Posts Tagged ‘domestic’

Are You My Mother?

October 24, 2012

Cover of Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Author: Alison Bechdel

Title: Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 304

Geographical Setting: Mostly Pennsylvania and Vermont

Time Period: Present day with flashbacks

Series: Follow-up to Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)

Plot Summary: Are You My Mother? is a densely-layered and thought-provoking exploration in graphic memoir form of author Bechdel’s complex, flawed relationship with her mother. Bechdel’s father, the subject of her earlier work, Fun Home, was a closeted bisexual who ultimately committed suicide, and her mother a frustrated poet and actress who sublimated her desires to those of her husband, submitting to the role of primary caregiver to their three children. Are You My Mother? depicts Bechdel, some five years after the publication of her critically-acclaimed book about her father, setting out to write a new book about her mother. Bechdel chronicles her process as an artist and writer, undergoing therapy and looking for analogies to her own life found in the works of favorite authors Virginia Woolf and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, as she attempts to shape a narrative that identifies the moments that wounded her mother and crippled the formation of a healthy mother-daughter bond. The artwork in Are You My Mother? is pen and brush with delicate grey and red washes, offering  a deceptively comic-strip-like simplicity that lightens the densely-written and sophisticated subject matter.

Subject Headings: Motherhood; Mothers and daughters; Teenage daughters—coming out; Parent and child; Suicide; Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941; Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971; Artists

Appeal: Detailed, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, introspective, well developed, character centered, complex, domestic, episodic, layered, literary references, sexually explicit, thought-provoking, contemporary, detailed setting, details of psychoanalytic theory, elaborate, metaphorical, sophisticated, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: introspective, layered, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling (2012) by Jared Gardner

Readers who admire the scope and depth of Bechdel’s graphic storytelling will find much to explore in Gardner’s recent lively, yet somewhat academic, tome. Gardner offers an interpretation of comics as an art form which encourages interactivity in deciphering its contents and a model for contemporary modes of communication. There are multiple passages on Bechdel’s work which contextualize her place in the comics field.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (2012) by Harvey Pekar

Bechdel works in the form known in graphic novel circles as autobiographical comics. Those who want to read more of this type of story may wish to acquaint themselves with Harvey Pekar, one of the seminal figures in this genre who helped define its contours. Where Are You My Mother? uses literary reference and psychoanalysis as a context for Bechdel’s self-exploration, Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland in rich detail describes the deep impact that place and history have in shaping identity. Cartoonish but heavily-rendered pen and ink drawings highlight both the grit and charm of urban Cleveland.

Donald Winnicott Today (2012) edited by Jan Abram

The work and life of child psychoanalyst and theorist Winnicott are front and center in the narrative of Are You My Mother?  Bechdel comes to terms with life-long insecurities and decodes her troubled relationship with her mother, relying heavily on Winnicott’s models of mother-child dynamics. Readers who want to explore Winnicott’s work further will find this an accessible and thoughtfully assembled overview of his contributions to the field of Psychoanalysis.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

To the Lighthouse (1927; various editions) by Virginia Woolf

Bechdel’s work is heavily influenced by the English writer Virginia Woolf. Although many of her books are discussed in Are You My Mother?, Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse receives particular attention for its story of self-discovery and coming to terms with the past, which mirrors Bechdel’s emotional journey. Believed to be the most autobiographical of all Woolf’s psychological fiction, To the Lighthouse, with its lyrical style and reflective tone, will surely appeal to readers intrigued by the glimpses of the novel found in Are You My Mother?

Stuck Rubber Baby (New Edition; 2010) by Howard Cruse

Newcomers to comics featuring LGBT protagonists and themes who wish to explore further will find an incredibly rich and varied tradition awaiting them. One of the first widely critically-acclaimed graphic novels dealing with gay themes to receive national attention was Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, first published in 1995. Moving and reflective, and with a strong sense of place, the story follows the exploits of a young man named Toland Polk discovering his sexuality against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in the South during the 1960s.

Wandering Son, Book 1 (2011) by Shimura Takako

Are You My Mother? explores the thematic territory of gender identity and coming of age as does the moving and character-driven manga Wandering Son.  Two fifth graders on the cusp of puberty share a secret: Shuichi is a boy who wishes he were a girl and Yoshino a girl who wishes she were a boy. Shimura’s spare and evocative art will likely appeal to fans of Bechdel’s stylized and emotionally expressive drawings.

