Tag Archives: Family

Chanel Bonfire

channel

Title: Chanel Bonfire

Author: Wendy Lawless

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2013

Summary/Review: Growing up with an alcoholic, narcissistic, and mentally ill mother was by no means easy for Wendy and her younger sister Robin. Keeping the severe dysfunction hidden behind closed doors was even harder. Wendy, the dutiful older daughter, became the glue that held her family together despite the neglectful and manipulative ways of her mother Georgann. Robin on the other hand, had very little patience for her mother’s shenanigans.

Always on the lookout for a rich man and living beyond her means, Georgann moved the girls to New York, London, and Boston (just to name a few) in search of the life she felt she deserved. All the while Georgann maintained that the girls’ biological father had a new family and no longer wanted them. Manipulation was her forte, telling the girls things like “My doctor thinks that if you and your sister appreciated me more, I wouldn’t be so depressed” and “…my doctor thinks that it’s because of you girls that I drink”. As Georgann’s behavior became more erratic and dangerous, the two sisters did all they could to break free from their mother’s grip and live their own lives.

Similar to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, this is a memoir loaded with family dysfunction that reads like a novel and is told with self-reflective honesty and more than a little humor.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

Who will like this?: Someone looking for an amusing memoir that still deals with difficult issues.

If you like this, try this:  The author has a very similar writing style as Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle), so you may want to try out some of her memoirs.  Additionally, Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” also deals with difficult issues while still speaking through humor.

If this looks like a book you’d enjoy reading, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and to place a hold!

What Dies in Summer

what dies in summer

Title: What Dies in Summer

Author: Tom Wright

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012

Summary/Review: This is a debut novel that is packed with so much emotion and surprises you won’t be able to put it down. The story is narrated by one of the main character James- also known as Biscuit. He, along with his cousin Lee Ann (also known as L.A.), and their Grandma live together in Dallas Texas. They were brought together by unfortunate circumstances. The story begins with the two cousins just doing what normal teenagers do, hanging out and trying to stay out of trouble. They soon discover a dead body in the woods and then everything seems to start spiraling out of control.

Family secrets are revealed, and more dead bodies are found. You will not want to put this book down until you have read the very last page. It brings everything together-family bonding, first love, and terrible secrets.

Who would like this: Anyone who enjoys books with a lot of characters and different stories.

If you like this, try this: Books by Mary Higgins Clark. She always has a bunch of characters but they’re easy to keep straight.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

If you’d like to put a hold on this book and/or see if it’s available, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog!

My Mother Was Nuts

my mother was nuts

Title: My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir

Author: Penny Marshall

Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2012

Summary/Review: Penny Marshall reminisces about growing up in the Bronx, where she spent most of her time in her mother’s dance studio. She talks about her accidental introduction into acting and her later transition into directing. Her brother Garry may have initially opened the door for her, but Penny’s dedication and talent secured her place in Hollywood. Best known for her role on Laverne & Shirley and as director of Big and A League of Their Own, Penny gets up close and personal on her first marriage and entrance into motherhood, her second marriage to Rob Reiner, and relationship with Art Garfunkel (who knew?!). Surrounded by famous friends (Carrie Fisher and John Belushi–to name a few), Penny offers up many private and often humorous moments.

I loved that the audio book was performed by Penny Marshall, however, I wish she did less “reading her book” and more “telling her story”.

Who will like this book: : In addition to Laverne & Shirley fans, anyone with an interest in Hollywood stars or the seventies/eighties would enjoy this book.

If you like this, try this: My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall or Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

To see if this book is available, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog.  We have it available in both audio and print!

Aviator’s Wife

aviator's wife

Title: The Aviator’s Wife

Author: Melanie Benjamin

Publisher: Delacorte Press, January 2013

Summary/Review: This book tells the story of Anne Morrow from time she meets Charles Lindbergh through his death. Although she is the plainest and humblest of Ambassador Morrow’s daughters, Anne is the one who is swept off her feet by the dashing, great aviator. Their adventures and eventual marriage make for a compelling story. The book is aptly named because in many ways Anne gave up her own identity through her devotion to her famous husband. The tragedy of losing their first child and its effect on each of them is a key element. There are other hardships that Anne is forced to deal with including dealing with Charles’ odd behaviors and his constant absence, leaving her to raise her children virtually alone. Through it all, she maintains her pride and strength as she develops her own sense of self. One never knows what really goes on in a marriage, but this well researched fictionalized account will keep you turning the pages.

Who will like this book: Readers who like historical fiction or anyone looking for a good read. If you liked Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, you will enjoy this book.

