Monday, August 22, 2011

Ten Thousand Saints and a Few Flawed People

Eleanor Henderson's debut novel, Ten Thousand Saints, is a take on two unusual families living in Vermont and New York in the late 1980s whose lives become linked forever. We first meet Jude and Teddy, 16-year-old high school buddies who seem to spend much of their time getting high or figuring out how to get high. But don't judge the book just by that fact. We know from the beginning that Teddy will die from an overdose at the end of the day (New Year's Eve, 1987). After that occurs, the rest of the book is the story about how the survivors go on. Jude's adoptive parents are divorced, and his dad has moved to New York. His girlfriend's daughter comes to town on New Year's Eve and initiates the chain of events that leads to Teddy's death, and Jude's subsequent move to New York to live with his father. Another family member key to the story is Johnny, Teddy's older brother, a New York tattoo artist who Teddy and Jude had idolized. Jude soon takes up with Johnny and his friends, who are "straight edge," meaning no drugs, alcohol, meat, or sex. Are you thinking right now that this book is not for you? Well, I understand, because I was hesitant of the subject matter, too. But let me tell you that Henderson so skillfully devises her characters that I came to empathize and understand them, even though I didn't relate at all to their actions. She delves into issues such as tattooing, heavy metal music, music raves (at which people slam into each other as a form of dancing), straight-edge lifestyles, homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, and drug addiction--all big issues in and of themselves--with an approach that is nonjudgmental but cuts to the chase. I learned a lot about lifestyles that are completely foreign from my own and watched these characters live and learn and grow from it. Isn't that what a great novel should do? Read it, and I believe you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

10 year old Keeper has messed everything up this time! She burned the special Crab Gumbo that Signe was preparing for their Blue Moon celebration which spoiled Dogie's two-word proposal song he was going to sing to Signe tonight, and then she broke the special flower that only blooms during the Blue Moon and now everyone was mad, mad, mad! All because she had heard the crabs talking to her! Now Keeper and her dog, B.D. (Best Dog), are on their way to the sandbar in a small boat looking for her mermaid mother, Meggie Marie, and hoping that she might grant her wish. Keeper needs some magic tonight, and maybe the Meggie Marie will make her wish come true. But when the rip current takes her farther and farther out into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the Blue Moon isn't magic and maybe the sandbar won't sparkle with mermaids and maybe Keeper may drift farther and farther away from the only family she knows and loves. But flying above them is their friend Captain, the seagull, and just maybe he can let everyone know where Keeper and B.D. are! This book will sweep readers away into a world where mermaids swim in the waves and 10 year old girls learn the true meaning of love. This book is on the JFic shelf in the Children's Room. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Dry Grass of August

The Dry Grass of August, By Anna Jean Mayhew, tells the simple story of thirteen-year old Jubie Watts, a privileged white Southern teen whose eyes will soon be opened to the racism of the 1950s.

Jubie leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. The year is 1954. Crammed into the car along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. Jubie can't help but take note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. When the trip takes a shocking turn, Jubie is faced with deciding where her own convictions lie.

This novel is many things: well-written, enjoyable, bearing a story line and well developed characters that live on long after the final chapter is laid aside, better than The Help, and finally, effective to remind us (shock us) of a time not so long ago. Glad I read it!

Monday, August 08, 2011

SILVER GIRL By Elin Hilderbrand

Getting away to Nantucket island to visit her one-time best friend may be just what Meredith Martin Delinn's needs. Meredith and her boys hae been living the "high life" for many years. Meredith's husband, Freddy, was one of those wonderful guys on Wall Street that got caught by the SEC making off with his clients' money and dragged his wife and family down with him. Freddy is now sitting in jail and his sons and wife are also under investigation. Merdith with little money left contacts her friend, Constance Fluke. Their friendship fizzled out when Constance and her husband took out their money with Freddy a fews years ago.

Connie has her own troubles for her husband, an architect, died of cancer and now her only daughter is no longer speaking with her. Connie and Meredith try to mend their relationship after Meredith moves in with her at Nantucket Island. Many themes present themselves in this novel--Greed, Betrayal, and Deceit. All three were ruining many lives. As you read this book, you will start to ask yourself: Do I really know the people I have in my life relationships? Hopefully we do.