Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't Move by Margaret Mazzantini

This book won Italy's most prestigious literary prize, the Premio Strega and was made into a movie a few years back. The main character, a surgeon named Timoteo, recalls the regrets of his past as his only daughter is being operated on following an accident. Parts of the novel were very disturbing. Timoteo is not a character you feel sympathy for, but you want to continue reading to find out how the plot is resolved. It left a Lolita-like film on my brain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway

Set in Hong Kong during the summer of 1967, this is a coming-of-age story of two sisters - Frankie and Kate. Their father, a Vietnam war photographer is gone; their mother, a painter, is present but distant. The central figure in their lives is thier Chinese nanny, Ah Bing - and, of course, Hong Kong itself. Kate narrates the story, which is haunted by tragedy, and her voice is fresh and youthful and very poetic.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

One Mississippi by Mark Childress

The protagonist of this novel is 16 year old Daniel Musgrove. His family moves from the Midwest to rural Mississippi during his junior year of high school. Rather than have no friends, he latches on to goof-ball Tim Cousins, whose motto is "Everything is funny all the time." And the book is hilariously funny almost until the end, when I was disappointed by the turn of events. Even so, I loved reading One Mississippi.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Student of Living Things by Susan Richards Shreve

Set in Washington, D.C., this novel opens with the murder of a college student, Steven Frayn. His sister, Claire, is standing nearby when he is gunned down on the steps of a university library. Claire then meets a mysteriously charming student named Victor Duarte, who claims to know who killed her brother and convinces her to assume an alias and begin a correspondence with the assumed killer. Part mystery, part love story, this novel also addresses some political and ethical subjects.

To Feel Stuff by Andrea Seigel

This is a long awaited novel by the author of Like the Red Panda, which is one that my students have been passing around for the last few years. This time, Siegel's main character, Elodie, is a permanent resident at the Brown University infirmary. Her chronic illnesses range from chicken pox to tuberculosis, but all seem forerunners to her special powers which develop throughout the course of the novel. Told in three voices - Elodie's, her doctor's and her fellow inmate/lover Chess Hunter's - the book is a fun read but not as generally appealling as Like the Red Panda.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

This book kept me turing the pages. On a stormy winter's night, a doctor's wife gives birth to twins - one healthy and one with Downs. She is so disoriented by the delivery that her husband is able to give the Downs baby to the nurse to take away to an orphanage. He tells his wife that the baby boy survived, but the girl died. The nurse, unable to leave the girl at the rundown facility, takes it to another town to raise as her own. And as the years pass - - - The premise may be predictable but the plot is not. I enjoyed this into the wee hours of the night.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Ride of Our Lives by Mike Leonard

Mike Leonard of the Today show documents his cross country RV trip with his aging parents and grown children. This hilarious, touching book reminds readers what it means to be part of a family. The book comes with a DVD of Today show segments that shared the Leonard family vacation with the nation.