Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nevermore: Unknown Americans, Goldfinch, Believer, and More!

Nevermore opened with a glowing review for Cristina Henriquez’s novel, The Book of Unknown Americans.  The story centers on the Rivera family who have left a good life in Mexico to come to the United States because of their daughter’s traumatic brain injury.  Maribel needs to go to a special school, but life in America is difficult for them.  It’s also difficult for their neighbors, who hail from a variety of Latin American countries.  Our reviewer said that it’s a wonderful book that combines romance with Hispanic culture.  It’s thought provoking and compassionate.  She also said that she’ll look at mushrooms differently now, knowing how they are raised and the toll the work extracts.

Another highly recommended book was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  Our reviewer said she knows some people didn’t like the book, but she felt it gave her a new way of looking at life. Theo, the narrator, is thirteen when his mother is killed in an act of terrorism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His father has abandoned him, so he is taken in by friends.  He has one treasured possession:  a painting of a bird done by a Dutch Master.  Our reader said this book is Harry Potter and a Russian novel rolled up into one, with a dash of Virginia Woolf thrown in for good measure.

The first non-fiction title of the day was Believer:  My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod.  It too had an enthusiastic review as an insider’s look at politics.  Our reader said for her the fun was in learning the backstory to events and learning about the relationships between the various players.  She also said that Axelrod’s account was devoid of malice, and that she felt he treated everyone fairly. When asked about the title, she said it referred to his belief in the democratic process.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba is the autobiographical story of how a teenager in drought-stricken Malawi was inspired to build a windmill to generate electricity.  Kamkwamba had a long time affinity for electronics and machinery.  A library book sparked his interest in building a windmill, which he constructed out of scrap metal, wire, part of a clothesline, and other salvaged material.  Our reader said that learning about the country and its culture was quite an eye-opener: it was like stepping back in time.  He was also impressed with the ingenuity of the young man, who went on to attend Dartmouth College.  

Next up was the novel I See You by Patricia MacDonald.  It’s a psychological thriller which asks the question, “How well do you know those around you?” Hannah, Adam, and Sydney Wickes are living a quiet life until an incident brings media attention to the family. It turns out that they have been hiding from a secret in their past, a secret which now may be about to catch up with them.  Our reviewer thought the book was worth reading, and was especially interested in it because there was a sociopathic character.

Finally, there was a recommendation for Flesh and Bone, the second in the “Body Farm” mystery series by Jefferson Bass.  The books are written by Jon Jefferson, a journalist, in concert with Dr. William Bass, who taught anthropology at the University of Tennessee.  Dr. Bass has been a pioneer in the field of forensic science.  Our reader was quite taken with the book, in part because of good use of the Knoxville and Chattanooga setting. There are references to real people, such as Knoxvillian Art Bohanan who is known for his work with fingerprints.  It’s a good mystery with wonderful local color. 

The Nevermore Book Club meets every Tuesday at 11:00 am at the Bristol Public Library.  We have coffee and doughnuts courtesy of The Blackbird Bakery.  Bring a book and join in the fun!

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