Name: John Rimer

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Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

October 24, 2012

Castle Waiting coverTitle: Castle Waiting, Volume I

Author: Medley, Linda

Publication Date: 2006

Pages: 457

Geographical Setting: Castle Waiting, a safe-haven in a fairy tale world

Time Period: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fairy Tale

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Castle Waiting begins at the end of Sleeping Beauty’s story, the part where she runs blindly off with Prince Charming.  Abandoned and essentially purposeless, her former ladies-in-waiting along with few other eccentric characters have created a sanctuary past the brambly hedge at Castle Waiting for those seeking peace and refuge.  The story we are brought into is only one among a host of others before it, and it begins on a dark and stormy night with a clandestine meeting between a lady and a bear, her bodyguard.  Lady Jain, our heroine, is on the run and, as we soon find out, pregnant.  She flees her home in sadness, bound for Castle Waiting.  The premise sounds cliché.  Castle Waiting is anything but.  Upon arrival at the castle, Lady Jain is greeted a stork-headed butler, a doctor who only appears wearing a beaked plague mask, a silently gruff but secretly gentle blacksmith/handyman, three ladies-in-waiting who finally have a lady, and a bearded nun.  Yes, a bearded nun.

Told through a linked set of stories, Castle Waiting draws heavily from fairy- and folk-tale conventions and spins them in a feminist light.  That isn’t to say that all the male characters are weak or bad.  In fact many of them are quite gentle and good—except for the ones who aren’t.  But they are generally not as important as the female characters, who are independent and empowered, taking care of themselves and others.  This is a joyous and humorous and optimistic story.  Bad things have happened, do happen, and probably will continue to happen, but we are assured the happiest of endings.  The art and the text blend seamlessly.  Illustrated in black and white with strong line work that is as expressive as it is lighthearted, the frames are reminiscent of woodcuts adding to the fairytale quality of the work.  This is a great choice for those who have found other graphic novels too over-stimulating.  It would also be a good crossover for those who enjoy romance or fairytale-style fantasy, or those who simply crave a warm, lighthearted read.

Appeal Characteristics: Engaging, joyful, upbeat, lighthearted, feminist, magical, warm, humorous, Fairy Tale, Quirky Characters, expressive art, detailed setting, smart, domestic, charming

Subject Headings: Fairy Tales, Graphic Novels, Magic, Knights and Knighthood, Nuns, Princesses, Pregnant Women

Three Terms Best Describing this Book: Joyful, Engaging, Charming

Similar Fiction: 

The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

The much beloved comic strip featuring a boy with an unbeatable spirit and his sagacious stuffed tiger will bring readers the same joy and optimism found in Castle Waiting.  The artwork here is spare but delightfully expressive.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Three sisters return to their hometown to help care for their dying mother in this domestic fiction.  This novel explores the relationships and bonds between women under exceptional circumstances and features an idyllic setting populated with quirky and endearing characters.

These Children Come at You with Knives, and other Fairy Tales Stories by Jim Knipfel

This book offers re-imagined fairy tales with a decidedly darker turn.  The polite eccentricities found in the characters of Castle Waiting are twisted here into vulgar oddities.  The optimism and warmth may be absent from these tales, but the stories will certainly offer laughs—albeit of the morbid and inappropriate variety.  Only readers who enjoy their fairy tales told at a slant and who don’t mind their humor dark should attempt this book.

Similar Non-fiction:

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming

This graphic novel details the true story of Chinese magician and vaudeville performer Long Tack Sam, and his great-granddaughter’s quest to bring him back into the public light.  A moving story told through a collage of artifacts from both his and her life, this biography maintains an upbeat optimism in the face of turbulence, uncertainty, and racism.

In the Kingdom of the Fairies: A memoir of a Magical Summer and a Remarkable Friendship by Susan Coyne

A moving story about a five-year old girl who for one summer believes her pen pal to be a fairy princess.  In reality it is her elderly neighbor, a man who loves literature and wants to encourage the imagination this girl.  This memoir will appeal to any adult who still believes in the power of make-believe.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Another memoir told in the graphic novel format, this story told by a cult comic strip artist details the author’s relationship with her father during her childhood.  Bechdel’s writing is both witty and moving, and her artwork features strong line work and a monochromatic palette that allows the expressions of the characters to stand out.

