Khaled Hosseini made a big splash with his first novel, The Kite Runner (don't miss the film, due to be released in mid-December). For those fans who worried that he wouldn't be able to follow such a perfect book with anything up to par, well, the fear was obviously unfounded. A Thousand Splendid Suns is another masterpiece, a gift to readers and a gift to the people of Afghanistan, Hosseini's home country. The characters are different (told primarily from a female perspective this time), the story is different, but the pain and heartbreak of Afghanistan that readers found in The Kite Runner remains the drivingi force. Suns follows two women, Mariam and Laila, whose paths cross in a shocking way in war-torn Afghanistan. They endure war, loss, and brutality beyond comprehension, but their friendship and love for each other helps them endure, and ultimately makes survival possible. It's a history book, a love story, and a wakeup call to readers.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
What is a hero? Davy Bowman had two heroes: his Dad and his older brother, Bill. It was World War 2 and if you were a kid growing up in any small town in the Midwest there were never-ending collection drives for newspapers, old junk metal and even old cars. Heroes came in all sizes back then. Davy's Dad owned the Phillips 66 gas station in town. He had been wounded in World War 1 and had one bad arm, but he had more fun with the kids in the neighborhood than any other dad. Davy tells of the night when his Dad caught a Halloween prankster "red-handed". It was a popular prank to jam a stick in the steering wheel and seat and make the horn blare. So Davy and his Dad hid way down in the seats of their old Packard and waited for one of the pranksters to come along. Just as a hand reached in the window, Davy's Dad grabbed his wrist and wouldn't let go! The kid screamed, "Let me go!" But Davy's Dad held on tight and with the kid standing on the running board, drove him home to his father to be punished.
Davy's older brother Bill was training to fly B17 bombers. He was tall, strong and handsome in his uniform and Davy wanted to be just like him. When Bill finally got sent to England to fly the B17's in the war, it was a tense time for the Bowman family at home.
This story is touching yet, as is true of all books by Richard Peck, it is full of hilarious situations like the three girl bullies in Davy's class and how they got their just reward; or the day that Davy and his best friend Scooter got caught in old Miss Titus' antique car in her barn.
Author Richard Peck wrote this novel to honor his father. Come take a nostalgic journey to the homefront during the '40's. On the Wings of Heroes is an excellent novel for all kids, 10 years old and up!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
When Invisible Children Sing, by Dr. Chi Huang, is a true story of 5 street children, an idealistic doctor, and their dangerous hope. When Dr. Huang took a year off from Harvard Medical School to work with orphans and street children in La Paz, Bolivia, he had no idea it would take only that one year to change his life forever. The son of immigrants from Taiwan, he had grown up feeling like an outsider in an alien culture, one that eventually rewarded him with a coveted spot in medical school. And then he chose to thrust himself once again into the role of outsider, that of a young American doctor seeking to save the bodies and souls of Bolivia's forgotten children.
Dr. Huang learned, among other things, that street children are far from innocent. But that doesn't begin to justify, he says, their unspeakable living conditions. Indeed, the stories he tells range from the appalling--a street infant starved to death in a hospital because it was up to her mother to provide food; when she failed to do so, hospital staff watched the baby die--to the sickening: 89 percent of street children, including those as young as four, inhale paint thinner to stay warm through the frigid Andean nights. And worse: vigilantes rape, beat, and even kill street children to "cleanse" the streets.
"Dr. Huang does not ask for sympathy or accolades but he does ask that we see his children." You'll be glad you read, When Invisible Chldren Sing! (610.737 Huang - Non-Fiction)
Monday, October 22, 2007
In "The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks, Terrie Foster has everything a man would want--wonderful friends, a loving family, a good job, and a waterfront home. He and his friends and family enjoy many hours of boating, swimming, and picnicking. Terrie feels a committed relationship with a woman would cramp his bachelor lifestyle. Then Gabby Holland moves next door and he becomes enamored with her. After many altercations concerning Terrie's dog, he and Gabby marry and are blessed with two children. One quiet evening together Gabby asks Terri to keep a promise to her in which he agrees. Gabby is involved in a terrible automobile accident and is in a coma for several months. Terrie must make a life changing decision that will affect himself, his children, and his wife. Read this inspiring book to find out the decision Terrie made.
