Renowned MIT astrophysicist (and fellow Concordian) Sara Seager has spent her career searching for alien life - exoplanets that will sustain life, not as we know it here on Earth, but life nonetheless. After she is widowed in her early 40s, love for her two young boys is the impetus to find her way back to sustaining her own life in this 'new normal.'
THE SMALLEST LIGHTS IN THE UNIVERSE is marvelous twining of these two threads. Seager makes the science accessible and interesting for a lay person, and bares the emotions of her widowhood, pulling the reader into her journey. Her story is both intensely personal and universal in its portrayal of the anger and disorientation that often follows the devastating loss of a loved one.
This memoir is a page-turning read, as Sara Seager finds her North Star deep inside herself, in a group of other young widows in town, and in a new life partner. Highly recommended. p.s. Science is real!
“Heft is a novel both heartbreaking and hopeful, with characters who navigate the waters of love and family as if afraid of drowning. Arthur Opp, initially larger-than-life only in the physical sense, emerges as an intelligent and caring man, who the reader eagerly cheers on in his attempts to trust himself and others. Moore's writing hums as she gives voice to those we've chosen not to hear and illuminates those we've chosen not to see.”
Danny let his student visa lapse, and is now illegally living in Sydney, not in communication with anyone at home in Sri Lanka. He cleans houses for a living (does a good job and is proud of his work), and lives in the supply room of a convenience store. He learns that one of his clients has died - murdered. Danny realizes he may have information that will help find the killer. The novel takes place over one day, as Danny wrestles with his moral compass - will he keep his head down and stay under the radar, or will make a call to the authorities and share what he knows?
This is the deeply personal story of a Teach for America corps member who shares her joy at small steps of progress, frustration at a system that seems designed for failure, and guilt with the knowledge that she can leave the Mississippi Delta - and her troubled students - at will.
It is also a broad overview of the class history of our country, with its systematic racial discrimination and inequality. Kuo's interactions with the students and families of Helena, Arkansas show how hard it is to gain a toehold out. Even for those with the best intentions, jobs, 'clean' living, and education remain elusive.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Reading with Patrick underscores the power of the written word, the anchor that a favorite poem provides, and spark that can be ignited when we make a connection.
In this engaging novel with rich period details, three war widows and their children help each other survive at the end of WWII. Their husbands died as members of the resistance; aside from that common thread, Marianne, Benita, and Ania bring very varied backgrounds to their makeshift home in the castle's kitchen. They also bring lingering repercussions from past choices and current secrets. Jessica Shattuck brings us into that world, and shows us that the rules for love and loyalty are different in wartime.
Set in Zagreb in 1991, just prior to the outbreak of the Croatian war for independence, Girl at War is the story of Ana, a 10-year-old tomboy who enjoys spending time with her baby sister, biking around the city with her best friend, and summering with her family and friends on the Adriatic Sea. When the civil conflict escalates, Ana is forced to grow up too quickly.
Sara Nović expertly shares an astounding story of the brutality of war, the things one does to survive, and the confusion, anger, and guilt that is left in its wake. This is page-turning storytelling!
Read this in time for Halloween, or any time you want a chill, a thrill, a spine-tingling twist on a haunted house story.
David Mitchell invites the reader – and the unsuspecting victims on the page – into Slade House, a stylish manor tucked behind gorgeous gardens inside a wrought-iron gate, hidden off a narrow alley in a suburb of London. Yes, the house and grounds sound charming, but …
Those who are chosen to enter have a common quality – that someone (or something!) inside the house needs.
The novel spans 50 years, with a certain rhythm and repetition to the way the victims are lured into the house. Don’t be lured into complacency when you read it, though – it’s full of surprises!
Readers who enjoyed Mitchell’s THE BONE CLOCKS will revisit a few characters from that novel, but it’s not necessary to have read THE BONE CLOCKS in order to enjoy SLADE HOUSE. And, reading SLADE HOUSE first won’t spoil THE BONE CLOCKS for you
This is wonderful historic fiction that evokes the true story and essence of the woman in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World.”
