Readers Guide


By robin nettles

June 1
June 2
June 3
June 4

June 4 

The Summer I Met Jack
(F), by Michelle Gable, is a fascinating story based on the relationship between Alicia Corning Clark, a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America, and the rising politician, Jack Kennedy.  Engaged but forbidden to marry, Alicia leaves Hyannisport for Hollywood and, eventually, Rome.  Years later, the two must confront what they mean to each other.  Kirkus Reviews offers this novel will, “leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JFK at all." 

Monarch butterflies are known for their epic migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico, laying their eggs on milkweed – a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance released when its leaves are damaged. Monarchs and Milkweed (NF 595.789), by Anurag Agrawal, investigates how the monarchs have evolved closely beside the milkweed. Agrawal states their relationship is an example of “coevolution” and according to Bernd Heinrich, author of a number of books about nature and biology, the book “brings the arms race of milkweeds and monarchs to new light.” 

In her debut novel, Sarah Haywood creates a delightful collection of characters to lead protagonist Susan Green out of her emotionally sheltered life. The Cactus (F) is an amusing read about a woman who learns to embrace the unexpected and create the family she feels she deserves.  Booklist cites, “a heartfelt and charming story of one woman's transition from a solitary, orderly existence to a messy life full of love.” 

Chronicling the nation’s struggles from revolutionary times to current day, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham’s new historical narrative, The Soul of America (NF 973.000), makes the resonant argument that America has faced division before—and not only survived it, but thrived. “Meacham offers wisdom for our own time and helps us appreciate the American soul: the heart, the core, and the essence of what it means to have faith in our nation.”Walter Isaacson 

Multi-genre author Bethany C. Morrow’s debut novel will change the way you think about memories. MEM (F) is a speculative story set in Montreal circa 1925. In this telling, scientists discover they can extract memories from people and force them to relive that memory over and over until their death by delivering them into “Mems.”  Enter Elsie, designated as Delores Extract #1, the first MEM capable of making her own memories. The novel is at its best when it presents Elsie at her most human, forcing the real ones around her to reckon with what her personhood means for theirs." —Publishers Weekly 

Charles Campisis offers a compelling account of his rise through the ranks of the New York City police force to become head of a the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, or, as hostilely referred to by rank-and-file police, the “rat squad.” Before his appointment, the department was home to incompetent, lazy, and dirty cops.  Campisi was able to alter the reputation of the bureau while improving techniques to catch and punish cops who cut corners, stole drugs, or employed excessive force. Blue on Blue: An Insiders Story of Good Cops Catching Bad Cops (NF 363.209), by Charles Campisi with Gordon Dillow, is a serious memoir, and an “unflinching exposé and a riveting read.” – Booklist 

Also at the Library:
     Science and the City (NF 307.760)
     Beer School (NF 641.230)
     1000 Ideas for Color Schemes (NF 701.850) 
     Anger is a Gift  (YPF) by Mark Oshiro
     Girl Made of Stars  YPF by Ashley Herring Blake
     Aftermath  YPF by Kelley Armstrong

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June 3 

In 1927, author Zora Neale Hurston travels to Alabama to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, one of the many men, captured in Africa and brought to America who is still alive to tell the story. In Barracoon (NF 306.362), Hurston records Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. “The story is at times devastating, but Hurston’s success in bringing it to light is a marvel.” (NPR)

You have met Hadley Richardson in The Paris Wife (2011) and Beryl Markham in Circling the Sun (2015), but do you know much about Hemingway’s third wife? Paula McLain’s novel, Love and Ruin (F), closely follows previously published material to weave a tale about Martha Gellhorn —a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.

Natural Causes (NF 306.900)
, by Barbara Ehrenreich, describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about our inevitable death.  Her controversial thoughts overthrow conventional guidelines – from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture. She goes on to tackle the problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end while still reveling in the lives that remain to us.  Booklist states, "[Ehrenreich] offers a healthy dose of reformist philosophy combined with her trademark investigative journalism.

The narrative of Jane Delury’s debut novel is unusual. The Balcony (F)
follows the inhabitants of a single estate, including a manor and a servants' cottage, over the course of several generations, from the Belle Époque to the present day, introducing us to a fascinating cast of characters. Popular fiction novelist Jennifer Egan calls this one, “sweeping, suspenseful…rich with surprises and eerie atmosphere.” 

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Nour, her mother, and two older sisters return to their parents’ native land, finding themselves in the midst of a Syrian civil war. Seeking and then losing their refuge in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria, Nour seeks comfort in a fairy tale-like story her father used to tell – the story of a 12th century girl whose journey of discovery covered the same geography some 800 years ago.  The Map of Salt and Stars (F), by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, is a parallel tale of two unforgettable heroines coming of age in perilous times.

