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Book Reviews


Book Review:

John Woman by Walter Mosley (Grove Atlantic)

I love this novel! It an inverted mystery, brainy and earthy, smoothly written on a background of deep reading and interest in history. Indeed, it is a meditation on history, what it is and is not; it’s past and future, its amorphous nature, and the joys and hardships in its pursuit. I recommend this wonderful read to all who read history and biography and those not afraid on a different take on American sexual mores.



Book Review:

Educated by Tara Westover (Random House)

In this inspiring memoir, Tara Westover tells of stepping into a classroom for the first time at age 17. Growing up in the Idaho mountains, her parents taught her at an early age to fear the government and doctors. She shares of a childhood consisting of dangerous work in a junkyard with her father, learning about herbal medicine from her mother, and hiding her emotions from an abusive brother. Tara bravely distances herself from her family in order to pursue education and eventually complete her Ph.D. in history at Cambridge. Tara stands up for herself and finds her voice as she learns about the world around her and confronts her unhealthy family relationships.

– R.S.


Book Review:

Lament from Epirus by Christopher C. King (WW Norton)

This book is about the folk music tradition of Epirus, in Northwestern Greece, and how it is part of the daily lives of its people, like the air and the sun. Like some books about art that are art, this book about music is itself music.


Social Science

Book Review:

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham (Penguin Random House)

Lauren Markham delves into the complexities of immigration through the heart-wrenching and hopeful story of 17-year-old twins, Raúl and Ernesto Flores. In order to flee imminent danger in El Salvador, the Flores twins journey across the border in hopes of a better life. As they struggle to survive and belong in an environment that does not meet the shiny expectations of the “North” that they had imagined, Raúl and Ernesto must support each other and rely on advocates around them to navigate the obstacles of the U.S. legal system. In an honest and well-researched account, readers get a raw, firsthand perspective into the physical, emotional, financial, social, and cultural challenges that immigrants face. Markham uses insight and compassion to urgently address this current crisis of unaccompanied migrant children.



Book Review:

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern (Harper Collins)

15 year old Sunny, homeschooled and living with her hippie parents, gets arrested for stealing a dictionary of all things; little does she know that her community service sentence imposed by the judge will result in finding a new type of family. The little library in Riverton, NH becomes the heart of this small town and provides community and a sense of family for quite a few characters whose lives have crashed and burned: Kit, the librarian who has retreated into a lonely lifestyle to escape her ex-husband’s betrayal; Rusty, and ex-Wall Streeter whos car is his only remaining asset, and Sunny, in desperate need of a structured family life. The book features well-developed, warm characters who find a way to come to terms with their lives headed on new and meaningful paths.



Book Review:

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (Penquin Random House)

Written by a former CIA analyst, fans of the TV show The Americans will especially love this spy novel. An undercover Russian spy puts his wife, who is a CIA agent, in a morel dilemma when she discovers his secret identity. This is an engaging, fast-paced story that you don’t have to be a fan of spy novels to enjoy.


Non Fiction

Book Review:

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warefare by Giles Milton (Macmillan)

I always find stories about the valor of allied troops during World War II enthralling. In this book, Milton includes unbelievable, unheard of narratives of the heroism of a select few men and women, hand-picked by Churchill, to ultimately impede Hitler’s advances through guerilla warfare. Those who enjoyed the recent films Dunkirk and Darkest Hour will be engrossed in the incredible and ingenious endeavors relayed in this book.