Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thanksgiving to Almost Christmas reading

I have read a number of books over the past month, partly due to a vacation on the beach over Thanksgiving!  Lots of wonderful reading time there (and on the plane and in the airport).  One of the many perks of vacation!  While on vacation I read the following three books:

1. Trust No One by Paul Cleave.  I borrowed this from one of my daughter's and was taken with it almost immediately.  I loved the way it was written...it was narrated by the main character of the book, Jerry Grey, who has early onset Alzheimer's.  So can you trust what the narrator is telling you?  Or is it a story from his disease.  And to make it even more interesting, Jerry is a prolific crime writer, who had to be placed in a nursing home due to his Alzheimer's.  He keeps confessing to various murders, but are they from his books or from real life? His daughter appears to be quite distant with him and his wife left him.  Or did she?  This is a really engaging book and certainly left me wondering about not only the story but also about the disease and its effects on everyone.

2. The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates.  One of my favorite authors wrote this.  I was a little hesitant to read it because it didn't sound like a book I would like.  I'm still
not sure that I would say it was a book I liked, but I read it over a month ago, and bits of it still return to me to ponder.  It was quite an eye-opening experience to read it and confirmed what I have often thought about certain cases.  It is the story of a fourteen year old girl who is found in an abandoned building, the victim of racial violence.  The book begins with a woman wandering the streets looking for her daughter.

"Like an Old Testament mother she came seeking her lost child."
The mother, Ednetta Fry, was searching for her daughter in Pascayne, New Jersey in October of 1987. Ednetta was a product of the old Roosevelt projects, had her first baby at age sixteen.  Over the past ten years she had been living with Anis Schutt, who had killed his first wife and was well-known for his violence.  Anis had sons, one of whom had been killed in the street in a drive-by and another who was in prison.  Ednetta had a daughter Sibilla, a ten year old son, and a younger daughter.  It was Sibilla who Ednetta was trying to find.  She had been missing for a day, but could not call the police because she knew how Anis felt about the police. 

I don't want to give away much of the story, but in the book Sibilla's story became national news, with a well-known preacher and his brother, a well-known attorney, getting involved with the family and exacerbating the racial tension that had grabbed the community and beyond.  This story is so significant of our times now, sadly twenty-eight years later.  It raises many questions...who or what is the sacrifice?  And the implications of all the violence and unrest that affects so very many people. And how easily all of the pieces of the situation can be manipulated. 

3. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica.  I had read The Good Girl by the author earlier and really liked it so
I was anxious to read another of her books.  This one let me down.  The main character, Heidi Wood, lived in Chicago with her husband and twelve year old daughter.  She was unable to have more children. Heidi worked for a non-profit with immigrants and refugees. She met a young homeless girl on the streets one day who had a baby with her, and soon invited the girl and the baby to come live with her and her family.  Heidi's husband and daughter are not taken with the situation, with the husband worried about not knowing anything about this unknown girl.  Turned out that he should have been more worried about Heidi.

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