Jenna Blum. Tatiana de Rosnay. Miriam Gershow. Lynne Griffin. Margot Livesey.
Why have I avoided writing about the books of five very important women? (Vital to the world because they wrote incredible books; fairy godmothers to me because these five women were the first to endorse my soon-to-release novel-and, mirabile dictu, I only knew one of these authors.
Perhaps I believed it would seem too ‘one hand washing the other' if I posted about them, but now I believe not including these astonishing authors and their books in Word Love is disingenuous. So, in alphabetical order, the first two of five books I love this week:
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum: Is there anyone I haven't yet told to read this book? I learned much about writing as an acolyte of Jenna-but before I walked into her classroom, I read her book. (It simply doesn't make sense to me to learn from someone whose work does not awe and delight you.) The pages in Jenna's book almost whip themselves from one to another-such a page-turning story has she written, right from her memorable first line: The evening is typical enough until the dog begins to choke.
Anna Schlemmer, a young German woman, endured World War II in both brave and shameful ways. After she and her young daughter move to America, Anna buries the shame of her survival, giving her daughter a legacy of silence. Told from both Anna and her daughter's point of view, this book with its themes of love, sacrifice, and family secrets knocks me on my feet all over again each time I read it.
It is no wonder that Jenna Blum's book became a New York Time's bestseller. And it's no surprise that the legions who loved her book are so eager to read The Storm Chasers, her new novel, being released by Dutton in the summer of 2010.
The Local News by Miriam Gershow tells the story of a forgotten child. After her brother disappears, sixteen-year-old Lydia Pasternak might as well be alone. Her devastated parents do not function, except as needed to search for their missing son.
Lydia, suddenly a macabre celebrity at her local school, is a character who twisted my guts. This girl is written without an ounce of sentimental overlay-I might as well have been inside her mind. Her transfixing voice is apparent from the first lines:
After my brother went missing, my parents let me use their car whenever I wanted, even though I only had a learner's permit. They didn't enforce my curfew. I didn't have to ask to be excused from the dinner table. The dinner table, in fact, had all but disappeared, covered with posters of Danny, a box of the yellow ribbons that our whole neighborhood had tied around the trees and mailboxes and car antennas, and piles of the letters we'd gotten from people praying for Danny's safe return or who thought they saw him hitchhiking along a highway a couple of states away. I didn't have to do any more chores.
Gershow's book should be a bestseller. All of you reading this. Go out. Right now. Buy it. Read it. If you like, write and thank me.
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