Monday, July 25, 2016

More Summer Reading

Four more books read-two I really liked, two not as much. Here we go:

1) The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai. This was a debut novel and so, as such, I think the author may
have great potential.  It is the story of Lucy, a young, single woman who was the children's librarian and Ian, a precocious ten year old patron, whom Lucy befriended.  As Lucy got to know Ian, she learned that his mother banned many books from him that he wanted to read, and that she had enrolled Ian in "anti-gay" classes at their church.  One day before the library opened, Lucy headed to work and found Ian there with his knapsack.   He had run away from home and Lucy agreed to embark on a road trip with him, believing that she was saving him from his parents. As their trip progressed, it became unclear who was really running away from their life.

I found the end to be quite weak, but the rest of the book was fairly enjoyable.  I like the author's humor. I had come across the book for a dollar, so it was worth the read!

2) The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton. I was terribly disappointed in this book.  I have
enjoyed other books by this author so had really been looking forward to reading it.  She let me down. It has been characterized as a coming-of age novel and I suppose that it is, but I just never got that interested in the characters (of which there are many). the main protagonist of the novel is a young girl, Francie, known by many names in the book, who lives with her family along with her extended family in Wisconsin.  The family has had orchards for years and it is unclear if the orchards can continue to provide a livelihood for the families in the near future.  Francie, along with her older brother William, have many adventures in the book as they approach leaving childhood.

I am somewhat surprised that I finished the book.  I think that I kept waiting for it to get better.  And, admittedly, the last chapter was the best of the book, in my opinion.  I wish the rest of the book had been as good.

The last two books were books from my two book groups.  They were both big winners!

3) always outnumbered, always outgunned by Walter Mosley. Unbeknownst to us (my book group),
this is the first of a series of three novels about Socrates Fortlow. Socrates is a sixty-something-year- old black man who had served twenty-seven years in an Indiana prison for murder and rape.  When the book begins, Socrates had been out of prison for eight years.  Socrates had moved to the LA area upon release from prison, and had stayed out of trouble.  He lived in two rooms of an abandoned building, where he had paid rent until the owner died and then no one ever came to collect rent after that, so he lived there rent-free. As his name suggests, Socrates is full of life-wisdom

The book consists of fourteen short stories, all about Socrates' life. Each story seems to tell how Socrates dealt with different issues or dilemmas that he faced in his life in LA.  One of the topics of the stories was about his relationship with Darryl, a young black boy who he befriended and tried to take care of.

"'You stood up for yourself, Darryl,' Socrates said. 'That's all a black man could do.  You always outnumbered, you always outgunned.'"
This book was written in 1998, and, sadly, is so timely for today. A really good book.

4) These is my Words by Nancy Turner. This is one of the most interesting and easy to read, heartfelt
stories that I have read this year. It was absolutely fascinating to me. My book group loved it, too. This is "The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901", based on the author's great-grandmother's life. The diary began when Sarah was a headstrong seventeen year old woman headed to the Tuscon, Arizona area with her parents and family in 1881. On that journey, the family met Jack Elliott, a captain in the Army, who came around often. In the next three years, Sarah married a family friend, was widowed, and had a child.  Jack still came around and finally he and Sarah admitted their feelings for each other and by the end of 1885 had married each other. The book is really about the love story of Sarah and Jack and just immediately draws the reader in. Great read! One of those books that you just can't stop reading!

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