May Attaway, 40 year old, a university gardener, who over the years has grown more comfortable with plants than people, does just that. She goes on a hero's journey and visits one by one old friends she has not seen in years. She seeks to finds herself, and along the way undergoes a life-altering transformation.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the inclusion of descriptions and illustrations of trees. I recommend this sweet little book.
I chose The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate to read because I thoroughly enjoyed Before We Were Yours about the corruption scandal surrounding the Tennessee Home Children’s Society. The Book of Lost Friends takes us to Louisiana in 1875 during the time of reconstruction after the Civil War. It tells the story of Hannie, a freed slave, whose mother and family were taken and one by one sold as slaves. Hannie is determined to find her family. She uses the “Lost Friends” advertisements published in Southern newspapers after the Civil War to help families reunite with their loved ones. The novel alternates between 1875 and 1987. In 1987 outsider, Bendetta Silva, moves to a rural town in Louisiana to teach in an impoverished school. In a desperate attempt to motivate her students, she uncovers the town's dark secrets hidden in a run-down plantation.
Read more about this novel at the Reading Ladies Book Club. Lisa Wingate takes us back to a dark time in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane is a heartbreaker. Forgiveness, love, mental health and martial relations are all themes in this novel about two families forever bound by tragedy. Two rookie police officers, Francis and Brian, met on the the job. They share ties to Ireland. Francis, an immigrant and Brian born in the US and grew up in Ireland. Coincidentally, they both with their families move to the gentile suburb of Gillam and find themselves next-door neighbors. They have children of the same age, Brian and Anne have a son, Peter and Francis and Lena have a daughter, Kate. Their children form a strong friendship. When they are fourteen, a terrible accident happens that tears the families apart.
"And then there's Anne, living with mental illness: In a jittery and terrifying scene that weds the mundane to the mad, we enter into Anne's mind on New Year's Eve 1990, when she makes a trip to the local supermarket deli counter, takes her number, waits, and, then, with mounting rage, comes to believe that everyone else in the supermarket is in cahoots to prevent her from buying her cold cuts."
Read more in the NPR review by Maureen Corrigan, Ask Again, Yes is a Profound yet Unpretentious Family Drama.
This book shines a spotlight on mental illness and love that lives throughout adversity.
Do you want a remarkable family saga you can settle in with for some time? Deep River written by Karl Marlantes and its 724 pages will keep you captivated from the beginning to the end.
The story begins in early 1900's in Finland under Russia occupation. Members of the Koski family, brothers- Ilmari and Matti and their sister, Aino are forced to leave Finland. They head to the United States and settle in southern Washington state near the Columbia River. The brothers work in the logging industry and Aino takes on the challenge of organizing the workers to fight against the poor and dangerous conditions in the industry. Aino emerges as a strong female character based on the Finnish mythical "Kalevala" and on Marlantes' grandmother and aunts. "My grandmother didn’t actually get thrown in jail [in “Deep River” Aino is imprisoned by Finland’s Russian occupiers, then tortured and raped, then jailed again in America], but she was a communist. The Daily Worker was on the kitchen table. Most Finns brought socialism over from Finland — they came from an oppressed country."
Read more about the novel in the review from the Seattle Times, Deep River is an Epic Tale of the Wobblies and the Will to Survive.
Here I go again reading a book about an airplane crash when flying. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is an amazing book about a 12 year old boy, Eddie who is the only survivor of an airplane crash. He is now the "Miracle Boy." The story is told in chapters alternating between the time during the flight and after the devastating crash. The characters are vivid and honest. The novel grapples with the heartbreak and healing and the human spirit. I highly recommend this incredible read.
Favorite quote: The air between us is not empty space.
From NPR review written by Helen McAlpin
Dear Edward is in part a tale of survivor guilt, which is fueled by the weight of oppressive, often bizarre expectations on the miracle boy, especially from the families of victims who want him to fulfill their loved ones' dreams and plans. "Stop expecting me to have hidden powers, okay? I'm not a freaking wizard," he explodes at one point. It takes Edward years to learn to live with the aftershocks of the tragedy and absorb the liberating fact that, far from being chosen for a special purpose, his survival was just "dumb luck."
I'm an expert amateur or maybe an amateur expert.