Name: Jessica

For One More Day

August 13, 2012

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: For One More Day

 Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 197 p.

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series:

Plot Summary: This is an inspirational story about Charley “Chick” Benetto, a broken man on the verge of suicide. Chick was a child of divorce forced to choose between his mother and his father. Soon after choosing his father, Chick gets abandoned and bitterly returns to his mother. After her death, a grief-stricken Chick forms a family of his own, but later loses his job, becomes regretful, depressed, alcoholic and eventually lonely and isolated. His daughter’s rejection triggers a suicide attempt that unexpectedly takes him to an ordinary day at his childhood home where he gets a second chance to spend time with his lost mother. During that day Chick learns family secrets, seeks forgiveness, discovers her mother’s self-sacrifices, and regains awareness of the destructive path in his life. Inspired by his mother’s loving guidance he decides to make a change a try to put his life back together.

Subject Headings: Personal Transformations; Loneliness in men; Alcoholics; Nervous breakdown; Mother and adult son; Ghosts; Single mothers; Divorced women; Mothers – Death; Men — Suicidal behavior; Depression in men; Grief in men; Ambition in men; Coping in men.

Appeal: Emotionally-charged, gentle, family-centered, homespun style, haunting, hopeful, psychological, moving, nostalgic, dramatic, inspiring, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Family-centered, nostalgic, moving.

***

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. In this story, wealthy middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak has mastered isolation by choice. Two incidents force him to reconnect with his family and establish new relationships. Just like For One More Day, this story is psychological and centers on relationships and personal transformation.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. The narrator of this story finds himself in a peculiar abandoned amusement park per her dying fiancé’s request. Guided by a wise groundskeeper, the narrator embarks in a profound psychological journey to self-discovery. This is also an inspirational novel emphasizing past memories, self awareness, and overcoming difficult circumstances.

Blame by Michelle Huneven. Patsy MacLemoore is a young, smart and wild history professor that wakes up once again in jail, this time after running over and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway. She spends several years in jail sobering up, trying to atone for her misdeed until new information turns up to change and bring a different light on her life. Besides its psychological nature, this novel shares Albom’s subjects of alcoholism, guilt and regret, and rebuilding a life.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

           The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In this auto-biographical account computer science professor Pausch thoughtfully reflects about his experience as a terminally ill cancer patient. This is an inspiring choice for readers looking for real life stories of lessons learned, spirituality, family and relationship in adversity, and the pursue of dreams.

           Unfinished Business: What the Dead Can Teach Us about Life by James Van Praagh. Written by medium James Van Praagh, this book provides thought-provoking information, theories and stories about ghosts and spirits and their experience and relationships with their living loved ones. Chick’s encounter with his lost mother is sometimes described as other-worldly, this may interest those curious about hopeful ghostly messages about healing.

           Living Through the Meantime: Learning to Break the Patterns of the Past and Begin the Healing Process by Iyanla Vanzant. The author describes a “meantime” concept generally fueled by past experiences that tends in cases cause confusion, anger, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, apprehensiveness, etc. For those considering self-help options to heal and get their life back together.

Fanny Camargo

Light a Penny Candle

August 1, 2012

Author:  Maeve Binchy

Title:  Light a Penny Candle

Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date:  1982

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting:  Ireland, London

Time Period:  World War II, Post World War II

Series:  n/a

Plot Summary:  During World War II, ten year old English girl Elizabeth White is sent to Kilgarret, Ireland to live with her mother’s former schoolmate in Kilgarret, Ireland.  There, reserved and shy Elizabeth begins a lifelong friendship with the vivacious daughter, Aisling O’Connor.  It is Aisling who teaches Elizabeth to have faith in life and convinces her that if you light a penny candle at church, your most sacred wish will come true.  Five years later, Elizabeth returns to London, armed with a new sense of independence and love of life.  She pursues a career in art, against her parent’s wishes and embarks in a no-strings attached love life.  Aisling, meanwhile remains in Kilgarret, longing to exploring the world.  She is courted by the son of Kilgarret’s wealthiest families but cannot convince herself he would make her happy.  She escapes to London to meet up with Elizabeth.   They experience their past and present meeting while they struggle when they realize they are both involved and in love with the same irresistible man and how they choose to deal with it.  Their friendship spans through the war and after, through the trials and tribulations of life, including sorrow, dreams, love, and betrayal. 

