Friday, April 23, 2021

 Dear Great Book Guru, Every year I look forward to the Long Island Reads event our local libraries host, and I especially enjoy John Canning’s witty observations.  Well… this year it was virtual and I missed it. However, I’m sure I can find a recording of it, but first - of course - I want to read the 2021 selection. Do you know what book was chosen this year?  Lover of Long Island Reads

Dear Lover of Long Island Reads, Always a great event and this year’s selection THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett made for a fascinating discussion!  The story weaves in and out of time starting in the 1950’s with the birth of identical twin girls, Stella and Desiree. When the girls are eight years old, their father is brutally murdered in a horrific, racially motivated attack in their small Southern hometown where skin color is very, very important…the lighter the skin, the more attractive the person is judged.  Finding life there very repressive, the girls run away when they turn sixteen. Stella decides to live as a white woman and ultimately vanishes.  Over the decades, their racial identities dictate the outcome of many life choices. They remain apart over the decades and it is only when their daughters meet that Stella and Desiree acknowledge all that separates and binds them together.  An illuminating story of the injustices that permeate American society - highly recommended!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

 Dear Great Book Guru, We were able to get together on our porch with family this weekend (everyone fully vaccinated) and – as you might have guessed - conversation quickly turned to books we had read recently.  Someone mentioned a new novel about tourism and its effects on communities.  It sounded interesting - are you familiar with it?  Loving My Family

Dear Loving My Family, Yes - BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER by Jamie Figueroa is an amazing first novel. Rafa and Rufina are brother and sister living in an unnamed Latin American country. Their mother Rosalinda has just died and these adult siblings are devastated at their loss - so much so that Rafa is planning suicide.  To prevent this, Rufina makes a bargain with him: if they don costumes and perform in the village square for the many visiting tourists, the money they earn will allow them to flee their country for a new life. We are with the pair for three days as they dance and sing for a disparate audience of men and women interested in taking selfies, ogling the couple, romanticizing about their “exotic” lives, seeing their obvious sadness and poverty as “part of the charm.”  A stolen wallet that yields only a few dollars, a shaming wife, convention goers who carelessly toss money at the siblings - all make us question what role we might play in this brittle, biting tale of cruel indifference to fellow humans. Highly recommended!

Friday, April 2, 2021


Dear Great Book Guru, I heard that a famous local mystery author has a new book coming out this week.  I love mysteries and especially those set in a familiar locale. Do you know anything about the book? Eagerly Awaiting

 Dear Eagerly Awaiting, Michael Sears’s newest book TOWER OF BABEL is being released April 6 and it is a wonderful read.  I loved Sears’s earlier mystery series featuring former Wall Street trader, forensic investigator Jason Stafford and his young autistic son, but I think this latest book is my favorite.  He introduces a new hero: Ted Malloy, a former partner in a prestigious Manhattan law firm.  Ted’s life has taken a sharp turn – disbarred, he works out of his small Queens apartment as a “Foreclosure Profiteer,” tracking down small real estate residuals, never much more than $50, 000 or so.  When his criminally inclined assistant, Richie Rubiano, comes up with a million-dollar

 deal, Malloy declines and three days later Richie is dead. Soon Malloy finds himself enmeshed in a dangerously complex world of New York City and Nassau County politicians, greedy developers, mobsters, and environmental activists. As in Sears’s earlier books, the characters and neighborhoods add much to the suspenseful unfolding of the plot.  Whether it be a Mets game at Citi Field with Malloy’s socialite ex-wife or a cheeseburger lunch at Gallagher’s Bar, or a chance encounter with a corrupt billionaire real estate developer, Sears presents it all in exquisite detail. Highly recommended!