Neshama’s Choices for March 1st

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Winter Counts

Virgil Wounded Horse gets it from both sides—not Indian enough, not white enough. Justice on the Rez is spotty—tribal police understaffed, feds don’t want to get involved—so Virgil is often hired to redress matters, usually by force.  He’s trying to bring up his dead sister’s son, Nathan, 14.  Nathan almost overdoses and a complex scenario ensues with corruption on many sides and Nathan caught in the middle. Virgil is resistant to the old ways but in desperation he attends a ceremony where he has a vision that leads him to the inevitable bloody denouement. Gritty, vivid, authentic.

Squeeze Me

When a huge python swallows a guest at a fancy fundraiser in Palm Beach, it raises havoc. These reptiles are not indigenous to the region; where do they come from? A critter wrangler, Angie, ends up playing detective and uncovers all sorts of botched maneuvers from stupid thugs. Proximity to Casa Bellicosa, the winter White House, where the “Mastodon” reigns obnoxiously supreme, offers more fabulous satirical opportunities (like his sacrosanct tanning bed rituals). I need to laugh whenever possible these days, so thank you Carl for making this possible.

Whale Day

Balm for the soul, these marvelously accessible poems. They seem almost effortless and often celebrate the most modest of joys: a spider in Ireland, quotidian rituals, ways of peeling a banana.  Also now that he’s getting older, there is a dark but oddly comforting shadow of mortality over some of his offerings. Wit as well: Dagwood and his towering sandwiches is lauded along with other fabled architects of note. So satisfying!


I loved George, the author’s book about a transgender kid written for kids.  Here the confused protagonist finally pulls away from dreadful Jeff, his homophobic “best friend,” and connects with the Rainbow Spectrum club at his new middle school. Also with his Grandpa Ray, a widower, who had a surprising secret. Sometimes an exemplary children’s book is

just what the doctor ordered, which is why I gobbled it up with pleasure.

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road

I hit the road with this teen audiobook and learned a lot about the challenges of being Muslim.  Three are heading to New Orleans from NYC. Gay but closeted Umar (his parents think he’s driving solo to attend a religious convention); Ghaz escaping from her outraged family (she made a Bad Decision); and best friend Mariam who just wants to support both.  Her mother is enlightened and understanding; but she never knew her Hindu father. It’s also tricky being brown in the South. Lots of adventures and revelations and the narrator does accents and characters well.

Back next week.