Mary's Summer Picks
One of my favorite historical fiction novels! This is a touching story about families broken apart and families reunited. It is based on real-life historical events: the child trafficking of the 1950s and the black-market baby adoption scheme run by Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society. The book is split into two alternating storylines in two different time periods, which Lisa Wingate juggles remarkably well. I really liked both of the main characters: Rill Foss and Avery Stafford. If you enjoyed Orphan Train, you will enjoy this book as well!
Julie Andrews has been one of my idols since I was very young. The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorite musicals. Home details Julie's life, growing up during WWII, in a dysfunctional family. Coming from a musical, entertainment family, Julie started singing training at age 9 and 1/2, even singing for Queen Elizabeth! At the age of 12, she began her career in London musicals, the beginning of a charmed life where she met many famous actors. At age 14, she finds out a secret about her father. Marriage to Tony Walton and the birth of their daughter Emma close this phase of her story. If you are like me, you may want to continue with Home Work, a sequel!
I liked Joe Biden as a politician before reading his memoir--and I like him even more after finishing it. This is an emotional story of a man who already had gone through terrific loss and now was losing his son, Beau. I have admiration for Biden's love for his family, our country, and his faith. In this combination of personal and political memoir, I learned how difficult a time it was for Biden as he dealt with the challenges of being Vice President and an international politician, while dealing with profound loss. I hope he gets to be President after all.
This is a moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, both headed by rookie cops. Behind closed doors, the loneliness of one wife and the instabillity of the other set the stage for a horrific tragedy that influences the next four decades for both families. The son of one family and the daughter of the other become close. What ensues with the parents is a psych ward commitment, alcoholism, estrangement and infidelity. It is a thoughtful and insightful story about love, family and especially forgiveness. It shows how childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood. This story may break your heart but also give you hope.
Comedian Trevor Noah's sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious memoir of growing up in South Africa under apartheid is a gem. With a black mother and a white father, he was literally "born a crime." Like a chameleon, Noah could change people's perception of his color. His father was a closed book and his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic. His mother, Patricia, is the hero of this story. Stubborn, self-confident and never scared, she taught Noah how to think. The miracle ending was unexpected and heartwarming.
If you like art and you like mysteries, this is your book! Dominic Smith does a remarkable job telling this story from different vantage points and three different periods of time. He tells the story of a painting and its creator, painted in 1636 by Sara de Vos as a memorial to her daughter, Kathrijn, who died of the plague at the age of 7. The painting is stolen from the home of Marty de Groot and replaced with a forgery, painted by Ellie Shipley. The stories of all 3 characters collide when the original painting and its fake, and Marty and Ellie, show up at a gallery exhibit. A true masterpiece of a book!
What an enlightening memoir by Francisco Cantu, a Mexican American, who joins the US Border Patrol, to gain an understanding of the border. In the first part, he describes his training and work as a field officer with the Patrol. Migrants are trying to escape Mexico's violence and criminality. In the second part, he is working in an office collecting border intelligence. In part three, Cantu is pursuing a graduate degree. The saga of his friend Jose is sad, as he goes to Mexico to see his dying mother. This book shows me there is much to learn about immigration and the border and how the system objectifies these people and loses sight of their humanity.
This is the wonderful story of Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart's three-decade friendship and all the choices, ups and downs, and rewards that being BFFs for that long entails. The often difficult mother/daughter relationship plays an important part of this story as well. I could really relate to and enjoy the music theme and memories of the events of the '70s through '90s, since I grew up in that time period. Who could forget Dancing Queen, bell bottoms, transistor radios and Sun-in? The book concludes with an important thought: In the end, love and family are all there is. Nothing else matters. Watch for it on Netflix! Read it before you see it!