Archive for April, 2011

Mama Dearest by E. Lynn Harris

April 20, 2011

https://i1.wp.com/contentcafe2.btol.com/ContentCafe/jacket.aspx

Author: E. Lynn Harris

Title: Mama Dearest

Genre: African-American fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 387

Geographical Setting: New York City, NY; Miama, FL

Time Period: 21st century

Plot Summary: Yancey Braxton Harrington has seen better days. Performing in a traveling production of Dreamgirls, Yancey needs a comeback to keep her Upper East Side townhouse and to restore her to the life she was once accustomed. Though a beautiful talented singer and actress, Yancey is indeed past her prime and jealously guards her diminishing fame. It is in Miami that she meets S. Marcus Pinkston, worldly, wealthy, and well-connected, and he thinks a reality television show is just what Yancey needs to return to the spotlight. Feeling better than she has in years, Yancey returns to New York only to discover her mother, Ava Middlebrooks, has been released early from prison. Reluctantly Yancey allows Ava to stay temporarily. Ava also dreams of the good life she too had once known, and will do anything to get it back. Yancey, in a moment of shock, reveals to Ava that a young rising Disney star is the daughter Yancey gave up for adoption while still in college. Marcus is not all that he seems, Ava is hiding something, and Yancey is going to need all the help she can get. In this tale of mothers and daughters, betrayal, and intrigue, love and redemption will heal old wounds.

Subject Headings: African American women singers Fiction; African American actresses Fiction; Mothers and daughters Fiction.

Appeal: fast-paced, suspenseful, flawed, multiple plot lines, racy, rich and famous, conversational, intricately plotted, character-driven, engaging, dramatic, details of entertainment industry

3 terms that best describe this book: intricately plotted, dramatic, engaging

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin (humor, entertainment industry, autobiography)
Friends by Angela Bassett (arts and entertainment, African American film actors and actresses, memoirs)
Chicken Soup for the Mother Daughter Soul: Stories to Warm the Heart and Inspire the Spirit (family and relationships, inspiration, moving)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Envy by Sandra Brown (intricately plotted, details of publishing industry, betrayal, revenge)
Babylon Sisters by Pearl Cleage (African-American fiction, family relationships, redemption)
What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Philips (fast-paced, celebrities, engaging)

Name: Sasha Neri

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

April 20, 2011

Author: Julia Alvarez

Title: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Genre: Latina; Women’s Lives; Audiobook

Publication Date: Written in 1991, Recorded in 2006

Duration: 8 discs/9.5 hours

Geographical Setting: Dominican Republic and New York City

Time Period: 1956-1989

Plot Summary: The experience of the Garcia family, particularly the four daughters, is told through a series of short stories in reverse chronological order.  The family emigrated from the Dominican Republic after the Trujillo Revolution and settled in New York City.  The first part of the novel is about the adult lives of the four daughters and focuses on their relationships with men.  The second part is about the experience of recent immigrants in New York and the difficulties associated with assimilation.  The final third is about the political tension that the Garcia find themselves involved in and their subsequent emigration.

Subject Headings: Dominican-American Fiction; Immigrant Experience; Coming-of-Age; Women’s Lives and Relationships; Domestic Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, relaxed, compassionate, earnest, homespun, moving, multiple points of view, realistic, sympathetic, character-centered, family-centered, episodic, chatty, issue-oriented, authentic

3 terms that best describe this book: compassionate, family-centered, and episodic
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Militarization of Culture in the Dominican Republic, from the Captains General to General Trujillo by Valentina Paguero – An historical look at the emergence of military rule in the Dominican Republic leading to Trujillo’s dictatorship, which led to the Garcia’s emigration.

Hispanic Immigrant Identity: Political Allegiance vs. Cultural Preference by George I. Monsivais – An examination of the identity issues that Hispanic immigrants face, similar to those that the Garcia girls struggle with in Alvarez’s work.

Sister Knot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What by Terri Apter – A study of the relationships that exist between sisters with sections on empathy, jealousy, and identity incorporating various perspectives.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

America Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Marie Arana – The coming to terms with a dual heritage and intimate portrayal of family members is reminiscent of Alvarez’s work.

True Colors by Kristin Hannah – The story of three sisters who are raised by their status-conscience father as they mature to adulthood. The sibling relationships are similar to the Garcia girls.

Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham – Four generations of the Stassos family are chronicled in this novel of identity.

-Mike Monahan

The Confession

April 20, 2011

Author and Narrator: James E. McGreevey

Title: The Confession (Abridged Audiobook)

Genre: Nonfiction; Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Length: 5 hours and 35 minutes

Geographical Setting: New Jersey

Time Period: 1960s-Present

Plot Summary: James McGreevey is most well known for his press conference confession of homosexuality and resigning from his office of governor of New Jersey in 2004. In his memoir, he relives the key moments of his youth in which he realized he was not like other boys, and the moments he decided to shove that down deep inside of himself, doing everything he could to appear straight.  McGreevey then chronicles his political career, and his two marriages to women he loved as much as he could.  He leads up to his downfall with the details of his affair with a man that eventually tried to blackmail $15 million to keep his secrecy. The audio book’s arration is drawn out more than necessary, especially for someone so practiced at public speaking; McGreevey had a monotone that made each sentence feel like the last sentence in the book.  There were also moments when all of a sudden his voice would become much clearer, obviously coming from a break, but distracting.

Subject Headings: Politics, Homosexuality, Affairs, Confessions, Coping

Appeal: Accessible, Bittersweet, Candid, Compelling, Complicated, Descriptive, Inspirational, Issue-oriented, Jargon-filled, Journalistic, Measured, Melancholy, Reflective, Relaxed Paced, Strong sense of place, Thoughtful,

3 terms that best describe this book: Issue-Oriented, Bittersweet, Relaxed Paced

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage by Dina Matos McGreevey (James McGreevey’s second wife shares her side of the story)

Straight Wives: Shattered Lives by M.Ed., Bonnie Kaye (other stories of men living the role of straight me for as long as possible)

The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down by Andrew Young (another large political scandal, taking place in the last few years.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (a novel about a gay man coping)

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (serious tone, similar authors)

Primary Colors by Anonymous (based on a political campaign)

Name: Angela Bennett

Letter to My Daughter

April 20, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/voices.washingtonpost.com/shortstack/Letter%20to%20My%20Daughter.jpgAuthor: Maya Angelou

Title: Letter to My Daughter

Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: Sept. 2008

Number of Pages:192 pages

Geographical Setting: U.S.A. – San Francisco, CA; Winston-Salem, NC; Stamps, Arkansas

Time Period: 1930s to Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Maya Angelou provides wisdom and inspirational advice to her “daughters”, a word she uses to describe the ethnically and physically diverse world of women, in this beautiful book of antidotes, poetry, and personal musings.  She reflects on a different topic in each of the 28 short chapters in the book, adding her personal thoughts to topics such as philanthropy, violence, the national spirit, and older lovers.  There are many stories from her journey in life, as well as excerpts and recollections about many of her dear friends, including Coretta Scott King.  Her strong personality and resilient spirit comes through in the book, though you can also sense the kindness and humility that lies beneath her strong exterior.  She often mentions her faith and her belief in God, though it never comes off as preachy or overbearing.

Subject Headings: Reflections, African-American Arts, Christianity – Influence, Women, Single Motherhood, Racial Issues, Cross-Cultural Differences, Growing Up, Social Marginality

Appeal terms: Inspirational, Uplifting, Thoughtful, Thought-Provoking, Fierce, Witty, Candid, Authentic, Moving, Poignant, Compassionate, Bittersweet, Emotionally-Charged, Intimate

3 terms that best describe this book: Inspirational, Thought-Provoking, Emotionally-Charged

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Voices of Time: A Life in Stories – Eduardo Galeano

Uruguayan author Galeano pieces together political and historical stories from various places around the world and adds his own unique ironic voice and lyrical style.  He also includes a bit about his life, and tries to add hopeful notes in otherwise negative real life events.

Seeing Through Place: Reflections on Geography and Identity – Mary Gordon

Gordon reflects on her life in eight essays that include stories about her childhood and her walk with God as a Catholic.  Her essay about her grandmother reminds me of Angelou’s musings about her upbringing by her grandmother as well.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman – Nora Ephron

Ephron, who is no stranger to the world of Hollywood like Angelou, writes stories about what she has come to learn about womanhood as an older woman.  Her stories are witty and funny, with an honesty that can only come from someone who is comfortable in her own skin.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:              

Passing by Samaria – Sharon Ewell Foster

Alena, a girl who growing up in the early 1900’s amidst racism and slavery, holds on to her faith in God to help her weather the terrible times in her life, as she moves to Chicago and is torn between two potential suitors.  An inspirational Christian novel that will speak to most readers.

