Posted by Merry Mao on 14th December 2010
Title: West of Here
Author: Jonathan Evison
Publisher: Algonquin, February 2011
Summary: In his newest novel, West of Here, Jonathan Evison blends past and present to create a mythical story filled with love, adventure and family dysfunction. Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington, the novel alternates between the late 1880’s when the town is striving to become a destination in the west to rival Seattle, and 2006, as Port Bonita readies itself to shed its past and move on to an uncertain future.
Evison has populated both eras with wonderfully developed characters. In the 1880’s, James Mather is an adventurer seeking to conquer the rest of the Washington Territory on the eve of its statehood. Ethan Thornburgh is a businessman determined to harness the power of the Elwha River by building a dam to bring electricity, people, and prestige to Port Bonita. The Klallam Indians have seen their traditions vanish and are struggling to co-exist with the settlers. In 2006 the descendants of these settlers are still contending with the consequences of decisions made by their forefathers. As Port Bonita makes plans to tear down the dam, the town must begin to reinvent itself. It is the perfect time for some of its residents to do the same.
I have to admit that it took a few chapters to draw me into this story. Looking back, I have no idea why because once I was in, I loved it. There is a great sense of place in this novel; I was transported back more than 100 years by Evison’s rich detail of the culture and geography of the Northern Pacific. The characters are larger than life while remaining true to life. My personal favorite is Dave Krigstadt who, in 2006, is employed by the High Tide salmon processing plant. Struggling with garnering respect or even consideration from those around him, Krig may be the one to finally break free of his family’s legacy of indifference from others.
Who will like this book? Anyone who enjoys historical fiction and adventure stories.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Tags: 2011 Releases, Adventure, Family, Washington
Posted in Fiction, Historical | No Comments »
Posted by Book Mavens on 7th December 2010
The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America’s Deadliest Avalanche
Author: Gary Krist
Publisher: Henry Holt, 2008
Summary: It never occurred to me to read this fascinating book until I met the author. In 1910, in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, two Great Northern Railway trains, one carrying mail and one carrying passengers, became trapped in a blizzard never before seen in these mountains. Parked precariously between a mountainside and a steep ravine and under constant threat of avalanches, the terrified passengers watched as 30 feet of snow fell burying the trains in drifts. Despite desperate attempts to clear the tracks of snow slides, no help arrived in time. After nearly a week, on March 1 at 1am, while most passengers and railroad employees slept, an avalanche swept nearly 100 of them to their deaths. Gary Krist, a historian, meticulously researched the tragedy through telegrams, journals, letters, and court records. He intersperses the personal stories with details of snow clearing capabilities in those days and railroad history. Even though, we know the outcome from the beginning, the personal stories and the monumental attempts at rescue held my interest throughout.
If you like this, try this: Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
Recommended by: Paula, Reference Librarian
Tags: 2008 Releases, Avalanche, Cascades, Natural Disasters, Railroad, Survival, Washington
Posted in Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 11th June 2008
Title: The Other
Author: David Guterson
Summary: David Guterson, the author of the PEN/Faulkner-winning Snow Falling on Cedars, has written an exquisite story about a transcendent friendship between two very different men. John William Barry and Neil Countryman cross paths at a high school track event, and that chance meeting connects them for the rest of their lives. While Neil comes from a modest background and leads a modest life, John William is a child of privilege and wealth. Together the two share their love of hiking and the outdoors – we are treated to some beautifully written passages describing the wilds of the Pacific Northwest – and share a bond, a literal blood oath, that is unbreakable, even as their lives continue in seemingly opposite directions. Neil becomes a teacher, marries and has a family, but John William retreats from society, moving permanently into a cave deep in the woods. Neil is the only one who knows where he is, and keeps this secret even though it weighs heavily on him. John William rewards him for this ultimate act of friendship him in an unfathomable way.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘other’ as “being the one left.” It may seem as though John William is the other in this relationship simply by his act of becoming a hermit. But Neil is also an ‘other,’ the half that stays behind, lives the conventional life, and yet is haunted by the same question that John William struggles with – what is it that really matters in life. It appears as though they are each living the opposite answers to that question. In doing so, they complete each other.
Who will like this book? Anyone who enjoyed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
If you like this try: East of the Mountains by David Guterson
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian
Tags: Friendship, Hermits, Seattle, Washington, Wilderness
Posted in Fiction, Literary | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 10th December 2007
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
Tags: Disabilities, Family, Friendship, Lottery, Washington
Posted in Popular | No Comments »