Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nevermore: Naipaul, Levison, Braithwaite, Tisdale, Kingsolver, Belksy, YA novels

 Reported by Jeanne

Nevermore opened with a review of Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul.  Willie Chandran is the son of a Brahmin who deliberately chose to marry outside of his caste—in fact, to a very lower caste woman—as a sign of political protest.  Willie finds life difficult as half-castes, and Willie leaves to try to create a new life in England.  In 1950s London, he struggles as a writer, finally marrying a woman of mixed African heritage and moving with her to her homeland.  Our reader thinks Naipaul is a writer of rare depth and has enjoyed reading several of his books.

Next up was Walking the Americas: 1800 Miles, Eight Countries, and One Incredible Journey from Mexico to Columbia by British explorer/travel writer Levison Wood, who decided to try a trek through a large part of Central America.  He experienced everything from large cities to dense jungle to migrant encampments.  Our reviewer was enthralled with the journey, saying the book was not only enlightening and informative, but “funny, tragic, sad, and amazing!”

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice usually brings to mind a fantasy story but the “magic” in this book refers to modern medicine.  Written by registered nurse Sallie Tisdale, the book takes a hard look at medicine and illness, pointing out that some of the “miracles” of modern medicine come with a high price to the patient.  The book examines several “specialty“ areas (burn units, neonatal units, etc.) and asks some thought–provoking questions.  Our reader enjoys books that explore medical issues, and she felt this was definitely of the best ones she read, even though it was published back in the 1980s.  She found the book to be touching and sensitive.

Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Unsheltered has not met with universal enjoyment in Nevermore.  This week’s reviewer was disappointed by what she felt was a lack of evolution from the characters.  They all seemed immature and never improved. 

On the other hand, My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkin Braithwaite met with a better reception.  Set in modern day Nigeria, the book features two sisters.  Korede is the elder, a practical responsible woman who works as a nurse and who is called upon to take care of younger sister Ayoola’s little indiscretions, such as her habit of killing her boyfriends.  The Nevermore member enjoyed it both for the look at Nigerian culture and the darkly comedic tone.

Yesterday’s News by Richard Belsky was described as a real page turner.  The narrator is Clare Carlson, a news executive who won a Pulitzer for her series of articles about missing schoolgirl Lucy Devlin.  The child was never found, and now fifteen years later Lucy’s mother wants Clare to follow up on a new clue.  There are secrets aplenty, and Belsky keeps the reader guessing.

Finally, several members have been dipping into YA literature.  The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard was found to be an entertaining diversion, while S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders  remains a powerful book. 

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