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
Title: Intimacy After Breast Cancer: Dealing with Your Body, Relationships and Sex
Author: Gina M. Maisano
Publisher: Square One Publishers, May 2010
Summary: This book is misnamed – more appropriately it is about LIFE after breast cancer. You finish all your surgeries and treatments and then the doctors leave you alone – very alone. Ms Maisano is a two-time breast cancer survivor who is wonderfully upbeat about telling other survivors to LIVE their lives, not to remain in “cancerland”. She offers tips on lymphedema, skin care, dealing with side effects of various medications, adjusting to the physical new ‘you’, and how to prepare yourself physically and emotionally for intimacy.
Recommended by: Lauren, Reference Dept.
Title: The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride
Author: Daniel James Brown
Publisher: William Morrow, April 2009
Summary: Upon hearing the words “Donner Party,” it’s likely that most people remember the most sordid and sensational details of this tragedy. This new account of the Donner party tries to bring the reader past the taboo subject of cannibalism that has been associated with this ill-fated journey for so long. Yes, the facts remain the same, but our interpretation and understanding will be changed by reading this book. The author has gone to great lengths to shine a new light on the emigrants and their reasons for making certain decisions. He focuses his attention on one member of the party, Sarah Graves Fosdick, recently married and traveling with her family and new husband.
Using our current knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of trauma, Daniel Brown has set out to answer many of the questions surrounding the Donner Party tragedy. For example, why did the single men in the group fare so much worse than people traveling with their families? Why did the emigrants suffer the effects of starvation so quickly? In our recent past we have seen protesters on hunger strikes that lasted weeks longer without food than did Sarah and her companions. What psychological effects did the survivors suffer as a result of being on the brink of death for so long? Brown helps us to understand why certain choices were made and the impact these choices had on everyone involved. Imagine being on a camping trip without a tent, lantern, flashlight, stove, bug repellent, sleeping bag, toiletries, or any other amenity. Imagine you cannot bathe, brush your teeth, or wash you clothes and bedding for several months. Now imagine you are surrounded by mountains and several feet of snow and are surviving on leather shoe straps and boiled bones as your only source of food. It’s unfathomable to me. It’s no surprise to find that the Donner party’s fate was sealed by a man so greedy he was willing to divert these poor people from their original trail to Oregon to an uncharted (unbeknownst to them) path across a treacherous mountain range to his fledgling town in California. This is not a dry historical account but a moving and informative tale about brave Americans and their search for a better life.
Who will like this book?: Readers who like American history and adventure stories.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: The Survivor’s Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life
Author: Ben Sherwood
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, January 2009
Summary: Ben Sherwood, a fiction author (The Man Who Ate the 747) hits a home run with this piece of general non-fiction. He asks a very simple, engrossing question: Who survives when the unthinkable occurs? When you fall off a cruise ship in shark infested waters or your plane crashes and goes on fire? When a jar of acid is dropped on your head or a knitting needle gets lodged in your heart? When a mountain lion attacks or you contract a flesh-eating virus? Why do some people survive (and thrive) when most others would succumb?
Sherwood spends equal time discussing the science of these scenarios with experts and talking with the unforgettable survivors themselves. It is a fast-paced read suitable for everybody, and is a book you will likely want to own. Or at least, take notes on!
Who will like this book?: It’s hard to think of who wouldn’t like this book – but it is especially good for fans of survival stories and people who like to be really, really prepared for everything.
If you like this, try this: Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison. Brain Rules by John Medina.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Title: A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean
Author: Tori Murden McClure
Publisher: Harper Collins, April 2009
Summary: Sometimes when you start a book by a new author it is important to give the story a chance to win you over. This is one of those books. I picked up this book because I had done some rowing in a former life. I also am fascinated by the idea of people doing extraordinary physical things that most armchair “explorers” can only dream of.
And true to form there are plenty of exciting moments where the reader holds their breath and cheers Tori on through some horrible storms including a hurricane. However, the most appealing quality of this book is the realistic way Tori reveals her story while she reflects upon the pivotal moments and people of her life as she rows across the Atlantic Ocean. Each life is unique and Tori’s tale does not disappoint. Her physical prowess is impressive to be sure however her humanity is even more so. She invites the reader to share her zig-zag road to contentment, or maybe even happiness.
Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys an adventure, a tale of extreme physical challenge or perhaps someone who is at a crossroads in their life.
If you like this, try this: Books by Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux.
Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian
Title: Hold My Hand
Author: Serena Mackesy
Publisher: Constable, October 2008
Summary: All Bridget wants is a safe place to raise her daughter Yasmin. The flat they share in London has become a prison instead of a home. Though Bridget has divorced her abusive husband and the court has ordered Kieran to stay away, he continues to stalk the two vowing to make Bridget pay for leaving him. Bridget struggles to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table as fear and desperation set in. The hope for a new and better life for Bridget and Yasmin comes in the form of a job offer. Bridget is offered the job of housekeeper at Rospetroc, a manor house in a part of the country where no one will know them- where they will be safe. Rospetroc, however, has it’s own secrets and it’s own brutal history. The villagers have their suspicions as to why there is such a high turnover rate for housekeepers at Rospetroc. Bridget has run out of options and must stay at the manor house, even though the move now seems like a dangerous mistake.
Who will like this book? Anyone who likes ghost stories and a bit of mystery.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why
Author: Amanda Ripley
Publisher: Crown, June 2008
Summary: Ever wonder how you would react in a real emergency? You will keep asking that question throughout this interesting non-fiction book on surviving disasters. The author analyzes behavior in several disastrous situations to try and determine who survives – and why. The answers may surprise you.
Who will like this book?: Readers who are interested in human behavior.
If you like this, try this: Brain Rules by John Medina
Recommended by: Barb, Reference Librarian.
Title: The Kid Who Climbed Everest
Author: Bear Grylls
Summary: The author of this book, is the subject of the wildly popular Discovery Channel Series entitled “Man vs Wild.” Each week Bear is dropped off by helicopter to a horrifying part of the planet from where he must escape by using his impressive survival skills. Bear spent three years in the British Special Air Service and his latest triumph in May 2007 involved him flying a motorized paraglider over Mount Everest. I find the series really educational and thrilling and somehow satisfying as I watch from my comfortable armchair. Bear is articulate and shares his impressive knowledge of survival skills with the audience in an engaging way.
This book describes Bear’s climb of Mount Everest at the tender age of 23. (Most climbers wait until their thirties to attempt such a feat when they are fully mature in terms of attitude and physiology. ) On May 16, 1998 he became the youngest man and one of only thirty British climbers to summit. He informs the reader about the preparation for such a climb. Bear shares his challenges in funding such an adventure, his extensive training, and the requisite education about the tough environmental and climatological elements as well as the physiological needs of the human body to carry out such a feat.
After reading this book I felt I had a far better understanding of many facets of attempting and succeeding at such a climb. This information did not take away from the mounting excitement as Bear prepares for the ultimate climb. He shares his fears, his awe of the mountain, and his respect for his predecessors and team mates. Altogether an exciting and informative read.
If you like this, try this: Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Outside Magazine articles about individuals who push their limits.
Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian