Neshama’s Choices for September 25th

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Five Little Indians by Michelle Good  

The horrors of the time when Indian children were seized from their families and sent to schools where they were beaten, starved, and raped by the Catholic clergy who ran them.  We trace the lives of Howie, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, and Maisie. Four out of five survived to tell the tale. Clara’s a fighter.  Kenny managed to escape but alcohol and nightmares plague subsequent years.  He and Lucy reconnect and have a child, but he can’t stay put. Old Mariah, a friend, is schooled in traditional ways and provides refuge and healing when needed. Set in Canada and very well-told.  


More Than You'll Ever Know by Katie Gutierez   

When podcaster/journalist Cassie comes across a news clip about Lore, a woman bigamist, she reaches out to her to capture her point of view.  A book about that could be her big break. Lore lives in Laredo, TX.  Her original husband Fabian has been incarcerated for years for the murder of the next, Andres, who was from Mexico. Lore, at first very guarded, opens up to Cassie but refuses to discuss the day of the actual killing. She really thought that she had enough love to go around for hard-working Fabian, their twin boys, and for seductive, intellectually stimulating Andres, a professor. Lore is in banking, which gives her the wherewithal to take time away from her original family—many regular business trips. Another dimension: Cassie’s relationship with the good-hearted Duke, her fiancé,  who doesn’t understand her obsession with the story and her drive to succeed. Plus, Cassie has been hiding her family history from him:  her alcoholic father who’s doing a bad job of taking care of her much younger brother. A complex story with many threads. Fascinating.  


The Lock-up by John Banville  

Did Rosa really commit suicide by car in said lock-up? Pathologist Quirke finds signs that point to murder. Rosa was connected to Frank, the son of an influential German family that came to Dublin after WWII.  Both are politically rebellious. Quirke and Inspector Stafford investigate and turn up very murky and prospectively explosive material but are hampered by the powers that be—the Catholic Church and Israeli plutocrats. Both Quirke and Stafford are grieving the loss of their wives—one by death, the other by disaffection— and fall into relationships with two leading characters which complicates matters even more. And there’s a very surprising denouement. Complex, nuanced, and disturbing—that’s what I like in a book.  


Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain  

Angie and her father Bobby try to fit into their very white upper-middle-class milieu in the suburbs by keeping their heads down. But they’re brown, and Indian, and Bobby’s business providing rides is struggling. When Angie stumbles across a stabbing in the field outside her high school, things get very fraught.  The perpetrator is a homeless Black girl, Chiara, who got enrolled in the school at the mercy of the Black principal. Angie witnessed something really ugly between the boys who were taunting Chiara just before the act but is thwarted by her own fears and other influences who are determined to pull the rug over what was going on which might tarnish the reputation of two “fine young men” and the school itself. Angie is a competitive swimmer and the metaphor of water and overcoming fear is powerful.