Books Read in 2017
The Guilty by David Baldacci
A Long Road Home: A Memoir by Saroo
Tupelo by Alec Clayton
Whenever I finish an Alec Clayton novel I again suspect that this good ol' boy raised in the South is secretly a Russian author. His novels are filled with so many characters -- many of whom are called by more than one, or even more than two different names -- that you might as well be reading Dostoyevsky. Ah...but Dostoyevsky wasn't as much fun. The problems with this cast of thousands and the episodic nature of the story is that it becomes difficult to care about any one person. This is the story of a town and its residents, particularly the friends of the narrator, Kevin, who is the identical twin to Evan and with whom he has a life-long love-hate relationship. It follows the kids through the segregated 50s and the tumultuous 60s and the beginning of the civil rights era. It shows events through the eyes of kids, who were kinda sorta aware of what was going on, but not really.
What keeps you going is Clayton's style, which flows beautifully. His descriptions are fun to read. And if I have any real complaint it is that as a professional writer and newsman, he really, really should have had a better proofreader. Too many really sloppy grammar and spelling mistakes ("site" when he means "sight", "Evan and I" when he means "Evan and me.") There aren't a lot of these mistakes (and most occur in the last quarter of the book), but enough to make me cringe when I stumble on them.
I want to grow hair, I want to grow up, I want to go to Boise by Erma Bombeck
I was so depressed about tomorrow's inauguration when I got to the book store, I was slightly nauseous. I decided I needed to read something light to take my mind off of things. Then I saw Erma Bombeck's book on the humor shelf. Who better to cheer me up than Erma? Well, this book about kids and cancer wasn't exactly the funny book I expected, but it wasn't really a downer either. The title refers to what a child, suffering from cancer, said were his/her three wishes.
Bombeck was approached to write an upbeat book about children with cancer. She wasn't sure she could do it until she visited a camp for children with cancer and got to know them. What she has written reminds me of the book "When Someone You Love Has Cancer," by DanaRae Pomeroy. You get to "know" kids with cancer, you get to know their parents, you get a sense of the joy and the tragedy, and you get a feel for how someone who cares can help -- what to do and what not to do. Not Bombeck's usual belly laughs, but a wonderfully thought out and written book (I would have expected nothing less of my hero). And I didn't think of Donald Trump all afternoon.
Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
His travels take him far and wide, from his home in Florida to Iceland to India, to Qatar. No, he didn't discover that happiness was to be found in his own backyard, but he did learn how relative it is and what is happy to one person may not be to another (given the choice of spending eternity in Iceland or in Hell, for example, Iceland natives chose Hell because at least they would be warm!). He discovered that wealthy people were no happier than poor people, as a general rule. He found that the key to happiness was the camaraderie of friends and relatives, and a feeling of love in your life.
He did find Moldova the most unhappy place of all those he visited, and he seems to have found the greatest happiness in Bhutan. He received hate mail from Moldovans after his book came out so maybe they just hide their joy very well. It did take me forever to finish this book, not because it was not interesting but because somehow I never sat to actually finish it. I'm glad I did, tho. It was a fun read and I learned a lot about some countries around the world.
by Evan Placey
Dean's monologue about tolerance before the school board is powerful and poignant and nicely sums up the whole point of the play.
Minutes by Jodi Picoult
While the story was good, it just seemed overly long, at 500 pages. The middle section seemed to drag on and on. The story centers around Peter, youngest son growing up in the shadow of his talented older brother and bullied by classmates his entire life. The brother's death in an accident was a terrible trauma for all, and when the bullying escalates, Peter finally loses it, takes a gun and runs rampant throughout the school, killing several of his classmates.
Also important are Josie Cormier, daughter of Alex, the judge who will be assigned to the case, and girlfriend of Matt, one of the shooting victims. Josie was once Peter's friend, but had turned her back on him when she became Matt's girl, but her testimony may help gets Peter a lighter sentence under a 'battered wife' defense, the first use of such a defense in a bullying case.
This is a study in how a small town is torn apart when a tragedy likes this takes place, examines bullying and its effect on the victim, and looks at the emotional effect of friendships. The ending came out of the blue and was completely unexpected.
Now I'm going to have to check out Ann Patchett!