Neshama’s Choices for May 3rd

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A Dream Called Home

I loved her memoir, The Distance Between Us.  Here’s the sequel, starting with her admission to UC Santa Cruz where she felt very other until she finally connected with some Latinx students, and ending with the publication of her first book after long struggles to get recognized. She tried to save her rebellious teenage sister Betty, entered a series of flawed relationships, faced unmotivated high school students when that was the only job she could get, had a baby on her own, and found solace in folkloric dancing. Candid and inspiring.

The Gum Thief

This snarky Canadian writer takes on Staples and dreadful writing to produce an eminently silly book. Roger toils at said store, along with Bethany who’s Goth. He’s writing a novel, Glove Pond, in his spare time—every cliché in the book. And also writing about Bethany in a notebook she comes across.  We get spot on descriptions of big-box store life, absurd excerpts from Roger’s oeuvre, and even some forays into the nature of life and death. I needed a dose of ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lucky Bones

Sam is like no P.I. I’ve ever encountered. A bullet in the brain messed with his frontal lobe, resulting in some surprising effects like extreme disinhibition and an inability to lie.  He’s very smart, despite. One job—Genevieve hires him to get back a haul of designer shoes her ex has stolen— leads to an incredible chain of subsequent job offers, each shadier then the next. Very big bucks have been diverted; an explosion in a library interrupted an expected transaction.  (Oh those public computers…) I had to suspend disbelief often, but found the book very entertaining. Chicago setting.

Our Lady of the Prairie

Phillppa, in a long, relatively harmonious marriage, falls hard for a fellow professor. The relationship should have been time-limited by circumstance, but she has great difficulty returning to regular life on the Iowa campus where she and her husband Michael both work in the theater department. Meanwhile her troubled daughter Ginny is about to settle down with an Amish guy but wedding plans create further tensions. Phillipa’s marriage is smashed and her job is at serious risk. There’s also a slightly confusing but fascinating story about Michael’s grandmother who was a Nazi collaborator. For that matter, I had some challenges tracking various threads but I found the elements intriguing enough to keep reading.

The Pull of the Stars

How I love this author!  Here she takes on the flu of 1918.  Julia is a new, very dedicated nurse. She’s charged with pregnant patients in an overtaxed, under-supplied Dublin hospital. A lively young volunteer, Bridie, lends an essential hand, as does a woman doctor (!) who arrives with a suspicious reputation. Rules and hierarchies be damned when lives are at stake; mortality is ever-present. A sweet, doomed relationship grows between Julia and Bridie in the midst of the constant drama of childbirth under extreme duress. Of course the current COVID-19 situation brings this material into very sharp relief. An engrossing, dramatic read.

Back next week.