Christina Baker Kline draws us into the hard-drawn boundaries of the life, the “world,” of Christina Olson - her childhood as the eldest daughter of a hard-working farmer in rural Maine, the nuanced relationships between the well-heeled “summer people” in this coastal town and the year-rounders, the bonds of tradition and family, and the health problems that plagued her .
The intimacy and strength of Christina’s voice makes this a truly absorbing read!
Set in Paris in the early 1950s, this novel is the first-person account of a young woman’s time in Paris. She wants to have fun, find love, and live life to its fullest.
Sally Jay Gorce’s sense of wanderlust was always strong – at age 15, she briefly ran away with dreams of becoming a bullfighter (!). When she was returned home, her “rich Uncle Roger” promised her two years in Europe if she got through school without giving the family any more trouble. Recently graduated from college, she is far away from St. Louis and its “in by midnight” rules, and is determined to squeeze every bit of living she can into the next 24 months.
In an almost breathless fashion, she shares her (mis)adventures of late nights, making ends meet by acting and modeling, and encounters with both other ex-pats and the locals. Dundy’s characters are a lot of fun, full of exaggerated quirks and foibles.
Inspired by the strange true tale of Homer and Langley Collyer, the infamous brothers who amassed over 140 tons of stuff in their Harlem brownstone, E L Doctorow takes very creative license to create an introspective story of man’s search for meaning.
The novel is narrated by Homer (blinded in the novel, not in real life), in long monologue-like prose through heightened senses that observe their lives – and the world around them - from childhood into the 1970s (the true Collyer brothers died in the late 1940s.)
The Collyers are as fascinating in fiction as they are in factual newspaper accounts of this eccentric and reclusive pair. Doctorow adds layers of heart, which are often missing from reporting that shows them only as fodder for jokes and cautionary tales.
Homer and Langley will leave you thinking about that which you value – Things? Relationships? Achievements? … If the thought of all their clutter makes you squirm, pick up a copy of Marie Kondo’sThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up while you’re at it.
A gripping literary thriller -- while on a pre-college family trip in the Rockies with her family, track star Caitlin goes out for a run ... and doesn't return.
The guilt, anger, and frustration of her parents and younger brother intensifies as time passes and questions remain unanswered.
A descent down the mountain, a descent into despair, a descent into near madness ... it's all here!
This heartwarming memoir is truly “for all of us”--complete with humility, awe, joy, and hope. It allows us an intimate peek into his world, sharing one man's realization of his American Dream. The three poems Blanco wrote for consideration by Obama's Inaugural Committee are accessible to even the most lay readers of poetry; again “all of us.”
This is a book to be read and re-read, to share with family and friends. A lovely gift, it inspires and affirms.
Genova combines her background as a neuroscientist with her talent as a novelist to create both an engaging story of an unusual medical condition and a cautionary tale for the over-achiever. Sarah Nickerson's driven-to-perfection personality has her working 80 hours a week, managing the lives of her three children and making mortgage payments on two homes. One day while juggling a cell phone during her commute, Sarah totals her car and and suffers a debilitating brain injury known as “Left Neglect.” Unable to see half her world; unable to function without assistance or to live her previous life, Sarah and her husband must find the courage and strength to live in their new reality and to learn the difference between compensating and giving up.
As I read Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, I felt grateful to the author for writing this novel and taking me into a world so far removed from, yet just as real, as my own. This is the world of the Niger Delta where poverty along with political and religious confusion dominate daily life. Narrated by 12-year-old Blessing, the novel follows this young girl and her family as they are uprooted from their comfortable urban life in Lagos to a more challenging existence in her grandfather's compound in rural Warri. Blessing must confront this new world where extreme poverty is the norm, where foreign oil interests are destroying the environment, where bands of young men, so-called Freedom Fighters, use violence to protect their turf, and where the burgeoning practice of Islam threatens to compromise the lives of women. Through Blessing's compelling young voice we see her observing, learning, suffering and persevering, even coming to embrace her new circumstances.
Watson's characters are fully realized and memorable. Tiny Sunbirds,Far Away is beautifully told. It is impossible to read it and not be moved.