Subject Headings:  Friendship – Fiction, Women, Self-Discovery, World War II, Women – Ireland, The Forties (20th Century), Men-Women Relationships.

Appeal:   Character-centered, leisurely paced, heartwarming, homespun, vivid, detailed, flawed characters, domestic, engaging, poetic, multiple points of view, emotionally-charged.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  character-centered, heartwarming, engaging.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, who despite completely different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever. They have stayed true to this promise for thirty years, until evens and choices in their lives tear them apart.  This book’s appeal reflects the life-long female friendship that is similar to Light a Penny Candle.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.  
When Siddi inadvertently reveals some revealing things about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together using a scrapbook of childhood memories that they ask Vivi to put together.”   -Novelist Plus.    This story was chosen as a read-alike because it has multiple perspectives, is character driven, along with relationships that span a lifetime.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  After a night of drunken partying, Rachel sleeps with her best friend’s fiancée.  Rachel is consumed with guilt and intense feelings for the finance, forcing her to make a difficult choice.
This suggestion has more dramatic readalike because it features a female friendship but in a raw, gritty way, set in present day  in compared to Light a Penny Candle.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Dear Helen: Wartime Letters from a Londoner to her American Pen Pal by Betty M. Swallow.   Between 1937 and 1950, a working-class Londoner and her American pen pal exchange letters.  The Londoner offers accounts on the Blitz and how World War II affected life in London.  This account gives the reader a look at what life could have been for the character Elizabeth if her mother did not send her to Ireland to live for the duration of the war.

The Story of Ireland: a History of the Irish People by Neil Hegarty.  A history of how Ireland has been shaped by outside influences through the past 2,500 years.   This book in particular touches when Ireland was neutral in World War II.

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 by David Kynaston.  This is the people’s history of post-World War II England as a social profile that links everyday lives to period events.  It pays tribute to the nation’s passionate dedication to survival and rebuilding.   After the war, Elizabeth and Aisling spends time in London.  This compliments the time period to give the reader a better sense of how life was during that rebuilding time.

Name:  Olivia Button

Maybe This Time

August 1, 2012

Author:  Jennifer Cruise

Title: Maybe This Time

Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  342

Geographical Setting:  Ohio

Time Period:  1992

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  When Andie Miller’s ex-husband, North Archer, asks her to drive down to southern Ohio and take care of two children of whom he has recently become guardian, she is a bit reluctant.  She decides to go for a month, take the money that he offers and then be free to marry her new fiancé, Will.  When she gets down there she finds two uninterested children, one lazy housekeeper and a home full of ghosts.  With the help of several other family members Andie gets through to the children and discovers that the romance between her and her ex may not be dead after all.

Subject Headings: Nannies-Fiction, Haunted houses- Fiction, Domestic-Fiction, Divorce- Fiction, Paranormal- Fiction, Romance.

Appeal:  easy pacing, relaxed, character centered, domestic, quirky characters, sexy, light, heartwarming, humorous, upbeat, candid, colorful.

3 terms that best describe this book:

easy pacing, quirky characters, humorous

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Spook:  Science Tackles the Afterlife- Mary Roach

In an attempt to find out what happens when people die, Roach brings in the opinions of an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that there is an afterlife.  Readers interested in ghosts and the afterlife will enjoy this book.

Baking– James Peterson

The craft of baking is based on good technique. Learn the fundamentals well, and you can bake perfect cakes, cookies, tarts, breads, and pastries each and every time. That’s the premise of Baking, revered cooking teacher James Peterson’s master course in baking fundamentals. In more than 350 recipes and techniques, accompanied by step-by-step photographs, Peterson lays the foundation for lifelong baking success.  Readers inspired by Andie’s baking lessons with Alice will enjoy this guide to baking.

