Just about the time I think I will cut back on my reading time so I can increase my writing time, a bunch of books become available to me and I’m compelled to keep reading. September was one of those months. I read seven novels and two nonfiction books.
Once again, I find to write about all nine books makes a blog post that is longer than anyone wants to read. Therefore, I’ll write about five of the books today and the other four books next Monday. I tried to insert photos of each of the five books I wrote about today, but I had technical problems with all except one of them.
State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
I was drawn to State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett because it is set in Brazil. One of my goals in 2017 was to read a book set on each of the seven continents.
The premise of the book is that a pharmaceutical firm in Minnesota has sent an employee, Anders Eckman, to Brazil to report back on a drug they are developing in the jungle there. Anders fails to report back and word is sent that he died of a fever.
The pharmaceutical company then sends a female employee, Marina Singh, to Brazil to learn what happened to Anders and to determine the status of the drug being developed.
Marina embarks on quite an adventure along the Amazon River and its surrounding jungle. There are numerous twists and turns in the story and I believe some of them will surprise you. I highly recommend the book. The description of the jungle and the river put the reader right there!
If the Creek Don’t Rise, by Leah Weiss
If the Creek Don’t Rise is Leah Weiss’s debut novel, and I hope it won’t be her only one. Set in the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina in the 1970s, it is the story of Sadie Blue, who gets pregnant as a teenager and marries the baby’s father, Roy Tupkin. Roy is a ne’er do well, if there ever was one, but his worst character flaw is that he is a wife beater.
Sadie’s story is told from the viewpoints of herself, and nine other people including the local preacher, the new one-room school teacher, and Sadie’s good-for-nothing husband.
I was in college at Appalachian State University in the early 1970s, so I found the time in which If the Creek Don’t Rise was set to be hard to believe. It felt more like the 1930s to me. As a college student in Boone I just wasn’t exposed to people living the way the book’s characters live.
However, Ms. Weiss did a wonderful job developing her characters! I can only hope to come close to her when I write my characters. It was truly a pleasure to read about these fictitious people and be able to picture them and hear them so vividly in my mind.
The plot kept me turning pages to see what would happen next to Sadie Blue and to see if Roy Tupkin would get his comeuppance.
The Silent Sister, by Diane Chamberlain
The Silent Sister is the second of Diane Chamberlain’s novels that I’ve read. I got to hear her speak and meet her last September at the One the Same Page book festival in West Jefferson, North Carolina.
The Silent Sister is about a family that held many secrets. Riley MacPherson grew up thinking that her older sister Lisa had committed suicide when Riley was just a toddler. Riley returns to New Bern, North Carolina to clean out her deceased father’s house. She finds evidence that Lisa might still be alive and sets out on a mission to find Lisa. Her search takes her all the way to California.
There are many twists, turns, and surprises in this 2014 novel, so I will say no more about the plot in case you haven’t read it yet. It will keep you guessing!
What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons
This debut novel by Zinzi Clemmons reads like a memoir. Written in the form of short vignettes, the book takes us on a journey of losses.
Though not morbid, at the root of the book is the death of Thandi’s South African mother. Her American father distances himself from Thandi after her mother’s death. He is able to move on to future happiness much more easily than Thandi.
The novel takes us through Thandi’s growing up years and her young adult years with her various friendship, marriage, and motherhood. All the while, she is haunted by memories of her mother. Thandi never fits in.
Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent couldn’t have been less alike. Ron was a wealthy white art dealer. Denver was a homeless black man. At Ron’s wife’s insistence, he accompanied Debbie to serve a meal at the homeless shelter. Debbie kept trying to “break the ice” with Denver, to no avail. He wondered why this white woman was harassing him. Debbie told Ron that he had to make friends with Denver. It was a slow process, but Ron and Debbie finally broke through and Denver became a close friend.
This book will teach you some things you probably don’t know about being homeless unless you’ve been in that situation. Based on a true story, it will break your heart and make you cheer. It was the September book choice for Rocky River Readers Book Club.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’ve started off October with Love and Other Consolation Prizes, by Jamie Ford. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.