I bought new books, the other day, based off of….some list I found. May 2009 Great Reads, I think. I’m excited to start reading!
Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
From Publisher’s Weekly:
Flynn gives new meaning to the term “dysfunctional family” in her chilling debut thriller. Camille Preaker, once institutionalized for youthful self-mutilation, now works for a third-rung Chicago newspaper. When a young girl is murdered and mutilated and another disappears in Camille’s hometown of Wind Gap, Mo., her editor, eager for a scoop, sends her there for a human-interest story. Though the police, including Richard Willis, a profiler from Kansas City, Mo., say they suspect a transient, Camille thinks the killer is local. Interviewing old acquaintances and newcomers, she relives her disturbed childhood, gradually uncovering family secrets as gruesome as the scars beneath her clothing. The horror creeps up slowly, with Flynn misdirecting the reader until the shocking, dreadful and memorable double ending. She writes fluidly of smalltown America, though many characters are clichés hiding secrets. Flynn, the lead TV critic for Entertainment Weekly, has already garnered blurbs from Stephen King and Harlan Coben.
Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
*Starred Review* Libby Day’s mother and two younger sisters were viciously slaughtered when she was seven, and her brother, Ben, against whom she testified, has been incarcerated ever since. Twenty-five years later, Libby is still suffering from the aftereffects of the notorious murders. Although it sometimes takes her days to work up the psychic energy to wash her hair, she is not quite the timorous victim the press makes her out to be. When she finds out that the trust fund set up in her name is about to run out of money (the do-gooders have long since moved on to fresh tragedies), she starts gouging money from members of the Kill Club, a group of true-crime fans obsessed with the Day murders. Greedily pricing family memorabilia, wondering how much the Kill Club creeps will pony up for an old birthday card, she learns that none of them believes her brother committed the crime. As she starts investigating, the narrative returns to the day of the murders, intercutting Libby’s current-day hunt with the actual events of the day. Despite the fact that the ending is known from the get-go, Flynn (Sharp Objects, 2006) injects these chapters with unbearable tension. And unlovable Libby, mean-spirited and greedy, shows her true colors and her deep courage. A gritty, riveting thriller with a one-of-a-kind, tart-tongued heroine. –Joanne Wilkinson
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
In his latest novel, following The Master (2004), a celebrated and highly imaginative re-creation of the life of American novelist Henry James, Toibin maintains his focus on the past. Keeping the pace relatively slow and stressing the wealth of authoritative detail, he contrasts small-town Ireland and big-city Brooklyn in the early 1950s, highlighting the vast differences between the two in customs and opportunity. Eilis Lacey, a smart young woman unafraid of hard work, must leave employment-poor Ireland to find a more lucrative existence in booming New York City. Under the auspices of an Irish priest, Eilis secures employment at a department store and residence in a rooming house for young women. She meets a handsome, charming Italian man, and their relationship quickly flowers into love. When her outgoing sister dies in Ireland, Eilis returns home and must face the decision to stay put or go back to the more exciting life she had begun to create in Brooklyn. –Brad Hooper
The Last Child, by by John Hart
From Publishers Weekly
A year after 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared on her way home from the library in an unnamed rural North Carolina town, her twin brother, Johnny, continues to search the town, street by street, even visiting the homes of known sex offenders, in this chilling novel from Edgar-winner Hart (Down River). Det. Clyde Hunt, the lead cop on Alyssa’s case, keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, who has deteriorated since Alyssa’s abduction and her husband’s departure soon afterward. When a second girl is snatched, Johnny is even more determined to find his sister, convinced that the perpetrator is the same person who took Alyssa. But what he unearths is more sinister than anyone imagined, sending shock waves through the community and putting Johnny’s own life in danger. Despite a tendency to dip into melodrama, Hart spins an impressively layered tale of broken families and secrets that can kill.
On the Divinity of Second Chances, by Kaya McLaren
Jade’s family is slowly pulling apart. Her grandmother lives on a farm and spends her days angrily shooting at her neighbor with a pistol. Her father, sidelined by a heart attack, putters around the house alphabetizing everything and secretly reading Forbes magazine. Her mother deals with the throes of menopause by painting pictures of raisins. Her older sister, Olive, was recently dumped by her boyfriend because she refused to live in a tipi in the woods with him. Her younger brother, Forrest, who committed a horrible crime at age 14, lives in self-exile in a tree house in the Idaho wilderness. Jade herself is doing all right, even if the only assistance she gets is from her spirit guide, Grace. When Olive abandons her job and reveals that she is pregnant, the family members realize they’ve reached a crisis point and they must come back together to find what they’ve lost along the way. McLaren’s involving novel is an uplifting story about unconditional love and family ties. –Hilary Hatton
Not Becoming My Mother, by Ruth Reichl
Irreverently immortalized as the klutzy cook who renounced edibility in favor of creativity, Reichl’s mother, and her quirky kitchen habits,provided frivolous fodder for Reichl’s previous culinary memoirs. But in this keenly felt retrospective, Reichl reveals another side of her mother, whose life seemed a shining example of what not to do. Where once Miriam harbored visions of being a doctor and applied her formidable intellect in the business world, she ultimately subjugated her own ambition and desires in favor of those of her family, thus providing her daughter with a seemingly negative role model. Sadly typical of her time and generation, Miriam surrendered personal dreams to suit society’s restrictive ideals of feminine conduct, and paid a steep psychic price. Only upon discovering a hidden trove of diaries and letters after Miriam’s death was Reichl able to understand the full extent of her mother’s sacrifices. Candid and insightful, Reichl’s intensely personal and fiercely loving tribute acknowledges her mother as both the source and inspiration behind her success. –Carol Haggas
The Air Between Us, by Deborah Johnson
From Publishers Weekly
In Johnson’s vivid debut, Revere, Miss., is a 1966 small town teetering on the brink of integration. Willie B. Tate Jr., a 10-year-old black boy known as Critter, drives poor white man Billy Ray Puckett to the whites-only emergency room after Billy Ray has a hunting accident. Caught up in the middle of the fallout after Billy Ray’s unexpected death is Dr. Cooper Connelly, a prominent white doctor who serves on the school board and has controversial prointegration views. Cooper is a man with secrets, including why he keeps company with Madame Melba Obrensky, a raceless woman with a mysterious past who manages to keep herself well-apprised of all sides of the town’s doings. Melba happens to be the next-door neighbor of Dr. Reese Jackson, a respected black physician who has managed to cross the race barrier and establish his practice on Main Street. As the heat of the school board meetings about integration and of the investigation into Billy Ray’s death increase, the atmosphere becomes explosive. Johnson tries to squeeze too much out of the limited plot, but compelling character studies keep pages turning.