THE WOLVES by Sarah Delappe (script)
This play received high praise when it first opened off-broadway. I was fortunate enough to see The Wolves when it transferred to Lincoln Centre and at the Crow’s Theatre in Toronto. It’s a knockout of a story following nine teenage girls as they warm up for their indoor games. A vivid glimpse into female adolescenthood is depicted as the girls gossip, argue, comfort, taunt, conspire, compete and demonstrate their wolf personas on and off the field.
SABRINA by Nick Drnaso (graphic)
The draw for me for this book, was that it is the first graphic novel nominated for a Booker Prize. Not that prizes are the lure, but I’m often interested in reading graphic novels. Sabrina, a young women disappears thus sparking the mystery of where she is? who is she with (if anyone?) and will she return? But it’s not really Sabrina that we (and her boyfriend) are worried about. Is it all a conspiracy theory – fake news. Yes, a book ‘of our times’, beautifully drawn. (I often wished that the verbal text was larger).
THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ by Antonia Iturbe
Intertwining the real life experiences of Dita Kraus who oversaw a library of a few books during the horrors of The Holocaust into the fictional turmoils of an adolescent girl thriving to bring culture and hope to an Auschwitz ‘school’. Iturbe depicts the horrors of the camp and the struggles of surviving Nazi cruelty, so this was at times an uncomfortable read. The book is translated from the Spanish.
IF YOU SEE ME, DON’T SAY HI by Neel Patel / Short stories
I enjoyed reading all eleven stories in this short story collection by Indian American author Neel Patel who presents the ‘brown experience of living in the US’ as middle class citizens. The stories, of course, are universal in discussing relationships between parent and child, siblings,married folks, soon-to-be married folks, gay. I felt I got to know the characters well in the ten-twelve page stories. I look forward to reading Patel’s debut novel sometime in the future.
THE ITALIAN TEACHER by Tom Rachman
I wish I could say that I liked this novel more than I did. It wasn’t all that exciting, narratively speaking but I was somewhat interested in the portrayal of art-making and artist temperament and the art world business. I was sort of enjoying reading about the relationship between father and son over the decades. I was going to put the book down several times and continued until the end. Maybe two star rating from me.
EDUCATED by Tara Westover
Look up the word “resilience” in the dictionary and don’t be surprised if you see the name Tara Westover. In this memoir, Westover chronicles her life combating fanatical Mormon parents who were detrimental to her health, her education and her social identity. Determined to find a place for herself in the world, Tara Westover chooses to go to college. Her tenacity and brilliance lead her to become educated – well-educate – and in-doing learns about the meaning of struggle and survival, home and self-invention An inspirational story.
5 stars from me. This was my favourite novel of the summer. I favour fiction told with Holden Caufield-like voices and in this book, Evison tells the story of Mike Munoz, a young man who happens to have a talent for mowing lawns. Mike just got fired from his job because of ‘unfair’ treatment by his boss. He knows that there is something more to be had from life and as he struggles through poverty and adverse happenings, he hangs on to the pursuit of the American dream, knowing that something better awaits him. Strong voice, sardonic humour and deep insights into self and other made this a great read for me. I am looking forward to reading previous titles by the author (All About Lulu, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!)
LADDER TO THE SKY by John Boyne
in recent years, John Boyne has become my favourite author. The Heart’s Invisible Furies was at the top of my list last year. His novels for young people are terrific (e.g., The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). When meeting a new release, I can become sceptical about whether I will enjoy it as much as previous titles. Ladder to the Sky is a WOW! Boyne’s central character, an up-and-coming author who achieves success is unforgettable, not only because he’s strikingly handsome, but he’s quite the schemer and will do anything to succeed, no matter who gets in the way. The novel is framed into three main sections (with two interludes). Each section is told from a different voice: third person, second person, first person. Clever. This is a great, page-turning read and will indeed be on Larry’s best of the year. (Thanks to my friend Lynn who shlepped the book back from Europe where it was released in August).