Tag Archives: Family

The Kids Are All Right

Title: The Kids are All Right: A Memoir

Authors: Diana, Liz, Dan and Amanda Welch

Publisher: Harmony, September 2009

Summary: In 1983, the four Welch children lose their beloved father in a tragic car accident, and within months their still-grieving, soap opera-star mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This gripping saga is emotional, poignant and hard to put down. The family lives in upper crust Bedford, New York. Their father is an investment banker who, unknown to the rest of the family, was in deep financial debt, forcing their mother to support the family. Sadly, the mother succumbs to the illness early in the story, leaving four young children in a state of shock and confusion. This is the story of these lost souls who muddle their way through a dysfunctional childhood and tumultuous teenage years.

The memoir is told in alternate voices of the four Welch children, giving each of them the opportunity to recall their own memories. The combination of despair, hurt, hope and survival makes this memoir a captivating read. I very much look forward to hearing Liz Welch tell her personal story when she visits the Fairfield Woods Branch Library on February 17 at 7:00.

Recommended by: Laurie, Branch circulation and book club leader

Home Game

Title: Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood

Author: Michael Lewis

Publisher: W.W. Norton, May 2009

Summary: When Michael Lewis had his first child, he knew exactly how he should feel. You know, in awe of the miracle of life and forever changed and stuff.  But when these feelings were slow to materialize, he realized that many devoted dads are, for lack of a better word, faking it. He began to chronicle the events immediately following the birth of each of his three children, determined to describe the actual sensation of being a father.

These short essays, many originally posted on Salon.com, are sharp, funny, and utterly truthful. From beaming with pride as his three year-old defends her older sister by cursing out older bullies, to spending the night under-prepared to camp at ‘Fairyland’ (a kiddie amusement park,) to the feelings of utter uselessness that attend fathers during labor and delivery, Home Game is a funny and fast read just in time for Father’s Day.

Who will like this book: This is a great choice for most dads, but for new and first-time dads in particular. Lewis has a following from his excellent sports writing.

If you like this, try this: Alternadad by Neil Pollack. The forthcoming Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. The Blind Side, a football book by Lewis.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Black & White

itle: Black & White

Author: Dani Shapiro

Publisher: Knopf, April 2007

Summary:  Claire Brodeur lives an idyllic life in Maine with her husband and daughter.  She receives a frantic call from her sister informing her that their mother is very ill.  Claire resolves to return to her childhood home in New York City for one day to assess the situation. Once she returns to New York the reason why Claire abandoned her life and her mother – a famous photographer – is revealed little by little.

The tension mounts nicely throughout the book. In spite of the fact her mother is on her deathbed the story is so well crafted the reader feels real sympathy for the daughter.  In the end, as in life, the relationship is somewhat healed.   Shapiro so clearly writes from her heart that readers may be getting a glimpse of some of her life experience. Also of note: Christina Ricci Productions has optioned the book for a movie and Ricci will be playing Claire.

Who will like this book?:  Readers who don’t always expect constant action but enjoy the slow unravelling of a family secret.

If you like this, try this:  Readers who enjoyed Shapiro’s especially - Family History:  A Novel (2003).

Recommended by: Karen, Administration

The Prince of Frogtown

Title: The Prince of Frogtown

Author: Rick Bragg

Summary: This is the final volume in Rick Bragg’s Americana Saga: All Over But the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man. Bragg finishes his collection of family stories with a tale about fathers and sons inspired by his own relationship with his ten year-old stepson. Bragg has a great gift for descriptive storytelling.

Who will like this book?: All who enjoy a great memoir.

If you like this, try this: This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolfe. Liar’s Club by Mary Karr.

Recommended by: Cliff, Reference.

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

Alexander and the Wonderful, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days

Title: Alexander and the Wonderful, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days

Author: Judith Viorst

Summary: Do you remember the classic children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well, Alexander is grown up and has three children of his own, five, three and four months. Their Washington, D.C. house is undergoing renovation, so Grandma (Judith Viorst) invites them to stay for 90 days. “Don’t judge, advise, or criticize” and “accept who they are” becomes her mantra.

An empty nest home with wine velvet upholstery becomes the playpen for an active family. This is a delightful and witty quick read – only 113 pages.

Who will like this book?: Although mothers of any age would enjoy this book, it would especially ring true for grandmothers. Grandfathers might enjoy it also.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services

The Lottery

Title: The Lottery

Author: Patricia Wood

Summary: If you are looking for a sure winner, don’t buy a lottery ticket, but check out Patricia Wood’s debut novel. She draws on her own personal experiences with a dad who won the Washington State lottery and a family member who had Down’s syndrome.

Perry L. Crandall, the narrator, has an IQ of 76 but as he says, he is not retarded, just slow.  His wise-cracking grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive. When she dies, leaving him an “orphan” at 31 year-old, that family that had abandoned proceed to swindle him out of his house. Imagine what happens they learn he has won 12 million dollars…You will be charmed by Perry’s sweet and often funny personality, and root for him to outwit his thieving ‘new-found’ family.

Who will like this book? All readers from high school to 100 who love light, feel-good novels.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services