Tag Archives: Family

Defending Jacob

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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

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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

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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]

Room

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Title: Room

Author:  Emma Donoghue

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, September 2010

Summary:  This is a raw, astonishing story of a boy and his mother who live as prisoners in a single, small room. It may be a reminder of headline grabbing kidnapping cases, but as narrated by the child, it is a testament to a mother’s love and resiliency. Sometimes very disturbing, the horror is darkly beautiful as Ma creates a life for her son. Jack’s innocence and curiosity builds as Ma’s desperation forces them both to confront a certain reality. Very inventive and poignant, Jack is so endearing, that his voice will stay with you for a long time.

Recommended by : Cindy B., Children’s Department

Red Hook Road

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TitleRed Hook Road

Author:  Ayelet Waldman

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing, July 2010

Summary:  A young couple is killed on the way to their wedding reception in coastal Maine. Red Hook Road takes the reader on a journey with the surviving members of their families over four summers.  Iris and Daniel Copaken are the parents of the bride and they are native New Yorkers who summer in Maine; they are “from away”.  Jane Hewins, the groom’s mother, is their cleaning lady who was never happy with the union of the young couple. Emil Kimmelbrand, Iris’ father, is a famous violinist who discovers that Jane’s adopted Cambodian niece is a musical prodigy.  There are many layers to this novel but rather than being complicated and confusing Waldman manages to build each story gradually and thoroughly.  The relationships between husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, mother and son, brothers and sisters are all so believable that you can relate to their tensions, their frustrations, their joy and their pain.

Waldman is a skilled writer whose descriptions of Maine and its inhabitants are so real that she had this reader yearning to visit this fictional place.  Although a story of loss and grief it is also a story of possibilities and hope. This book is a quick read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Whi will like this book? Readers of Jodi Picoult, Chris Bohjalian, and Anna Quindlen.

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services Department

Swift as Desire

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Title: Swift as Desire

Author:  Laura Esquivel

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, August 2002

Summary: Swift as Desire focuses on Lluvia, a middle aged mother desperately trying to replay her entire life in order to understand her parents’ mutual anger for one another. Júbilo, her father, was born with an unmatched ability to communicate and understand through feeling rather than words, but is now confined to a bed and unable to speak due to Parkinson’s. Lluvia’s mother Lucha was a privileged beauty who gave up everything in order to marry Júbilo, but has now become cold and calculating. The story finds Lluvia desperate to understand her parents’ past and reconcile them before her father’s imminent death.

The story skips around in time, leaving the reader on edge throughout the entire book. The characters develop smoothly, and leave a deep impression. Nothing is as it seems with the family, which makes an unforgettable read. If readers are looking for another Like Water for Chocolate, they won’t find it here. Instead, they will find a brutally honest look into the closed doors of a marital relationship and a couple falling apart.

Who will like this book? Readers who are looking for a relatively short but still very engaging story. Those who are prepared to love and hate each and every character, sometimes at the same time, but still hope for a happy ending

If you liked this, try this: Like Water for Chocolate also by Esquivel

Recommended by: LB, Circulation Assistant

The Lonely Polygamist

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Title: The Lonely Polygamist

Author: Brady Udall

Publisher: W.W. Norton, May 2010

Summary: Golden Richards is in a bit of a pickle. With four wives, 28 children and a failing construction business, he doesn’t see how he can lead his struggling brood through the next few months, let alone into the glory of eternal life. Heartbroken over the loss of a beloved daughter, he finds himself drifting further away from the responsibilities of life at home, staying at his distant job site for longer and longer stretches of time. Each day seems to bring a new challenge that  tests Golden’s faith – the only work he can find is building a brothel in the Nevada desert and the unexpected temptation he finds there is surprising. Devastated and desolate, Golden teeters on the edge of the abyss, all the while knowing that if he fails he will drag his immense family with him.

