Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (50)

This is the best book I've read all year! Set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, the book features African American women who work as maids for white families and the women for whom they work. The story is told through their voices and viewpoints revealing their personalities and life issues. Skeeter is a young white woman, home with her parents after finishing college, finding herself at odds with her high school classmates who are now married, having babies, and managing households including the maids working for them. Aibileen and Minny are two of the maids working hard in houses and often treated badly. This was a time for great turmoil and change in the south which we learn about as the story progresses. This is very well done and a very memorable read.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto (49)

Outstanding book! This graphic book details the true story of a sophisticated New York City artist and her battle with breast cancer which occurred just as she was about to marry the love of her life at age 43. The cartoons add so much to the story; it is very clever and entertaining while dealing with this very serious subject. Loved it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

With the Light 2 by Keiko Tobe (48)

This graphic novel continues the story of Hikaru Azuma, a Japanese boy who has autism, during his elementary school days. He is a special education student who has mixed experiences with classmates and teachers. His parents are struggling to do their best while raising Hikaru and his younger sister Kanon. I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo (47)

Richard Russo is a great author. When reading his books, the reader easily becomes immersed in the story. I especially enjoyed Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs. That Old Cape Magic is also a very good read, but I didn't experience the same journey as the previously mentioned Russo books. Probably the reason is that the main character is a more troubled soul and more difficult to read than previous Russo books.
Griffin is a man having had a disfunctional childhood with self centered vain parents, now experiencing major trouble in his own marriage and his life in general. When making important decisions, he is constantly recalling the voices of his mother and father, mocking him and cutting him down as unworthy and incompetent. It is painful to see a man in such circumstances.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Burglar in the Library by Lawrence Block (46)

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a bookseller and burglar. He ends up at an English style hotel in the New York countryside with his friend Carolyn in a heavy snowstorm when dead bodies start turning up. Bernie's eye is on a rare book that he intends to steal but at the same time he becomes involved in solving the crime. The story is told with great wit and humor. Very enjoyable.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen (45)

In the mid 1970's many Southeast Asian refugees relocated to Michigan, and this memoir tells the story of one family from Vietnam. The focus is on the author who was a little girl growing up in two cultures, her confusion at trying to negotiate the Vietnamese traditions at home while trying to gain acceptance with her surrounding community. There were missing pieces of background information for this child which added to her stress as she found her way making friends and going to school. I knew many people from Vietnam as I was an ESL teacher for many years so I can understand so well the issues that the author dealt with. This is a very worthwhile book as it explores the author's two cultures.