William Kent Krueger has written several mysteries about Cork O'Connor and his police work and private investigations work in Aurora, Minnesota, on the borders of Iron Lake. In Blood Hollow, O'Connor is no longer sheriff of Aurora, but his attorney wife is hired to defend a suspected murderer, and she hires him to help her collect evidence to support her belief that the accused, a young Native American man named Solemn Winter Moon, is innocent. The story is well developed, the characters are real and three-dimensional, and the beauty and ruggedness of northern Minnesota envelops everything. You don't have to read the series in order, but after jumping in midway with Blood Hollow, I'm anxious to go back to the beginning of the series, Iron Lake, and read more about what makes Cork tick. He's a likable hero. The author writes as if he knows the area and its heritage really well, and that makes the story even more authentic. Take a visit to Iron Lake on your next reading adventure.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Almost every woman sometime in her married life will experience an unrelished moving away from the people and place she dearly cherishes. The Scarlet Thread, by Francine Rivers, follows a woman, like you and me, when confronted with this very situation makes some wrong choices in attitude, leading her to bigger problems than she ever imagined. With a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, and a new house in her hometown, Sierra Madrid leads a happy life. Then her husband, Alex, announces that he has taken a job in Los Angeles and that the family will soon move, and Sierra's dream is shattered. She strikes out in anger and disappointment and her fears and insecurities chip away at her marriage. Her husband becomes more aloof and the family begins the slow process of disintegration, eventually reaching breaking point. However, when Sierra comes upon one of her ancestor's journals, who generations before struggled with many of the same fears and issues of contending with God, husbands and even themselves, she finds consolation.
Rivers draws her reader to take a good look at themselves, and because of that, The Scarlet Thread is a book every woman should read early in her marriage, because learning from someone elses mistake is much less painful than learning from our own!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Gone Baby Gone which premieres this weekend is Ben Affleck's directorial debut. It is the fourth in a series of detective/mystery novels written by Dennis Lehane and featuring private detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. It takes place in the Dorchester section of Boston, a working class neighborhood. They are hired to find a missing child who was taken from her apartment after being left alone by her mother. They are thrown into the world of pedophiles, drug dealers and corrupt policemen. Before the end of the book, they must make a decision which could end their personal and professional relationship. The world portrayed in this novel is cruel, violent and complicated. As in all his novels there are moral questions about social and personal responsibility to ponder. The Patrick Kenzie character is played by Casey Affleck in the movie and he is exactly as I pictured Patrick.
Sally and Troo are two sisters who rely only upon one another and kind and caring neighbors to keep them safe. The year is 1959, and with their mother hospitalized and their stepfather disregarding them for his addiction to alcohol, the girls are basically abandoned in the midst of a mystery concerning molestation and murder. Sally is convinced that she's figured out who the child predator is and she's equally convinced that she's next on his list! Full of mystery and the heartbreaking vulnerability of a 10-year-old girl, this story is sure to keep you turning pages.
Friday, October 12, 2007
The Poisonwood Bible is one of Barbara Kingsolver's great creations. Published in 1998, it selected as an Oprah book in 2000. Kingsolver fans usually have to wait a few years in between her novels, and this one was worth the wait. It's the story of Baptist missionary Nathan Price, who moves his family (wife and four daughters) from Georgia to the Belgian Congo (later Zaire). Nathan's insensitivity and cultural arrogance proves to be his downfall, as he makes no attempt to acclimate to his neighbors but expects them to acclimate to him and his church and his Jesus. The book, narrated from alternating perspectives of the mother and daughters, covers 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the Africa that was such a big part of their lives. Kingsolver is such a wonderful story teller, but she also succeeds in making her readers aware of the "bigger picture" of social issues. Reading The Poisonwood Bible is like being entertained and educated at the same time. It broadens your horizons of the world. This book will be discussed at the Delphi Public Library Book Club at 9 a.m. on Friday, October 26.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
In this uplifting debut novel, author Patricia Wood effectively and efficiently sweeps you into the life and an appreciation of the unique philosophy of thirty-two year old Perry Crandall. Perry is adamant - he is “not retarded.” He knows for a fact that a score of 75 or less on an IQ test deems an individual mentally deficient. And Perry is safe with an IQ score of 76. He’s “just a little slower than most” as his “Gram” likes to put it.
