Neshama’s Choices for October 24th

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The Final Case

The Harveys adopt an Ethiopian girl. They have fierce convictions about correct child-rearing (home-schooled, Christian) and when this new addition to their large family doesn’t “behave” according to their stringent precepts, she’s punished severely which results in her death. We’re introduced to the story via a novelist who’s facing a writer’s block and also needs to help his aged father. Dad is a public defender who takes on Mrs. Harvey as a client, even as he recognizes the heinous nature of her crime. Based on a true story, it’s a hard read, but worth it despite the lack of redemption.  

Subtitled: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion. This children’s biography fell into my hands and transported me.  I already knew about Glennie but this book brings her to life on the page with a blazing message about overcoming disability and believing in yourself. The illustrations are vibrant, and the text is full of sounds which would be great fun to read aloud.  

The Lost Kings

Trauma hits twins Jeanie and Jamie King hard when their alcoholic father shows up late in their cabin in the woods. Could he have killed someone? He disappears along with Jamie, and Jeanne must fend for herself. She manages to end up in England where she fashions a life for herself, but she’s constantly haunted. Alcohol, sex (with a married professor) and therapy don’t “help.” Maddox, her only friend from her former life, finds her and they finally reconstruct what happened. A fascinating denouement. A psychological thriller par excellence.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Well, she tries it all: from yoga to martial arts to skiing to biking and more. Utterly driven, attempting to arrive at that delicious, elusive zone of transcendental “now.” This graphic novel is very funny and poignant—such transparency about her neuroses. In inimitable Bechdel fashion she also interweaves history and literature. Other seekers from William Wordsworth to Jack Kerouac get a workout on the page, as did I— with dizzying pleasure and awe.