THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

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

FALLING TO EARTH by Kate Southwood

FALLING TO EARTH is the kind of novel that makes me want to grab the very next person I see and urgently say, ”You MUST read this.” I read this rabidly with increasing awe and respect that Kate Southwood had the chops to create a debut novel with this degree of psychological insight, restrained power, and heartbreaking beauty.

The story centers on a tragedy of unimaginable proportions – a tornado hits the small Illinois town of March in 1925, causing devastation and grievous loss in the homes of every single resident of the town.

Except one.

March 5, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, US Midwest

THE SWAN GONDOLA by Timothy Schaffert

Swan Gondola literally starts off with a bang! Two elderly sisters, Emmaline and Hester, known by most in their small county, as the “Old Sisters Egan,” are sitting in their Nebraska farm kitchen drinking coffee. The day has been a peaceful one. Suddenly the house begins to shiver and shake and they are enveloped in noise, a loud BANG!! Books fall from their shelves, china dishes and cups fall to the floor, breaking, chimney bricks drop into the hearth, their caged canaries stop singing and the two sisters are left stunned, shocked.

February 14, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, US Frontier West, Wild West

LEVELS OF LIFE by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes’ memoir of grief for the death of his wife Pat Kavanagh in 2008 after a thirty-year relationship, must be one of the most moving tributes ever paid to a loved one, but also the most oblique. So let’s start with something simple, a photograph. Look up the title in the Daily Mail of London, partly for the marvelously-titled review “Lifted by Love, Grounded by Grief” by Craig Brown, but mostly for the photograph that accompanies it. Julian is seated. Pat stands behind him, her arms around his shoulders, her chin resting on the crown of his head. Her love is obvious, she whom Barnes refers to as “The heart of my life; the life of my heart.” But equally striking is the unusual vertical composition. Pat, who on the ground was a small woman beside the gangling Barnes, here appears above him, like a guardian angel reaching down.

February 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Non-fiction, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

THE TUNER OF SILENCES by Mia Couto

The above opening line pulled me immediately into Mia Couto’s novel, The Tuner of Silences; it raised questions for me from the beginning and these didn’t let me go until the end. Mwanito, the narrator, reflecting back on the early years of his life, recounts his experiences while living in the company of three men and his slightly older brother in a remote campside in a semi-desert. Couto, an award-winning Mozambican author, has written a novel that is part coming of age story, part family drama and part a kind of love story.

February 3, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Family Matters, Neustadt Intl Prize, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion

BLUE NIGHTS is ostensibly about the loss of a child. In reality, however, it is about the passing of time. Indeed, it is the passing of time that captures all loss, loss of children, of loved ones, and ultimately, of self. It is the classic Heritclitian flow and Ms. Didion has here given herself to it fully, embracing every ripple, bend and eddy. With superhuman strength she resists fighting the current. She does not emote. She does not wax sentimental. Rather she turns her hard-edged and beautiful prose squarely upon her subject matter–as she always has done–and sets to work. Yet even she wonders if the manner in which she practices her art is up for the task.

November 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: End-of-Life, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author