBook Genre: Historical Fiction, War

Book Series: N/A

Released: 1/30/18 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 323  Price: $15.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined–one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler’s dictatorship . . . 

In early 1943, Magda Ritter’s parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty–working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Fuhrer’s food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation–though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich’s atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance.

Vividly written and ambitious in scope, The Taster examines the harrowing moral dilemmas of war in an emotional story filled with acts of extraordinary courage.

My Review:

If you follow my blog you might be wondering why I read this book being it is so vastly different from the typical genre of books I read. The short answer is a book talk at work.  I did dread starting this one so much that I put it off until four days before the actual talk was scheduled.  I managed to finish over two days so that should give you a clue to what I thought of it in the end.

Normally I hate historical fiction, and books about WWII even more despite the fact that I agree with the author that we should never forget what happened and believe everyone should be exposed to the atrocities that took place because of the ego of a madman.  I don’t like reading them because they make me mad.  They also make me ashamed of my German heritage despite the fact that all of my ancestors left Germany before 1870 before Germany was even a county. Anyway, those are my personal hangups and have little to do with this book.

I did struggle with the first few chapters of the book as I tried to decide if I liked Magda or not.  Her ambivalence to the war and Nazi’s bothered me in the beginning.  Granted that changed but it wasn’t until that change took place that I warmed up to the character.  This book is quite a different type of story about WWII than most would encounter.  An interesting idea of chronicling what it might be like to live and work inside Hitler’s circle.  To be so sheltered while so much horror is taking place in the country surrounding you.  It was quite a fascinating read that did pull me in.

I did appreciate how the author did expose the main character to the grim reality of what was taking place around her.  She didn’t stay sheltered for long, through her trials and tribulations she grew and strengthened with each new exposure.  All the while remaining frustrated with how little power she actually had to change anything.

The ending was a bit of a surprise and I was delighted with how things worked out for Magda.  She went through a lot and most of her life’s choices were not hers to make if she wanted to survive.

I’m glad I read the book but don’t believe I will be seeking out more WWII historical fiction titles to add to my reading list.  They still leave me wiped a bit emotionally and a tad depressed even though I know how things worked out in the end.  I still feel bad for what happened.  Quickly followed by fear for our future as I think of the madman we have in office currently.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Book Review

 


Herding Cats (Sarah's Scribbles, #3)Book Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic, Humor

Book Series: Sarah’s Scribbles #3

Released: 3/27/18 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 112  Price: $14.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

 

Book Synopsis:

Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.

My Review:

I’ve read this author’s first book in this ‘series’ but somehow managed to miss the second book when it was on Net Galley.  When this one popped up I decided to give it a shot since I have enjoyed her work before.  I was expecting a compilation of her latest work but was delighted to find more within the pages of the book.

There is, of course, some charming and witty comics where Ms. Andersen captures perfectly how many of us feel about the world, online and off. I found myself repeatedly thinking that is exactly how I feel or that was such a great observation.  I chuckled as I turned the pages until I reached the second part of the book where Ms. Andersen gives us a pep talk on how to survive this vicious online world that we all must learn to navigate.  She was coming from the area of an artist who must put themselves out there and become vulnerable to attack from all the negativity that makes up much of the online world.  I, however, believe her point and words of wisdom could apply to just about anyone that has felt the negative impact of too much social media.

This was a particularly timely read for me as I am currently struggling with how to deal negative interaction online and the desire to just give it up completely.  I’ll definitely take her advice to heart at the end.  This little book was a great read that not only entertained but made me think.  I recommend.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton

Book Review

 


Dead Trees Give No ShelterBook Genre: Horror, Short Story, Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 4/2/17 by Monolith Press

Pages:40 Price: $5.00 e-book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I own a copy of this book.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Jay Turner is a broken and lonely man who has been adrift since his brother’s murder when they were children. Now, after twenty years away, Jay has come back to his hometown of Garron, Ohio, to uncover the truth about his brother’s death.

My Review:

Full disclosure time, I’m a Trekkie and a fan of Wil Wheaton.  Mr. Wheaton mentioned this short story he wrote in a YouTube video the other day and being a bookish person decided I needed to check into it.  I decided to buy a copy and went into reading it with great trepidation.  I’m a fan but the book is not of a genre I typically enjoy.

Decided to dive in this afternoon and was pleasantly surprised.  Mr. Wheaton has talent.  Of course, he writes all the time on his website but crafting a story is different.  But, he is a reader and they tend to make the best writers.  I’m not going to lie though it was a little rough around the edges, but the story did reach out and grab me.

The characters were believable and the plot did have a couple of twists and turns that I did not see coming when I picked the book up.  The ending was well done and brought the story around full circle.  The parts that bothered me were mainly near the beginning and revolved around word choices and lines that I thought were not needed.  It had a hesitant feeling in the first few pages like many new fiction authors who are trying to work out their style.  Trying to find their groove.

Bottom line I liked it, quite a bit and look forward to reading more by Mr. Wheaton.  I hope he continues to pursue writing because he has great potential. If you are interested in reading this short story I could only find it available on the author’s site here: wilwheatonbooks.com

My Rating: 4 Stars

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

Book Review

 


A Christmas Blizzard: A NovelBook Genre: Fiction, Holiday, Humor

Book Series: N/A

Released: 10/25/11 by Penguin Books 

Pages: 181 Price: $14.00 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon A Christmas Blizzard: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The inimitable Garrison Keillor spins “a Christmas tale that makes Dickens seem unimaginative by comparison” (Charlotte Creative Loafing) Snow is falling all across the Midwest as James Sparrow, a country- bumpkin-turned-energy-drink-tycoon, and his wife awaken in their sky- rise apartment overlooking Chicago. Even down with the stomach bug, Mrs. Sparrow yearns to see The Nutcracker while James yearns only to escape-the faux-cheer, the bitter cold, the whole Christmas season. An urgent phone call from his hometown of Looseleaf, North Dakota, sends James into the midst of his lunatic relatives and a historic blizzard. As he hunkers weather the storm, the electricity goes out and James is visited by a parade of figures who deliver him an epiphany worthy of the season, just in time to receive Mrs. Sparrow’s wonderful Christmas gift. Garrison Keillor’s holiday farce is the perfect gift for the millions of fans who tune into A Prairie Home Companion every week.

My Review:

It took me a week to get through this 181-page story that should be enough to tell you what I thought of it.  This was a book that was selected for a book talk at the library where I work so please know that I did not select this title on my own.  If I had I would have DNF it after 20 pages and you would not have this review.  But I did read it and feel that has earned me the right to criticize it.

This story sucked.  Majorly.  It started off coherent and then took a nose dive into strangeville about half-way through.  The characters were all over the place and I struggled to find one that I even liked.  Lots of stereotypes that were meant to be funny but did not come off that way to me, more offensive in my opinion.  There is actually supposed to be a lot of humor in this story but I don’t think that I laughed once. There was also too much talking about politics for a Christmas story for me.  The ending fit the book in that it came totally out of left field and did not make sense.  The book is just trying too hard to be a Christmas miracle and come off as weird or stupid.

The only redeeming quality that this book held for me is that it was short but somehow I still ended up wasting a week on it.  I’m not a fan of Christmas.  I’m not a fan of folksy humor.  This is simply not a book for me and I don’t think I will be picking up anything else by this author.

My Rating: 1 Star

By Blood by Ellen Ullman

Book Review

 


By BloodBook Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 2/24/2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 378 Price: $16.00 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon  By Blood: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

San Francisco in the 1970s. Free love has given way to radical feminism, psychedelic ecstasy to hard-edged gloom. The Zodiac Killer stalks the streets. A disgraced professor takes an office in a downtown tower to plot his return. But the walls are thin and he’s distracted by voices from next door—his neighbor is a psychologist, and one of her patients dislikes the hum of the white-noise machine. And so he begins to hear about the patient’s troubles with her female lover, her conflicts with her adoptive, avowedly WASP family, and her quest to track down her birth mother. The professor is not just absorbed but enraptured. And the further he is pulled into the patient’s recounting of her dramas—and the most profound questions of her own identity—the more he needs the story to move forward.

The patient’s questions about her birth family have led her to a Catholic charity that trafficked freshly baptized orphans out of Germany after World War II. But confronted with this new self— “I have no idea what it means to say ‘I’m a Jew’”—the patient finds her search stalled. Armed with the few details he’s gleaned, the professor takes up the quest and quickly finds the patient’s mother in records from a German displaced-persons camp. But he can’t let on that he’s been eavesdropping, so he mocks up a reply from an adoption agency the patient has contacted and drops it in the mail. Through the wall, he hears how his dear patient is energized by the news, and so is he. He unearths more clues and invests more and more in this secret, fraught, triangular relationship: himself, the patient, and her therapist, who is herself German. His research leads them deep into the history of displaced-persons camps, of postwar Zionism, and—most troubling of all—of the Nazi Lebensborn program.With ferocious intelligence and an enthralling, magnetic prose, Ellen Ullman weaves a dark and brilliant, intensely personal novel that feels as big and timeless as it is sharp and timely. It is an ambitious work that establishes her as a major writer.

My Review:

Another full disclosure time. I picked this book because the author’s last name began with a U.  I only need an author with an X to have read a book by an author of every letter in the alphabet.  Feel free to give me your recommendations below.   Now for the review.

I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction.  I’m also not usually one to read about the Holocaust.  Not that I am a denier or have anything but the deepest respect for the suffering that people went through.  I simply tend to be a sensitive person and I have trouble separating myself from the fiction I read.  I get emotionally distraught and it affects my mood and how I behave towards those around me.  So I tend to stay away from topics that could upset me.  Not the correct behavior I know but it is the approach I take in reading.  Life sucks why would I want to read about more suffering.  Still, I selected this book from my library because it sounded interesting and filled a reading requirement I needed.

