We had another nice afternoon floating on our boat in the lake recently. I was reading Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer. This thriller is a ‘read alike’ for fans of Jodi Picoult. Timmer’s first novel is the kind of ‘edge of your seat’ reading that will appeal to those who can’t get enough of emotional suspense like that written by Jodi Picoult. Five Days Left examines the situation of a high achieving attorney’s struggle to come to terms with her diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease and its devastating symptoms. This situation is juxtaposed with the tribulations of a middle class family fostering a young black boy from inner city Detroit, as the family is forced to return the child to his mother who has just been released from prison. The story is heart wrenching.
I was compelled to read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman after watching the Netflix series of the same name. While I was interested to watch the series, I much more enjoyed the memoir. It is an interesting expose of the womens’ prison system. While the Netflix series was entertaining, it was obvious from the memoir that there were a lot of liberties taken in the video script–guess it was necessary to keep it entertaining rather than doing a documentary! If you like nonfiction, this is a very informative read about a current and controversial topic.
Fever by Megan Abbott is a Young Adult novel about a mysterious illness spreading through a school and community. As more girls begin to experience bizarre symptoms, contagion, hysteria, and misinformation abound. There is a point where HPV immunizations are suspected. This book would be appropriate for high school age and above, as it provides a brutal portrait of teenage life today, replete with crushes, competing alliances and the immediacy of technology.
Within the space of a few months, I read two novels about women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. Both of the women in the books fought on the side of the Union Army–one along side her husband, the other left her husband at home to take care of the farm. In I Shall Be Near To You by Erin McCabe, the young wife, Rosetta, doesn’t want her husband to enlist, but when he does–sneaking away the night before to avoid painful goodbyes, Rosetta cuts off her hair and takes off to find his regiment and becomes a soldier herself. It is a compelling and heart rending tale.
Neverhome by Laird Hunt is getting early acclaim. Its language is poetic and sparse, and he manages to convey the personage of this strong young woman who leaves her husband on the farm to take up arms in support of the Union army. We are engaged in an engrossing journey in this portrayal of the tragedy of war. This woman, who takes the name Ash Thompson, becomes a fierce
fighter, a traitor, and a legend. Both of these novels are based on the fact that there were many females who served as soldiers in the Civil War. Having recently watched the movie, Lincoln, brought to mind vivid mental pictures of the bloody gore and awful battles of that war. Both novels had a ‘cameo’ appearance of Clara Barton.
These were both great books. If forced to choose one over the other, it would be I Shall Be Near to You. It had a strong emotional appeal–it made me cry at the end. Both were well-written, and I liked them both very much!
Historical fiction such as this is a wonderful way to revisit history and rediscover our heritage.
Let It Burn, the latest Alex McKnight novel by Steve Hamilton, takes us to Paradise, Michigan in the U.P. and to current day Detroit which has been almost destroyed. When Alex McKnight drives to Detroit to see his old sergeant and a certain female FBI agent, McKnight is drawn in to ‘detecting’ when a young man who McKnight had helped put away, is released from prison, and questions arise about the validity of his guilt. Hamilton writes a great mystery novel which keeps the reader guessing, and the details about Michigan may appeal to those who have lived or visited the locations. Even if you’ve never been in Michigan, you may enjoy a good police procedural thriller.