Well, what have we been reading lately? These are our current favourites of books that we have in stock...
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
What a story - Lydia and her 8 year old son are on the run. Their entire family has been massacred at her niece's 15th birthday party. Lydia's journalist husband has pushed the buttons of the local drug cartel head just a little too hard, and the retribution is horrifying. Lydia and her son Luca are the only survivors and are now running from Acapulco to as far north as possible - to America. What a journey - terrifying, dangerous, exhausting, traumatic. Awful things happen, small acts of kindness, everybody is a baddie, hopes are dashed. Murder, rape, theft, humiliation, hunger - can all happen in one day.I have no idea what is true and what isn't, how much of the actual migrant experience has been embellished or ignored or is accurately portrayed in this novel. Despite all that, and in the words of one GoodReads reviewer, this is a great piece of fiction writing - don't forget that word fiction - and whether the author is sufficiently qualified to write such a story does not detract from this being compelling, horrifying, tragic, joyous, and a complete page turner. I certainly could not put it down, had strange and weird dreams, I bet my blood pressure was elevated while reading this. Is a book that makes you react in such a way, that keeps you thinking long after it is finished, that makes you want to read more about the subject matter a bad book? I don't think so - anything that increases awareness of those whose lives are different from ours has to be a good thing. Very worth while reading.
BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE by Trent Dalton
Incredible piece of writing, I devoured this. Life through the eyes of Eli, a 13 year old boy, in a family about as dysfunctional and tortured as you could expect. The one abiding thing though that holds him together, that stops him taking the same dangerous, hopeless and failing path as the adults around him is knowing that he is loved - by his drug addict mother, his heart broken and absent father, his adored step father, his ex-con babysitter, and his mute brother August. He makes an interesting observation that people end up on this hopeless downward spiral because they have terrible fathers - men who abuse them as children, violent to their mums, abandon their families, are drunks, addicts, generally hopeless, passing the burden to mothers, who often themselves have had bad fathers. It is a generalisation, yes, but in the eyes of a 13 year old boy, pretty insightful.
SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid
Long listed for this year's Man Booker Prize, this is an insightful novel about a young black woman who works as a nanny for a middle class white family. Things go wrong when Emira reluctantly agrees to take her young charge - a truly delightful 3 year old - out of the house one evening while the parents deal with a crisis. During this short time out, Emira is accused of kidnapping the child. You can immediately imagine the drama that ensues. The story oozes white privilege, and white saviour, at the same time exposing the problems in that middle class white world. This novel shows that there is no right or wrong way of doing things, except that it never really pays to interfere in the lives of others. A little different from the usual Man Booker offerings.
THE LOST PIANOS OF SIBERIA by Sophy Roberts
The perfect combination of history, travel, music, passion. The author takes herself off to Siberia - that middle of nowhere expanse of inhospitable, bitterly unpleasant land forcibly populated by the unlucky. And yet, somehow pianos of all shapes and sizes also make their way to Siberia, along with talented musicians, composers, tuners, repairers and lovers of beautiful instruments. The stories behind the settlement of Siberia, the communities, the exiled populations and the pianos themselves are spell bounding, absorbing and uplifitng. In such awful places, joy can still be found.