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books

Aug 17 2013

Lost Synagogues of Manhattan, Including Shuls from Staten Island and Governors Island, the

author: 
Levitt, Ellen

The third in Ms. Levitt's series of "lost" synagogues of New York's five boroughs focuses quite a bit on buildings in my neighborhood that formerly housed Jewish congregations. I've lived in three Manhattan zip codes (and one in Brooklyn, if you're curious, 11222). My current 10002 has 22, the one I lived in the longest, 10009 has 14, and the other, 10003 has 4. Levitt covers 32 others, as well, but to me, the book is primarily a Lower East Side party. Most of the buildings she describes in my neighborhoods are familiar, though I wouldn't have guessed that many of them had once been shuls.

reviewdate: 
Aug 16 2013
isn: 
978-0-9836975-2-7
Aug 16 2013

Among Others

author: 
Walton, Jo

Though it starts off a little slowly, I eventually became entranced in this story of adolescence. There's magic and a love of literature, especially science fiction, but mostly what compels is the lonely, isolated, grief-stricken narrator. Mori has recently lost her twin sister in some sort of battle with their witchy mother.

reviewdate: 
Aug 13 2013
isn: 
978-0-7653-2153-4
Aug 11 2013

Life of Objects, the

author: 
Moore, Susanna

A young Irish woman takes an opportunity to get out of her dead-end life and parents she doesn't feel supported by. Trouble is that opportunity takes her to 1939 Germany, where the plan is for her to make lace for a wealthy couple, one of whom may be of Jewish ancestry.

reviewdate: 
Aug 11 2013
isn: 
978-0-307-96103-7
Aug 11 2013

Wench

author: 
Perkins-Valdez, Dolen

White masters bring their slaves to an Ohio resort for the summer. The story is mostly about Lizzie a house slave who is even more deeply enslaved to her owner because she loves him and has two children with/for him. Lizzie's story is deep and complex, as is that of her friends.

reviewdate: 
Aug 8 2013
isn: 
078-0-06-196635-4
Aug 04 2013

Diverse Energies

author: 
Bucknell, Tobias S.
Monti, Joe

Bucknell and Monti collect mixed-race themed science fiction/dystopic stories, some of which also feature queer characters. Sounds good, right?

reviewdate: 
Aug 2 2013
isn: 
978-1-60060-887-2
Aug 04 2013

Glass Houses

author: 
Caine, Rachel

Somehow I didn't realize at first that this book has two novels in one volume. I was relieved when I got to the end of Glass Houses halfway through the thick book. As far as teen paranormal fiction goes, GH is less compelling and believable (you know what I mean, that the unbelievable has a logic to it that makes sense) than some others of its genre. It's also different from many others of its ilk in that the vampires are all for-real bad guys.

reviewdate: 
Jul 30 2013
isn: 
978-0-451-23054-6
Jul 28 2013

Orphan Train

author: 
Kline, Christina Baker

Thank goodness this was a compelling read because I had only a few days to finish it before it was due back at NYPL. I came home from the Zine Librarians unConference to five books ready to be picked up, three of them two-week loans. Now I have just over a week to finish the other two. Never mind, they were both renewable. Phew!

So yeah, Orphan Train shares parallel stories of two quasi-orphans making their way through harsh adoption/foster conditions about eighty years apart. The elder, an Irish immigrant at a time when the Irish were viewed with open hostility in the US, is taken to the Midwest via orphan train in the 1920s after a fire claims her family. In the name of Christian goodness, children were given away, often to be used as servants. Flash forward to the early 21st century and you get foster parents paid to "care" for a child they seem to hate.

reviewdate: 
Jul 27 2013
isn: 
978-0-06-195072-8
Jul 28 2013

Painted Girls, the

author: 
Buchanan, Cathy Marie

Three impoverished sisters with a dead father and an absinthe-addicted mother try to survive in late 19th century France. One of the ways a girl could make money at the time was to be in the Opera ballet school and eventually perform with the ballet. Or pose for Degas.

reviewdate: 
Jul 24 2013
isn: 
978-1-59448-624-1
Jul 20 2013

Interestings, the

author: 
Wolitzer, Meg

Wolitzer gives us six friends, who met at an arts camp in the summer of 1974 when they were teenagers and follows them through their lives to middle age. The book is 468 pages long, and I didn't want it to end. The book is mature, feminist, loving, harsh, sad, privileged and privilege aware and truth telling. It's both big and small, in that in covering several characters over thirty years it's rather epic, but it's more about the passive reality of its characters lives than what happens to them.

Quotations: 

"I know we live in a very sexist world, and a lot of boys do nothing except get in trouble, until one day they grow up and dominate every aspect of society."

"Though he hadn't been born into privilege, he too had been helped up the ladder over time, though the talent he possessed was squarely his."

"But in a lot of ways she could never leave her family drama, and I get that. The past is so tenacious. It's just as true for me. Everyone basically has one aria to sing over their entire life, and this one is hers."

reviewdate: 
Jul 20 2013
isn: 
978-1-59448-839-9
Jul 17 2013

Wonder When You'll Miss Me

author: 
Davis, Amanda

I don't know how to talk about this novel. Plot points and themes include gang rape, weight and body image, mental health and life in a traveling circus. I appreciate the protagonist's emotional progression throughout, but I'm not sure the conceit of her imaginary "fat girl" companion really works. It's still a good book. Read it and tell me what you think.

reviewdate: 
Jul 15 2013
isn: 
0-688-16781-0