I’m so glad I did.  This book captivated me.  Much like the narrator of the story, I became obsessed with the life the patient was revealing to her therapist.   I guess I am a bit of a voyeur too.  It was a bit of a strange read, however, and I get some of the criticism that has been posted in other reviews.  I almost find myself dividing the book into two different plots.  One plot thread revolved around the therapist and her patient and the other was the professor and his odd circumstance.    The eavesdropping on the therapist and patient being the more compelling plot.

So let’s deal with the professor first.  He needs help.  Serious help.  I can see why he was put on leave and was described as creepy.  It is exactly what he is, creepy.  Some say that his purpose was not well-defined but I disagree.  I think he probably got in trouble for sexually harassing a student and the institution he works for wanted him to disappear for a few months in hopes that the drama he stirred up would be forgotten or blow over.  While I did find him creepy I have to say I did not totally despise him.  I almost feel bad for him as I truly feel he needs help before he hurts someone.  Or it could be that I feel a tad guilty knowing I have become as obsessed with the patient’s story as he has.

Now for the therapist and her client.  This was a moving story and the sole reason I’m glad I listen to this book.  The patient’s story is that of a young woman in search of her identity.  Like many of us, she did not feel like she fit in and desperately needed to connect with her origins to make sense of the life she now leads.  What she learns is not pleasant and logically speaking should hold no reflection on who she is as a person but I can not say I would feel differently if I was in her shoes.  This part of the story is so worth wading through the creepy professor parts.

My Rating: 4 Stars

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Book Review

 


2 A.M. at The Cat's PajamasBook Genre: Contemporary Fiction, audiobook

Book Series: N/A

Released: 8/5/14 by Crown

Pages: 272 Price: $25.00 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 Am At The Cat’s Pajamas will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.

My Review:

This was an interesting little story.  Not quite sure what I thought of it.  It was an audiobook selection for me and those tend to be books I wouldn’t normally read due to limited selection through the library system. So I’m sitting here wondering how to review this story…

It was sweet and clever and sad and funny all at different parts.  It had me laughing at one moment and feeling awkward the next.  The story was difficult to follow at times thanks to flashbacks into the character’s past.  We follow Madeleine through much of the story but also delve into the history of supporting characters.

I like the idea of following a set of character’s over the span of a day and watch how their lives cross and intertwine but at times this one got to be a bit confusing as we would move back and forth in time throughout the day depending on who we were dealing with at the moment.  I think it might have been less confusing if I had been reading it instead of listening because I sometimes lose focus on the story as I concentrate on whatever chore I am working on.

Basically, it is a sweet story that I don’t regret listening to but never got terribly excited about. But then it isn’t a typical read for me.  If you are big into contemporary fiction revolving around music then this one will probably be one you enjoy.  If you like smart-ass characters then you might also enjoy this story.  That was the part that I enjoyed the most.

My Rating:3 Stars

Bottomland by Michelle Hoover

Book Review

 


BottomlandBook Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 3/1/16 by Grove Press

Pages: 336  Price:$16.oo paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Bottomland: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

At once intimate and sweeping, Bottomland—the anticipated second novel from Michelle Hoover—follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.

In the weeks after Esther and Myrle’s disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors’ houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized, misunderstood, and increasingly isolated in their tightly-knit small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst. Told in the voices of the family patriarch and his children, this is a haunting literary mystery that spans decades before its resolution. Hoover deftly examines the intrepid ways a person can forge a life of their own despite the dangerous obstacles of prejudice and oppression.

My Review:

Alright, confession time.  I’m breaking my rules by reviewing this book.  I swore after a psycho author harassed me at work I would never review an All Iowa Reads book again.  Ever.  I would read them of course so I could participate in the book discussion held at my library but my thoughts of that year’s title would not leave that room and never be posted on my blog again.

So, why am I reviewing this year’s selection?  Well, mainly because I really liked it.  This is by far the best All Iowa Read’s selection that I have read in my years working in a small town Iowa library.  I am totally shocked!  I have to give props to the panel this year’s title was a good call.

There was so much I could relate to in this book.  Being from Iowa I knew this family, or rather one just like it.  In fact, my best friend growing up was a first generation German and I remember spending so much of my youth at their farm.  I felt like I knew these people and could identify with them even though I am only part German.  I have a feeling that most people are going to be able to either see themselves or someone they know in these characters.

Surprising that isn’t what hooked me, though, it was the mystery of what happen to those girls that held my interest.  This was a well-crafted puzzle that I didn’t quite figure out and was pleased to see how everything turned out.  I also thought this book was very timely for the current immigrant drama going on in our country.  So many forget that their family too came from elsewhere and that they probably weren’t welcome here either.  It seems that after a few generations we forget to have any compassion to those just arriving and how much new blood contributes to our society.  The book delves into to sexism and should remind us just how far woman’s rights have come and just how far they have yet to go.

This was a surprisingly good listen.  I find myself still reflecting on it and remembering my childhood.  I’ve lost connection to that childhood friend and her family, it often happens.  I wish them well, though, and thank them for letting me experience their culture for a time.

My Rating:4 Stars