Getting it Right This Time:  How to Create a Loving and Lasting Marriage– Barry W McCarthy and Emily J McCarthy

Although divorce is common, it often holds negative associations. Husband and wife team Barry and Emily McCarthy view divorce and remarriage with optimism, showing it to be a courageous choice and a positive step towards a better life. In Getting it Right This Time, they zoom in on remarriage issues and identify the factors that led to the end of a marriage, using that information to help you learn from past mistakes and start over.  The themes of divorce and starting over are a strong part of Maybe This Time.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Summer by the Sea- Susan Wiggs

Rosa Capoletti runs an award-winning restaurant that is one of the most romantic in town.  She herself has not had a real romance since her love affair with Alexander Montgomery ended suddenly a decade ago. But Rosa’s life takes an unexpected turn when Alexander arrives back in town and asks for her help sorting through his late mother’s affairs. Reunited at the beach house where they first met and fell in love, Rosa and Alexander discuss the past and try to decide if their love can have a second chance.  “Maybe This Time and Summer by the Sea are character-driven, funny, and witty contemporary romances about second chances.”- Novelist

Eat Cake- Jeanne Ray

Ruth has always found baking cakes to be a source of relief from the stresses of life. And now-as her husband loses his job; her parents arrive for an extended stay, and her teenage daughter perfects the art of sulking-Ruth is going to have to save the day. Readers who enjoy the upbeat tone and well developed characters of Maybe This Time will enjoy this book.

Demon Hunting in Dixie– Lexi George

Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude, who knows there’s not many men to choose from in Hannah, AL. Until one day Brand Dalvahni shows up.  He’s a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built warrior from another dimension.  Brand claims he’s here to rescue Addy from a demon, which she thinks is insane!  But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen and Addy knows she wants to keep Brand close.  This supernatural romance will appeal to readers of Maybe This Time who enjoyed the light and funny paranormal aspects of the story.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

The Women

July 16, 2012

Author: Boyle, T. Coraghessan

Title: The Women: A Novel

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 464 p.

Geographical Setting: Mostly Chicago and Wisconsin.

Time Period: 1880s-1930s

Series:

Plot Summary: A Japanese apprentice narrates this fictional biography of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. However, the perspective that depicts this eccentric and flamboyant Wright comes from four women who loved him. Chronologically in reverse, the story starts with the young Montenegrin dancer Olgivanna and life at Taliesin, the center stage of scandals, turmoil and tragedy. The struggles of his relations are further portrayed by the recounts of previous relationships that also bore plenty of commotion. Miriam, his distressed and morphine-addicted southern artist wife, is resilient to break the new couple apart.  Mamah was sadly one of victims of the massacre at Taliesin. His first wife Kitty, the mother of six of his children, was abandoned after 20 years of marriage when Wright falls for Mamah, who was the wife of one of his clients.  The ups and downs of each of these relationships, the media reaction — not different than today’s celebrity fixation, and Wright’s complex personality are captured by Boyle’s rich descriptive prose to deliver a character-driven story full of historical and vivid details.

Subject Headings: Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959 — Relations with women; Architects; Husband and wife; Men/women relations; Twentieth century; Extramarital relations; Scandals; Women’s role — United States — History — 20th century.

Appeal: Detailed characterizations, multiple points of view, tragic, detailed setting, historical details, dramatic, moody, descriptive, atmospheric, nostalgic, lush, passionate, domestic.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  Detailed characterizations, multiple points of view,  domestic.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Horan, Nancy, Loving Frank: A Novel; A fictional account from Mamah Cheney about her love affair and relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright and Chicago society’s reaction.

McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife: A Novel; A story portraying the relationship of a celebrated American writer and his first, out of four wives. Ernest and Hadley Hemingway and their marriage in 1920s Paris.

Ebershoff, David. The 19th Wife: A Novel; For historic murder mystery fans looking for an intriguing fictional tale set in the late 1800’s polygamist Utah community.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Drennan, William R., Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders; Investigative account of the atrocious 1914 massacre and destruction of Taliesin.

Hess, Alan, and Weintraub, Alan. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses; Displays Wright’s residential architecture. Stunning photographs, floor plans, and archive images, texts and essays.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography; First published in 1932; Wright’s own version about his work, philosophy, and personal life.

Fanny Camargo

Sing You Home

December 2, 2011

Author: Jodi Picoult

Title: Sing You Home

Genre: GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 480

Geographical Setting: Rhode Island

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Zoe and Max Baxter have been plagued by infertility and the birth of a still-born. Zoe desperately wants to continue trying to conceiving while Max has reached his limits. IVF treatments have caused a strain in their marriage that ultimately leads to divorce. Post-divorce, Zoe, a music therapist, finds friendship in the arms of an unexpected friend, Vanessa. Max reverts to alcoholism, and a near-death car accident leads him to become a born-again Christian. Zoe and Vanessa’s relationship blossoms into love, and eventually the couple wants to use Max and Zoe’s frozen embryos for a child. Max does not approve of the relationship, or using the embryos which causes a court battle over the rights of the embryos. Picoult brings a controversial and current issue to the forefront in this thought-provoking novel.

Subject Headings: infertility issues, IVF, divorce, Christianity-homosexuality, lesbian relationships, embryo freezing, music therapy, gay- lesbian rights

Appeal: Current events, character-driven, plot-driven, moving, compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking, compassionate, realistic characters, domestic, issue-oriented, contemporary

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: issue oriented, compassionate, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practices (3rd Edition) by William B. Davis, Gfeeller and Thaut. A comprehensive overview of the practice of music therapy for the 21st century. It covers the origins, present, and future of music therapy. This book is a good introduction for those interested in music therapy as a career or just wanting to learn more about Zoe’s job in Sing You Home.

Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me? By Kristine Ireland Waits. Women and with infertility difficulties will enjoy the wisdom, humor and warmth of this book filled with information. It provide inspiration for those most challenging times—baby shows, husbands, insurance—and how to cope. Women will laugh, cry and nod their heads in understanding while they read through this book.

Gay and Lesbian Rights in United States: A Documentary History by Walter L. Williams. The history of America’s gay and lesbian community’s struggle for civil and equal rights. This collection of primary documents examines counter-arguments, provides different viewpoints and look at the complexity of gay and lesbian rights. A nice companion to Sing You Home for a reader looking to learn more about gay and lesbian rights in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Blessed Event by Jean Reynolds Page. Childhood friend Joanne agrees to be surrogate mother for Darla. However, a freak accident that leaves Joanne brain damaged and in a coma but the baby alive.  Darla and Joanne’s family now are fighting over the rights of Joanne’s body. With a controversial and current issue this book draws similarities between Sing you Home over moral issues.

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner. Four women quickly become closely involved when the pregnant one’s husband suddenly dies. The four women include an ivy-league egg-donor, working-class surrogate housewife, and the wealthy pregnant woman and her stepdaughter. This book weaves women’s lives and relationships with present day issues.

A Seahorse Year by Stacey D’Erasmo. A San Franciscan teen goes missing and his parents are frantic trying to find him. Christopher was raised by a gay mother and father and suffers from schizophrenia. The novel delves into the complexity of growing up as a child in a gay parenthood.

Name: Noelle Swanson

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie & Julia [sound recording] : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Julie Powell is a 29 year old living in New York City who is fed up with her dead end secretarial job and depressing apartment in Queens.  In an attempt to find deeper meaning in her life, Julie takes up an ambitious project: she resolves to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year.  To document what she calls “The Julie and Julia project,” she begins writing a blog that captures not only every frustration encountered in following each recipe to exaction but also one that reveals aspects of her marriage, her friends, and her wry observations about daily life.  This memoir delivers a more fleshed out version of events than her blog but still retains its chatty, observant, and hilarious tone.  This inspiring and encouraging book is well written and honest.   It is as much about the character of Julie and her relationships as it is a food memoir that that conveys the challenges and triumphs of a novice young cook attempting masterful French cooking in a tiny New York apartment.

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

Appeal: compelling, easy, engrossing, earnest, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, thoughtful, upbeat, quirky, realistic, well developed characters, character-centered, domestic, accurate, contemporary, details of cooking, chatty, candid, conversational, engaging, informal, witty, descriptive, informative, entertaining,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engaging, witty, entertaining

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry: Love, Learning and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Like Julie and Julia, this book is a memoir that centers on cooking.  The author recalls how she changed careers and attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Like Julie and Julia, the author recalls humorous anecdotes, explores love relationships, and uses cooking as a metaphor for life. 

