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October Book

Happy Fall, everyone! As I write this the Midwest is sweating under 90 degree heat, even though leaves are starting to fall. Let’s hope while you’re reading this it’s more fall-like out there, and hopefully a more perfect setting for our spooky October book: The Night Bird by Brian Freeman.

A Chicago native, Brian Freeman worked in Marketing and Public Relations before becoming an author. He made his debut with the crime thriller Immoral in 2005. Since then he’s written over a dozen thrillers following the stories of different investigators; Jonathan Stride, Cab Bolton, and Frost Easton. And the first (so far only) of the Frost Easton series is The Night Bird. As Freeman describes it:

“Frost Easton is a Homicide Inspector in the dramatic locale of San Francisco. He’s young, with a sexy shock of swept-back brown hair, a neat beard, and laser-like blue eyes.  He’s unattached, except for his cat, Shack, who patrols the city with him. Think Justin Timberlake with a gun, and you’ve got Frost.”

It seems like a bit of a stretch. Too good to be true? We’re willing to find out.

In this, the first of the Easton series, he hunts a serial killer who preys on his victims’ suppressed memories and phobias. And as detective Easton follows his leads, psychiatrist Francesca Stein does her own digging, convinced that whomever is behind these elaborate murders is ultimately out to destroy her and what she’s worked for. A page-turning thriller with plenty of twists and turns is just what we’re in the mood for this fall!

We hope you’ll read along with us and share using #booklymark

 

The Perfect Diary

I read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in three sittings and probably three hours. It is a FAST read. Fast enough that when I reached the end I thought I couldn’t possibly be finished. Not that the ending wasn’t satisfying, because it was. But there was something that felt incomplete to me. I liked how it ended, but I wanted more.

In fact, I felt that way about the book overall. I wanted a little something more than what I got. I frequently felt like I was missing something. Sometimes it was details that seemed to be eluding me. Sometimes it felt like I was making huge leaps in time without anything in between. At the end of the book I was pleased, but also felt like so many areas were left open. All the plot points weren’t tied up in a neat little bow.

And then….

And then I thought about the title again. The Absolutely True DIARY of a Part-Time Indian. And then I thought about who was writing this diary (a high school freshman boy). And then, I realized the brilliance of this book. My frustrations with the narrative, with seeming plot holes and lack of details, they exist because Alexie so perfectly wrote this novel from the perspective of Arnold/Junior.

So in the end, I really liked the book. Did I love it? No, but not because it wasn’t great. I think if I was in the target audience, I would’ve capital-L LOVED it. Instead, I just enjoyed it and plan on recommending it to everyone I know looking for books for their teenagers.

The Underdog

I really didn’t know what to expect with this book. As someone who judges books by their covers, I’ll say that the cover art set my expectations fairly low. But I was intrigued by the mixture of novel and illustrations. At exactly 230 pages I FLEW through this book. Between the pacing, illustrations, quick-read story, and short chapters, I think I read it in under 48 hours.

I loved Junior, the main character. He was the epitome of underdog. And his outlook on things, beautiful. Despite all the shit, he ended up hopeful. The luxury that it might be, it was nice to read a book for a change that left you feeling hopeful. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the fiction out there is the dark and scary type. And with the state of the world as it is I don’t feel like I need to spend all of my reading time further depressed.

I can’t say I’d recommend this book to my peers (30 somethings) as a must read…  it’s not tremendously relatable at this age. But given the right age I think it’s a great recommendation. I keep a “shelf” on my Goodreads of books I think my girls should read some day, and this is definitely one to add to the list. Despite some tough subject matter, I think the message is a good one. This is a book I would have really enjoyed as a younger adult. And Junior is too likeable to be missed. If you’re looking for a good read for this Junior High / High School age group, this is the one!

September Book

September marks a change in pace. New weather (so glad fall is almost here!), and a new school year. So we’re changing it up, too. This month we’ve picked something that’s been on many schools’ required reading lists (and taken off many) since it’s publication in 2007: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Ellen Forney, this young adult novel follows the story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a unique protagonist. He’s a 14-year-old amateur cartoonist living on the Spokane Indian Reservation who goes by “Junior.” The story begins when he makes the controversial decision to venture off the reservation to go to an all-white high school in a border town. The son of two alcoholics, a victim of bullying, and the epitome of awkward; Junior’s story is endearing, brave, funny, and a coming of age story for the ages.

This is the first YA novel by Alexie, who’s had careers in stand-up comedy, screenwriting, film production, songwriting, and other fiction genres. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has won him critical acclaim and numerous awards. It’s also borne the brunt of a lot of controversies. Apparently some aren’t comfortable with the book’s depiction of violence, sexuality, race, addiction, bullying, and poverty. But let’s be honest, who can think of any academic required reading that hasn’t met with some controversy at some point. But we’ll just have to see (read) for ourselves.

We hope you’ll read along with us! Share using #booklymark

 

Real and Raw

Brit Bennett can certainly craft a story. I was sucked in to Oceanside almost immediately and then spent the next few days reading while tears pricked the back of my eyes. It wasn’t that the book was sad, per se, though elements of it were heartbreaking for sure. It was more that each person’s story felt so real and so raw.

I felt for Nadia, Aubrey, Robert, and Luke… even when they were making decisions that were frustrating or awful. I think the narrative voice Bennett used had a great deal to do with it. As a reader, I knew enough about the characters to understand their motivation, even when their literary counterparts couldn’t. {SPOILER ALERT} Even during Nadia and Luke’s affair, an act I generally have absolutely no sympathy for, I could see how it happened. While I wasn’t rooting for them, I wasn’t as angry with them either.

I also thought that having an abortion be the driving force of the story was an interesting choice. Mostly because as much as the book was about the abortion, it wasn’t about abortion. That was refreshing in a way because it didn’t read like a pro-choice or pro-life book, which I think would have taken this from a great summer read to something else (an election day read?!).

I could go on for hours about the intricacies of the plot, the development of the characters, the relationships the various narrative devices used, and my many thoughts on why you should read The Mothers. But I also know that sometimes short and sweet is better, which is incidentally another great quality of Bennett’s debut novel. So instead of going on for another dozen or so paragraphs, I’ll simply tell you this: the praise for The Mothers is well-deserved, and if you didn’t read with us this month, move it up your queue and read it ASAP.