Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Life isn’t exactly roses even BEFORE Julia’s sister, Olga, dies in a horrible accident. 
Julia struggles with depression and anxiety, and a, more often than not, strained relationship with her family. Her mom stays on her case about everything from her appearance to her horrible cooking. Her father is all but absent, preferring to spend most of his free time in front of the TV. Meanwhile, her sister is (was) the “perfect Mexican daughter”—sweet, selfless, and willing to do anything for her family.
Julia is the total opposite. She is blunt, unaccommodating, and determined to move far, far away from her Chicago neighborhood. The last thing she wants to do is spend her life training to be a submissive Mexican wife. So, when Olga dies, Julia feels, at once, a tidal wave of grief and resentment. Even, in death, Julia can’t escape comparisons to her sister. Then, one day, as Julia is going through Olga’s things, she finds something that makes her think that Olga wasn’t as innocent as she seemed.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. S├ínchez is a raw, emotional read that flawlessly weaves together Spanish and English to reflect the intersectionality of Julia’s existence… in a world that is trying its hardest to turn her into something she’s not.

 Other Suggested Books:

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your… by Meg Medina

Monday, November 20, 2017

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

When a private plane full of rich people crashes, you can be sure there are a few questions that need to be answered.

Especially when only two of those people survive that crash—the son of a powerful media mogul and a painter. To the naked eye, the reason for the plane’s demise is innocuous. It must have been some machine failure, but nothing more...

However, things get sticky when it’s discovered that the U.S. Treasury is investigating one of the other passengers. And who is this mysterious painter who survives and saves the life of the media mogul’s son? His dark past may overshadow his heroic feat.

Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall weaves skillfully among several characters’ accounts of the events leading up to and following the plane crash. Readers who enjoy a suspenseful thriller that delves into the hearts and minds of its characters, will devour this book. The book also turns an analytical eye to the current state of politics and the media. The build up to the end is slow, but worth the wait. The author writes compellingly, and often lyrically, about the mundane and existential problems of the rich, while also tapping into the everyday struggles of the common man.

And in case you didn’t know--Hawley is the creator of the Emmy Award winning TV series Fargo.

If you like this book, you might also like:

The Professor of Truth by James Robertson
Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty
Defending Jacob by William Landay

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You're Not As Crazy As I thought (But You're Still Wrong) by Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess

Politics these days is more of a minefield than ever.  Between the 24 hour news cycle and social media, it seems like more people are talking about politics than ever before. Unfortunately,  social media political dialogue is closer to an echo chamber than an actual conversation.  Liberals and conservatives are talking constantly about the issues of the day.  But they're not talking to each other, and it seems sometimes like nobody is listening.

That's what You're Not As Crazy As I Thought (But You're Still Wrong) is attempting to remedy.  Phil Neisser (liberal and atheist) and Jacob Hess (religious and conservative) start a conversation in print to try and find common ground and better understand each other's point of view.  From the nature of authority and the role of the media to same-sex relationships and racism, the two share their perspectives.  But unlike the talking heads on cable news, the intent here is not to persuade, but to explain and understand.

The book didn't change my political opinions, but it did help me understand the other side, and it challenged me to mentally defend my own positions.  The authors provide living proof that people of good will can hold vastly different opinions on issues and not hate each other.

If you're interested in politics, Virginia Beach Public Library has a wide range of books on the subject from every part of the spectrum.  If you are interested in keeping up with the news, we also provide access to newspaper and magazine databases.  Ask at your local library for more information.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Apollo Kagwa's father abandoned his family when Apollo was young, so when Apollo and his wife Emma have their first child, he is determined to be a better dad.   Fortunately, his work as a used book dealer can be done from home, so he is able to be a stay-at-home dad to young Brian, taking him to the park and on trips to acquire books from estate sales.  Emma goes back to her job as a librarian, and it seems like everything is going fine.

There are a few odd notes, though.  Emma receives pictures of Brian from an unknown number, and the pictures  disappear before she can show them to Apollo. Then Emma begins to disconnect from her child.  Apollo assumes it's post-partum depression and Emma goes on medication, but the disconnect continues to grow, with Emma insisting that Brian is not her child.  Not even human.

Then Emma's delusions lead her to act, and tragedy strikes.  She disappears.  Apollo's fury at Emma leads him on a quest to find her, but along the way, he begins to realize that things are not what they seem.  New York City is home to older and darker things than he ever knew.

This book is technically urban fantasy, but some of the monsters are men, and the casual racism that Apollo has to live with day to day is in some ways as much as an obstacle as any mythical beast.  The sense of reality is further developed by the strong sense of place.  The Changeling really drew me in and kept me reading.  I can see this book appealing to fans of American Gods (book or TV series) who want to branch out and explore the contemporary fantasy genre

Friday, October 20, 2017

Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown

Jasper Rabbit from Creepy Carrots! is back for another scary adventure. In this new release Jasper convinces his mother to buy him a new pair of creepy glow-in-the-dark underwear. He is super excited until the lights click off, and he realizes that the glow from the new underwear keeps him awake at night. Jasper tries to hide the underwear so he can sleep, but they  keep showing back up in the creepiest ways!

When Jasper finally rids himself of his glowing underwear once and for all, he realizes that his bedroom is pitch black without them - and that maybe he is more scared of the dark than he is of his new underpants.

Jasper Rabbit's creepy adventures are perfect for 3-5 year olds who love potty humor (and what preschooler doesn't?). Reynold's use of repeating phrase "a ghoulish, greenish glow" allows young children to help tell the story with you, encouraging print motivation.

If a Creepy Pair of Underwear! is a hit with your preschooler I highly recommend you checkout Creepy Carrots! to learn more about Jasper Rabbit's adventures.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thornhill by Pam Smy

When picturing a traditional ghost story, I envision someone dying of mysterious causes, hanging around the place of their untimely demise, and interacting with those left behind – often with nefarious intentions. This graphic novel takes the traditional ghost story setup and adds an interwoven tale of friendship. Thornhill is the story of Mary and Ella. Mary is an orphan living at the Thornhill Institute in the early 1980s. Ella is a young girl in 2017. 

Ella and her father have just moved to the house across the street from the boarded up old Thornhill house, and she sees a young girl in the window and gardens of the estate. Smy’s wonderful drawing hold a touch of anticipation while capturing the loneliness of both girls. And, while Thornhill is not particularly scary, there is emotional turmoil as the reader witnesses the torrent of bullying and emotional abuse  Mary endures from another orphan at the institute. The inability of the adults in her life to intervene is frustrating, especially as the reader can see that things are going to end poorly for the girls at Thornhill house.

Thornhill is a graphic novel for middle grade readers who enjoy a good ghost story. If you are looking for another middle grade ghost story I highly recommend Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Haun.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Matthew suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His condition has spun out of control, leaving him home bound hiding out in his room, and obsessively cleaning to reduce his anxiety. To entertain himself Matthew has taken to observing the world outside his windows, quickly developing a keen knowledge of the schedules and lives of the neighbors around him. When a toddler goes missing from the house next door, the town  learns that Matthew was the last one to see the boy. As the community comes together to search for the missing child, Matthew must push himself out of his comfort zone and join forces with unlikely friends to help solve the mystery.

The Goldfish Boy is a compassionate contemporary tale full of quirky characters and a suspenseful mystery. I was impressed with portrayal of what someone living with OCD could be dealing with. This youth book highlights the gift of empathy in a world where everyone is dealing with a loss or personal struggle. And while a youth title, I found it a well-paced and enjoyable read for adults as well.

Readers who enjoy GoldfishBoy may also like the resilience of the characters in Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.