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.
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