Set in the 1980s, this funny, heart-wrenching story, told in the voices of Golden, questioning newest wife Trish, rambunctious young son Rusty (a boy nicknamed ‘The Family Terrorist’) and the Richards’ house itself will  delight the fans of Udall’s first book The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. It is a surprising, beautifully written story about reconciliation with your hopes, dreams, family, and place in the wider world.

Who will like this book?: This is a great book for all fans of family fiction, and serious literary readers. Anyone looking  for a long, engrossing book to savor this summer.

If you like this, try this: Udall’s debut, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Nobodies Album

Title: The Nobodies Album

Author:  Carolyn Parkhurst

Publisher: Knopf, June 2010

 Summary: Writer Octavia Frost and her son Milo had a game they used to play together when he was a young boy.  He’d ask “have you ever heard the Beatles version of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” And she’d say, no, I didn’t know they’d ever recorded that.  He’d respond “they didn’t, it’s on The Nobodies Album.”  So “The Nobodies Album” is an album made up of songs that don’t exist.  It also happens to be the working title of Octavia’s yet-to-be published book, which is made up entirely of the last chapters of all her previous novels, completely rewritten with the purpose of taking her characters in the exact opposite direction she’d originally taken them – a book made up of endings that don’t exist.

It seems that Octavia is a woman who’s trying to bring many things into existence, and trying to change lots of original endings. Octavia’s relationship with her son and her career as a writer are at the top of the list, and the two are woven together brilliantly in this novel.  It is when Octavia’s on her way to deliver the manuscript of “The Nobodies Album” to her publisher that she sees her son’s name displayed in the news crawl in Times Square – Milo, a successful musician, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.  This is the beginning of her journey back to Milo – they haven’t spoken in four years.  And it’s also the beginning of the reader’s journey through Octavia’s fiction.  The novel is interspersed with the last chapters of her previous books, both the original and the revised endings.  The family drama, the short story and the classic mystery all come together in Parkhurst’s incredibly creative, inventive and unforgettable book.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

The Tale of Halcyon Crane

TitleThe Tale of Halcyon Crane

Author:  Wendy Webb

Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.,  March 2010

Summary: Hallie James has lived her life believing that her mother Madlyn was killed in a fire when Hallie was a small child. Now 35 years old, Hallie is dealing with her divorce and her father’s terminal illness. When she receives an envelope in the mail, she is shocked to find it contains a letter from her mother. As it turns out, Madlyn has lived the last 30 years believing that Hallie and her father were killed in a kayaking accident on the lake. The letter from Madlyn is accompanied by a letter from her attorney breaking the news that Madlyn has recently passed away. In order to find out why her father went to such lengths to keep her from her mother, Hallie travels to her mother’s home on Grand Manitou, a remote island in the Great Lakes. It isn’t long before Hallie realizes that something supernatural inhabits the mansion and grounds which she has just inherited.

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is an unnerving ghost story that’s setting on a secluded island makes it even creepier.

Who will like this book? Ghost story aficionados.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Last Night in Montreal

TitleLast Night in Montreal

Author:  Emily St. John Mandel

Publisher: Unbridled Books, April 2010

Summary: When Lilia’s father abducts her in the middle of the night, the 7 year old willingly goes with him. Some might say she was rescued, not kidnapped. From that night on, Lilia and her father move across the United States, never staying in one place for more than a few months. Now, as an adult, Lilia doesn’t know how to stay anywhere for very long. She has become quite adept at leaving people behind, and most people have easily let her go. That is, until Eli. Eli’s life seemed so much better with Lilia in it that he cannot bear to think of his life without her.

This is a story of obsession and the effect it has on everyone involved. From Lilia who is obsessed with moving on, to Eli who travels to another country to find her. From Christopher, the detective hired years ago to find Lilia, to Michaela, his daughter who he abandoned in his effort to find the missing girl. Michaela is the greatest victim here. Her wounds are so deep and her pain so obvious, it is heartbreaking to know that it was all caused by her father’s obsession to search for someone who did not want or need to be found.

Who will like this book? Anyone.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator