Sandra has been at QRB for a few years and truly believes she's in the ideal job. Not only has she always loved to spend her free time reading, now she can talk to others about books and authors she can't forget. You may know her from one of her many book club presentations. As a former long time educator, this comes naturally!
This debut novel from a twenty-six year old woman is a sweeping work that spans 300 years of history in Ghana and the United States. The main characters are half sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different tribes in Ghana. While one is married off to a white man and lives a life of luxury and then tribal upheaval, the other is imprisoned and shipped off to America as a slave. The novel follows their ancestral lines through the present day, describing the memory of captivity.
As we hear daily accounts of the refugee crisis in Europe, B. A. Shapiro’s novel, The Muralist, takes us back to a time when the United States may have blocked visas to those who were trying to escape Hitler’s Nazi regime. You’ll be intrigued by the mystery of what happened to fictional abstract expressionist painter, Alizée Benoit, friend to Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and others who were part of the group of artists painting murals for the WPA in the days prior to World War II. This combination of art and world history creates an exciting and provocative story.
A tragedy unfolds and is described through the voice of a troubled teen whose parents are missing and presumed dead. Hearing that her dad may be responsible for the disaster, Emily Shepard takes off and goes into hiding to face life on her own as best she can. Resilience cannot be sustained however so dangerous choices are made. This poignant tale could have happened anywhere in the world, and because of the author's great words, I found myself drawn to the story with empathy for Emily.
Once again, Nancy Horan delves into the life of an artist and his muse, this time with Robert Louis Stevenson and his younger, independent, American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. Unlike the book, Loving Frank, Horan writes of a marriage with devotion and love between Robert and Fanny. While putting her own creativity to the side, Fanny was crucial to Stevenson's writing success though ill health, continuous relocations and lack of funds were a major hinderance. After reading this, you'll be thankful for antibiotics.
Even before the official publication date, The Lowland, with its ambitious epic scope, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The story of twin brothers born in India before the Partition is centered around the radical activist politics of one brother and how his activities devastate his family across four generations from Calcutta to Rhode Island. This is a most masterful tale with great depth and clarity.
Americanah is the story of a strong-willed Nigerian woman who comes to America for an education. While here, she endures near destitution before graduating, falling in love and creating a successful blog about living as a non-African black American. Adichie is a Nigerian woman who has lived in America, so she is able to candidly and humorously examine blackness and race in both this country and Nigeria. She writes honestly about the ugly as well as the beautiful side of both nations. You will marvel at her words.
In pre-Civil War days, a 21-year-old daughter of a wealthy Georgia plantation owner marries a man twice her age and leaves with him to take up his life as a missionary in Africa. A Different Sun describes the social and spiritual awakening of this young woman as well as the lonely and hard life she leads. I was mesmerized by her story as well as the portrait of the beauty of the continent and its native people.
Elizabeth Strouts's stories and novels are always strong with deep detail and plot. The Burgess Boys is no exception as this is a story of a dysfunctional family and the ethnic differences in a small Maine town that is intertwined with the drama of a very bad juvenile prank. Both love and hatred within the family and community are what help begin to heal wounds that could occur in any family or town.
Even though the story of two journeys from the Dominican Republic to Haiti is filled with accounts of illegal border crossings, bad or no roads, rivers to ford, situations to negotiate and the horrors of the earthquake, I read it with sheer joy. Haiti is the poorest country in the world and we all need to try and understand how its people survive. This true story will take you beyond what is presented in the media to where you will believe there can be a future for this beautiful country.
Using a cast list that helps a reader keep track of the many characters, I was engrossed with this tale of two smart Italian girls growing up in the 1950s in a remote area of Naples, Italy. Shaped by poverty, violence and a patriarchal society, these best friends endure a complex friendship that describes a way of life perhaps long gone but not necessarily missed. As it's the first of a trilogy, I will look forward to following this story that began with a present day disappearance of one of these two.