Posted by Merry Mao on 22nd October 2010
Title: Let’s Take the Long Way Home
Author: Gail Caldwell
Publisher: Random House, 2010
“It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.” So begins Gail Caldwell’s devastatingly beautiful memoir about her soul-deep friendship with writer Caroline Knapp, who died from lung cancer at the age of 42. It is a true privilege to bear witness to the relationship that develops between these two women. It’s seems as though they were twins, separated at birth, twins whose lives had unknowingly taken eerily similar paths – successful writing careers, alcoholism, canine companions, a love of watersports – only to be reunited in a friendship that completes them both.
At the heart of their friendship are the dogs, Lucille and Clementine – it’s during hours-long walks through the woods with them that Gail and Caroline begin and build their relationship. It’s not hard to believe, then, that Caroline’s spirit is summoned when the woods become a dark place during a particularly terrifying event for Gail and Clementine, coming to their aid.
Whenever we open our hearts to love, we know that we’re also making ourselves vulnerable to the pain of loss. The story of this “pack of four” is an elegant reminder of why we take the plunge again and again.
If you like this try: “Drinking: A Love Story” and “Pack of Two” by Caroline Knapp
Tags: 2010 Releases, Cancer, Dogs, Friendship, Outdoors, Women
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | 1 Comment »
Posted by Merry Mao on 26th July 2010
Title: The Last Time I Saw You
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, April 2010
Summary: Do you remember those dreaded high school reunions? You know, trying to lose weight, getting your hair done, wondering if you should drag your spouse along. Elizabeth Berg’s new book is about that and more. She touches on several groups of people who will be attending their 40th high school reunion. The in-crowd, the out-crowd and all of the silly high school crushes. Several of the characters, who might never have gotten together in high school, suddenly find themselves enjoying each others’ company. If you’re moving into that boomer category, you will enjoy this trip back to those sweet, and sometimes not, ole days of high school.
Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian
Tags: 2010 Releases, Friendship, High School, Ohio, Reunion
Posted in Chick Lit, Fiction, Popular | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 13th May 2010
Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, January 2010
Summary: Twelve year old CeeCee Honeycut is struggling to find normalcy in her chaotic life. Her mother is suffering from a mental illness and her father stays away from home as much as possible. Ceecee is left alone to care for her mother, confiding in her only friend, Mrs. Odell. When a tragic event turns CeeCee’s world upside down, it’s her Great Aunt Tootie to the rescue. Tootie brings CeeCee down to her home in beautiful Savannah where CeeCee learns about her mother’s childhood and what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. This is a delightful debut novel that brings to life the beauty of the south and the strength of a family’s love.
Who will like this book? Fans of women’s fiction and anyone who liked The Secret Life of Bees should try this.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Tags: 2010 Releases, Coming of Age, Family, Friendship, Georgia, Mental Illness, Ohio
Posted in Chick Lit, Popular | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 5th June 2009
Title: The Girls from Ames: A story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship
Author: Jeffrey Zaslow
Publisher: Gotham, April 2009
Summary: How does a group of ten women manage to stay friends for 40 years? With a lot of hard work! After reading their story, it is one of the things that I found I admired most about these women – their conscious decision to keep the group together no matter what life throws at them, and believe me, it’s thrown plenty. They admit that they are more in touch with each other now than they have been over the years thanks to email. But even before that, through annual reunions and a determined effort to be present at each other’s milestone events whenever possible, all of them do their best to stay a part of the group because it is that important to them.
Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist from The Wall Street Journal, spent 4 days with them during one of their recent reunions. Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny, Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, and Diana all share stories about what it was like to grow up in Ames, Iowa in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and what it was like to be a member of this tight circle. The circle is not completely intact because, sadly, the eleventh member of the group, Sheila, died when she was in her early twenties. But she’s definitely with them in spirit; the group has created a scholarship to Ames High in her memory. We learn about her death and what it did to the girls individually and as a whole. There are many sad stories to be shared, but also stories of great joy. When anything of any importance happens in one of their lives, they go to each other first to share the experience, whether painful or joyful. It was fascinating to read how they support each other.
Although I can’t help but wonder how the writing of the book would have fared in the hands of a writer with a less “reporter-like” voice, I believe the story of these women carries the book along and makes it a very worthwhile read.
Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference
Tags: 2009 Releases, Friendship, Iowa
Posted in Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 30th September 2008
Title: After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival
Author: Robin Gaby Fisher
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, August 2008
Summary: On January 19, 2000, a fire set in a freshman dormitory at Seton Hall University killed 3 students and injured 58. After the Fire is the true story of the two most severely injured survivors. Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos were roommates, housed just yards away from the student lounge where the fire had been set. The author describes, in heartbreaking detail, their struggle to escape the building and then survive their horrible injuries.
I’m not going to lie. This is a very emotional story. The details about the methods used to treat burn victims are a necessary part of this story. Rather than repel you, they will probably bring you to tears. You will be amazed by these two young men and the St. Barnabas medical staff that perform miracles every day. Though the fire and the months immediately after it are a big part of this book, the deep bond that develops between Shawn and Alvaro is the author’s main focus. Their friendship and support of each other is enviable. We should all have friends like this.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Tags: Friendship, New Jersey
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 12th December 2007
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
Tags: Coming of Age, Friendship
Posted in Chick Lit, Popular | 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 »