Awakening Mercy – Angela Benson

Cece Williams, a young African-American mom like Angelou, is forced into community service after racking up unpaid parking tickets.  At the charity, Genesis House, she encounters new motivation in her life as she helps others find jobs and work through pregnancies, and unexpectedly falls in love.

Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich

An epic saga about the lives of two Native-American families as they struggle to survive with the odds stacked against them.   A realistic portrayal of Native-Americans that are still hopeful despite being oppressed by the government, struggles with poverty, and alcohol addictions.  The struggles of the Native-Americans could be compared to that of African-Americans in the United States, and the long histories that have accompanied them.

Name: Lian Sze

The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis

April 20, 2011

Author: De Robertis, Carolina

Title: The Invisible Mountain

Genre: Latino/a

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 364 p.

Geographical Setting: Uruguay and Argentina

Time Period: Spans the 20th Century

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Three extraordinary women, grandmother, mother, and daughter, and their experiences span the 20th century. Pajarita, the Uruguayan miracle of 1900, Eva, her rebellious daughter with a traumatic past, and Salomé, the political rebel who cannot be contained during a political age. Pajarita endures a life of loneliness but filled with love for her children, especially her daughter Eva. Eva, whose traumatic childhood is disturbing and heart wrenching, yields way to a talented poet. Her daughter, Salomé, a political rebel, completes the lineage of women. Though plot-centered at times, this story is truly a tale of family, culture, and the bitter sweetness of life.

Subject Headings: Mothers and daughters, Fiction; Uruguay, Fiction; Miracles; Mothers and daughters; Family relationships; Survival; Motherhood; Daughters

Appeal: Engrossing, measured, engaging, well-developed, episodic, strong language, detailed setting, accurate, intimate, political, contemplative, dramatic, emotionally-charged, unpretentious, complex, frank, smart, vivid.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, bittersweet, lyrical.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Amy Green’s Bloodroot: Literary, lyrical, interwoven; a similar style, but with more perspectives following an American family over generations.

Julia Alvarez’s Saving the World: Suspenseful, romantic, lyrical; a woman deals with disease in two time frames.

Jean M. Auel’s The Land of Painted Caves: Character-centered, strong sense of place, family relationships; a look at family relationships, but in a prehistoric setting.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Jung Chang’s Wild Swans: Heart wrenching, researched, unhurried; Chang’s family saga, including her grandmother, her mother, and herself in China.

Asuncion Lavrin’s Women, Feminism, and Social Change in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay: Detailed, thought-provoking, accurate; a comprehensive look at the first part of the 20th century.

Lucy Moore’s Maharanis: Detailed, progressive, character-centered; the following of four queens of India in a similar time frame.

Annotation by Carlen

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

April 20, 2011

 
  Author: Junot Diaz

  Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

  Genre: Literary Fiction, Latino Fiction

  Publication Date: 2007

  Number of Pages: 335

  Geographical Setting: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and New Jersey

  Time Period: 1940s – early 1990s

Plot Summary:
Focusing primarily on Oscar, an obese Dominican-American sci-fi nerd searching for love and acceptance in New Jersey, Junot Diaz recounts the damage wrought on the de Leon family by the fuku, a supernatural curse that has tormented the family for several generations. Diaz’s narrator traces the fuku from its origins in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Trujillo to its current home in New Jersey where it wreaks havoc on Oscar.

The conversational tone of this family saga leavens the darkness of the tragedy at play. While disaster plagues the de Leons at every turn, they love deeply and fiercely, and the complicated bonds between family members and lovers drive most of the action of novel. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a compelling look at life in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era and the Dominican-American experience as an immigrant in New Jersey.

