So, I’ve had the satisfying good fortune of three good reads in a row (which reminds me that I need to update my Good Reads account!). I thought I’d share the three here in case you are looking for a few good books this summer:
My friend Jen brought this one to me and I am so glad she did it. I read it when we were at the beach a few weeks ago and I wept on the beach for the last fifty pages of the book.
Here’s the blurb from Publisher’s Weekly:
Waldman (tells) the story of a young woman who battles the American legal system’s inflexible drug laws. Olivia Goodman, a rebellious 22-year-old, dropped out of college as a sophomore and headed for Mexico. After she moved back to her hometown of Oakland, Calif., she was followed by Jorge Luis Rodriguez Hernandez, with whom she had a brief affair in Mexico. Jorge crossed the border illegally and is unable to find work, and Olivia feels obligated to support him. Desperate for money, Jorge is persuaded to participate in a drug deal, and Olivia’s vague complicity sweeps her into an intense legal battle when she is arrested with Jorge. To make matters worse, Olivia discovers she’s pregnant with Jorge’s baby. As Olivia fights for her freedom, her mother, Elaine Goodman, is doubly tormented. Elaine raised Olivia on her own, but never felt she could love her enough. Now, when she has finally found happiness with a man, she is forced to choose between helping her daughter and holding on to her fiance. Waldman takes a somewhat didactic approach-U.S. drug laws are discussed at length, and the story of Elaine and Olivia’s relationship can read like a case history-but Waldman’s passion and affection for her characters shines through.
A wonderful woman in one of my workshops in the spring recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did. I also read this at the beach and achieved my dorkiest moment at the beach when I walked back to the house to go to the bathroom (about a ten minute walk) with my nose in the book all the way because I was so close to the end and could not put it down.
What the book cover says:
Anne Tyler’s richest, most deeply searching novel–a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”
Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport – the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an “arrival party” that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in – up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson’s recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes – her traditions, her privacy, her otherness–are suddenly threatened.
A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story.
The one is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and takes a close look at how blacks, especially “the household help”, were treated. I read this book while in Mississippi for my dear friend’s mother’s funeral and I felt like I was doing something elicit. A riveting read, I stayed up way too late trying to get to the end.
From Publisher’s Weekly:
What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.
Two of these books came recommended to me, and I am always on the look out for good reads. Got any to suggest? Let me know!