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The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
Worth reading!

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
21st century Dickens!

Long and complex, but engrossing all the same. Verghese is the 21st century's Dickens,

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Beautiful, Difficult
Both voices are beautiful

This book is serious and fun at the same time. It is full of literary, artistic and, of course, Japanese references... along with having a really great story. The use of alternating voices and the parallel personalities of the two narrators is absolutely charming.

If you find the first few chapter difficult, please persist. It is definitely worth it. Or try it as an audiobook. They have done a wonderful job with the audio version. I can't wait for the movie now.

 
Book Club Recommended
Inspiring, Insightful, Beautiful
Jodi Picoult light! (The Art of Racing in the Rain)

This is a review of "The Art of Racing in the Rain." For some reason it is showing in my profile as a review of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog." Two very different books!

I think this book could have been a lot better if it had not been so superficial. It is definitely an interesting concept writing from a dog's point of view, but a little more depth would have been much, much better. And the end was just a little bit over the top for me.

 
Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Interesting, Fun
An easy read

A high school reunion is going to remind many people of some torturous years of angst. For some, it is a return to a happier time.

"The Last Time I Saw You" follows several characters, male and female, who go to their 40-year reunion. Each has a different reason for going, each one prepares for it differently, and each one of their lives is affected in some way by it.

Though the book doesn't delve too deeply, Berg has a sure touch. You feel for each of the characters, whether you approve of them or not. I wish the characters and events had been developed a little more. But, read this book, and you might actually decide to go to your own high school reunion, no matter how bad your high school days were.

Dune by Frank Herbert
 
Book Club Recommended
Unconvincing, Interesting, Epic
A science-fiction classic - but oh so dated!

When a whole tribe of people move to the arid planet Arrakis as the new rulers, you can expect trouble. But when the planet in question is the sole source of a life-prolonging and supernatural-powers-inducing "spice", the stakes are elevated.

Herbert's classic was definitely way ahead of its time in portraying water as a diminishing and priceless resource. In addition, the main character also talks about not flying his "ornithopter" to reduce the dependence on fuel from another planet. Sound familiar?

This book delivers action, philosophy, romance, betrayal, scheming, everything you could possibly want. But the over-emphasis on the religious prophecies and the mystical elements, though probably perfect for the 60's, can slow the book down.

Herbert's scholarship is very apparent. The references to other languages, and to Christianity and Islam are very cleverly woven into the book. The whole new vocabulary he created for this universe some 8,000 years into the future is impressive. I was hooked from the first few chapter. But, it took some perseverance to finish the last third of the book.

I wish I had read this book when it first came out. I can see how exciting it would have been then. But years of futuristic special effects in the movies and imaginative science-fiction books (many which no doubt owe much to Dune) have changed our expectations. And
I, for one, certainly hope that the world in the future is not so mired in religious superstition as Dune predicts.

Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Confusing, Insightful
Thought provoking book

This is a book with an interesting twist. When lives are given the opportunity to rewind and redo, does it really matter? Can one life change history? Which are the lives that can actually change history?
This not an easy book to read and it is not short. However, if you can just keep reading (don't go back to try to keep track of the events), almost as if each section is a short story but with the same characters, it is an amazing book.
We had one of the liveliest discussions in a long time in our book club! Even the few people who found it difficult to read, thought it was very thought provoking. Highly recommended.

Copperhead: A Novel by Alexi Zentner
 
Book Club Recommended
Persuasive, Interesting, Dramatic
Thought provoking look at race

What if you knew a young man from a white supremacist family who is actually smart, successful and likeable? Are any actions ever simply so bad you cannot forgive them no matter what the extenuating circumstances? What happens when family ties come up against moral/ethical values? What right do people have to carve a spot for themselves and their families?

The central theme in Copperhead by Alexi Zentner isn't as simple as good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things. Instead it makes you question whether anyone is ever actually good and anyone is ever actually bad. It also keeps the reader on edge wondering how the various issues will be resolved, and whether some particularly unpleasant characters will get their comeuppance.

As the world continues to have serious discussions on race, Copperhead should be on every high school reading list. It is an interesting and thought provoking book, drawing attention to the various nuances that are so much a part of any discussion of race. The short chapters that move back and forth between various moments in time are cleverly written. It is a fast read, though not a comfortable read. But it is definitely a very worthwhile read.

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