Subject Headings:
Family relationships, Men/women relations, Curses, Dominican-Americans, Latinos, New Jersey, Dominican Republic, Loss, Misfits, Social acceptance, Trujillo, Dictatorship, Ghettos

Appeal:
Tragic, conversational, unpretentious, compelling, episodic, descriptive, introspective, character-centered, flawed characters, multiple points of view, authentic, urban, vivid, dialect, colloquial

3 terms that best describe this book:
Tragic, conversational, Latino

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis
Three generations of women search for love and identity in Uruguay during the politically turbulent 20th century.
Similarities: Multigenerational family saga, coming of age under a Hispanic dictator (Uruguay), character Eva becomes a writer

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
Coming-of-age tale of Dylan and Mingus, two friends growing up in a racially charged area of Brooklyn in the 70s, and the diverging paths their lives take in adulthood.
Similarities: Urban setting, precocious protagonists, fantastic elements

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
Ka’s father reveals that he was actually a prison guard – a torturer – under the Haitian dictator Duvalier and not the prison escapee he previously claimed. The narrative jumps between past and present to tell the tales of those he hurt and how his revelation affects his relationship with his daughter.
Similarities: Multiple narrative threads, alternating between past and present, family relationships, atrocities committed during a dictatorship (Haiti)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola by Michele Wucker
A social history of Hispaniola and the two island nations that struggle for supremacy over the land. Includes discussion of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s genocide of Haitians and the cultural differences that fuel their misunderstandings.
Similarities: Dominican Republic setting, discussion of the Trujillo regime, Diaz mentions the enmity existing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez
Bestselling author Julia Alvarez muses on her upbringing as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, trying to assimilate in New York, how she became a writer, and her experiences as a feminist
Similarities: Alvarez immigrated from the Dominican Republic, Oscar is also a writer

Musings and Meditations: Reflections on Science Fiction, Science, and Other Matters by Robert Silverberg
A collection of essays written by the acclaimed science fiction writer provide insight into the craft of writing and the science fiction genre.
Similarities: Oscar is a science fiction writer

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

My Jim by Nancy Rawles

April 20, 2011

Author: Nancy Rawles

Title: My Jim

Genre: Historical Fiction; Love Stories; Psychological Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 174

Geographical Setting: Southern United States, Mississippi River

Time Period: 19th Century

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Sadie Watson wants to help her granddaughter her free granddaughter, Marianne Libre, understand the risks of love.  To do so, she recounts the tale of her own love of her life, Jim.  We already know Jim from Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and now we can begin to understand Sadie’s side of their story.  Sadie and Jim were both young seers and slaves, but when faced with being sold down the Mississippi River Jim escapes with Huck Finn and leaves Sadie to fend for herself.  Sadie is punished for Jim’s escape, loses her children, and is accused of being a witch but she never loses faith in her love for Jim and it is what carries her through her darkest days.

Subject Headings: African American Families – Fiction; Reminiscing in Old Age – Fiction; African American Women — Fiction

3 terms that best describe this book: Heart-wrenching, Harrowing, Compelling

Appeal: lyrical, character-driven, bittersweet, relaxed-pace, colloquial, atmospheric, bleak, dramatic, homespun, inspirational, reflective, sobering

Similar Authors and Works 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. A Free Black Girl Before the Civil War: The Diary of Charlotte Forten by Linda Clavel – ill.  This is the diary of a sixteen year old girl who is free in Massachusetts in 1854.  The diary discusses her schooling, work in the antislavery movement, and her concern for a particular fugitive slave.  This book gives a realistic portrayal of what life was like for a young African American woman during this period.
  2. Freeing Charles: The Struggle to free a slave on the eve of the civil war by Scott Christianson.  This novel recounts the story of a slave who escaped to freedom, was recaptured, and then forcibly freed by Harriet Tubman.  This well-researched book gives a deep look into race relations in the South during the Civil War era.
  3. A Renegade History of the United States by Russell Thaddeus.  This book takes a look at how people who have largely survived on the fringes of American society have been influential in creating labor unions, women’s liberation movements, and fighting for gay rights.  This book is a departure from the subjects of Civil War and slavery, but readers may enjoy the element of rebellion and courage in the face of adversity found in both this novel and My Jim.
  4. Note:  There is a lot of reading material on this subject – and readers may also enjoy autobiographies on Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  I have not included them here because they are easier to find than the books in this list, but are as equally important.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  1. Finn by Jon Clinch – this tells the story of Huckleberry Finn from the point of view of his father, the Judge, and his brother Will.  If you enjoyed the retelling of Jim’s story in My Jim then you may also enjoy this read.
  2. The Price of a Child by Lorene Cary.  This novel tells the story of a young mother who contacts the Underground Railroad to avoid being brought to Nicaragua.  If you were moved by Sadie’s story and impossible choices in My Jim then you may enjoy this novel as well.
  3. March by Geraldine Brooks.  This novel tells the story of Mr. March – the father in little women.  Like My Jim this book is inspired by a previous piece of fiction, but it is also a challenging story about a man who leaves his family to serve in the Civil War only to find that his beliefs are constantly challenged by his experiences.  This story gives another perspective to the harsh realities of life during the Civil War.