Recommended by: Jan, Administration

Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available and to place a hold!

Harold Fry

harold fry

Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Review/Summary: Harold Frye, recently retired, lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. They have settled into a mundane existence. Then one morning he receives a letter from an old friend who is dying. When he composes a reply letter and goes to post it, he becomes convinced that he must hand deliver it. Thus, begins his quest as he takes off in his tennis shoes to walk 600 miles, because he believes Queenie will live, as long as he walks. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another. Memories flood him of his wedding day, fatherhood and regrets and losses. Maureen reminisces too and finds herself missing him. This funny, poignant, charming story about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey will move and inspire you.There also mysteries that will be solved about his friend and son. Fans of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand will embrace another hero in Harold Frye.

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Librarian

Who will like this? Someone who recognizes that sometimes heroes come from the most unlikely of places.  Anyone looking for a story about second – or maybe even last – chances.

If you like this, try this: “The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson is also about last chances, and what we do with them.  You may also enjoy “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson.

This is playwright Rachel Joyce’s first novel, but was named as an Amazon “top book of the month”, so be on the lookout for more from her!

If you would like to see if this book is available, please visit our Fairfield Public Library catalog [Link will open in a new window]

Light Between Oceans

light between oceans

Title: Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman

Publisher: Scribner, July 2012

Summary/Review: After surviving four years of war on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a position as lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Although the island is completely isolated, a half-day’s journey from the coast, Tom begins to find peace after years at war. On his first shore leave he meets Isabel, a bold young woman full of life and joy. As the two fall in love and she agrees to marry him they both envision a life of beauty and adventure in the lighthouse. Years later, after the hardship of living in isolation and after repeated miscarriages and a still birth Isabel is no longer the joyful woman Tom married. Then one day a boat washes to shore carrying a dead man and a living baby, and Tom and Isabel make a decision that will carry repercussions for years to come. In their years of isolation and hardship they’ve lost sight of the lives they effect on the mainland.

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The story is rich with emotions and you will feel yourself getting pulled in to their story. Would you make the same decisions? And once made would you stick to them no matter what? Tom is torn between what he knows is right and wanting to make Isabel happy after her years of heartbreak. Most stories have a clear picture of right and wrong and the characters you are pulling for. Although there is heartbreak in this story the resolution is honest and real.

Who will like this book? Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is just looking for the best book written this year.

 If you like this, try this: If you were pulled in by the intense plot, “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey deals with a couple facing a very similar issue. If you were more drawn to the writing, this is M.L. Stedman’s debut but keep an eye out for more from her in the future!

Recommended by: Linda, Circulation Assistant

If this looks like a book you would like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available or place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

Schroder

schroder

Title: Schroder

Author: By Amity Gaige

Publisher: Grand Central, 2013

Summary/Review: Erik Schroder is writing a letter to his estranged wife. It is an apology and an explanation as to why he felt compelled to kidnap their daughter. Writing from the correctional facility from which he awaits trial, Erik recounts his life and the choices he’s made that have brought him to this point.

Soon after fleeing East Germany with his father, a young Erik made his first mistake, the ramifications of which were not fully realized until several years later. This lie, his invention of a new name and life history on a summer camp application seemed harmless enough at the time. Out of desperation to leave his German roots and Boston home behind him, Erik Schroder becomes Eric Kennedy. It is as Eric Kennedy, not Erik Schroder that he attends summer camp, goes off to college, falls in love and gets married. It is as Eric Kennedy that he kidnaps his daughter, but it is as Erik Schroder that he now sits in jail.

This is a moving and thought provoking novel that will demand discussion, making it a great choice for book groups. The moral and ethical issues that arise, as well as who may be Erik’s most sympathetic victim, are all fodder for a lively conversation.

Who will like this?: Someone who’s looking for a book that will cause a lively discussion.

If you like this, try this: “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock touches on this subject, though in a very dark way. “Room” by Emma Donoghue shows an alternative viewpoint, of the kidnapped rather than the one kidnapping.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available, or to place a hold on it! [Link will open in a new window]

Defending Jacob

[Cover]

Title: Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay

Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2012

Summary/Review: Andy Barber has been a well-respected assistant district attorney in Massachusetts for many years until his 14-year-old son Jacob is accused of killing former classmate Ben Rifkin. As the community presumes Jacob’s guilt before the trial starts, Andy and his wife, Laurie, struggle internally and externally to maintain their son’s innocence. Even after evidence points toward his son, Andy sticks to his belief that the neighborhood pedophile is responsible for this murder.