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. Like Julie and Julia, this is a memoir that is centered on food.  It recounts the life and career of the restaurant critic from The New York Times.  Like Julie and Julie, this is a heartwarming account that takes place in New York, features a strong woman character and contains humorous anecdotes and recipes.

Wizenberg, Molly.  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. Like Julie and Julia, this memoir was derived from a popular blog that recounts the author’s life in terms of cooking and recipes.  Also like Julie and Julia, the author’s accounts are sometimes touching and sometimes humorous in this charming account.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Rose Edelstein has the ability to taste the emotions of others when tasting their cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel is a witty, offbeat account of a woman’s relationship with food and with loved ones.

Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tito, a doting daughter who cooks every meal for her parents in Mexico, finds love and herself through her cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this is a witty story that centers on cooking, love relationships, and contains recipes.

Mileti, Meredith.  Aftertaste, A Novel in Five Courses: In this novel, Mira Rinaldi is a New York City restaurant owner whose life is in a shambles.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel contains many descriptions of delicious food and recipes and features a strong female character who overcomes personal struggle and gains self-worth through cooking.

Name: Meghan M.

When Calls the Heart

November 16, 2011

Author: Janette Oke

Title: When Calls the Heart

Genre: Inspirational, Gentle Reads, Romance

Publication Date: 1983

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; Lacombe, Alberta; Pine Springs, Alberta

Time Period: Early 20th century

Series (If applicable): Canadian West series

Plot Summary:  Elizabeth Thatcher has a wonderful life in Toronto with as a school teacher living with her God-fearing, close knit family.  However, when a letter from her older half-brother living across the country in Calgary comes suggesting that Elizabeth might like to teach out West and visit with her family there, she decides to go.  Through a series of mishaps, Elizabeth ends up in a small town with a new school over a hundred miles away from her brother and his family.  Here, she must adjust to life in the small town, start a school, and live on her own for the first time.  Although she did not move across country to find a husband, and in fact had decided that she was not necessarily looking for marriage at all, her plans get turned on their head when she meets Wynn Delaney, a friend of her half-brother’s and a member of the North West Mounted Police.  Through her attraction towards Wynn, her newfound independence, and her new situation, Elizabeth grows in faith, love and confidence in this sweet novel.

Subject Headings: Canada; Toronto; Calgary; Pioneers; North West Mounted Police; Teachers; Rural Life

 Appeal: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural, domestic, sweet, inspirational, gentle, heartwarming, homespun, hopeful, romantic, faithful characters, series characters, folksy, details of Canadian pioneers, accessible, straightforward, unpretentious

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

One-Room Schools of the Middle West: An Illustrated History by Wayne E. Fuller

This title gives the history of one-room schools in the Midwest, including photographs.  Although Elizabeth Thatcher’s school is in Alberta, Canada, this book will give background on how such a school works and shows what her school could have looked like.

Forging the Prairie West  by John Herd Thompson

This title, as part of the Illustrated History of Canada series, discusses the West of Canada where Elizabeth Thatcher goes to live with her brother and his family.  This book should give background on the history of the area and what happened in the time after which Elizabeth’s story is set.

Looking North: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Illustrations: The Potlatch Collection by Karal Ann Marling

This illustrated title provides artwork featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties.  In When Calls the Heart, Wynn Delaney works as a Mountie.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This classic title tells the story of a young girl who goes into the Appalachian mountains as a missionary school teacher.  This romantic, inspirational tale does not gloss over some of the more gritty aspects of living in the area in the early 20th century.  Christy’s work with her school children, romantic interests, and Christian beliefs should interest those who enjoy When Calls the Heart.

A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover

This novel, which takes place in the Canadian frontier, tells the story of two women of different social classes who move to the area to start a new life with their husbands.  This book along with the rest in the series should interest those who enjoy the setting and inspirational Christian nature of Janette Oke’s Canadian West series.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

This classic series should interest fans of When Calls the Heart for a variety of reasons.  A more rural Canadian setting is featured in most of these books along with a strong family life, going to class and teaching in one-room schoolhouses, and the funny, heartwarming and romantic situations that Anne Shirley finds herself in throughout the entire series.

Name: Christi H.

