Foster Mom: A Journey of Self-Discovery – I get Francine’s weekly email, and she commented on the book she wrote. I immediately picked it up. Nothing is shocking, but Francine wanted to save these kids. No matter what she did, she couldn’t save them from themselves. All she really could do was be there and love them. The baggage that comes with many foster children from their birth parents’ homes is not pretty. Not sure what the answer is, but the circle mostly continues no matter who tries to save the youngsters.
Crossroads – Jonathan Franzen could be the best write of our times. This is the first of a trilogy. Nobody else can write as in-depth about characters as he can. Epic family dysfunctionality. This book has the same feeling as The Corrections, another winner. I can hardly wait for the second installment to come out. I put everything down to read when Franzen’s books come out.
The Pessimists – Quick read. Thought about putting it down at one point but persevered. Life in the burbs, unhappy marriages, children finding themselves, private school whackos, and just life in general.
Taste: My Life Through Food – Stanley Tucci is amazing. I loved it!
The War For Gloria Atticus Lish – Corey, a 15-year-old boy’s single mother, Gloria, is diagnosed with ALS. As Corey accelerates into adulthood and Gloria gets sicker, the reader is pulled into their world. Their world is about people living on the fringes and how the cycle continues. I wanted a fairy tale ending but don’t we all?
Damnation Spring – Novel set in a small logging community in Northern California 1970. A dwindling industry, an industry wreaking havoc, and the communities we never heard about. Stellar debut novel.
Beautiful World, Where Are You – Rooney is an incredible writer and her books just keep getting better. I continue to think about the characters and their relationships as they mature over time. Their angst, their anxieties, their emotions, and their desire to embrace how they want to live their lives.
The Sympathizer – I tried to read this book a few years ago and had a hard time getting in. My brother told me to go back and try again. The author won the Pulitzer for this book in 2016, along with seven other prizes. The book is a stream of consciousness, incredibly verbose, telling the story of a mole inside South Vietnam’s forces. He begins at the fall of Saigon, eventually getting to the US and back again. What was it all worth? Reading this book while Afghanistan is being played out, again another American mistake, is eye-opening and certainly thought-provoking.
The Pear Field – Short listed for the 2021 Booker Prize. Set in the 1990s in the Residential School for Intellectually Disabled Children (known locally as The School for Idiots) after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The children are abused and definitely not taken care of but there is complexity to the novel and light at the end of the tunnel. A good read.
At Night All Blood Is Black – Winner of the 2021 Booker Prize. What I love about the Booker Prize winners is they cast an International net of authors. Reading their words is eye-opening about the different worlds around us. It is a haunting and horrific book about Senegalese soldiers fighting for Colonial France during WWII. It is a tough one to recommend.
Becoming Eve – Feeling comfortable enough to explain to the people around you that you might have been born a boy but have always thought of yourself as a woman is not easy. Being an ultra-Orthodox child who is supposed to become a rabbi and follow in the family’s footsteps is quite another. This memoir details Chava Stein’s journey now known as Abby. I wanted more from the book although the insight into the Orthodox world is fascinating.
Razorblade Tears – Not the kind of book I usually read but good for summer when you want a fast page-turning book. It is about two men whose sons were married and murdered. They come together to find out what happened to them.