When Gram dies, Perry’s estranged family forces him from the only home that he has ever known and he must embark on a journey of discovery. He must discover the foods that he can fix on his own, how to stretch his meager paycheck, and how to determine true friendship. He also discovers that Gram’s belief that he is “a lucky boy” rings true when Perry wins twelve million dollars in the Washington State Lottery.
But this book is about more than a great monetary gain. It is about a man who (although lacking in mental capabilities) is a GENUIS when it comes to matters of the heart. With poignancy, humor, and keen observation, Wood sweeps the reader along in a rush of beautifully crafted characters who are entangled in the life of the remarkable Perry Crandall.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Adam Chase, acquitted of the murder of a beloved local football hero, returns to his original stomping grounds of small-town North Carolina. As he attempts a reconciliation & reckoning with friends, family and his own personal demons, it soon proves to be a bitter disappointment as he makes the realization that those surrounding him are harboring a long kept secret. And when a body is found on the Chase farm and a young woman is severely beaten, Adam is once again considered the primary suspect by an unforgiving local community.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Refiner's Fire by Sylvia Bambola is one of those books you'll remember years down the road. For one, the story immediately pulls you in as we're taken to a refugee camp in the 1980's during Nicolae Ceausescu's regime in Romania. Two victims of that regime -young twin boys, are the lives we watch as one is sold to an American and the other remains in Romania, only to many years later cross paths in much different circumstances. Bambola blends skillfully true events (events in the book represent a composite of true happenings experienced by the Romanian Underground church) and fiction. A suspenseful plot and a powerful testimony both enlightens and intrigues the reader. You'll want to read other Bambola books when you finish this one!
On a hike up a desolate, heavily wooded cliff off the Pacific Northwest coast, Nathan spots a large canoe sitting high between two trees. He climbs up to find a skeleton surrounded by many Indian tools and items that have been placed there to go with him in the afterlife. Nathan's Makah Indian friend, Lighthouse George, says it is a Ghost Canoe--very sacred! You must never touch anything in it or take anything out of it!
When a clipper ship wrecks off the coast and it is said that there were no survivors, Nathan has his doubts. A mysterious set of footprints were found on the beach that led into the woods. Then things begin to disappear in the village trading post and the Makah children tell of seeing a hairy man in the woods. Nathan is certain that someone has survived.
When the clipper ship's captain's body washes up on shore they see that he was murdered and then Nathan's doubts truly begin. The clues all lead back to the Ghost Canoe and author Will Hobbs will keep you guessing!
Don't miss this Ghost of a mystery in the Teen Room!
Friday, October 05, 2007
If you love the TV series "Lost," you'll love Uncharted by Angela Hunt. It is about a reunion of old friends who end up marooned on a deserted island. The difference, however, is in this story we actually learn the reason they are there and why they can't get off (in spite of not so bad efforts to do so). The island not only keeps the characters captive, but also has a way of showing them who they really are and who they now wished they had been. There are some surprises and Hunt does an excellent job of suspense. It really is a hard book to put down! This book is the October selection for the Faith-Inspired Book Club, which will meet Thursday, October 25, at 9 a.m. in the library's mezzanine.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us is not a happy story. Anna, the mother, and Trudy, the daughter, have not led happy lives. But sometimes it is good to read about troubled lives, learn from them, feel empathy, and be better equipped to handle troubles in our own lives that will seem small by comparison. Anna was a young woman in Germany during World War II. She fell in love with a Jewish man, who was then betrayed by Anna's father and sent to a concentration camp. She ends up as the mistress to a German SS officer--not by choice but by motivated by fear and the need to survive. She has kept many secrets from Trudy, who was very young and does not remember much about those early years. Trudy is now a professor of German studies at a university in Minnesota and has embarked on a project that involves interviewing non-Jewish Germans who lived during the Holocaust. The book flips back in time from the 40s to the 90s and we watch as Trudy's memories of her and her mother's life in Germany, sparked by her interviews, gradually appear and dramatically affect her life. Ultimately, the past and the present overlap. It's a difficult but beautifully written story.