Wednesday, October 17, 2018

His Favorites

Vulnerability. Kate Walbert’s finely written prose in her novel titled, His Favorites, somehow keeps anger about recollection of childhood sexual abuse at a boil while the tone of the telling the story stays cool and calm. Protagonist Jo Hadley’s life changed at age fifteen after her best friend died in an accident that everyone views as Jo’s fault. She leaves her Maryland home to board at a prestigious prep school where her vulnerability is noted by a sexual predator. Master Aikens, her thirty-four-year old English professor selects Jo as his latest “favorite” and manipulates her into a sexual relationship. This novel switches between her recollections of high school from a future time back and forth to that formative year. Memories and descriptions begin to be formed, then Walbert switches time periods to focus on rounding out the story. We understand Jo’s vulnerability and see the effect of this formative experience on her life, while Master remains a shadow figure: recalled in part, but never quite a complete character. Master is limited to Jo’s recollection of his acts, and that is perfect for this novel which is Jo’s story, not Master’s. Fans of literary fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this well-crafted novel, as are those readers who are looking for fiction to find a way to tell a #MeToo story and talk to others about the experiences of women. The right book club will find plenty to discuss about this book. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase His Favorites from amazon.com.

Sabrina

Trauma. When I read that a graphic novel had been longlisted for the Man Booker prize, I added it to my reading queue. Nick Drnaso’s novel titled, Sabrina, is a gripping story of the disappearance of a woman and the trauma she and others experience thereafter. This is a story of trauma in real life and in social networks. The muted colors in the illustrations reflect the shadows of a dark world. Peek at a sample and see if a graphic novel is something you’d like to read. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Sabrina from amazon.com.

Sea Prayer

Refugees. It took me all of five minutes to read the illustrated book by Khaled Hosseini titled, Sea Prayer. This book is a meditation, a prayer as the title shows, for the Syrian refugees on their perilous journey away from danger, death and destruction. The words are moving, and the illustrations beautiful. Proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to organizations helping refugees. So, buy a copy. Spend five minutes, at least, thinking about refugees, and pass the book along to someone else. Then, send a larger donation to help refugees. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Sea Prayer from amazon.com.

Void Star

Language. I don’t read much science fiction because more often than not, I find the prose unbearable. Once I started reading Zachary Mason’s novel titled, Void Star, I became enchanted by the prose, the story and the characters. Mason has called this book literary fiction, and I agree. Access to memories and the exchange of memories are key elements in the novel and provide a way for connections with humans and machines. Protagonist Irina performs a key role in making those connections effective. There’s a search for immortality underway by her boss, James Cromwell. Rich are poor are dramatically divided in this society, set about one hundred years in the future. Kern is a character less connected to technology and as complex and interesting as all the others. I was entertained more than I expected by this well-written novel and recommend it to both those readers who enjoy literary fiction and those who like science fiction. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Void Star from amazon.com.

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

Election. The fourth novel in the series by Amy Stewart featuring deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is titled, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit. Her boss, Sheriff Heath is running for Congress in the election of 1916. After he loses, Constance’s world turns inside out. You can guess from the title what she does when Heath’s successor says he doesn’t need a female deputy. She also doesn’t quit in her pursuit of justice for the women under her supervision. Stewart’s series has focused on the lives of women in this time period, and the latest book continues to keep this reader very interested in the series. Fans of crime fiction and historical fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel and this series. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit from amazon.com.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Observations. Yuval Noah Harari synthesizes lots of current thinking by himself and others in a reflective book titled, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Harari’s observations about nationalism, religion, robotics, artificial intelligence, the future workforce and lots more are clear and reasoned. From these observations, he formulates lessons that we should be learning from these and similar observations. Chances are that whatever you are currently worried about, Harari has an observation about that, and a helpful way of thinking about your fears. Educators should think about the ways in which he thinks our education systems need to be reworked to prepare individuals for their future. Agree or disagree with his views but accept his observations and reflect on what you think they mean. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase 21 Lessons from amazon.com.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Spunky. I’m guessing that Scott Galloway does a terrific job when he teaches at NYU’s Stern School of Business. The writing style in his book titled, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, is spunky and entertaining. Given his activity as a serial entrepreneur, he is not your average professor or journalist examining corporations. Readers interested in business are those most likely to enjoy this engaging and thoughtful exploration of four giants of American business. I regret how long it sat on a shelf unread because once I started, I zipped right through the cogent prose and great questions Galloway raises. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Four from amazon.com.