Lately, I’ve hit the jackpot. Every book I’ve opened has lured me in from the first page. Reads too good not to share. The problem? Spanning genres, audiences, and themes, these good reads don’t easily fit into one category. However, with a little pondering, I realized they all touch upon a common theme: families separated by circumstances outside their control. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite recent reads:
The Patriots by Sana Krasikov A young American woman flees Depression-era Brooklyn in pursuit of her lover and what she thinks will be a better life in the Soviet Union. Seven decades later, her middle-aged Russian-American son returns to Moscow to negotiate an oil deal, rein in an errant son, and dig up his parents’ secret police files. A century of political, social and personal upheaval marks the time between. I second Yann Martel’s touting of this kaleidoscopic family saga as a Dr. Zhivago for our time. The Patriots is a debut novel from Sana Krasikov. Pair it with a viewing of A Bridge of Spies.
… for Children
The history of the Native American residential school system is rarely told. Native American children, removed from their families and forced into boarding schools, were often too ashamed to tell their stories. Fortunately for us, Jenny Kay Dupuis shares the story of her grandmother in I Am Not a Number. Somberly colored illustrations by Gillian Newland add a powerful depth.
As I warned in my last post, I have a weakness for trilogies. Or I find an alluring book, fall under its spell and then learn it’s the start of a trilogy. Gilded Cage, a dark mashup of Downton Abbey and An Ember in the Ashes, is the first volume in a planned trilogy, with the next book expected in September. In a darkly dystopian Great Britain, Skilled (magical) aristocrats rule and non-magical commoners must serve a decade in slavery. Teenagers Abi and Luke’s parents decide to serve their decade together as a family, as slaves to the nation’s most powerful Skilled family. The Labor Allocation Bureau has a different plan, however. The family goes to a mansion in the country. Luke goes to an Orwellian slavetown.
Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West enchanted me from its first sentence. “In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.” A love story in a time of violence. Achingly gorgeous prose begging the reader to slow down and savor while the slowly escalating tension urges us to read faster. How did I read it? Twice.
… For Teens
American Street opens in JFK Airport. Teenager Fabiola Touissant is on one side of sliding glass doors in Customs; her mother is detained on the other. American by birth, Fabiola, continues onto Detroit, where her aunt and cousins await her. Her mother held in a New Jersey detention facility, Fabioloa negotiates the streets of Detroit, the corridors of high school, and the complexities of relationships. When a chance arises to get her mother out of detention, will she take it?