Monday, April 16, 2018

The Female Persuasion

Pathways. I thoroughly enjoyed becoming immersed in the lives of a large cast of interesting characters in Meg Wolitzer’s novel titled, The Female Persuasion. Protagonist Greer Kadetsky follows a path through life that aligns with what most of us experience: highs, lows, and a road that meanders in directions we never imagined. It’s easy to spend time with Wolitzer because her sentences are finely crafted, and her insights into human nature are revealed in every character as they emerge as complex and true to life. Central to the novel are two significant relationships: Greer’s longtime friendship with the smart neighbor boy, Cory; and the ways in which a feminist leader, Faith Frank, becomes a mentor to Greer. Wolitzer allows us to meander forward and backward in time as we get to know the complexity in the lives of Greer, Cory and Faith. As Greer matures and finds her voice, she uses it ways that she never imagined. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Female Persuasion from amazon.com.

The Perfect Nanny

Creepy. If this line doesn’t compel you to read Leila Slimami’s novel titled, The Perfect Nanny, nothing will: “to be happy, someone has to die.” That’s the view of Louise, the nanny in the title. This creepy psychological thriller takes us into the life of Louise, and the families and children whose lives she has entered. It’s a novel of race and class and the ways in which we become part of the lives of others, and they become part of our lives, for better and for worse. Louise is a troubled soul, and we know from the beginning of the novel that something terrible has happened. The rest is finely written prose helping us come to grips with tragedy. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Perfect Nanny from amazon.com.

Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story

Lampedusa. The life of Doctor Pietro Bartolo turned upside down and inside out when refugees from fighting in North Africa and the Middle East began to arrive on his native island of Lampedusa. In his book titled, Tears of Salt: A Doctor’s Story, Bartolo tells us of his life and of this time when how a person feels about the dignity of every life requires the hardest work one has ever done. While much of what Bartolo describes in this book involves suffering, the inspiration comes from his steadiness while facing the unexpected, and how he did all he could to alleviate suffering. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Tears of Salt from amazon.com.

Faith: A Journey for All

Personal. What is faith in your life? In his book titled, Faith: A Journey for All, former President Jimmy Carter explores what faith has meant in his life and offers readers insight and wisdom from his experience. While religious faith occupies much of this book, Carter covers faith and doubt from many different perspectives. As always, Carter speaks with a moral authority and authenticity that for most readers is well worth hearing. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Faith from amazon.com.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Naps. I have the same thought with every new book by Daniel H. Pink: what new and interesting insights is he sharing this time? In his latest book titled, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink has scoured scientific journals to uncover stimulating information that could change one’s beliefs. The big theme in this book is that timing really is everything. Using lots of examples, Pink reinforces this in multiple ways. My favorite was about naps. Like me, Pink was not a napper. Based on research, Pink now believes in the value of the short nap taken at the right time for the right period of time, following a cup of coffee. Any reader open to changing beliefs based on new scientific evidence will find much to enjoy in this book. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase When from amazon.com.

Speak No Evil

Silence. Be prepared to receive an emotional wallop while reading Uzodinma Iweala’s finely written novel titled, Speak No Evil. One could say this is a novel about a family that could be any family. There is love, similarities, differences. Then, there is cruelty, violence, tragedy. One could describe this novel as a gay coming of age story. None of those descriptions matter because of what this novel is: a finely written story that will engage every reader. The characters in this novel are drawn well and are developed with complexity and care as we understand them better every time the plot moves forward. The finely written prose drew me in to the story from the opening, and some sentences increased my heartrate or perhaps the prose served as a kind of pacemaker. If a consequence of speaking no evil involves silence, that may be an outcome that turns out to be unbearable. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Speak No Evil from amazon.com.

The Bishop's Pawn

King. The thirteenth novel in the Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry takes an approach different from the first dozen books in the series. In the novel titled, The Bishop’s Pawn, Berry presents Cotton Malone’s link to Martin Luther King in the past and in the present. The past involves backstory: the first work that Malone did for Stephanie Nelle. Fans of action novels will find plenty to enjoy in this book, and those readers who have enjoyed the series are those most likely to appreciate the latest installment. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Bishop’s Pawn from amazon.com.