I’ll admit to beginning “Everything You Want Me to Be” with inaccurate expectations. For some reason I thought it was going to be a “The Girl on the Train” style thriller, but it’s not — and it’s much better for it. There is a murder in this book that happens within the first couple chapters, and then we spend the rest of the book unraveling who committed it (and working on two timelines: both pre and post murder), but that’s not really what the story is ABOUT. In actual fact, this is the tale of three individuals and the town they all live in and the actions and decisions that can lead to terrible consequences. One of the best features of this book is that there are not any “bad guys.” There are people who make bad decisions, but we all do that all the time. There are people who take love very seriously and those that trample on love (sometimes the same people), but that is true to life. This is not necessarily a book that is going to stick with me for a long time, but it is certainly a book I appreciate having read.
Three words that describe this book: Doomed, Thoughtful, Human
You might want to pick this book up if: If you enjoy tracing each thread as they get increasingly tangled and ultimately lead to tragedy.
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2017 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
In a saga that spans two centuries, “Homegoing” takes readers on a journey through the Gold Coast slave trade, Asante wars, colonialism, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and more. One woman, Maame, birthed two daughters, Effia and Esi, unbeknownst to one another. Each woman is left to find her way in the harsh world, their challenges magnified due to the color of their skin and their circumstances. Through split narratives, we follow the descendants of Maame through time and through the world. Not for the faint of heart, this novel touches on graphic and disturbing periods of American and world history, but will leave the reader feeling touched and inspired.
Three words that describe this book: powerful, moving, historic
You might want to pick this book up if: You like family sagas, US history and world history.
“The Hearts of Men” is about intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp. The reason I enjoyed reading this book so much was I was invested in the characters and couldn’t wait to have more of their stories revealed to me. The author also peppered his novel with emotionally reflective comments which provide the reader a chance to have thoughtful reflection on parenting and society today.
Three words that describe this book: Insightful, Engaging and Page-turner
You might want to pick this book up if: you enjoy character-driven writing. There are five main characters in this book, one of which the reader journeys with for a period over 55 years.
In “My Sister Rosa,” a family arrives in New York City on a new business venture. They are a family of four with two kids, 17-year-old Che and 10-year-old Rosa. They meet another family that is investing in Che and Rosa’s family’s business. The children from both families become friends. The story is told by the point of view of Che. As he adjusts to life in a new city, with new friends and a new girlfriend, he suspects that his little sister is a psychopath. The story goes on about the creepy things that Rosa gets away with and how sweet and cute she is so no one suspects her. The ending is a huge twist that even I did not see coming. I enjoyed this one a lot. I was pleasantly surprised by this story.
Three words that describe this book: Creepy, Unsettling, and Psycho
You might want to pick this book up if: you like psychological thrillers.
“Stan Musial: An American Life” by George Vecsey ranks with Richard Ben Cramer’s portrait of Joe DiMaggio as one of the finest sports biographies I’ve read. Unlike some formulaic sports bios of statistical recitations with an overlay of superficial quotes, Vecsey’s bio of Musial is comprehensive without being ponderous. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of an American — and Missouri — icon whose public “nice guy” image actually matched his private persona. Vecsey takes the reader on a journey from Musial’s hard life growing up in Donora, PA, to his frustrations as a sore-armed minor league pitcher, to his ultimate ascent to Hall of Famer and successful businessman. Through it all, Musial was a family man and friend to all, regardless of their station in life (clubhouse personnel, James Michener, Pope John Paul II, et al.). Musial always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and after reading this book, even a Cubs fan will be glad that he was.
Three words that describe this book: Illuminating; thorough; enoyable
You might want to pick this book up if: You’re a lover of all things quintessentially American; you’re a sports fan; you’re a Cardinals fan.
“Leaving Time” follows 13-year-old Jenna as she attempts to find out why her mother disappeared from her life 10 years ago. The book is written from several of the characters’ points of view, which gives a nice take on how each person is seeing the events, and it allows the author to give the history of the plot and give insight to what led Jenna to searching for her mother. I enjoyed the fact that the book was written from a few different perspectives. This book also explores the lives of elephants, as Jenna’s parent ran an elephant sanctuary and Jenna’s mother was/is a scientist who studies grief in elephants. I’m not sure if all the facts I read were true, but I really like elephants, and the information about them in the book was enjoyable. In addition, there is a good plot twist toward the end. Overall, a good read that I would recommend to others.
Three words that describe this book: Interesting, intriguing, easy read
You might want to pick this book up if: You like other Jodi Picoult novels.
Poor 59-year-old Sookie. She’s the daughter of an elderly, demanding, wack-a-doodle, star quality mom who manages to get her three daughters married, leaving only her son to take the plunge. Sookie’s life with her devoted and supportive Great Dane-loving, dentist husband is fine. Except for the problem of the blue jays hogging the sunflower seeds in her bird feeders and preventing the little birds from eating, her life is pretty great. In managing her mom’s mail, a job she assumed when it became obvious mom couldn’t manage it herself (and Sookie needed to keep tabs on what mom was doing), she encounters a registered letter that shakes her to her very core with information indicating she is a year older than she thought.
In “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion,” Fannie Flagg unfolds a tremendous story that seems so real, you’ll wish it were true. The wisdom and revelation makes this book one that, if politicians and all of us read and embraced the philosophy, our country would be in a better position. The historical relevance turns out to be the clever premise for the story.
GREAT, GREAT story!!
Three words that describe this book: patriotism, women, family
You might want to pick this book up if: Historical fiction with intriguing information about the WASP, who were the female pilots called to duty when the men left for WWII.
“Raising Money Smart Kids” is about teaching children money management skills as they age. It includes tips for teaching preschoolers through high schoolers about money. I enjoyed the letters from readers with questions and the advice the author provides. This book helped me realize what I’m doing well as I teach my kids how to handle money, and it gave me some tips for improving my skills.
Three words that describe this book: Informative, easy-to-read, helpful
You might want to pick this book up if: You have children and are interested in expanding your teaching skills as they learn how to handle money.
“Guitar Zero” has a subtitle which reads: “The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age.” It definitely lives up to this title with the author’s in depth analysis of what it takes to become musical. Gary Marcus gives a first person perspective on what it’s like to start out with zero musical knowledge or capability and turn oneself into a mediocre musician. I enjoyed how Marcus had done very detailed research on all his points, and, if you view the bibliography, you can see he went through seemingly endless amounts of journal articles to accomplish this book. One part that was not to my liking was when he began to speak a lot about how the brain is put together and which parts help with music. I feel as if there were a lot of anatomical things stuffed into the book which it could have done without. As a guitar player, I figured it might focus on guitar more, but it turned out to be mostly about music in general. The title is a bit deceptive.
Three words that describe this book: Challenging, Informative, Inspirational
You might want to pick this book up if: You really prefer reading non-fiction and don’t mind stumbling through some “college level research paper” passages. Or if you want to understand the lengths at which you are required to go to become musical and need an example of someone who has done it.
“Cinder” is set in the future: it’s about a girl who is part cyborg. She lives in present-day China with her mean stepmom, two stepsisters and her best friend — who is a computer. She works as a mechanic and meets the prince of her country when he seeks her out for a job. On top of this, an evil queen is desiring to marry the prince. Further complicating things, a terrible disease is infiltrating the city and a cure is desperately being sought. I like this book because it’s fun and quick to read, the story is different with the creation of a Lunar world and it plays off of Cinderella.
Three words that describe this book: Futuristic, Science, Fiction
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy young adult novels, quick reads or easy/enjoyable plot lines.