Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I read in September (2014)

Here's what I read in September--click title to read my full review at Marie's Book Garden. These are abbreviated versions.

Let the Great World SpinLet the Great World Spin,
by Colum McCann


Well written, with a wonderful sense of setting, Let the Great World Spin tells the stories of a variety of different characters, many of whom encounter each other at some point in the day or in their lives. Most of the novel takes place in New York City in 1974, the day Phillip Petit tightrope walked between the World Trade Center towers.

One of my major gripes with novels is when each chapter starts from the different perspective of a different character, so I found it a bit hard to sink into this novel, with all that moving around. On the other hand, the novel tells the story of New York City in so many different slices...of the priest Corrigan who works amongst the prostitutes and dealers in the Bronx ghetto and loves a Latina single mom...of the prostitutes themselves, whose children become prostitutes...a Park Avenue mom befriending a black mother, both grieving their sons who died in Vietnam...a drug-addicted artist who finds herself involved in a hit and run...and a prostitute's daughter who was raised in love and stability, who returns to New York full circle...beautiful individual stories woven together...

After EliAfter Eli, by Rebecca Rupp

In this thoughtful middle grade/young adult novel, young Danny struggles to cope with the death of his older brother, Eli, in Iraq. He befriends two unusual young people: the decidedly "uncool" but extremely smart Walter, and the beautiful, exotic Isabelle, who has quirky and creative younger twin siblings.

My favorite parts of the book were Danny's memories of Eli, who was sarcastic and mischievous but loving, and Danny's friendship with Eli's high school friend and purple potato farmer and his girlfriend, who come to be like a family for him. Rebecca Rupp approaches grief with a quiet, sensitive touch, and even though Danny chronicles the death of various people in his "Book of the Dead," the book was redemptive in the end.

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