Neshama’s Choices for September 19th

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Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World

A sequel in which our protagonists, now 17, take their relationship a significant step further. Being gay in Texas is fraught, even if you have supportive parents as these two do. Both ruminate over deep philosophical questions that have significance for them beyond usual adolescent angst. Another big change: discovering the girls they thought of as their antagonists in school are actually ready to provide friendship and support. The prize-winner author says it took him five years to write this; Aristotle and Dante wouldn’t let him go.  I’m so glad that’s the case—they are treasures.  

Dark Horses

Equestrian competition is a very exacting sport.  Monty, winner of multiple Olympic medals, has been grooming his daughter Roan to carry on his legacy and it’s a demanding, obsessive pursuit. A significant problem: their relationship. Much much too close, and he keeps her on a very tight rein. Where’s mom? Decamped. Roan’s connection to Jasper, her favorite horse, is one way Monty holds Roan in thrall. She manages a covert connection with fellow-student Will but it’s potentially dangerous. Tragic events, no surprise, and a denouement in which Monty finally gets what he deserves. Very dark indeed, with a fascinating look into the intense, rarefied world of competitive horsemanship.   

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Tova, widowed at 70, needs something to do.  A cleaning job at the aquarium fills the bill. There she bonds with the giant Pacific octopus, Marcellus. Without words of course, but they somehow understand each other. Into this Pacific Northwest town comes Cameron. He’s young, rebellious, smart, lost, and searching for his father. The octopus knows what’s up, but the human denizens are denser and don’t get their heart’s desires until the very end. I listened to this book on my commute and was so engaged and entranced that it was hard to get out of the car.  Highly recommended.  

Mother Land

Rachel is a New Yorker born and bred, but when Dhruv sweeps her off her feet, she agrees to go back to Mumbai with him to make a life. A romantic adventure for an adventuresome woman? Not, it turns out, especially when his mother Swati leaves her husband. Why doesn’t Dhruv stick up for Rachel when this intruder with a heavy load of opinions and habits moves in? But Swati and Rachel, both hurting and alienated, end up providing mutual support and Swati becomes a bridge to understand another culture and ultimately to helping Rachel discover what she really needs and wants. Thoughtful and witty—a delightful mix.