Posts Tagged ‘lyrical prose’

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

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

August 10, 2011

Laura Esquivel, read by Kate Reading

Title: Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Genre: Latino Fiction


Publication Date: 1994 (audiobook)

First copyrighted by Laura Esquivel in 1989 with original Spanish Text
English translation copyright 1992

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs (54 min. each)

Geographical Setting: Mexico

Time Period: early 20thcentury

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year, this book shows a family living in the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. Tita is the youngest of three daughters, and that position gives her a devastating fate. The family’s harsh tradition forbids Tita to marry and have children. Instead, it and requires her to take care of her mother until the day she dies. Sharing already a passionate love with her soul mate Pedro does not qualify for an exception to the rule. As Pedro asks for permission to marry Tita, the mother offers her oldest daughter Rosaura instead. Disappointed, Pedro decides to marry Rosaura just in order to be close to Tita. Living under the same roof, rebellious Tita expresses her desires to Pedro through the food she prepares for him. With lyrical prose, the narrator’s pleasant voice, magical realism, and unique structure, this story feels like a fairy tale thrown into a cookbook. Each chapter starts with a recipe, and is followed by detailed instructions for its preparation, blended with Tita’s emotions. Easy to follow, very descriptive, and bittersweet in style, this story is good for both a laugh and a cry. Although it can be listened to in only one evening, it remains in a memory long after that. Those interested in the recipes may wish to reach for the book format after listening to the audio

Subject Headings: Mexico – fiction, Families – Mexico – fiction, Mexican cooking, Love stories

Appeal: original structure, romantic, bittersweet, dramatic, magical realism, richly detailed, witty style, imaginative, nostalgic, passionate, character-driven, lyrical prose, plot twist, unpredictable ending

3 terms that best describe this book: original structure, bittersweet, romantic

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

House of Houses by Pat Mora (a nonfiction twin to Like Water for Chocolate:  divided into 12 chapters, one of each month of the year; explores family relations in the Mexican culture; memories aremixed with recipes and folk remedies; some sense of magical realism; lyrical writing style)

Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico by Susana Trilling (this culinary follow up to Like Water for Chocolate explores in depth one of Mexico’s culinary rich areas and provides detailed recipes; personal stories attached to the culinary experiences resemble the novel’s unique style)

The Wind that Swept Mexico: The History of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1942 by Anita Brenner and George R. Leighton (Esquivel’s novel is set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, and this title, accessible and rich in photographs, allows the reader to familiarize quickly with that piece of history)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (although featuring Arabic instead of Latino culture, it resembles Like Water for Chocolate in lyrical style, magical mood associated with high spirited culture, the theme of love, and preparation of food as a major element of the story)

Esperanza’s Box of Saints by Maria Amparo Escandon (both novels feature Mexican culture and magical realism with the appearance of a spirit and rituals; in both stories the line between life and death is vague)

Mrs. Vargas and The Dead Naturalist by Kathleen Alcalá (both books feature Mexican culture and magical realism; a collection of short stories may resemble Esquivel’s novel’s structure where each chapter contains a different recipe through which the story within that chapter is told)

Name: Anna

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

August 1, 2011

Author: Anita Shreve

Title: The Last Time They Met

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 313

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Kenya (Africa), Massachusetts

Time Period: contemporary, varies

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Linda and Thomas are two poets who have loved each other for years, but they had only three encounters in their lives. The story starts as they meet at a writer’s conference in Toronto, where they are both expected to read from their works. They are both in their fifties and despite previous marriages and living in separation the sparks still fly between them. Then, the story moves to Kenya when the couple is 26 and meets for the second time. Both married, they have a disastrous love affair and Thomas loses his daughter. The last part of the book goes back to the time of their high school years. Linda, an orphan and a victim of abuse gets healed through Thomas’s understanding and passionate love. This emotional, lyrically written novel tells about a love that is impossible to get over. The constantly raised question is why these two people who appear to be destined to be with each other were initially separated. As the story goes backward in time and explores Thomas and Linda’s relationship, the characters appear to grow in reverse as well. The stunning ending changes the perspective of the whole story and allows literary fiction fans to savor the novel while rereading it all over again.

Subject Headings: Married people – fiction, Women poets – fiction, Forgiveness – fiction, Adultery – fiction, Poets – fiction, Psychological fiction

Appeal: thought-provoking, emotional, character-centered, thoughtful, intelligently written, complex plot, compelling, character driven, intricately plotted, love scenes, rich descriptions, dreamy atmosphere, romantic, lyrical prose, intriguing, unpredictable end, unique plot

3 terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, emotional, unique plot

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Love in Verse: Classic Poems of the Heart by Kathleen Blease (as Thomas was writing love letters and poems to Linda, this book is a collection of love poems; both books share a romantic and lyrical writing style)

A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman (this book examines love, the main theme of The Last Time They Met, from a scientific, psychological, and philosophical perspective)

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (as Shreve’s novel richly describes Kenya, this story reflects one’s life and experience as a political activist and environmentalist in this country; since this is an autobiography, it may appeal to fans of character-centered stories like The Last Time They Met)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler (like Shreve’s novel it is a character-driven, thoughtful and reflective novel with the focus on relationship; the main characters of both novels reflect on their past life through a “what if” perspective, trying to imagine their lives with another person)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (both novels are character-centered, lyrical, and romantic; the main characters of both novels share passionate love after years of waiting and separation; the exotic setting of the novel may appeal to these who enjoyed Shreve’s descriptions of Kenya)

Possession by A.S. Byatt (like The Last Time They Met it is a character-centered, lyrical, romantic love story; the main characters are modern day scholars researching the lives of a couple of Victorian poets, which can resemble the lives of Shreve’s characters)

Name: Anna