Thursday, October 27, 2016


Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

A blended family of six children come to know and respect one another despite their unconventional upbringing.

Beginning with a stolen kiss at a child's christening, this story chronicles fifty years in the lives of step siblings struggling to cope with one another and the chaotic circumstances that surround them. The joys and sorrow of this diverse family eventually end up on the pages of a best-selling novel, much to the chagrin of those who actually lived the words on the written pages.  Parents' indiscretions, deceit, and lies permeate the tale but then, the children have a few secrets of their own.

This gifted writer draws on her own experiences in a warm family drama filled with humor and insight into the disharmony that inevitably occurs when different personalities collide. However, Patchett also reveals the fierce sense of loyalty and love needed to make a fractured family whole once again.

Friday, October 14, 2016

You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

In the world of competitive sports, young Devon Knox is truly a gymnast extraordinaire. She lives in her own bubble, supported unconditionally by her parents and the tight-knit community of other aspiring athletes. But that bubble bursts when their world is turned upside down with the news of the brutal death of someone very close to them all.

From an early age, Katie and Eric Knox knew that their daughter had the grit and determination to become an elite gymnast. With the intense regimen of a relentless coach, they paved the road for her success, even daring to whisper the world "Olympics". Their lives revolved around Devon; endless hours of practice and second mortgages to finance the growing expense of creating a world class prodigy, while quiet son, Drew, remained uncannily aware of what was happening to his crumbling family. Even with a debilitating injury, Devon seemed to overcome every obstacle. But along the way, Katie and Eric failed to see the inevitable changes in their daughter on the brink of becoming a woman. Now, in the midst of scandal, is it too late to save her and themselves?

Author Megan Abbott paints a vivid, behind -the-scenes look at the intimate world of competitive gymnastics, while adding the spice of suspense. Are the sacrifices required of aspiring to perfection worth the pain of losing your own identity?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Wonder

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Historical fiction blends beautifully with a puzzling mystery in the newest release from the Irish author of Room.

Florence Nightingale protege, nurse Lib Wright, is sent to an impoverished village in Ireland to observe and substantiate claims that despite going without food for four months, 11-year-old Anna O'Donnell continues to live. Lib has survived The Crimean War in her homeland of England and the humiliation of a failed marriage, but this assignment may be the hardest of all. Her training under the esteemed Nightingale doesn't prepare her for watching a young girl waste away, while listening to the rants of religious zealots who claim the child is on her way to sainthood. Along with the keen eyes of  devoted Sister Michael, the two women document the girl's every move. Lib's skepticism grows about this medical miracle, yet the facts seem to prove otherwise. Is Anna truly a religious phenomenon or will Lib uncover truths that expose a shameful hoax that will make her question the profession she so dearly loves?

Donoghue's insight and research into the religious mores and beliefs of Ireland in the 1800's is impeccable. Her story examines how evil can lurk in the shadow of love, how holiness becomes more important than saving the living, and how the horror of hidden family secrets seep into the very being of a young child, bent on entering the heavenly kingdom.

A  moving tale with rich characters and surprising turns, this tale about "The Fasting Girl of Ireland" will make you wonder, indeed, about the compelling power of persuasion.