Sing You Home

November 15, 2011

Author:  Jodi Picoult

Title:  Sing You Home

Genre: GLBTQ; Domestic Fiction

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Number of Pages:  480

Geographical Setting: Rhode Island

Time Period:  Present Day

Plot Summary: Zoe and Max have been trying to have a baby for 9 years.  After a final round of IVF, and a stillborn baby, Max cannot take it any longer, and the couple divorces. Both go their separate ways and deal with the tragedy and life change differently.  Max initially goes back to being an alcoholic, but after a very bad accident he finds Jesus and becomes a Christian fundamentalist.  Zoe throws herself into her work as a music therapist and an unexpected friendship with a high school counselor blooms into love.  However, their love is not accepted by everyone.  When the two want to use the frozen embryos from Zoe and Max’s last round of In-virto, many people, including Max, wish to stop them from having a family. This emotionally charged and heavily issue-oriented novel explores the boundaries of love, marriage, parenthood and most importantly identity.

Subject Headings:  Gay and Lesbian rights; Music Therapy; Christian Fundamentalism; Infertility; In-vitro Fertilization; Lesbian relationships

Appeal:  Issue-oriented, thought-provoking, character-driven, lyrical prose, fast-paced, haunting, multiple points of view, compelling, emotionally charged, domestic, literary, moving

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, multiple points of view, emotionally charged

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Case Studies in Music Therapy by Kenneth E. Bruscia – This book contains 42 stories of music therapy told by the patients, not the therapists.  It includes all types of cases where music therapy was used, from individual to group therapy, from psychiatric, medical, or educational purposes. This is a good non-fiction read-alike for Sing You Home because the character Zoe is a music therapist and there is much about this profession in the novel.

2)     Revive Us Again: the Reawakening of American Fundamentalism by Joel A. Carpenter – This well researched book explores the history of American fundamentalism focusing on the years 1925-1950.  It includes anecdotes, analysis, and really shows the nature of the fundamentalist movement during this time period when many may have not even known the movement was in full swing.  This would be a good non-fiction read-alike for Sing You Home because the character Max becomes a member of a Christian fundamentalist church and there is much regarding their beliefs in this novel.

3)     Surviving In-vitro Fertilization: IVF Stories from the Women who have been there by Karen Daniels – A compilation of true stories of In-vitro fertilization told by the women who lived through the process. They share their thoughts, stories, and lessons learned through their IVF journeys.  A good read-alike for Sing You Home because the majority of the story involves embryos that were created when Zoe and Max had to undergo in-vitro.  There is much about the process and issues surrounding in-vitro in the novel.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan – The story of two women who have been friends since childhood.  When Ali and her husband had trouble getting pregnant, Cora donated her eggs, resulting in Ali’s daughter Letty.  That was 14 years ago.  Now Cora has found out that she has a hereditary disease which may have been passed on through her donated egg and Ali is considering asking Cora for another frozen embryo even amid marriage trouble.  This moving, inspirational story of friendship is similar to Sing You Homein that it is a work of domestic fiction that it discusses infertility issues but also issues of marriage and relationships.  (moving, emotionally charged, fertility issues)

2)     Trace Elements of Random Tea by Felicia Luna Lemus – Coming-of-age story of a young gay, Latina girl, Leticia.  She has run away from her strict, but loving grandmother to live in the big city of LA.  She encounters love, loss, and trouble along the way.  Her ties to her family, however, are very strong and when the time comes she reconciles with her grandmother.  Similar to Sing You Home because it is also domestic fiction that involves a lesbian couple and strong family relationships. (GLBTQ, domestic fiction, moving)

3)     Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner – This is the story of four women whose lives become connected when one of the women decides she wants a baby, but encounters fertility issues.  India is in her 40’s and desires a baby, but issues arise, so she and her older husband decide to go another route and try surrogacy.  Jules is a college student who decides to donate her eggs to acquire some extra money.  Annie is a married mother of two who becomes the surrogate to help her family financially.  Finally there is Bettina, India’s step-daughter who becomes the baby’s legal mother.  Each woman tells their own story and of course their paths end up intersecting.  Similar to Sing You Home because the story is told by multiple characters and involves infertility issues as well as domestic family issues.  (emotionally charged, character-driven, moving)

Name: Michelle Worthington