And a Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

Find in catalogI have only read one book by Julia Glass, but I suspect most, if not all, of her books are the kind that could easily be enjoyed a second time. I can relate with Kit, the main character of And The Dark Sacred Night, as he’s trying to figure out where he fits in the world; his wife is convinced that if he could find out who his dad is, he’d have a better idea who he was. I often wonder if my relationship had been extended past the first twelve years, how my life would have been different. When he is with his twins, he wonders what kinds of people they will grow up to be. Glass describes his used-to-be crazy in-love relationship with Sandra, his wife, as one of a dance of “leisurely dance of passion and deliberation.” Soon the book weaves various family relationships when he makes a pilgrimage to find out the identity of his father. He couldn’t have expected to have so many relationships come out of the ashes. Glass is a great story-teller as well as an artist that creates vivid settings and intriguing characters. If you have a long list of books you want to read, I’d put one of her books on the top.

As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

Find in catalogI don’t usually re-read books. I also don’t usually re-read bits and pieces of books because I love them so much I want to study their craft. You can probably guess what I’m about to tell you: This book is the exception. As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth is the kind of journey that starts out like many great experiences in life–entirely by accident. Perhaps that’s what makes this work so beautiful. The story follows the very human main character as he meets mentors and friends along the way to a new destination–one that may or may not involve a black eye, a thousand-mile road trip, a tiny plane, a sailboat, and a large windmill. It’s the story of how sometimes we set out looking for one thing, yet find something else entirely–the thing we didn’t realize we needed all along. That last sentence is trying way too hard to try and say something meaningful. Just go read the book. I dare you. 5/5 stars.

One Summer, by David Baldacci

Find in catalogWithin the first 5 pages, I was hooked. By page 25, the story was well underway and I couldn’t wait to keep reading. This was a heartwarming story of grief, loss and finding your way back. The bonds that keep families together are often tangled, but are made of very strong fibers. This was an excellent read.

The Guts, by Roddy Doyle

Find in catalogIf you liked _The Commitments_ (also a movie), you’ll like this one, too. The same characters, further on in life. Mostly we follow Jimmy Rabbitte and his family, as well as his friends, on his path sorting out the challenges of aging, illness, and relationships.
The writing style is also like the the previous book, with only dashes to indicate quotes, and the speakers only sometimes identified. I took this emphasis on spoken words as partly a remark about a life in sound. (Since the movie had a soundtrack of music, even better…)
I get put off by this style, but Doyle is such a good writer that I am soon drawn in. See if you are, too.

A Death in the Family by James Agee

A Death in the FamilyAgee (pronounced Age-ee)’s exquisitely detailed tale of the dynamics and subtle emotions at a time of crisis was an eye-opening view for me into nonconformists of the early 20th century, and into how such people might interact with the mainstream religious people they love. There are no surprises, given the title, and the ending feels inadequate. I also felt that the preacher’s visit was an odd and out of place low-comic punch. But it is one of those classics I had to gobble down.

Reviewed by Teresa

Do You Remember Me: a father, a daughter, and a search for self by Judith Levine

Levine recounts the slow deterioration of her father and the struggles of Levine’s  mother and the author herself as Dad moves through stages of Alzheimer’s. This is a remarkably honest discussion of the way the disease affects family relationships as long-suppressed feelings emerge under the pressure. Levine’s characters are hardly”inspiring”:  Dad has always been accomplished but flawed, difficult, giving little love. Mom feels deprived and looks to escape, and daughter Judith is filled with love and resentment for both. I found this refreshing and helpful in acknowledging that often no positive solution is possible, that at best we muddle through. For the reader who is dealing with a family member who has dementia, I’d say this is a must-read.

Reviewed by Sara V.

Reviewed by Sara V.