Monthly Archives: July 2011

All About Secrets

A recent read was “A Secret Kept” by Tatiana de Rosnay (author of Sarah’s Key – now in theaters).  I’d read “Sarah’s Key” last year and found the story compelling and engrossing.  “A Secret Kept” was not quite at the same level but still a very good read.

The story begins when Antoine surprises his sister, Melanie, with a trip to Noirmoutier for her fortieth birthday.  Noirmoutier is an island in France where the family had vacationed each summer up until 1973.  The mother died shortly after that last trip.  She disappeared from her children’s lives after her death because she was never spoken of by any of the family and all her pictures disappeared.  The mystery is why this was so.

During the weekend trip Melanie’s memory is triggered and she is troubled by her memories.  As she is about to tell Antoine what she remembered on the way home she loses control of the car and they are in a violent wreck.

Antoine becomes gripped with discovering what really happened that last summer spent at Noirmoutier, who his mother really was and what happened the day she died.  The secrets that the family had kept for far too long need to be revealed.

Tempest in Boston

In the novel, “Faith”, Jennifer Haigh tackles the abuse scandal in the Catholic church.  The story begins  in Boston during the implosion of the archdiocese as a result of numerous allegations against many priests throughout the city.  The focus is on the Irish Catholic McGann family. 

Art, the oldest child, now in his 50’s is a beloved pastor of a large and active parish when he is suddenly accused of misconduct.  Haigh keeps the suspense going by not revealing what the charges are.

Sheila, the sister, has remained close to Art through the years, although she is estranged from the rest of the family.  She joins her brother during his ordeal but is disturbed by his dodging of the questions she asks.

Mike is the other brother.  He is married with boys of his own and is shocked and appalled by the allegations and distances himself from Art.

There are many questions and have been for many years.  Uncovered will be a history of silence and repression and misdeeds that went unpunished.

It’s a gripping novel and not at all what you think it will be.   I definitely recommend it.

Take a Road Trip with "The Borrower"

“The Borrower”, by Rebecca Makkar, is a fun read.  It tells the tale of Lucy, a children’s librarian, in a small city in the mid-west.  She’s somewhat adrift after graduating college and takes the library position rather than rely on her successful parents’ contacts.

At the library she meets Ian, who is a voracious reader and advanced for his age.  He is constantly sneaking out books that his mother disapproves of.  The more is an evangelical christian, afraid to expose her son to anything but the church’s doctrine. 

She is concerned her son is gay and enrolls her son in anti-gay classes that will remove any gayness from him.

Ian rebels and that is when Lucy’s and Ian’s  journey from Missouri to Vermont begins.  Their experiences along the way and the decisions they make lead the reader on an adventure. 

Two thumbs up from this reader!

Coming of Age

For anyone who grew up in the 70’s, JoAnn Beard’s “In Zanesville” will resonate.  It’s a coming of age story about a 14 year old girl who is a late bloomer and firmly ensconced in the role of side-kick.

The story takes place over the course of a year in a small mid-western city.  There’s the clique of popular girls, a new interest in the opposite sex and all the changes that happen as new experiences unfold.  Moving from the cusp of girlhood into womanhood.

A great read!

A Batch of Bios

Normally I prefer to read fiction, but recently I’ve read some really great biographies.  They were fascinating and rich with detail.  All of them page-turners for the most part.

The first one was “The Maybelline Story”, by Sharrie Williams.  It detailed the history of the Maybelline dynasty from it’s beginnings in 1911 up until the current day.  The family members are all very much characters and the story reads like a soap opera.  It even had a bit of mystery to it.  Definitely two thumbs up from this reader.

Not too long after that the next bio was “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.  This is the story of how one woman’s cancerous cell biopsy lead to the first cell cultures being grown.  From there they go around the world and are involved in an incredible number of discoveries and developments in the fields of science and medicine.  It also details the lives of her children and how they felt when they discovered what had been taken from their mother and how it had been used.  Again, it was written to keep you turning those pages.  Excellent read!

The last one was “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.  This was my favorite.  It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who goes on to serve in the air force during World War II.  He is shot down over the Pacific and survives for 47 days on a life raft only to be ‘rescued’ by the Japanese.  The account of his time as a POW is amazing.  Laura’s handling of the story is vivid and compelling.  I highly recommend this read to one and all.