The teen girl protagonist of Fridlund’s History of Wolves lives in Laura-Ingalls-style squalor as the daughter of ex-commune hippies in 1970’s Minnesota Lake Country. Her world is changed when some exciting new neighbors move in across the lake with a sickly boy for her to babysit, and a new teacher from out of town (wearing a gold earring! In the ‘70’s! ) stirs up the locals. This is an engrossing book about an intriguing outsider in a lost time.
This novel shattered me. At first, the story seems to be about four young men, college friends, building their adult lives in New York City. But the narrative ultimately settles on one of the men, Jude, slowly revealing the extraordinary brutality of his childhood, the physical and psychological scars of which shape the rest of his life. Yanagihara is unflinching in her exploration of the terrible violence visited upon Jude, but almost more startling is how boldly, how hopefully, she writes of love. This is not a heart-warming book, but it’s a full-hearted one. You’ll think and worry about these characters long after you finish reading, as if they were real people you once knew.
Experience life in remote coastal North Carolina from the perspective a ten-year-old colonial girl, the slave girl who was given to her as a birthday present, her independent, spontaneous mother, her soldier-sailor-shopkeeper-frontiersman father, and her plantation-building grandparents. Katy Simpson Smith’s novel is written in crystal clear prose, with telling details that put you there, and observations about human life in general that ring true. Smith demonstrates her characters’ great hopes and meager stakes, their struggle with faith, and the poison of slavery in the New World.
Michael Perry once again takes us to small town Wisconsin, where his main character, Harley Jackson’s already complicated life is further complicated when a cow in his barn gives birth to a calf, bearing the image of Jesus Christ on its side, you know, the image that somehow shows up on tortilla chips from time to time, bringing its discoverer 15 minutes of fame. Harley senses trouble on the horizon. Perry does this kind of small town deadpan humor as well as anyone. His first novel is a pleasure all the way through.
All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two young people -- a blind girl living in Paris with her father, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, and a boy who lives with his sister in an orphanage in Essen. Covering the years of 1934 to 1944, we follow these youths as Marie-Laure flees Paris and the Nazis to the ancient walled city of St. Malo on the Atlantic coast and Werner becomes a member of the Hitler Youth and then a radio engineer in the German army. Their lives will intersect in an almost inevitable way in this exquisite novel of war, love, hope and dreams. Lyrical, heart-breaking and stunning. I can't recall a book such as this, that I was able to see every detail as I read it. Highly recommended.
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