Neshama’s Choices for April 19th

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In this dystopia, "others” are rounded up and sent to brutal work camps, touted as their opportunity for security and productivity by the self-righteous administration, dubbed the True Canadians. Kay, transgender, is on the run and joins the resistance. Liv, who has cover and gains inside dope through her relationship with a high-up official, masterminds a demonstration that will bring these atrocities to world-wide attention. Does it work? We can only hope, but it’s a heartfelt, stirring ending regardless of the outcome. (I really like this author and found her novel, Scarborough, in Link+; also highly recommended.)

A Deadly Education

Scholomance is not Hogwarts. Students’ lives are challenged at every turn and they must employ every spell and dark art they learn to keep themselves alive until graduation. Sarah, our heroine, is tough and independent. She can’t understand why Orion Lake is so determined to protect her. Turns out they need each other to survive. (We’ll learn more in an upcoming sequel.) Novik’s wild, detailed imagination creates all sorts of wonders: a multilevel building that keeps shifting and all manner of monsters. Entertaining.

Home Baked

Subtitled My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco. Meridy needed to turn coin when she arrived in SF in the ‘70s and managed to parlay her intoxicating brownies from small sales at outdoor markets to a thriving trade. She met Alia’s dad, a psychic reader, and he joined the business; their tempestuous relationship eventually unraveled.  Volz interweaves her personal story with the dramatic events of the time: the AIDs crisis, Jim Jones, political assassinations, and more. It brought it all back to me vividly, having been in situ at that time. Lively storytelling.

I Think I Love You

In a Welsh village in ’74, David Cassidy is a big heartthrob, especially for Petra and Sharon, both 13. A fan magazine fuels the flames; they have no idea David’s posts were actually concocted by a staff writer, Bill. More than two decades later Petra finds letter her deceased mother had hidden that invited the girls to meet David; they’d won a contest. Newly divorced, Petra calls to claim their prize and the current magazine decides it would make a special interest feature. Off go Petra, Sharon and yes, Bill (now “the boss”) to Las Vegas to make good on the promise. Charming and funny, with lots of music lore both pop and classical—Petra’s a cellist.

Right After the Weather

Cate, who designs sets, is trying out a new relationship with Maureen who designs costumes, after she realizes dangerously seductive Dana will never leave her long-time partner. Some problems: Maureen, though warm and attractive, doesn’t exactly ignite Cate and also has a few dubious ethical practices. Neale, Cate’s long-time friend, is attacked in her apartment. Cate stumbles into the scene and actually kills the intruder. This traumatic event upends both lives. Wonderful character development, lots of inside dope on the theater—a treat from an author I’ve greatly enjoyed. Chicago setting.

Back next week.