As the story unfolds, it brings up many questions, such as how well do parents know their own child, how far would they go to protect him, what role do genes and family history play in influencing an individual’s destiny, and do childhood actions indicate future behavior?

Defending Jacob is a compelling novel with a shocking ending. Once you start it, you can’t put it down.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is interested in crime dramas but who is more interested in the psychology of crimes and the criminal mind.  Someone who is interested in
family bonds and how far someone will go to protect them.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re interested in novels about the criminal mind, try “Hannibal” or “Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris, which both focus on the question of mental insanity.  If you would like a newer novel that focuses on criminal minds, try any Chelsea Cain book.

If you are more interested in the suspense/thriller aspect, try Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” or the popular Stieg Larsson novels.  Michael Connelly and John Grisham are also well-known for their legal thrillers.

If you’re interested in this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check availability and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

Finally, this isn’t William Landay’s first book- his historical novel is focused on the Boston Strangler, entitled “the Strangler”, and he also writes other fiction such as “Mission Flats”.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Assistant

Age of Miracles

[Cover]

Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Publisher: Random House, 2012

Summary/Review: Julia is only eleven years old when the earth’s rotation begins to slow. “The Slowing” as it comes to be called, adds minutes to the days and nights. Scientists have no idea why it is happening or when it will end. Though fear creeps into the lives of people around the world, most adopt a “wait and see” attitude and try to adjust.

As the days grow from 24 to 26 to 30 hours long and longer, the slowing starts to take its toll. Gravity and the earth’s magnetic field are altered, wreaking havoc on wildlife and the food supply. Birds can no longer fly, ocean mammals can no longer navigate, and vegetation can no longer survive the long hot days and the long cold nights. People begin to suffer from gravity sickness and radiation poisoning and still the earth continues to slow. The title of this novel refers to the middle school years when bodies are changing and the adult you will become starts to emerge. For Julia, this “age of miracles”, with its typical dramas and hardships, comes with the additional stress of an uncertain future. Relationships are dissolving and people are taking more risks and making questionable decisions. It’s clear that life will never again be the same.

Though this may seem like a science fiction novel, the emphasis is clearly on the effect that the threat of extinction has on human relationships. Some relationships will become stronger and others will wither and die under the pressure of a crumbling future. “The Age of Miracles” is a wonderful debut novel; more than just a coming-of-age story but a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Who will like this? Adults and teens looking for a moving story with unforgettable characters.

If you like this, try this: If you like the theme of nature-driven dystopias, try “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy or “After the Snow” by S.D. Crockett. For dystopias in general, try the wildly popular “The Hunger Games” series (Suzanne Collins), “Never Let You go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, or “Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. For younger ones, “the Giver” is an excellent place to start.

If you’re more attracted to the teenage drama, try “Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, or “Catcher in the Rye”, J.D. Salinger’s classic.If you like the author’s voice, keep an eye out for more books coming soon, since this is Karen Thompson Walker’s debut.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

To check if this book is available and/or to place a hold, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog [link will open in a new window]

When We Were the Kennedys

[Cover]

Title: When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico Maine

Author: Monica Wood

Publish: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

Summary/Review: When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico Maine by Monica Woods is an endearing memoir told from the voice of a nine year old girl. It is 1963 and the family patriarch is felled by a heart attack on his way to work at the local paper mill. Left behind are a mother and her five children including a daughter with special needs.

The author writes beautifully of the bonds between families, neighbors and co-workers. Her Uncle Bob, a Catholic priest and her Mom’s youngest brother, does his best to be the man of the family even when he is so devastated by their loss. In this memoir you are transported back to the early 1960’s and what is was like to grow up during this time like reading Nancy Drew, and riding your bike all over town, and making up games with neighborhood friends. It is also the story of a mill town and what happens when there are union issues and when the plants are sold to outside entities that have no ties to the town.

Woods is a fiction writer so the book flows like a novel. Although the author writes from a nine year old perspective it is not saccharine and sweet; rather the narrative is reminiscent of a more innocent time. The title of the book is somewhat misleading since the reference to the Kennedy’s is that Jackie and her children lost their father and husband in the same year that this family suffers their devastating loss. This book is written with humor and love and is a touching story of healing and families.

Who will like this? Memoir readers, people who grew up in the 1960’s, people who appreciate good writing.

If you like this, try this: ”Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood” by Alexander Fuller, “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer,” The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls.

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services Assistant

Does this look like a book you would like to try?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold [link will open in a new window]