The Interestings


Meg Wolitzer, 2013

Six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts form bonds that carry them through adulthood.  Their bonds remain, but each changes substantially as they progress through middle age. The author explores the roles of talent, envy,  class, art, money and power and how all can shift over the course of a friendship and a life.

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MC

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Nancy Horan, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson,  and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer.While he perfects his craft, she becomes his protector and editor-collaborator, accompanying him across Europe and America and finally to Samoa in hopes of healing his weak lungs. An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.

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DL

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan, 2012

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret. This quirky book about an old fashioned bookstore is mysterious and funny and informative all at the same time. Good book!
 
SG

Me Before You

Jojo Moyes, 2012

Louisa Clark leads a routine existence. When she looses her job at a cafe, she applies for and gets a job caring for Will, a recently paralyzed man. Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle.  His frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. When she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning “adventures”, Lou begins to understand the extent of Will’s isolation; while Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling.

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FW

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd, 2014

The improbable relationship between Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a prosperous judge and slave owner, and a slave named Handful is at the heart of this story, set in Charleston, South Carolina.  Handful is presented on Sarah’s birthday as a gift—a personal maidservant.  Told in alternating chapters narrated by Handful and Sarah over many years, the tale speaks of the oppression felt by both.  Sarah wants an education such as the one her brothers are afforded; she longs to be a valued.  Influenced by her rebellious mother, Handful, desires her freedom.  

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BB

My Notorious Life

Kate Manning, 2013

The incomparable Axie Muldoon will grab your attention in this vivid historical yet timely page-turner. An impoverished child of Irish immigrants in 1860s New York, Axie grows up to become one of the wealthiest and most controversial women of her day, compelled to protect women's health through her thriving midwifery business while colliding with the conservative politics of the era. 

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JS

Benediction

Kent Haruf, 2013

Set in a small town in rural Colorado, this compelling story of a family’s struggle to come to grips with a father’s terminal cancer is sorrowful but uplifting.  Dad Lewis has very little time left; his wife, Mary, is worn out from caring for him.  His daughter comes from Denver to help her mother and together they weather the crisis. As time runs out, Dad ruminates on his past mistakes, including his rejection of his gay son and the suicide of an employee he fired.  His struggle is mirrored by another character—Reverend Rob Lyle who is beset with doubts about his faith and his relationship with his wife and son.

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BB

We are Water

Wally Lamb, 2013

Annie Oh is 52 years old and divorced from her husband of 27 years, Orion Oh, a psychologist. She is about to marry Vivica, her gallery owner. Yet Annie has secrets from her past that effects everyone around her. Details emerge from different points of view until everything is revealed. Lamb focuses on the inner dialogs of the people involved, and in the process we get to know all the characters very well. In the end, it's not just a book about tragedy and secrets, it's also about forgiveness and love.

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DL

Songs of Willow Frost

Jamie Ford, 2013

Set in Depression-era Seattle, this is a tale of a young, Chinese-American  boy who escapes from an orphanage to find his mother.  William has dreams of his future; his mother, an actress and singer, is trying to escape her past. 

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MC