Some novels are unevenly written. While the story may be compelling, the background reads like a text book. Or the setting and background are riveting and the characters are not well developed. The Elephant of Belfast is one such book. The history is informative and well done, the flow of the story not so much. You may have surmised by now, that I love to read historical fiction. As debate rages about what is appropriate historical material to teach in the classroom, this genre can provide a wide open window to slices of history that may be new to you. To badly paraphrase a quote from author Pam Jenoff (The Orphan Tale, The Lost Girls of Paris, Code Name: Sapphire): history is not a list of facts and dates, it is the choices people make when their lives are at risk. How true that is.
TWO NOVELS EXPLORE HISTORY THROUGH THE LENS OF FICTION: Are they at risk?
In reading the two books I will discuss, the threat of censorship was with me on every page. As I read, I was thinking of historical fiction as a source of understanding and new knowledge.What we might learn from the adage...walk a mile in my shoes. Personal stories that shed light on who we were, what we've done, and perhaps, why we are in the state we're in now.
The Evolving Dynamics of Family: The Other Mother
This is a multigenerational tale of a mixed-race family that has many complications. Mixed race is only the beginning. Add into the mix a gay couple who has a baby via sperm donor in the time when AIDS was at its peak. The child, now college age, has many questions about his father and it is with this quest that the book unfolds. THE OTHER MOTHER by Rachel M. Harper, is a novel about l who can be a mother, the different configurations of family, and how the actions of family members may be well-intentioned but destructive..
I don't typically read dystopian novels. Too dark for me. The very meaning of dystopia warns me away. It is an imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible (Oxford dictionary). In the dystopian fiction world, societies are generally characterized by class divides, environmental devastation, and loss of individuality. Set in a near future, they are allegories to generate a sense of urgency to change our ways. Today is my first foray into this world. I read two dystopian novels this week set in an imaginable future that described a degraded world for all of us, but Asian Americans in particular. As the Chinese New Year began, with its horrific violence, it seemed fitting to immerse myself in these worlds. We have a long history of Asian American discrimination in our country, now exacerbated by the pandemic. Both books have Asian American protagonists.
AMERICAN DIRT: A STORY OF TERROR, DISPLACEMENT AND LOVE
A book like this is why fiction can have an impact on how we view and think about subjects we may know about, but never personally encounter. And it is a great discussion starter.
Recommendations from my 2022 Reading Year
This list is not a best of 2022 because not all the books were written this year. It is a list of my best reads during the past year.
The Loved Ones: Healing an Inheritance of Grief
If you think about the families in this story, the plot and its twists, or even the unlikely title for this book, you might wonder how in the world it fits together. And yet it does. Remarkably well. It is a story of unlikely attractions, where they lead, their consequences and how they shape lives. … Continue reading The Loved Ones: Healing an Inheritance of Grief
HOW TO MAKE A LIFE
There have been many generational family sagas written lately about how choices and experience made in one generation impacts the next. Most, however, are told in the same tired way. There are two storylines—one past, one current— and they alternate chapters with the endpoint moving toward an intersection of the two. Invariably, I savor the … Continue reading HOW TO MAKE A LIFE
A Tale of Family Trauma Elegantly Rendered
Lately, if I've read a book that has garnered a long list of prizes (2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, best book of year by NPR and Publisher's weekly and over the top reviews, I read it with great anticipation and am usually surprised by the acclaim, disappointed with the story or lack thereof, … Continue reading A Tale of Family Trauma Elegantly Rendered
More Than a Mystery
A gripping literary thriller about a classical violinist's search to find his stolen Stradivarius as he prepares for the biggest opportunity of his life.