A few fiction and nonfiction reviews, plus a suggestion for a different Thanksgiving story.
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Pearl has lived her whole life in a car with her mother at the edge of a trailer park. Her mother parked the car here 14 years ago for a quick stay and they never left. Things begin to unravel when a new man comes to the trailer park and her mother loses touch with the meaning of the life she had been living. Pearl’s life takes a dramatic turn and she finds herself thrown into the world outside her car. Lyrical and spellbinding, the original voice of this writer is thoroughly enjoyable. Gun running and violence, in the hands of Pearl, are made poetic. Readers who enjoy magical realism, Isabel Allende, and just great writing will appreciate this book.
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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
This quirky little read is well worth it! Keiko is 36 and works in a convenience store in Tokyo. She loves the predictability of the work and becomes interconnected with the workings of the store. She describes how she is literally made of the store, as she breaths the air and eats food only from the store. She adopts mannerisms of her colleagues and finds ways to navigate her social circle and explain why she is unmarried, works in a “dead-end” job, and isn’t dating. Eventually she does meet a man, who is also looking for a way to exist without conforming to the social norms and expectations. The descriptions of her adjusting her tone of voice and facial workings for her friends benefit were gold! There are so many invisible social rules that in Keiko’s eyes are made hilarious or cruel. It’s really a philosophical work and commentary on conformity and identity. I happened to be at a social gathering the day I finished this book and I was amazed at how differently I heard the questions, “so…are you still in that job?”
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Neither Dog nor Wolf by Kent Nerburn
The book’s subtitle, On forgotten roads with an Indian Elder, pretty much gives you the plot. Nerburn, a white man, is contacted by an Indian Elder, and he tells him to capture what he “has to say”. Nerburn writes down the story of the experience and it becomes this book, this beautiful testimony to the Indian experience. Dan, the Lakota elder, goes right after the most difficult aspects of American history, language, relationship with property, and cultural appropriation. This book significantly changed my world view. It really altered how I think and act–this is why I read! I loved it so much that the PTL Book Club is reading it this month and watching the movie on November 29th at 6:30pm. Join us!
Mary Hubbard’s Review:
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia
By Peter Pomerantsev
I came across this book on our shelves when I was looking for another book – which is – to my mind – part of the magic of a library. I was curious about the title and decided to take a quick look. The quick look turned into a non-stop read. Pomersantsev, a Soviet born British journalist worked as a producer for the Russian Television from 2006 to 2010. He provides a chilling but highly entertaining introduction into the surreal world of Russian disinformation where the Kremlin’s fingerprints can be seen everywhere. Although published in 2014, it will a primer to today’s struggles with what can and should be believed.
Lisa Bearce’s Review:
Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen
Looking for a different Thanksgiving book for your family?
At my first library job, one of my supervisors, a storyteller who’d been a librarian in Baltimore and NYC, took the time to share this book with me as we were setting up the holiday books. Barbara Cohen (1932-1992) wrote Molly’s Pilgrim some decades ago and it still rings true. Molly’s class is making clothespin Pilgrims and Indians for their class Thanksgiving celebration. Molly’s mother is delighted to help her make her doll’s clothes. ‘Because we are pilgrims too.’ When Molly brings her doll to school (in a babushka shawl instead of a Pilgrim hat) the other students make fun of her. Molly’s teacher uses this as a teaching moment and I dare you to read this out loud without a quiver in your voice. But don’t let that stop you—it’s a wonderful book to share with others.
I’ve always made sure this book is in every library collection I work with– and I’ve learned it’s been released with a new cover this year. I’ve just added the new edition to my next order.