It’s hard to write about the Dust Bowl without tipping over into melodrama, and at times it felt as if the only thing moving the story forward was the next disaster. The relationships between the women in THE FOUR WINDS kept me invested. Elsa is a bit of a sad-sack, but her daughter Loreda is fierce and as she ages, she challenges Elsa to overcome her fears.
One of the things I struggled with was the pacing; at times, the narrative dragged. And, because Addie never enjoys real intimacy in most of her relationships, some of the characters lacked depth; they read like character sketches and weren’t fully formed within the pages of the story. I would have liked to see more of Addie in the key historical moments the author only touches on – the French Revolution and World War II for instance. Instead of focusing so entirely on Addie’s love life, a plot that wends her through America’s turbulent 60’s or the Velvet Revolution or any number of culturally significant moments in history would have been more interesting to me.
THE GREAT CIRCLE is a big book – not just because it is nearly 600 pages long – but because of the breadth of the subject matter – art, aviation, prohibition, noncomformity, war, isolation, connection – and the period it spans 1909-2014 – give or take a few decade gaps. There will be So. Much. To. Discuss. with your book group! Maggie Shipstead has a keen understanding of longing and what it means to be human.
McMorris’s novel flags at times, and some of the backstory feels unrealistic, but as the reporters close in on a dark underworld of mobsters, unscrupulous children’s homes, and characters broken by loss, the novel becomes compulsively readable. You’ll find yourself flying through the last third of the book, as desperate as Lilly and Ellis to find the lost children. Though the novel lacks the depth of other books on the era and at times tips into resolutions that border on magical thinking, the welfare of the children kept me reading till the end.
Powerfully conveyed through shifting narratives, SEND FOR ME is not a lament, but rather an ode to family and a love that transcends time and place. I recommend SEND FOR ME for fans of Kristin Hannah and Geraldine Brooks. Listen to my interview with Lauren Fox on Superior Reads, May 27 at 7:00 pm.
A stark reminder that grief knows no color, that loss transcends class, but that man’s inhumanity to man even in the midst of a natural disaster remains constant. Minrose Gwin’s strength is in developing characters that we come to care about, in spite of their flaws.
THE STREET is the heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young, black, single mother trying to raise her son on the streets of Harlem. First published in 1946, THE STREET was Ann Petry’s debut novel and was the first book by a female author to sell over a million copies. THE STREET is as resonant …
RODHAM is a glorious mash up of the real with the imagined. Sittenfeld inserts real-life people, including Donald Trump, into her alternate history with some surprising outcomes. A satisfying read for those of us who wish that we could have a do-over of the 2016 election.
James McBride won the National Book Award for his book The Good Lord Bird, and his newest novel Deacon King Kong is a contender as well. Deacon King Kong may read as a farce, but buried in McBride’s humor and hilarity is a book about grace and second chances. In September of 1969, Deacon Cuffy …
At the heart of Louise Erdrich’s new novel The Night Watchman is the battle over Native dispossession. Thomas Wazhashk is a night watchman at the Turtle Mountain Reservation’s first factory, a jewel-bearing plant. His character is based upon Erdrich’s grandfather, whose letters and personal accounts provided insight and a valuable resource as she wrote the …