Review: The Wave

This book may be one of those unknown gems.  I found this in the nearby Little Library.  I’m going to put it back there for someone else to find and read.

Margaret Hodges is the author.

The plot of the book is about how Ojisan, who lives in a small fishing village, notices something is wrong and saves everyone’s lives by extreme personal sacrifice.

Great storytelling and great use of language.  Appropriate for ages six and up and adults will enjoy it as well.

Review: The Light at Tern Rock

This is a Newberry Honor Book I have never heard of.  It is appropriate for ages 7 and up.

The plot summary is that Ronnie and Aunt Martha are asked by the lighthouse keeper at Tern Rock to take care of the lighthouse while he goes to visit family.  Ronnie hesitates because it is near Christmas and he is afraid of missing Christmas with his family.

Older readers may be able to guess the outcome.  However, I understand why this book received the Newberry Honor.  The plot is very tight, characters well-described, and the language is middle to high school level.  There is a great lesson taught as well.

Find a copy and read it especially if you have older children.

“Eileen” by Ottessa Moshfegh

This is a very different view of the year 1964.  Think of it as what-was-happening-to-most-people.  The book is creepy yet the reader will be reading with baited breath to get to the end.  There is a first-person narration mixed brilliantly with stream of consciousness. Foreshadowing happens a lot.  The reader will not be able to skip to the end or read the book backwards.

This book struck a cord.  Eileen lives in a self-created disaster, she doesn’t care about her environment or herself until that one person walks into her life.  If you want an idea of what first responders see and experience when they walk into some houses, read this book.  If you want to see what people are thinking who just don’t care, read this book. Eileen chooses not to expand her world until she does it out of pure self-satisfaction and the end is not expected.

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

The library wants this book back so I had to read it.  It was part of a collection of books the library had put on display for Black History Month.  The book caught my eye.  I know I had heard of the book but had never read it.

I would have remembered if I had ever read Middle Passage before.  This book is that good.

The story is a combination of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Homer’s The Odyssey, and major philosophy works.  However, dear reader, please don’t let that scare you away.

The protagonist, Rutherford Calhoun, finds himself in a bit of trouble and stows away on a ship in the port of New Orleans.  This is his voyage of discovery and recounts his journey in a first person narrative that takes many twists and turns.  Rutherford discovers that the truth is never quite what it seems.

Many of my professors in college had us write essays about the “dangers” of a first person narrative.  The reader only has one point of view.  How can one distinguish between what the story teller tells and what is really going on?  Is the story even true?  Can the reader even believe the story if there is only one side?

Rutherford is a completely believable character.  He lets the reader in on his train of thought and about his past and how he ended up on the ship, the Republic.  There is a lot of irony in the names and details given.  The whole book is a ship’s log that survived the worst of the worst.

This book is best suited for fourteen years and older.

Book Review: Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger, Maple, and Evergreen are the three main protagonists in this book by Anchee Min.  Maple narrates the story which is a coming of age during Maoist China.

It’s a short, concise book.  I read it in two seatings but I had to put it down and go back to it.  What happens to them is heart-wrenching and scary and a warning of what happens when one person has all of the power.  Due to the story being told through Maple’s eyes, one should question Wild Ginger’s motives and what she does.

Communist China made this story but the people are universal.  It’s a page turner in a bad way because you don’t know what is going to happen to someone next.

Wild Ginger gives voice to the people who both disappeared and lived through and survived Maoist China.

A must read.

Revisiting “Harry Potter”

The last couple of weeks during driving time I’ve had the opportunity to revisit with the first two books of Harry Potter.

The last time I read about the young wizard was at a very different time in my life.  I enjoyed the books but by the time the last one came out, I couldn’t get through it.  Too dark, too long.

I forgot how much of a commentary on society the series is.  I forgot how much Harry and his friends are not hidden from the realities and dangers of the wizard world and the reality of darkness in life.  Harry begins his journey at eleven years old and was not hidden nor shielded from the tough realities of his past or what hides at Hogwarts.  Yes, secrets abound but the adults treat him with respect.

The students are students.  The adults are adults.  No matter where you go, people are people.  There is excitement, joy, heartbreak, and loss.  We are our choices, as Dumbledore reminds him.

How different would this series be now?  Everyone with cell phones and tablets?  Would they be learning potions with their noses in a tablet?

I’m glad that women are not downgraded in this series and that even though Harry is an orphan, he gives voice to the fact that his mother died while trying to protect him.  After reading hundreds of insidious books where Mom is missing with no explanation this is a relief.  His parents loved him and fought for him until the end.

Good must always fight evil.

The Bones of Grace

This is the first book in a long time that I picked up and couldn’t put down.

I finally went back to a book group I haven’t been to in years and one of Tahmima Anam’s other books was on the syllabus but my local library didn’t have that book.  They only had this one.

I love this book.  This is a love and coming-of-age and memoir story all rolled into one.  It is heartbreaking yet heartwarming and leaves the reader with a sense of hope in the end.

A must read.