WE THE ANIMALS by Justin Torres

WE THE ANIMALS in this wonderful debut novel refers to three brothers, close in age, growing up in upstate New York. They are the Three Musketeers bound strongly together not just because of geographical isolation but because of cultural separateness too. The brothers are born to a white mother and a Puerto Rican father—they are half-breeds confused about their identity and constrained by desperate and mind-numbing poverty.

September 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Family Matters, Latin American/Caribbean, NE & New York

LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner

In Lisa Gardner’s Love You More, Tessa Leoni has a great deal on her plate. She has been a Massachusetts state trooper for four years and has a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Sophie, whose father’s name Tessa does not even know. Leoni has an inner toughness that she will desperately need as she faces an uncertain future. Her husband of three years and Sophie’s stepfather, Brian Darby, has been shot to death, and the evidence points to Tessa as the perpetrator. Worse, Tessa’s little girl, Sophie, has disappeared. The detectives soon suspect that not only did Tessa gun down her husband in cold blood, but that she also killed and buried her daughter.

March 15, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: NE & New York, Sleuths Series

WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child

Those who enjoyed Lee Child’s 61 HOURS were prepared for a breathtaking follow-up. How sad that WORTH DYING FOR is a throwback to a more one-dimensional Jack Reacher, a far less interesting protagonist than the one in 61 HOURS. In the previous installment, it was thrilling to see a new version of Reacher—a man with flaws who made mistakes and was not able to win every battle. He also revealed a bit more of his background during telephone conversations with a woman named Susan whom he never meets. Since 61 HOURS ended in a cliffhanger, many of us expected that Child would pick up where he left off, perhaps heading in even more new directions.

October 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Frontier West, y Award Winning Author

PURPLE HIBISCUS by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie

From the first few pages PURPLE HIBISCUS leaves no room for doubt as to how the narrative will unfold: the struggle of the “outside” and more natural world against that of domestic oppression and enforced sterility. As the book opens with a domestic crisis which overwhelms the narrator in its almost silent enormity, she retreats to her room.

The netting in the above quote is the perfect simile for the walls and boundaries, real and invisible, which surround the narrator. Whom do they keep out, and whom do they keep in? In an instant, we know from this passage alone that although they may keep the mosquitoes out, they also enforce a separation between the narrator and the leaves and bees: a separation decidedly unwelcome.

August 29, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

HOW CLARISSA BURDEN LEARNED TO FLY by Connie May Fowler

Clarissa Burden is having a bad day. It’s hot, her marriage is stuck in a bad place, her writing is even worse. A two-time bestselling novelist, she hasn’t written a decent sentence in thirteen months. Instead she pours her mental creativity into fantasizing about the accidental (but not necessarily unwelcome) death of Iggy, her verbally abusive artist husband, sixteen years her senior. After seven years of marriage, Iggy largely ignores Clarissa and instead focuses his attention on photographing and sketching young, pretty nudes in Clarissa’s back garden. He hasn’t touched his wife in years. He resents and scorns her commercial success even as he milks the financial benefits. Things are not good.

May 2, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Florida

SECRETS OF EDEN by Chris Bohjalian

There are no SECRETS OF EDEN, at least not by the time you finish the last sentence of this page-turner of a novel. In all likelihood, you will probably rush to discover them all, they are presented so deftly constructed and poised.

March 15, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Mystery/Suspense, Reading Guide