The Age of Miracles is a moving story about coming of age during a time of great uncertainty in the world. Eleven-year-old Julia navigates the trials and tribulations of middle school while the Earth’s rotation has begun to slow. As Julia deals with the loss of friends and the joy of a first love, birds begin to drop dead from the sky and daylight lasts 48 hours. Emily Janice Card does an excellent job of narrating Karen Thompson Walker’s haunting and beautiful prose. This is a must read that will stay with you long after you have finished.
William Sutton or “Willie the Actor” led quite a remarkable life robbing banks, stealing an estimated two million dollars during his lifetime. J.R. Moehringer’s characterization of the notorious bank robber in Sutton is of an intelligent “Robin Hood” figure. Told from Sutton’s perspective, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1969 when Willie is released from prison for good behavior and ailing health, after spending half his adult life behind bars. A reporter and photographer from the newspaper get an exclusive with Willie in exchange for room at a luxury hotel. However, Willie insists that they drive him around to locations in New York City as he recounts his story in chronological order. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the actor Dylan Baker who does an amazing job capturing all of the different characters.
Ben Fountain’s novel effectively captures the disconnect between soldiers on the ground in Iraq and the civilian perspective of the war. Billy, a 19-year-old solider, has just returned to America for a two week “Victory Tour” following a successful firefight in Iraq. Along with soldiers of Bravo Company, Billy has traveled cross country on a morale-boosting media circuit. Written in a stream of conscious, the young war hero narrates the final day at the Dallas Cowboys football game on Thanksgiving. Throughout the course of one day the reader witnesses Billy’s struggle with his newfound fame, the effect of war, family, and brotherhood. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a moving and satirical portrayal of America over the last ten years.
Emma Straub’s debut novel brings the reader back to the golden age of Hollywood and the studios that ran the show. The novel follows Elsa Emerson’s transformation from a simple country girl to the glamorous Laura Lamont. Even though Laura changes her name and her hair, she isn’t able to completely break free of her roots. An enchanting novel that transports you back to old Hollywood and the glamor of the movie stars. Here is an interview with the author.
Check out Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures today.
How well do you know the person you love? This becomes the central question during the disappearance of Amy, the wife of Nick Dunne. Nick and Amy are two writers that met and fell in love in New York. After economy tanks, they both lose their jobs and move back to Nick’s childhood home in Missouri. Financial worries put a strain on their already troubled marriage.
Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and Nick is the prime suspect with the evidence mounting against him. As the story moves through the days after the disappearance, you begin to question the truth as its being told from Nick and Amy’s perspective. This psychological thriller is a must read.
Read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today and check back next month for Laura’s take on the book!
Pulitzer Prize winning author Eugenides’ new novel focuses on a romantic triangle among three college students. When the novel opens in 1982, Madeline, Leonard and Mitchell are graduating from Brown University. In the year after graduation, they struggle with spirituality, mental illness, and each other. This is a beautiful and engaging coming of age story told from each of their perspectives.
Check the catalog for The Marriage Plot and search for other books by Jeffrey Eugenides.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)
A beautifully written debut novel tells the story of a young woman struggling to allow herself to love after a lifetime of abandonment, rejection and disappointment. Having grown up in a series of foster homes and group residences, Victoria Jones lacks the emotional skills to connect to others in a meaningful way. However, after one genuine woman teaches Victoria the hidden meaning of flowers, she uses it as a way to communicate with others. This heartbreaking novel set against the Northern California landscape is both enchanting and moving. A must read.
Listen to an interview with Vanessa Diffenbaugh with NPR’s Scott Simon.
Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2010)
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is more of a collection of short stories than a novel with each chapter focusing on a particular time in a character’s life. Written in a non linear format the book spans from the 1970s punk rock scene to the distant future of 2020. The American music scene is the focus for the diverse cast of characters that includes Sasha, a troubled young kleptomaniac and Bennie, an aging music producer. Throughout the book, the characters’ lives intersect each other and in the end everyone is connected to one another to some degree. Egan’s unique writing style allows the reader to see the characters at different points in their lives and understand how time has changed them.
This is an intriguing and engaging novel that explores memory and the passing of time in our lives.
Check out this candid interview with the author about her book.
Room by Emma Donoghue (2010)
One of my favorite aspects of this engrossing read is the narrator, a charming five-year-old boy named Jack. He and his mother, affectionately called Ma, are held captive in a tiny 11×11 room by a man identified only as Old Nick. Jack is perfectly content in this intimate environment, oblivious to the imprisonment that Ma struggles to deal with. It is Jack’s energetic voice that guides the reader through their daily routine that includes running on a homemade track, reading and watching TV. He introduces objects that are also his friends such as Rug, Bed and Dresser while showcasing his active imagination.
Gradually Jack learns that there is a whole universe outside the walls of Room and with this knowledge the novel shifts. Although I do not want to give too much of the plot away, more characters are introduced and the relationship between Jack and Ma is tested. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the couch because I had to know what happened next. Truly a beautiful and harrowing book that will stay with you long after you have finished.
Read an interview with the author and explore the Room.