Monday, May 28, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, With Memorial Day quickly coming  upon us, I am making my plans.  At 8am Monday we will be hosting a breakfast on the front lawn of the Children’s Library after which we will march in the Village’s iconic parade - again organized by Phil Como.  Following the beautiful, bittersweet ceremony at Clifton Park, we will head down to Sea Cliff Beach for lunch.  Any suggestions for a good book to bring along?  Memorial Day Observer

Dear Memorial Day Observer, Sounds like you have a fine plan and I have an interesting, thought-provoking book to complete your weekend:  THE PERFECT MOTHER  by Aimee Molloy.  This psychological thriller can be read on two levels.  The obvious one is that of a crime novel- a child is kidnapped and there are many colorful suspects and leads. The other is a disturbing social commentary:  our harsh judgment of women- and mothers in particular.  The May Mothers is a group of Brooklyn women whose babies were born in May and have met up through an online parenting group.  They gather weekly at Prospect Park with their children to share, advise and- yes- judge.  The women decide to meet at a popular local bar for a night out without children or husbands. During the evening, one of the babies is kidnapped and for the next thirteen days, we follow the stories of four of these women as the media, their families, and their peers turn on them for what are perceived as failings.  While the resolution is farfetched, the story of societal demands on mothers is right on.  Highly recommended!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am decluttering my house in anticipation of the annual Village-wide Garage Sale here in Sea Cliff on Saturday, June 2.  I’ll be dropping my used books off at the Main Library after May 21 but I would love to have something to read now- perhaps a short novel on a current topic…
Avid Declutterer                   
Dear Avid Declutter, Congratulations on your determination and I do have a good book for you: THE PARKING LOT ATTENDANT by Nafkote Tamirat.  This debut novel opens in a utopian community where our unnamed narrator is living with her father. Neither father nor daughter is welcome and quickly the story line switches back to Boston where they had been living until forced to flee under mysterious circumstances.  The narrator had immigrated to Boston as a fifteen year old. To her father’s dismay, she is drawn to the charismatic Ayale, a parking lot attendant who is the unofficial king of Boston’s close knit Ethiopian community.  Soon it becomes evident that Ayale is a sinister force but this makes him all the more attractive to the young girl.  By the time she realizes the full extent of his plans, she has become totally complicit. This is a coming of age novel, a look into the loneliness of the immigrant, a study of fatherhood, and ultimately a darkly compelling mystery…..highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru,  We are planning a family celebration for Mother’s Day this Sunday.  It will be brunch, a play, and then dessert at our favorite local restaurant.  Whenever we get together, conversations always turn to books we are reading.  I have time this week to begin something good for discussion- preferably non-fiction.  Any recommendations?  
Mother’s Day Celebrant
Dear Mother’s Day Celebrant,  I just finished reading a wonderful book: AFTER LINCOLN  by A.J. Langguth I think you will enjoy and find much in it to discuss.  The book is divided into twenty chapters each devoted to one character ( Charles Sumner, Rutherford B. Hayes…)  or topic (Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow….) all of which come together to  show the tragic and avoidable aftermath of the American Civil War- when the rights of freed black men and women were taken away by greed, cowardice, and malfeasance.   After Lincoln’s assassination, efforts were made by some to right the wrongs of slavery but to little avail.  It was not until 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act did the protections purposed one hundred years before came into effect.   The individual tales of the heroes and villains that made up the famous “team of rivals” make for a fascinating albeit troubling read. Highly recommended!