Neshama’s Choices for May 15th

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Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley   

On her mother’s side, Daunis is a Fontaine, an influential, well-fixed white family. But her deceased father’s clan calls to her constantly, especially with their knowledge of healing ceremonies and plants. She’s a fierce hockey player but has taken a year off after her best friend is murdered in front of her eyes. Jamie is a new player from out of town and she’s drawn to him, but things get very complicated when she discovers he’s an undercover agent and he wants her to become what she dubs a “secret squirrel,” a confidential informant.  Drugs are rampant and some hockey teammates may be involved. A teen book highly recommended by a colleague, and I really enjoyed listening to it—all those Anishinaabe phrases.   


Winterland by Rae Meadows   

Anya is 8 when she was recruited as a gymnast in Siberia. The training is brutal and unrelenting but Anya’s amazingly tough and determined and her trainer, Anatoly, cuts her no slack.  Her mother, a ballerina, disappeared when she was tiny; her father is a copper smelter, devoted to his daughter. She climbs the ranks despite serious injuries and along the way, we meet other “real-life” peers like Olga Korbut. She forges a deep friendship with Elena, a fellow gymnast, whose trajectory ends tragically. And Anya eventually lands in Brooklyn after the Soviet Union dissolves. Intense, atmospheric, absorbing.   


A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers   

Dorothy’s appetites for food and sex serve her well. She’s a peripatetic restaurant reviewer who indulges in her taste for food and men with equal zeal.  But she’s also a psychopath who takes it one step further—into cannibalism. She’s clever and strategic until the fourth fellow’s death when she slips up.  Now from her jail cell, she’s writing her unashamed memoir. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I really ate up (sorry) her exploits, enjoying the clever satirical elements of the story.   


Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall   

The title reflects the phrase women needing abortions used when they tried to find one in 1971. A network formed and Evelyn, a doctor who was an unwed mother forced to give her baby up for adoption, becomes an active, covert provider. We shuttle to 1980 where Nancy joins the network. A family secret brings the work and its consequences home to her. Interlocking stories set in Canada bring the issue graphically into focus, especially germane in light of current affairs.