I haven’t read a Jodi Picoult book in a long time, but I’m so glad I decided to read this one. Small Great Things is one of the most thought provoking and inflammatory books I’ve read in some time. It focuses on issues of race and prejudice in a way that I, and probably many others, have not considered. The story is told from the perspectives of three characters: Ruth (an African-American labor and delivery nurse), Turk (a white supremacist father of a newborn baby in Ruth’s hospital), and Kennedy (Ruth’s defense attorney). Each viewpoint sheds a different light on the issue of racism. We learn that we all have much to learn about how we perceive each other and behave towards each other.
The characters were believable, although not always likable. Ruth was intelligent, sympathetic, and strong. You can’t help but get incensed by the injustices she has faced. It was difficult to read at times, especially the chapters told from Turk’s perspective. The following two quotes summarize the messages in this book:
Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
The title refers to a quote attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things that are great.”
Although this is not a fast-paced, action-packed book, I found it to be a page-turner due to the interesting, believable characters and how their lives and relationships are exposed throughout the story. The Story Hour touches on a number of issues, such as arranged marriage, infidelity, deception, betrayal, friendship, and secrets. Thrity Umrigar’s story is told from alternating perspectives: Lakshmi, who immigrates to America from India following an arranged marriage; and Maggie, a clinical psychologist, who starts to treat Lakshmi after her attempted suicide. An unlikely friendship unfolds, with unexpected twists and turns that kept me engaged til the end.
If you like mysteries with engaging characters and storylines that delve into their personal lives, then you’ll enjoy this book. Joe, a college student, is given an assignment to write about the life of an elderly person. He goes to a nursing home where he meets Carl Iverson, a Vietnam War veteran dying of cancer. Iverson was recently moved to the nursing home from prison, where he spent the last 30 years for rape and murder. Iverson reluctantly agrees to be interviewed. As Joe learns about Carl’s life, he questions the validity of Iverson’s conviction. Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth about the 30-year-old crime.
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens is an excellent debut novel that would make a good book club selection.
Another great book by Diane Chamberlain! She has a remarkable talent for developing complex, relatable characters facing difficult situations and telling thought-provoking stories that make me feel a whole host of emotions. Pretending to Dance centers around Molly who, with her husband, is hoping to adopt a baby. This process brings up painful memories from Molly’s past which she has kept hidden from her husband. The story deftly switches between present day and Molly as a rebellious 14 year old. Her very close relationship to her father, Graham, who is a paraplegic from MS, is handled with sensitivity and humor. Graham was my favorite character, with inspirational wisdom and loving insight into life. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the storyline, and many issues raised in a compassionate manner.
A new author for fans of high-octane thrillers. Don’t be intimated by the size of this book (over 600 pages). I normally avoid books this size, but the description intrigued me enough to try it, and I’m really glad I did! I am Pilgrim is roller coaster ride of constant action; worldwide settings; a variety of complex, flawed, captivating characters; and many unpredictable twists and turns.
The main character, code named “Pilgrim,” a former member of a covert US agency that dealt with terrorism, is pulled into a murder investigation by a friend who’s a top New York City police detective. This, in turn, leads him (and us, the readers) to many places around the globe – Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey as he attempts to take down a terrorist group planning a potentially catastrophic attack on the US. Terry Hayes’ novel is a fun, high-adrenaline, and strangely addictive read.
This is Mitch Albom’s second nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie. If you enjoyed that one, I think you’ll enjoy Have a Little Faith, possibly even more. It is heartwarming, inspirational, thought-provoking, and, at times, humorous.
Albom’s hometown rabbi asks Albom to deliver his eulogy when he dies. On his quest to learn more about this man, he encounters an African American pastor who, despite a past as a drug dealer and convict, is leading a Christian ministry serving the poor and homeless in Detroit’s inner city. The book alternates between these two very different men, religions, and their worlds. In the process, you learn valuable lessons about the power of faith to bring people together to accomplish great things. Great read for a book club.
This is my first Emilie Richards book, but it won’t be my last! It’s a captivating and emotional story about two women, Cecilia and Robin, who met as children in foster care and became “forever sisters.” Cecilia is a superstar singer-songwriter who agrees to do a documentary film on the foster care system. She asks Robin to join this project as a photographer, and to share their experiences together. Throughout this endeavor, we learn about the foster care system through the eyes and experiences of these two women. More importantly, we learn about the strength of the human spirit to overcome past traumas and develop into loving, successful adults.
Anyone who enjoys complex characterizations and explorations of social issues will enjoy When We Were Sisters.
This is one of my recent favorite books. I could not stop reading this compelling story of two sisters during the Nazi occupation of France, and how the war impacts each in very different ways. These strong women are inspiring and unforgettable, as they endure the unimaginable. All of the characters in The Nightingale really brought the story of the French Resistance to life. I felt as if I were reading a true story. There are twists and turns that kept me engaged until the bitter end.
I highly recommend Kristin Hannah’s latest novel for anyone who enjoys reading about WWII history, or about strong women in extraordinary circumstances. It would also be a great book for book clubs.
Highly recommend this debut novel to fans of mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and especially fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. The main protagonist, Peter Ash, is an ex-Marine Lieutenant who served for eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the U.S. a year earlier, he decides to live in the mountains, as PTSD causes him to have extreme claustrophobia and panic attacks when indoors for any time. When he finds out that his best friend from the military committed suicide, he goes to Milwaukee to help out this friend’s widow and two sons. The mystery begins when he finds a suitcase with lots of cash and explosives under the porch of their house.
In The Drifter, the cast of characters are vividly-drawn and complex, even the dog, Mingus. A central theme in this book is the effects of war on returning vets. I’m looking forward to Nicholas Petrie’s next book with Peter Ash (Burning Bright, which was released earlier this month).
I listened to the audio version of Julie Kibler’s debut Calling Me Home and loved it. The narration alternates between Isabelle, an 89-year old white woman, and Dorrie, an African American woman in her 30s. These two women have an unlikely friendship, which started many years earlier when Dorrie became Isabelle’s hairdresser.
At Isabelle’s request, they embark on a road trip from Texas to Ohio to attend a funeral. En route, Isabelle tells the story of her life during the 1930s. As such, the storyline alternates between late 1930s and the present day. Since I listened to this book in my car, I felt as though I were on the road with them, sitting in the back seat, eavesdropping on their captivating conversation.
The characters were so real to me that I felt the whole gamut of emotions while listening to this book. I think the book could be turned into a great movie!