Name: Liz Humrickhouse

Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson

April 20, 2011

0446675601.01._SX220_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg (220×344)Author: Nalo Hopkinson

Title: Midnight Robber

Genre: multicultural science fiction

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: The fictional planets of Toussaint and New Half-Way Tree

Time Period: distant future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: On the utopian, Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, violent criminals are exiled to the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree.  Innocent young Tan-Tan is unjustly thrust into exile there when her convicted father, Antonio, drags her along.  Antonio’s selfish actions continue to add additional layers of misery onto a life already made difficult for Tan-Tan by the harsh realities of New Half-Way Tree.  As a child, Tan-Tan loved to play the role of the legendary Robber Queen; after a horrendous trauma inflicted by her father, the role of the Robber Queen becomes reality for Tan-Tan, whose struggle for survival in New Half-Way Tree is also a struggle to reconcile the various parts of her identity.  Along the way, Tan-Tan meets aliens, dangerous beasts, and a vengeful stepmother.  Hopkinson’s rendering of the future mixes the idea of nanotechnology with Caribbean legends, to create an unconventional and fascinating science fiction experience.

Subject Headings: Abuse; Aliens; Caribbean culture; Carnival; Exile;  Fathers and daughters; Legends; Nanotechnology

Appeal: character-centered, descriptive, detailed setting, dangerous, folksy, imaginative, hard-edged, homespun language, imaginative, mythic, moving, poetic dialect, vibrant, violent, vivid characters, well-crafted, world-building

3 terms that best describe this book: imaginative, poetic, vivid characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles, edited by Thomas Glave – Homosexuality is common and accepted by the Caribbeans in Midnight Robber. Readers who enjoyed that aspect of the novel may enjoy this collection, which like Midnight Robber also features some patois.

Carnival: Culture in Action – The Trinidad Experience, edited by Milla Cozart Riggio – Carnival plays a major role in Midnight Robber. Those who enjoyed the colorful descriptions of Carnival customs and pageantry may enjoy this book, which includes both text and photo essays.

The Kiss: A Memoir, by Kathryn Harrison – Like Midnight Robber, a book about an incestuous father-daughter relationship, and the daughter’s attempt to reclaim her life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy –  like Midnight Robber, this is a work of moving, character-driven, feminist science fiction that features a utopian future and its dystopian alternative.

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban – Readers who enjoyed the creativity of the language in Midnight Robber may appreciate this classic in the science fiction genre; like Midnight Robber, it was also written with an invented dialect.

The Girl with the Golden Shoes, by Colin Channer –  A young, Caribbean girl is exiled from her community; the book also features poetic patois.

-Noelle Nightingale

A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s by Katherine Valentine

April 20, 2011

Author: Katherine Valentine
Title: A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s
Genre: Inspirational Fiction, Gentle Reads
Publication Date: 2002
Number of Pages: 278
Geographical Setting: Dorsetville, Connecticut; New England
Time Period: Contemporary
Series: Dorsetville Series

Plot Summary: Katherine Valentine has been critiqued by some for imitating Jan Karon’s popular Mitford series, however, A Miracle for St. Cecilia’s will warm the hearts of many who love a wholesome and gentle read with a Catholic spin. The novel tells the story of the residents of the town of Dorsetville, Connecticut in the New England area from the perspective of Father James Flaherty who is in a dire predicament. The Archdiocese wants to shut down the town’s beloved church because of declining membership and its inability to sustain itself. Yet, the story envelopes into the characters’ lives well so that we, as the reader, don’t want the church to close either. The residents and the priest try to come up with ideas to save the church and through an accidental miracle, faith is restored and lives are changed. This is the first in the Dorsetville series by Valentine who also tells us her story of renewed life in the acknowledgements that certainly provide some additional wealth to the story.