Blend a murder mystery and courtroom drama with a refined discussion of our legal system and you have the basis for the thoroughly researched book suggests that brain science is becoming widely employed in criminal cases. Using a New York City murder as a link to his studies, Kevin Davis, in The Brain Defense (NF 345.474,) speculates that “broken brains” may lead criminals to violent crimes. “This is probably the best book on the role neuroscience has played in the criminal justice system.” – The Washington Post

New Feature Films also at the Library:
     FEAT    Wonder
     FEAT    Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri
     FEAT    The Greatest Showman

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June 2 

Man Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes’s new mesmeric novel, The Only Story (F), is about a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman who has long been there. This is a love story shot through with sheer beauty, profound sadness, and deep truth. Booklist starred review states, “Barnes’s
latest will enrapture readers from beginning to end” 

Kirk Wallace Johnson’s The Feather Thief (NF 364.162) details the investigation into the theft of 299 beautiful, rare, and priceless bird feathers from a British Natural History Museum.  An intriguing story of a bizarre true-crime and one man’s relentless pursuit for justice.  The New York Times Review calls this one, “Fascinating…a complex tale of greed, deception and ornithological sabotage.” 

The New York Times Book Review calls The House of Broken Angels (F) from Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea, “epic…rambunctious…highly entertaining”. This is a powerful and unforgettable story of one complex Mexican- American family and an indelible portrait about the American dream that will remind us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. 

Part sports story, part cutting-edge research, and part neuroscience, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance (NF 612.044) by Alex Hutchinson is a captivating journey into understanding the mysteries of the mind-body connection. Personal stories along with Hutchinson’s moving narrative posits the question, what are the limits of man’s endurance? Kirkus Reviews calls this one, “a captivating and often moving book.” 

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing is the newest page-turner from author Aimee Molloy.  The Perfect Mother (F) is the author’s debut fiction novel. Slated to become a major motion picture, this one will surely delight readers and audiences alike. 

Leading sociologist Robert Wuthnow empathetically examines the “moral outrage” of rural America in his latest title, The Left Behind (NF 306.097). Over one thousand interviews spanning the past decade offer an in-depth look at the lives of people living in small towns with populations less than twenty-five thousand. Small communities are realizing the world is changing and they are being left behind. Wuthnow’s reflections reveal how a fraying social fabric is fueling the outrage of rural Americans. 

Also at the library:
     Warlight (F) by    Michael Ondaatje
     Our Kind of Cruelty (F)     by Araminta Hall
     Tangerine (F) by Christine Mangan
     Pops: fatherhood in pieces (NF 306.874) by Michael Chabon
     Chernobyl: the history of a nuclear catastrophe (NF 363.179) by Serhii, Plokhy
     How to Be Yourself (F616.852) by Ellen Hendriksen

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June 1 

Rick Bragg’s latest book, The Best Cook in the World…Tales from My Momma’s Table (NF 641.509), is a food memoir, cookbook, and loving testimony to a southern region. Bragg’s mother guides you through her Alabama kitchen, tempting you with mouthwatering recipes handed down from generation to generation. With a “dash” of humor and a “pinch” of wisdom, this tribute takes a nostalgic look at southern “soul” food and its vanishing past.

When the unnamed 15-year-old narrator begins her story, she is on an undisclosed island commune with her Ethiopian father. Life on the island is not the idealized perfection the founders had intended.  After setting the tone, the narrator switches gears and begins to describe her and her father’s life back in Boston and their attachment to an Ethiopian network.  When the narrator meets and becomes infatuated with a fellow Ethiopian, who runs a parking lot, The Parking Lot Attendant (F), by Nafkote Tamirat, narrative explores how who we love, the choices we make, and the places we are from combine to make us who we are. 

In a chaotic Bogotá maternity ward in 1988, two sets of identical twins are born. One mother lives in a remote village outside of Bogotá, the other lives in the vibrant capital city.  A huge oversight occurs and the twins are separated; one twin from each pair goes home with the wrong family. Twenty-five years later a chance encounter reunites one twin with his biological twin.  Accidental Brothers (NF 155.444), by Nancy Segal and Yesika Montoya, is a human interest story and an enthralling study in nurture versus nature. 

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, Laurel Mack is still trying to put her life back together. When she meets a charming man in a café and the relationship progresses into family gatherings, Laurel meets his daughter.  Something is very wrong.  His daughter hauntingly resembles her missing child. Then She Was Gone (F), by Lisa Jewell, is domestic noir at its best. 

Not everyone has the space or the skills to garden.  So many considerations – indoors or outdoors, sun or shade, annual or perennial, or maybe biennial.  Should you plant in the ground or maybe just a raised bed or pot? Then there is the matter of soil, fertilizer, and watering. Where does one begin? How to Window Box (635.967), by Chantal Aida Gordon, will help you get started. This gardening primer offers straight forward instructions and suggestions for creating a small-space garden anywhere you’d like. 

The Elizas (F), by Sara Shepard, is a provocative psychological thriller. Debut novelist Eliza Fontaine has attempted to drown herself several times – she knows she can’t swim. When she awakens in the hospital she tries to convince her family that no, this time she was pushed.  Struggling with memory loss, the deeper into the most recent attempt on her life, the more her life begins to resemble her novel, and soon she can’t discern fact from fiction. 

Also at the Library:
     Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? (NF 613.200) by Mark Hyman
     The New Seed-Starters Handbook (NF 631.521)
     Dark Side of Town (M) by Sasscer Hill
     The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (F) by Robert Dugoni

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