Monthly Archives: February 2008


Title: Shortcomings

Author: Adrian Tomine

Summary: Once you meet him, you will never forget Ben Tanaka, a cranky, sarcastic Gen-X slacker and anti-hero of Adrian Tomine’s daring graphic novel. We follow Ben across the country from the Bay Area to New York City, through his relationship with the ambitious Miko, his friendship with perpetual student/skirt-chaser Alice, and his (firmly and unconvincingly denied) obsession with white girls.

This story could be called an anti-romance – it insists that love is not blind, but entirely dependent on hundreds of factors large and small including age, race, economic status, and first impressions. Will Ben’s cynical heart open? Will he get the girl and/or keep the girl? Can he change?

Who will like this book?: Fans of contemporary Asian-American stories, who are looking for something a little more edgy.

If you like this, try this: For another, more innocent Asian-American coming-of-age story, try the Printz-Award winning young adult graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Book of Joe

Title: The Book of Joe

Author:  Jonathan Tropper

Summary:   Who says you can’t go home again? In “The Book of Joe”, Joe Goffman does just that. Joe returns to his hometown of Bush Falls, CT to see his father who has suffered a serious stroke, but Joe was very busy while he was away. He wrote a best selling novel that was recently made into a movie. Unfortunately, the novel was based on Joe’s life during his senior year in high school, and many residents of his small hometown were not portrayed very favorably.

Some signs that the residents are not too happy with his book? The wife of the high school basketball coach dumps a milkshake in his lap, copies of his novel are strewn across the lawn of his childhood home, and threats of bodily harm are made by the “high school bully”. Joe must must reconnect with the people of Bush Falls that he left behind and come to terms with the actual events of that fateful senior year.

Who will like this book?:Anyone who likes a fun, fast paced read. References to Fairfield, CT including the Stratfield Road area and the Duchess Restaurant make this a fun read for anyone who knows the area.

If you like this, try this:Jonathan Tropper has a written a new novel titled How to Talk to a Widower.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Air We Breathe

Title: The Air We Breathe

Author: Andrea Barrett

Summary: While World War I looms in the future, the patients at Tamarack State Sanatorium are fighting their own battle with tuberculosis and the emotional issues that come from being confined to a strict regimen of rest and little social interaction.  Their insular world begins to expand, however, with the arrival of a somewhat mysterious young chemist from Odessa named Leo Marburg, and the pompous and wealthy Miles Fairchild, who is sure the less fortunate patients will benefit greatly from the wisdom he imparts through his weekly discussion groups. The lives of the patients become more entangled, and life at Tamarack gets complex and messy, bringing about the major disruption that the patients have both longed for and dreaded.  A final and unexpected tragedy will draw the group even closer together, although not to everyone’s benefit.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and that’s mostly because of books like this.  Author Andrea Barrett has done a great job of describing a world we will never know, gently weaving in interesting lessons in both science and history.  She is the author of the National Book Award winner “Ship Fever,” Pulitzer Prize finalist “Servants of the Map,” as well as the fabulous “Voyage of the Narwhal.”
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian