What We’re Reading: May/June 2017

Briana (Bristol St Site Director): I’m reading The Cutting Season by Attica Locke. It is set on a plantation museum, and an undocumented immigrant who works in the cane fields adjacent is murdered on the museum site. I’m not very far in, but they’re trying to figure out who she is and who murdered her.

Fiona (Assistant Director): My youngest kids are seven and four and we have been reading the Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos series by Jacqueline Jules to them. It is about an elementary school student who lives with his mom and whose dad died serving in Iraq. He comes home from school one day to find a box containing a pair of sneakers that give him super speed. He goes around trying to be a hero and help people but he generally realizes that you don’t need to have super speed to help people. They are great books with a nice message about being kind and caring. It has made my kids laugh out loud and promoted some good conversations about what they would do with a super power!

Geoff (Development Assistant): I have been slowly making my way through Hillbilly Elegy by Yale Law graduate J. D. Vance. In his memoir, Vance uses his childhood to examine the plight of working class peoples of Scotch/Irish descent who’s parents and grandparents moved out of the Southern Appalachian region and into the Industrial Midwest midway through the century. Vance’s story takes place in a post-industrial Middletown Ohio, where the good union jobs that originally attracted the “hillbillies” have disappeared but the troubles with violence and addiction remain. Vance blames the welfare state for creating a system that promotes abuse but skips the bootstrap narrative and attributes his own considerable success in life to his tough Kentucky Grandmother who refused to let him slip through the cracks. I went to college in central Ohio, in a town that suffers from many of the same issues as Middletown and while I don’t always agree with Vance, I do find his story compelling. Its also a great look at why a lot working class Americans turned away from the historically pro labor Democratic party and voted for Trump.

Hayley (Assistant Education Director): I’m reading Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman. I’ve read some of her work before and I really liked it, so when I saw this in the Book Bank I grabbed it. It takes place in a small town in Massachusetts, which is where I spent a good chunk of my early adulthood, so I feel the connection to that. The main character moves out to California, meets her husband, gets married, and starts a family, but returns to Massachusetts because her housekeeper, who had a good hand in raising her, passed away. So she’s back home in her old house and old room and memories are flooding back. That’s as far as I’ve gotten, but reviews say it’s a modern day version of Wuthering Heights, so I’m interested to see how that plays out. And of course there’s her young love who’s still in the small town. They haven’t crossed paths yet, but I assume that they will.

Kirsten (Executive Director): I enjoyed The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca!  The English writer, Tahir Shah, moves his young family to Casablanca and shares many stories of his adventure there with humor and insight, and includes terrific info about Moroccan cultures, customs and history.  A fun read!

Victoria (Book Bank & Operations Director): I’m currently reading a copy of Forward by Abby Wambach that I found in the Book Bank this week. I’ve never followed soccer or the US Women’s National Team closely, but I’d still heard of Abby, and I saw the book a few weeks ago at RJ Julia, so I was intrigued. The book is a memoir that begins with Abby’s childhood and follows her through several Olympic Games and World Cups, as well as many injuries, all the way into her retirement in 2015. I didn’t know much about her, and it’s been a fascinating read – despite being a highly accomplished athlete, Abby never played for love of the game, and the book is just as much about her struggles with her inner demons (what she calls “Chill Abby” and “Intense Abby”) as it is about soccer. I’m also listening to the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling through the NHFPL’s Overdrive app (highly recommend). This is also a memoir of sorts, and, of course, Mindy is a comedian, so I often find myself literally laughing out loud, in public, with my headphones in. I’m sure I look ridiculous, but it feels perfectly normal given the book’s content.

Categories What We're Reading | Tags: | Posted on June 6, 2017

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