Saturday, April 29, 2017

Anything Is Possible

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

I'm in awe each time I read one of Elizabeth Strout's novels; such moving, insightful words that effortlessly flow page after page to the delight of her readers. Her latest collection of short stories is no exception.

You'll meet a janitor who lost his home in a sweeping fire, but didn't lose faith in humanity.  Reaching out to a troubled soul, he dares to unlock a secret that somehow,  just by revealing it to a lonely neighbor, transforms his view of the world and the existence of a higher power.

Then there are the sisters who choose different paths as adults. One, trading her dignity and self-respect for a guaranteed life of wealth and affluence. The other, finding words of wisdom in the pages of a book that give her the courage to ask for forgiveness after her hurtful words, spoken in anger, shatter a defiant teenager.

And a successful, weary grandfather who can't fathom the "ungraspable concept of time going by". An unlikely encounter with a has-been, eccentric actor opens his eyes to facing painful memories with a new perspective, while at the same time, facing a brush with death.

These stories and more are told flawlessly by the author of Olive Kitteridge, The Burgess Boys, and My Name is Lucy Barton.  The main character in the latter one is effortlessly weaved into the nine stories throughout this latest release. Readers can easily follow along, even if they haven't read that particular book, although I highly recommend taking the time to check it out. Lucy is now a successful author, having escaped the confines of her small town, Amgash, Illinois, where many of these rich characters still live, haunted by past sins, and the shame of poverty.

 Stout's interpretation of life is at times hopeful, other times, overwhelmingly sad. But in the end, it's her thought-provoking words and signature prose that make her novels a pleasure to read.

Friday, April 21, 2017

One Perfect Lie

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Sometimes the lie you tell is so perfect, so real, so appealing, you almost believe it  yourself.

Everybody at Central Valley High School loves the new government teacher, Chris Brennan. With his good looks and affable personality, it doesn't take long for him to blend in with the local community and students, who view him as a friend. His added responsibilities as the assistant baseball coach fit precisely into his well-executed plan. Yes, Chris Brennan, you see, is a phony, an impostor, and a master in the art of manipulation. The last step in his elaborate scheme is to pick the most vulnerable, trusting young male student athlete who will unwittingly help him. But Chris underestimates how dangerous it can be to hide behind lies. A wave of murder and destruction awaits him and an unsuspecting public.

Scottoline delivers a powerful, fast-paced story that her fans have come to expect. Mixed within the heart of the story are current topics on teenage rebellion, social media, and corruption. The author adds valuable insight and research into every novel she writes,  and she does it well.

 Cautiously trust those you meet....remember,  some people know how to tell that one perfect lie.