Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Living in a World of Laughter

Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny is a book that only Marlo Thomas could write-a smart and gracious, witty and confident autobiographical journey.

For as long as Marlo Thomas can remember, she's lived with laughter. Born to comedy royalty-TV and nightclub star Danny Thomas-she grew up among legendary funny men, carved much of her career in comedy and, to this day, surrounds herself with people who love and live to make others laugh.

Her youth was star-studded-Milton Berle performed magic tricks (badly) at her backyard birthday parties. George Burns, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Bob Newhart and other great comics passed countless hours gathered around her family's dinner table. And behind it all was the rich laughter and loving family.

Marlo describes growing up in a loving and funny family. Her father didn't want her to go into show business, but Marlo had to do it her way. Marlo Thomas graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree. She is the author of five bestselling books, "Free to Be....You and Me, Free to Be....a Family, The Right Words at the Right Time, Thanks and Giving: All Year Long," and "The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2: Your Turn!"

Some know her as the star of the 1960s TV show That Girl, or perhaps major fund-raiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or wife of talk-show king Phil Donahue. However, you know Marlo Thomas, her book is well worth reading.

Labor Day

Summer is winding down and those carefree, mindless days are soon to be over for thirteen-year-old Henry; friendless, awkward, and living with his long-divorced mother who, as her summer project, has taught Henry the fox trot. After the Labor Day holiday, Henry must return to school and be subjected to eating lunch alone and taking 'hits' in the locker room. There is not much to look forward to. Things would be better if he could make his emotionally-frail , reclusive mother happy .... for longer than a moment. Things would be better if he could somehow feel a part of the 'family' that his estranged father has created with a new wife, baby and step-son.

Life changes dramatically for Henry when he and his mother, while on their yearly shopping trip, encounter a mysterious bleeding man at the local Wal-Mart. Over the course of the next week the man, Frank, tranforms life for Henry and his mother. Henry finally learns to throw a baseball, discover the secret for a perfect pie crust, and sees that real love is well-worth the wait.

In this novel, Joyce Maynard paints a perfect picture of an endearing but awkward adolescent through the character of Henry. You will marvel at how this boy's life was altered through the events of one single long, hot weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On The Blue Comet: by Rosemary Wells

Oscar Ogilvie is living with his dad in a house at the end of Lucifer Street, in Cairo, Illinois, when world events change his life forever. The great stock market crash has rippled across the country, and the bank takes over their home- along with all their cherished model trains. Oscar's dad is forced to head west in search of work, and Oscar must move in with his no-nonsense Aunt Carmen. Only a mysterious drifter who stops by each day for food after school helps alleviate Oscar's loveliness- until Oscar witnesses a crime so stunning that it catapults him into a miraculous, time-hopping train journey.
Filled with suspense and peppered with witty encounters with Hollywood stars and other bigwigs of history, this captivating novel by Rosemary Wells resonate with imagination, humor, and the magic of a timeless adventure story.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hypothermia: A Thriller

Reykjavik's police detective Erlendur works alone because he prizes solitude above all else. He also has ghosts from his past which haunt him daily particularly the probable death of his brother who went missing when he was a child. Then there is his failed marriage and his tentative relationships with his two children.
This case begins with the apparent suicide of a woman ravaged by guilt and depression over the recent death of her mother and the long ago death of her father when she was a child. Erlendur investigates the case to try to determine why she would want to kill herself. At the same time, he begins an investigation into the disappearance of two young people thirty years ago. Erlendur feels survivor's guilt, because it was his brother who was never rescued when both of them were lost in a blizzard. No trace of his brother's body was ever found. Therefore when an Icelander goes missing, he feels compelled to delve into the case.
This crime novel has no car chases, guns blazing or quick action. Instead it focuses on the psychology of the people involved, their fears and pain and the guilt they wrestle with daily. It is a very satisfying read and when you are finished, you will wish you could pick up the next book and keep reading.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Almost Unbearable Sadness of Being...Jewish

Julie Orringer has followed up her notable short story collection with a heartrending but beautifully written novel that spans several years and lives in Europe during the years leading up to and encompassing WWII. I picked up The Invisible Bridge with hesitation, unsure of whether I wanted to face another book full of sorrow and the plight of Jewish families in the war. And yet, I knew very little about the Jews of Hungary, and so was curious, and the reviews were captivating, and the photograph on the front cover finally drew me in. The Invisible Bridge requires a considerable investment of time--at 600 pages, it is not a quick read. It also requires an emotional investment, because I quickly became attached to Andras Levi and his brother Tibor and their friends and family. I found myself smiling as I read, laughing out loud, gasping in disbelief and shock, and yes, the inevitable, crying in deep sadness. This is not an easy book to read. It shows the incredible cruelty that human beings are capable of. But it also shows the other side, the love and loyalty that people can demonstrate under the most horrible circumstances imaginable. When I finished this book, I truly loved the Levi family and wept for their losses and celebrated their survivals. I wish they were real so that I could clasp their hands to my heart. The thing is, they are real. Orringer has made them so. And numerous families just like the Levis are the great-great grandparents of our friends and neighbors today. Orringer has told a wonderful story. Read it.