Tag Archives: Coming of Age

America, America

Title: America, America

Author:  Ethan Canin

Summary: Ethan Canin has always been a wonderful writer, but this is his best book yet.  In fact, it’s one of the best books I’ve read – period.  Several reviewers have deemed it a “great American novel,” not only because of the quality of writing, but also because of its breadth and subject matter.  It is an elegantly drawn portrait of a small American town seen through the eyes of a boy who is at crossroads in his life, during a time when his family and home and country were at a crossroads as well.

Corey Sifter at 50 years old is looking back on that time in his life when he was growing up near Buffalo, New York, in the 1970s.  He had become involved with the powerful Metarey family, first as a groundskeeper on their grand estate, and then as a trusted right-hand man of the patriarch, Liam Metarey.  He was only a 16 year-old boy from a working-class family when it all began, but even then he had the gift of steady observation, not jumping to conclusions about the events around him.  As the Metarey dynasty becomes the driving force behind their friend Senator Henry Bonwiller’s bid for the presidency, Corey is asked to lend a hand and becomes the Senator’s driver and aide. As the campaign gains strength and Corey’s ties to the Metarey’s deepen, he finds himself entangled in a scandal that leads to the downfall of a powerful man and a family that means the world to him.

America, America is much more than a political novel.  Ultimately, I think, it is a novel about relationships and our place in the world, our place in history.  And it is a novel that spans the life, and perhaps the death, of the American dream.

Who will like this book?  Any fan of Richard Russo or John Irving.  Readers who big, multi-layered sagas about families, small town America, politics, love, etc.

If you like this book, try this:Anything else by Ethan Canin; The Race by Richard North Patterson; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren.

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

A Northern Light

Title: A Northern Light

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Summary: Unlike many girls in the Great North Woods at the turn of the century, Mattie Gokey is gifted: She is a writer so talented she has been offered a full scholarship to Barnard College. But how can she leave? Since her mamma died, it has been Mattie’s job to run the farmhouse and look after her sisters, neighbors and her gruff pa. To earn money for the family, Mattie goes to work at the Glenmore Hotel. One day she is handed a bundle of letters by a guest named Grace, who asks her to burn them. Hours later, Grace’s body is found in the lake, and the boyfriend who took her out rowing is nowhere to be found. As Mattie begins to read the letters and piece together the mystery, she also begins to answer the questions of her own life: Should she stay and marry her gorgeous neighbor Royal, who doesn’t understand her love of books and words, or take her chances in New York and chase her dream of becoming a writer?

The book is based on a real murder case that was the basis for the classic novel An American Tragedy and the film A Place in the Sun. But it is the fictional Mattie’s struggle to define herself in an era where girls had so few choices and little say in their futures that will linger long after the final page has been turned.

Who will like this book?: People who like fiction based on true stories. Fans of authentic characters with a lot of depth and honesty.

If you like this, try this: An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. For another unforgettable, beautifully written historical novel featuring a book-loving heroine, try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Godmother

Title: The Godmother

Author: Carrie Adams

Summary: Thirty-something Tessa King has seven best friends, four godchildren, and no life of her own. Returning home to London after a five-week vacation (or, escape from her harrassing former boss) she is thrown back into her familar role of drinking buddy/fairy godmother/crisis counselor. But will Tessa ever get over her unrequited love, meet her true Prince Charming and have babies of her own?

While this novel sounds like another carbon copy beach book, the plot takes some unexpected turns and becomes something more substantial that traditional chick lit fare.  Tessa is a well-developed, painfully believable heroine, and her circle of friends and godchildren are well-developed but still familiar characters, each with their own secrets that are revealed over the course of the story. These are the sort of characters that stay with you, and leave you wishing for a sequel!

Who will like this book? People with godchildren, nieces and/or nephews whom they adore, and ‘women who do too much.’

If you like this, try this: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian