Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category


“Perhaps there is a line in everyone’s life that, once crossed, imparts a certain truth that one has not been able to see before, transforming solitude from a choice into the only possible line of existence.” For four friends, that line was crossed during their late teenage years, when one of them was poisoned, perhaps deliberately, perhaps accidentally, lingering in a physical limbo state until she finally dies years later. The young man, Boyang, remains in China; the two young women, Ruyu and Moran, move to the United States. Each ends up living in what the author describes as a “life-long quarantine against love and life.”

March 21, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: California, Character Driven, China, Contemporary, Literary, US Midwest, World Lit

YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel of domestic angst, You Should Have Known, is the story of Grace Reinhart Sachs. She is a therapist who, for fifteen years, has specialized in helping couples mend or sever their relationships as painlessly as possible. In addition, Grace’s publicist has arranged interviews and television appearances to stimulate interest in Grace’s forthcoming work of non-fiction. It cautions women to be on the lookout for warning signs that should give them pause before they invest time, energy, and emotional resources in a serious relationship. Her message is that when women fall in love, they are sometimes dazzled by what they perceive as instant chemistry. Consequently, they may not pay close attention to their partners’ flaws; only when it is too late do they realize that should have been more circumspect.

March 18, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, New York City


After looking up various images of the 1963 movie Cleopatra, the film that critically bombed but was lit up by the scandal of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, I saw a coastline of Italy that looked exactly like the cover of this book. It is a most felicitous cover that captures the mood and time that this novel begins, in 1962. A parochial innkeeper, Pasquali Tursi, lives in a rocky coastline village called Porto Vergogna (Port of Shame), a place the size of a thumb between two mountains, and referred to as “the whore’s crack.”

March 16, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Contemporary, Facing History, italy, Literary, US Northwest, World Lit

BOY, SNOW, BIRD by Helen Oyemi

“Nobody ever warned me about mirrors so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.” So begins the dazzingly imaginative and enigmatically-named new novel from Helen Oyeyemi.

But what happens when mirrors are not trustworthy? When Boy is really a girl? When a beautiful pale-skinned youngster actually shares the bloodline of the blackest of black individuals? When beauty is not truth and when truth is not beauty? When a mother or a grandmother is not a safe haven but something else entirely?

March 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is a “love story” for our current teen/young adult generation. Like any love story, it is kind of “cheesy” … but not one easy to put down. And it is smart. I liked it a whole lot better than Love Story because it is cynical/realistic and its setting is far more accessible than the Ivy league town of Cambridge, Massachusetts and a star cross relation between rich kid and poor kid.

March 9, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary

A CIRCLE OF WIVES by Alice LaPlante

John Taylor does not fit the stereotype of a polygamist. Although he is handsome, charming, and charismatic, he is not selfish and arrogant, nor does he seem obviously abnormal or deviant. On the contrary, Taylor is a doctor who uses his impressive skills to perform reconstructive surgery on children who have facial deformities. His partners are unhappy that Taylor insists on doing pro bono work, since the big money is in cosmetic procedures for the affluent. Still, Taylor is a complex individual who, for reasons of his own, married three women who live in Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Los Angeles; he somehow managed to juggle his myriad professional and personal responsibilities. It is only after Taylor dies in his hotel room of an apparent heart attack that his trio of wives become fodder for the tabloids.

March 4, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Mystery/Suspense