Neshama’s Choices for August 30th

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Being Heumann

Subtitled An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist.  I got to know Judy via the wonderful documentary, Crip Camp, and wanted more of the back story. What a struggle, from early days when her determined, enlightened mother finally managed to get her enrolled in school to the incredible, extended sit in circa 1973 that finally got politicians to stop stalling and pass essential disability rights legislation. Judy now lives in DC, is working in the field internationally, and demonstrates over and over what smarts, spirit and tenacity can accomplish. Inspiring.

Double Blind

Turn this brilliant author loose on—well—almost everything that plagues or inspires us these days and you get a story that manages to encompass it all with breathtaking facility and humor. Olivia is a scientist studying the brain. Her friend Lucy has been hired by megalomaniac billionaire Hunter who has multiple schemes to heighten consciousness while turning even more coin. Like his Happy Helmets, promised to confer wisdom and tranquility sucked via imaging from the brain of a modest Catholic hermit. Lucy gets a brain tumor. Hunter falls in love with her. Olivia connects with Francis who is working to return a tract of land to its wild state. Her psychoanalyst father is working with Sebastian, a schizophrenic, whom we discover has a surprising connection to Olivia. From Sussex to Big Sur to the south of France we follow these three as they grapple with questions of science, right livelihood, and what really counts.  A delight!

Murder in G Major

A musician with the delightfully improbable name of Gesthemane Brown has had a blow. Someone with better connections aced her out of a prestigious assignment and in desperation she takes a job with an English prep school to win an orchestral contest in six weeks.  Her cottage is haunted by a charming ghost, a composer who was accused of killing his wife and then himself. He didn’t do it, can communicate with his tenant, and wants posthumous justice. So Gesthemene sleuths and emerges triumphant after many twists and turns.  You could say the plot is as improbable as her name, but I suspended disbelief and enjoyed the mix of music and mayhem. The author, African-American like her heroine, trained as a doctor but then returned to fiction.  This book is one of a series.

The Other Side of the Door

After I’d slogged through a series of interesting but flawed books, I just wanted to read something that I knew would hold up. So, turned to this mystery writing team, and indeed they delivered. Speaking of tricksy: Hayden, a musician, turns up dead.  He was recruited to be in a cobbled-together wedding band for Bonnie’s friend but has proved a controversial figure. Three people try to make it all go away and their actions muddy the waters even worse.  We have no idea who dun it and why until the very end.  And the survivors manage to play at the wedding after all. Rampaging egos, insecurities, and sex that turns abusive all contribute to the building tension. Yum—at least in my book.

Valentine

The folks who live and work around the oil fields of Texas face a grim, brutal existence. Fourteen-year-old Glory, Mexican-American, is raped by a guy who picked her up. Afterwards she makes it to an isolated house nearby but Mary Rose, the sole witness to her dire condition, is frozen in fear. Many folks take the guy's side; he’s a church-going boy from an influential family so she must have been asking for it. We get the story through different characters, including a fierce, imaginative young girl whose mother couldn’t stand it anymore and ran off. Atmospheric and moving, conveyed in the stripped down style of the denizens.


Back next week.

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