Staff Picks for December 2016
Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon is a futuristic Robin Hood story. Robyn, a tinkerer, likes to sneak out at night and rummage through a nearby junkyard, looking for electronic gadgets to take apart. On one fateful night, she returns home to find her parents missing and signs of a struggle. Realizing quickly that she's in great danger, Robyn flees into the woods, where she finds other kids who have also gone into hiding. Robyn and her new found friends make names for themselves as wanted outlaws by doing what they can for those being crushed by the new regime. This is a fast-paced, fun adventure story that is on the Dorothy Canfield Fisher list.
Replica by Lauren Oliver is a “flip book" that contains two narratives in one. Turn the book one way and read Lyra's story; turn the book over and read Gemma's story. The stories can be read separately, or in alternating chapters. This is a young adult novel about the ethics of human cloning. Gemma’s father started the Haven Institute that makes and uses clones in the development of biological warfare. Lyra is a clone who escapes during a take-over of the Institute. The two meet and help each other accept some difficult truths. A fascinating, unique reading experience that is part one of a duology.
In a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware. After a bachelorette (Hen) party, Lenora wakes up in a hospital bed badly injured and suffering from memory loss. When she overhears a devastating police conversation outside her door, she begins to piece together the nightmare of a weekend that brought her there. A fun, quick, scary read.
Moo by Sharon Creech. Written in free verse with concrete poetry forms, Moo is the story of two kids whose family moves to Maine from the big city. In order to connect with their new neighbors, their parents suggest the kids help Mrs.Falala, a farmer down the road. She is old, lives alone, and can’t keep up with her farm work. She is also cranky and scary and makes them do all sorts of nasty farm work, like shoveling manure. But all it takes is Zora the cow to make everything turn out okay in the end. This is a sweet middle grade novel by an award-winning author.
The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon
Natasha is a science-obsessed teenage girl who is desperate to stop her family from deported back to Jamaica in 12 hours. Daniel is the youngest son of South Korean immigrants, who expect him to go to Yale and become a doctor, while he would rather write poetry. She believes in science and facts, while he is a dreamer. The two of them meet on the streets of New York City: "Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?"
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of
the Jim Crow South - Beth Macy
In 1899 Virginia, African-American brothers George and Willie Muse were kidnapped from their home in the Jim Crow South and taken by the circus to be displayed as "freaks." Their mother spent the next 28 years trying to get them back, and this book tells their story, as well as a larger story of life for Southern black people in the era of Jim Crow.
How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran
"Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get
Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth whether it's about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children-to jump-start a new conversation about feminism."
The House at the Edge of the Night by Catherine Banner is a great saga of a family throughout many generations living on a small island off the coast of Italy. Character development is phenomenal and the the descriptions of time and place are beautiful. The concept of living one’s life “privately” while living in a small community where everyone knows everyone’s business is explored. Lovely story!
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is very well written with great character development. Although the story takes some liberties with the concept of an “underground railroad” the story is a great historical piece that delved into the difficulties of slaves, free black men, and those that did what they could to assist the slaves. An incredible historical fiction piece with believable characters who remain “human” throughout deplorable conditions and tragic events. An excellent read!
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
This is a powerful book, bold in some ways , as we have a white author bringing to us a story depicting what racism looks like and trying to tell those of us who are not black, what it feels like .
What sets this book apart are the uncomfortable points it makes about racism. The novel is thought-provoking, and will surely spark conversations among friends, families and book clubs.
Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris
What does go on behind closed doors in a what appears to be a perfect marriage? As the story gets deeper into the lives of both people - the questions start in your mind - why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows, is this the perfect marriage or the perfect lie? A quick but fun read.
The Muse by Jesse Burton
In her follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton adopts a dual timeline structure, following the lives of two creatively gifted women separated by time and place, but linked by a luminous, long-hidden painting that bodes well to take the art world by storm, and a decades-old mystery about the artist. I enjoy historical fiction - so this book certainly spoke to me. It also included a great amount of art history, which was interesting.