Book reviews from the Library’s own, Martha Hyams!
Canada, by Richard Ford
Dell Parsons’ life as a teenager is totally thrown into chaos by a double crime committed by his parents. Dell is a twin. His sister, Berner, consequently runs away and Dell is saved by an adult friend. His search for regaining faith in life and himself, however, is again thrown into violent disruption. It is a realistic, gripping, read.
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
The novel takes place in early morning in New York City, 1974. Groups of people are stopped in their tracks when they notice a tightrope walker dancing, leaping and spinning between the Twin Towers. Vaguely based on the performances of Philippe Petit, the story deftly combines and intertwines the lives of an Irish monk, and a group of mothers mourning the loss of their sons in Vietnam. Their loneliness and loss is replaced by the beauty and the magic of the moment. It’s a gorgeous, uplifting book.
Nut Shell, by Ian McEwan
A talking baby would be difficult enough for the reader to accept but a talking foetus? Well, that’s what we have in a nutshell, so to speak. The foetus is privy to an “overheard” plot being planned by his mother and her lover. The foetus appears to be the most intelligent of the bunch. A funny, fun, very expertly written short fiction by a very gifted author.
Why Buddhism is True , by Richard Wright
Don’t be put off by the title. This is a fascinating, sometimes humorous, easily readable, non-fiction description and explanation of Buddhism. The book is quite personal and does not dwell on religion, rather focuses on mindful meditation and the role of the self or non-self as Wright describes the practice. If you have ever been interested in learning about Buddhism, or if you want to expand your knowledge of it, this is a great book.
Orphan Train , by Christina Baker Kline
A nine-year-old girl, in 1929, is placed on a train headed for the Midwest, with many other children who have lost families through one tragedy or another. Although the book is fiction, it is based on the true story of thousands of children who were left homeless and consequently were sent to the Midwest to work. They found themselves in various horrible situations, without any guidance or help. It’s a fascinating snapshot based on real, but not well-known, life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Don’t miss it.
The Yellow Wallpaper , by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This is a novel based loosely on the experience of the author in the late nineteenth century. We are not given the name of the main character who is forced to take the “rest cure,” a popular technique at the time, aimed at curing so-called nervous disorders. She is restricted to one room and not allowed any diversions. We follow her and discover how she survives, or doesn’t. You will find that out. The book provides a good look into medicine at the time.