Wonder by E.J. Palacio

Find in catalogWonder is about a boy who was homeschooled during his childhood due to numerous corrective surgeries for a rare facial deformity. The story kicks off when he starts attending middle school and centers on his and his family adjustment to school. Overall, it is about how different people deal with different people. I’m happy to hear about this book becoming a movie, since I think it is important for everyone to learn the wonder is our differences.


Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

Find in catalogCokie Roberts is able to shed light on the lives of the famous names of Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and more. We’ve all heard little stories about these Founding Mothers, such as Martha being at the battle front and Betsy Ross stitching together the flag, but there must be more, right? Yes these women all have fascinating stories as they held down the fronts when the men were off in other countries or working to build ours.

Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson

Find in catalogUnder the guise of a prayer the author writes a very blunt chastisement of white America for its brutality, oppression, privilege, and blind acceptance of a racism that allows such prejudice to persist.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Find in catalog“Being Mortal” is one of the first books I discovered in the Lucky Day section, which has been a highlight of library visits ever since then.

Dr. Gawande is a surgeon, professor, and an engaging author. His book discusses how the process of dying has evolved in this country, which he compares with traditions and practices in his parents’ homeland, India. He weaves stories and medical information. He includes many surprising facts about end-of-life care, and statistics about costs to Medicare.

The parts I especially valued, and shared with a close friend, were surveys and comments about what patients have said is important to them in their final days. What matters most, what abilities they’d like to maintain, what level of thinking or communicating… Gawande makes the point that when patients and their families are aware of these preferences, that helps greatly in making decisions about medical options. He emphasizes how valuable having those discussions is.

Even though he is a doctor, he indicts the medical profession for promoting continuing surgery and interventions in care, often when they are not significantly beneficial. He admits that his own attitude about this shifted, largely because of his personal experience with his father’s process of dying.
Reading this book helped me complete my Advance Directive. And it has opened me up to thinking about my own death, and what questions I need to ask myself to clarify my priorities at this stage of life. I recommended “Being Mortal” in my Christmas letter.

Say No to Joe? by Lori Foster

Find in catalogAs is the case with most Lori Foster books, I devoured it in no time and didn’t want it to end, and found that I had yet again read a series out of order. Sometimes names run together and I don’t realize until I am into the book that this has characters I already know and like. Foster is a reader’s dream writing rich complex characters and fun dialog. She must have a large board in her office just to keep characters relationships straight. I like the way you get to know a whole town and then more about various professions as you peek in the personal lives of the citizens of whatever town she is enveloping. In Say No to Joe? the reader is rooting for ladies man Joe Winston who trades barbs and passion with Luna who tries to steer clear of his charms while still needing his professional help as a body guard of sorts. He has met his match and his life is about to change in every way possible and he’d have it no other way. Good read. Adult with sweet family moments.

Cruel Winter by Sheila Connolly

Find in catalogThe story line was interesting, but the dialog was way over done. During the heart of the story, about every 5 pages would repeat the information. It annoyed me to the point of not enjoying the book… and yet I finished it. Cold case murders are always hard to let go!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Find i catalogThis book was an incredible reflection on an important part of civil rights and medical research and development. This is a unique combination of subjects; on one side the very heart of humanity and equality and on the other a supposedly objective and clinical scientific approach to the improvement of life. I think the light this author was able to shed on depths of racial inequalities is critical to understanding how racial and gender tensions affected so much of life. I have never before thought that transparency is so important in science. While I was studying science in college, I was always taught that science (and medicine) was empirically objective; that facts aren’t tainted by race, gender, etc. I’ve learned since that that is not so; science and medicine are performed by humans who are flawed with their own prejudices to their work. Henrietta’s life was dramatically affected by the color of her skin; she got second rate treatment at a second rate hospital. She deserved better from her doctors and the society that she was an honest and hard worker for. Her case brought up the facts of medical transparency and honest medicine as well; her doctor took tissue samples from her for profit without her knowledge and consent. Her incredible cells from that sample live on making amazing leaps of scientific discoveries and have been a priceless additional to medical research, but what about the person behind those cells, behind those discoveries? Her story and that of her family deserve a place of respect and integrity, and this book does that. It makes an attempt to even out the balance of scientific improvement and making the civil aspects of our society better.

The Empty Family (audio book) by Colm Toibin

Find in catalogThis author was new to me. I got a sense of his writing from these half-dozen short stories, read by different narrators. Toibin himself was one of the narrators, and his voice or style was uncomfortable to me. The two stories named in the catalog are the best, “Two Women” and “The Street.” The author seems to be gay, and there are some sexually explicit sections. “The Street” is about two Pakistani men now working in the USA, one young and the other in his forties. They are slowly drawn to each other, despite the social challenges of their work and living environments. It’s told from the young man’s point of view, in poignant detail. This story, even with one awful scene, was the most hopeful.

Jude’s Law by Lori Foster

Find in catalogLoved this book! It was a little too short or needs a sequel to tie up a few loose ends. Loved the characters. This book was a closer look back at a character I had been introduced to in a different but connected “series” of stories. I think this book actually came first…I don’t know. Jude Jamison a successful MMA fighter turned Hollywood actor needs a little down time after a personal tragedy when he meets May Price, who is nothing like the women he usually meets. He is drawn to her immediately and into an adventure that heals what ails both of them. I would like to see a sequel because there is so much more to explore with these two characters and the tribe of people around them.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Find in catalogWhen my inner author begins to write, I hope I can write at least half as good as Louise Erdrich. The Round House is my third book that I’ve read of Erdrich and won’t be the last. Erdrich packs a punch. She’s able to get so much into a book and makes every word, every image, every event count.

The book starts out: “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation. They were just seedlings with one or two rigid, healthy leaves. Nevertheless, the stalky shoots had managed to squeeze through knife cracks in the decorative wall and it was difficult to pry them loose.” Joe, a thirteen-year-old Native American boy, and his father attack the problem; meanwhile, Joe’s mom, is violently attacked and would have been burned to death, if she hadn’t escaped. The foundation of the family is cracked over this real-life crime where it looks like the perpetrator will be walking free, spreading the havoc and preventing the family from returning to the way it used to be. Joe gets the taste of being a grownup and knows that life will never be the same, giving him the motivation and the courage to take matters in his own hands.

Erdrich helps readers handle such a traumatic crime, which is followed by ludicrous and soul-wrenching entanglement of laws, with humor. I’d never heard of a Native American steak sandwich, but I won’t think of bologna in the same way again. And when Joe’s dad attempts to cook potatoes, Erdrich’s clear-cut description makes me want to vomit my own portion like the way Joe’s mom did. “My father beckoned the two of us to sit down. There were potatoes, nearly cooked, way overcooked, disintegrating in an undrained pot. He ceremoniously heaped our shallow bowls. Then we sat looking at the food. We didn’t pray. For the first time, I felt the lack of some ritual. I couldn’t just start eating. My father sensed this and spoke with great emotion, looking at us both. Very little is needed to make a happy life, he said.”