A couple of weeks ago, I watched the film “The Social Network.” I expect most of us know what the film is about, but for those who don’t, it’s the fictionalized account of the creation of the social networking internet site: Facebook. I liked the film a lot, and one of the things that remained with me after the credits rolled is the changing idea of friendship. In the age of the internet, what does friendship mean? It used to be that we made friends in school, at work or at university, but now many of us have friendships with people online that we’ve never actually met in person. Are these relationships real? Are they substitutes, or are they a facsimile of the “real” thing.

The authenticity of relationships is just one of the many things that trouble the protagonist of Jonathan Coe’s latest novel, THE TERRIBLE PRIVACY OF MAXWELL SIM.

March 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Drift-of-Life, Humorous, Reading Guide, United Kingdom

THE INTIMATES by Ralph Sassone

Robbie and Maize, the principal characters in Ralph Sassone’s immensely readable debut novel, THE INTIMATES, totally fit the profile of these restless and searching young adults. As the book opens, the two are still in high school; Maize nurses a crush on her guidance counselor and when Robbie’s path crosses hers, it doesn’t immediately amount to much. Robbie is gay—a fact he doesn’t realize until much later in high school.

February 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City

THE MEMORY OF LOVE by Aminatta Forna

Incalculable grief cleaves to profound love in this elaborate, helical tapestry of a besieged people in postwar Freetown, Sierra Leone. Interlacing two primary periods of violent upheaval, author Aminatta Forna renders a scarred nation of people with astonishing grace and poise–an unforgettable portrait of open wounds and closed mouths, of broken hearts and fractured spirits, woven into a stunning evocation of recurrence and redemption, loss and tender reconciliation. Forna mines a filament of hope from resigned fatalism, from the devastation of a civil war that claimed 50,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. Those that survived felt hollowed out, living with an uneasy peace.

February 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Africa, Commonwealth Prize, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

RESCUE by Anita Shreve

RESCUE, by Anita Shreve, focuses on the ways in which parents and children deal with physical and emotional trauma. It is a poignant story about a good man who makes a mistake, but takes full responsibility for his actions.

November 30, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, NE & New York

THE LEGACY by Kirsten Tranter

Every now and then, a novel comes along that is addicting. Nothing else gets done. Dinner gets burned, if it is even made, phones aren’t answered, and appointments are canceled. This is one of those novels. It is seductive, darkly sexual, haunting, and even frightening. You start waiting for the penny to drop, as the pages keep turning and the clues keep mounting. This is one very hypnotic novel.

October 29, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Australia, Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Literary, New York City, Noir, Reading Guide

THE FALSE FRIEND by Myla Goldberg

Celia Durst and Djuna Pearson are best friends in middle school and have been queens of their clique since elementary school. They have a very tight, mercurial and labile relationship but they usually get over their fights very quickly. One day, as they are acting out by walking in a wooded area where they aren’t supposed to go, Djuna and Celia have a fight. Celia walks away from Djuna and moments later Djuna is abducted by a man in a brown car. Three of the other girls from their clique are there and witness this event. Djuna is never seen or heard from again despite extensive police investigation. Celia can never remember the details of the event until she becomes an adult and then her memory of what actually happened is very different from what allegedly transpired.

October 8, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Family Matters, Mystery/Suspense, Reading Guide