Subject Headings: Catholic Church, Clergy, Small town life, Eccentrics, Faith, Compassion, Miracles; Dorsetville, Connecticut New England (U.S.); St. Cecilia’s Church, Church, Mill town, Small town; 2000s, 21st century; Fiction, Christian, Inspirational; Eccentric; Priest

Appeal: Christian, Catholicism, inspirational, saintly, gentle, heartwarming, soft, kind, compassionate, religious, overcoming obstacles, uplifting, touching, faithful, miraculous, light humor, small-town life, close-knit community relationships, sugar sweet, tender

3 terms that best describe this book: inspirational, heartwarming, touching

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Catechism of the Catholic Church is a book used in many classrooms and teachings to help those interested in becoming Catholic or just want to learn more about the religion. It is put out by the US Catholic Church and includes an index so you can look up certain topics. Readers on Amazon.com have responded that this is an easily readable and understandable book.

Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time by Jane Knuth tells the true story of Jane who takes up volunteer work at a St. Vincent DePaul thrift store in Kalamazoo, MI. Through her experiences, she talks about the fulfilling and touching stories that filled her days by helping shoppers of the store.

The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do by Ed Dobson tells us the story of how Dobson took one year to literally interpret the Bible and its teachings. Through his journey, he discovers compassion, humility and faith in a likeable and enjoyable format of diary entries and prose.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Jan Karon’s Mitford Series is another heartwarming series of novels who readers will enjoy for a soft and gentle series of characters and stories. The first in the series is At Home in Mitford which tells the story of the main character, Father Tim, at home in the small North Carolina town of Mitford, and what is described as ordinary people with ordinary lives. Christian and inspirational fiction lovers will find this series comforting.

In another series called Song of Erin, for readers who are looking for additional inspirational fiction surrounding Catholicism, yet would enjoy a more historical tale, B. J. Hoff writes about the saga of an Irish-American family and their escape from poverty and tragedy in Ireland to a new life in 1800’s New York City. Cloth of Heaven is the first in the series.

The book, In the Land of Second Chances by George Shaffner is described by BookList as a cross between Touched by an Angel and The Five People You Meet in Heaven and is the first in a series of books surrounding one of the main characters, Wilma Porter. The novel is about the residents of small town Ebb, Nebraska and with the help of a stranger, discover hope, faith and strength in overcoming obstacles.

-Jennifer Peterson

Paradise by Toni Morrison

April 20, 2011

Paradise by Toni MorrisonAuthor: Toni Morrison

Title: Paradise

Genre: Literary Fiction / Mystery / Bestseller (Oprah’s Book Club)

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 318

Geographical Setting: Mostly rural Oklahoma

Time Period: 1940s – 1970s, with flashbacks

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: The legacy of an all-black town and the interwoven histories of its founding families dance around each other, while also playing into the murderous rage directed at a nearby “Convent,” where four women with painful pasts have chosen to remain separated from the rest of society. Suspense, mystery and magical realism all play their parts.

Subject Headings: Rural America – Oklahoma, African Americans, Slavery, Civil Rights, History

Appeal: Deliberate, densely written, atmospheric, chilling, darker, dramatic, emotionally-charged, haunting, menacing atmosphere, uneasy, unsettling, detailed, well-developed, complex, flashbacks, layered, historical details, rural, literary

3 terms that best describe this book: haunting, complex, unsettling

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – Race relations in America and the African-American experience.

Becoming Faulkner: the Art and Life of William Faulkner by Philip Weinstein – the subject of Toni Morrison’s Master’s Thesis and an oft-cited influence on her writing style.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson – true stories of African-American migration told with compelling detail.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdich – rural Western U.S, somewhat fractured storytelling, interwoven stories with dark pasts, human relationships, detailed and unsettling.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende – magical realism, lyrical prose, detailed and well-developed.

Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates – a haunting and disturbing tale driven by psychological suspense and the darker side of human nature.

Name: Genevieve Grove