Neshama’s Choices for April 26th

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Little & Lion

Sexual identify is confusing enough for teens but what if both girls and boys turn you on? That’s the case with Suzette (Little) who’s African-American mother has a long-term relationship with Saul who’s Jewish, White, and has a son, Lionel. The step-siblings are age-mates, very close until Lion has a terrifying bout of mental illness and Little is shipped to boarding school on the East Coast.  Where she develops a clandestine relationship with her roommate Iris until it was outed, with very unhappy results. Summer back home in L.A. Lion ditches his meds and swears her to secrecy.  What a dilemma. A thoughtful, tender teen book.

 Lullabies for Little Criminals

Baby—yes, that’s her name—was born to a teenage couple. Her mother died early on and her father, Jules, is still a kid himself and a junkie. In effect 13-year-old Baby needs to fend for herself in Montreal except for a stint in a rural foster home. She’s sly, rebellious, and a reader, which provides some solace. As does Alphonse, a pimp who becomes a father figure but reverts to type down the line. Drugs and tricks follow, yet her exuberant spirit doesn’t get squashed. An original voice and more fun to read than you might think.

The Ruin

The police say Jack jumped off the bridge. His girlfriend Aisling can’t imagine he would commit suicide. She’d told him about her unwanted pregnancy—he was upset, as was she—but it didn’t make sense. Detective Cormac, transferred to Galway, is not embraced by his colleagues; the cold case they give him amounts to a brush off. One squad-member, Danny, is overly friendly. Something’s really off. The cases turn out to be related and corruption in the system ultimately emerges. Irish noir with a strong psychological element. Haunting and atmospheric.

The Secrets Between Us

Bhima is let go from her long-time housekeeping job, a devastating blow. The underlying reason: the husband impregnated her daughter and an abortion was necessary. Bhima gets a part-time job with an enlightened lesbian couple and supplements her meager income by selling vegetables. This brings her in contact with Parvati, another seller, who’s old, unfriendly, and has a huge goiter. As the title suggests, secrets abound on all sides, and when they’re acknowledged, strong alliances form and everything improves. Delightful vernacular language, rich character development, vivid atmosphere—a very satisfying read.

Super Host

Why is Bennett living in what amounts to his garden shed?  Because his art work isn’t selling and his wife left him and he needs the income via Air-Bed. A series of guests with problems check in and he observes them obsessively through his own palatial house’s big windows. He connects with a lively barmaid—a girlfriend at last—but is it the right match? Bennett needs to grow up and circumstance finally leads him to it. The author is also a painter and much about art enhances the story.  Also it’s very funny. London setting.

Back next week.