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The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
Somehow, this marvelous book from 1971 flew under my radar. But the title appeared on a list of the most thought-provoking works of science fiction, and I pounced. What a concept: George’s dreams manifest as reality. All he wants is to be released from the weight of terrible sleep disturbances, but his state-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Haber, wants to harness this phenomenon for the good of mankind. Of course, it goes spectacularly awry. “Reality” shifts constantly, and even aliens join the fray. Dr. Haber personifies hearty hubris. Luckily George joins forces with a fierce yet charming lawyer, Miss Lelache, and things kind of work out at the end. Brilliant.
Such A Pretty Girl by T. Greenwood
Ryan’s mother Fiona is determined to make her mark on the stage. From a little theater in Vermont, she makes her way to NYC with her daughter Ryan in tow. They move into an amazing artistic compound in Greenwich Village where they meet photographer Henri who recognizes Ryan’s unusual beauty. Guess who becomes a star? It’s not what Ry wants, but driven by her mother’s ambition—and considerable resentment—success follows until it implodes. Now Ry is back in Vermont with her daughter and ugly allegations from the past reemerge. New York in the ‘70s, was atmospheric and intense.
The Less Dead by Denise Mina
In this solid, nuanced mystery, Margot, a physician, is pregnant. She wants to know about her genetic heritage (she was adopted) and when she contacts what’s left of her birth family, she gets embroiled in a very dark story. Her mother, a streetwalker and an addict, got clean for the birth but was murdered four months later, and the crime was never solved. Laxness on the part of the Glasgow police and possible involvement by one of theirs was a factor, and these victims were essentially considered vermin, not worthy of follow-up. This book packs a wallop. (I listened to it and the narrator’s Scottish accent was challenging yet added considerable color.)
Of Time and Turtles by Sy Montgomery
Subtitled Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell. These long-lived creatures’ armor has protected them for centuries until cars came along. A small, passionate band of saviors do what they can to rescue the injured and return them to the wild whenever possible. Montgomery is one, up close and personal with both the people and the critters. The challenges of weather, terrain, and rehab are considerable. Montgomery tends to anthropomorphize, which sometimes makes me a little crazy, but I recognize how it reflects her passion and dedication. There’s humor and philosophical musings here as well as adventure and heartbreak. Stirring.