Neshama’s Choices for March 4th

The titles and links below will direct you to print copies when available.  Click on the title to see all available formats, including recorded versions and eBooks.

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Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson  

When Benny and Bryon’s mother Eleanor dies in California, she leaves many mysteries in her wake. Following her orders, her lawyer insists the siblings listen to the tape she made for them. On it, secret after secret emerges. From her beginnings on a Caribbean island where she was a powerful swimmer to a daring escape to a change in identity and more.  Whew! A piece of that eponymous cake Is still in the freezer, but they are not to eat it until they are reunited with the sister they never knew existed. The ingredients in the cake are as dense and tasty as the elements of this tangled tale.  


The Levee by William Kent Krueger  

It is a novella that languished for 50 years until the author dug it out during the pandemic and rewrote it.  I’m glad he did because it’s a very compelling story. A small group of convicts rescue a family threatened by a great flood. The paterfamilias, stubborn Kane, doesn’t want to abandon his extensive property. With him is his daughter, Sylvia, and a Black couple who’ve been servants since Sylvia was born and her mother died. Also, Kane’s brother-in-law, Mobley, is a disaffected priest. One convict has experience in dam-building and might just be able to save the property by working with the crumbling levee—a long shot. Another convict is a lousy actor. The third is a good guy who falls in love with Sylvia. Based on a historical flood in 1922. Note: this is only available as an audiobook on CD. 


Impossible People by Julia Wertz  

Subtitled: A Completely Average Recovery Story. Wertz took five years to get sober, and she takes us along on that circuitous journey with wit and candor. She lives in an illegal, cheap basement apartment in NYC, eventually getting kicked out. She embarks on a series of relationships that contain the seeds of relapse, which periodically occur. A significant cohort of fellow cartoonists, a few excellent friends, and some therapists provide ballast. Beneficial insights for anyone (like me) trying to understand the pull of addiction from the inside out. It's a brilliant graphic novel.  


How to Build A Boat by Elaine Feeney  

Jamie, 13, lives in an eccentric universe of his own making. He loves mathematics and is determined to build a perpetual motion machine.  It’s a form of magical thinking related to his mother’s much too early death. His young father Eoin and grandmother Marie do what they can, but classroom bullies and the overbearing, sinister head of school constantly bedevil Jamie.  Luckily, a shop teacher, Tadgh, and his English teacher, Tess, are paying close attention. Tadgh and Tess have their own troubles, but when the boat-building project is accomplished, there’s healing all around. Set in the west of Ireland, it is poetic, atmospheric, and profoundly moving.