Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Posts Tagged ‘coming of age’

THE ROANOKE GIRLS: A Novel ~Amy Engle

Monday, March 27th, 2017

THE ROANOKE GIRLS is a story about all the girls born and raised at the Roanoke Farm. Yates Roanoke loved his life and his farm in a sleepy, hot part of Kansas. He loved his oil wealth and his wife and her crazy designed house.  Yates loved his two sisters and his three daughters and his two granddaughters.  He made them all feel special and well loved and made nearly every wish come true for them.  Most of the Roanoke Girls do not want to stay at the Farm – some runaway, several die and the story begins with a suicide.

Lane and her mother have been living in New York City.  Mom is one of the runaways from the farm and she has been struggling to have enough funds to support them but chronic depression has overcome her and now Lane at fifteen has been left on her own after the suicide.   The social worker finds that her Kansas Grandparents are delighted to have her come home and have already sent a bus ticket.

Allegra, who was born at Roanoke Farm and has resided there all her life is excited to meet Lane and welcomes having someone her age.  The girls explore small town life and the high school year as they discover the family tree and the reality of being a Roanoke Girl.  There are boyfriends and a swimming hole and some odd characters in the story. The girls are treated to pets, and horses and clothing, along with cars as they learn to drive.  The partial year that Lane stays at the farm is still mysterious and interesting and the weather is hot.

The story shifts to 11 years later and Grandfather is calling Lane because Allegra has gone missing.  Lane ran away without finishing high school and after making a dark discovery.  She has had a rough time finding work but has been able to get a GED and for a very short time was married to an older man, an arrangement that did not work out.  She is struggling and her Grandparents need her home to assist them in locating Allegra.  She leaves LA and heads to Roanoke and Kansas to help find her cousin.  The mystery begins to unravel and with a great deal of effort Lane does find Allegra and solves the final needed clues to freeing her towards living her own life and making her own way into the world.

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of THE ROANOKE GIRLS for review and it is a well-written story with a difficult premise.   There is an element of coming of age, but more about family secrets that maybe well hidden in isolation –remoteness.  I could truly understand this story-taking place in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, or Oklahoma – many times over. I do believe one must leave Kansas to understand the greater world and that small thinking is inbred and tenacious.  Physical abuse is easy to understand and the toughness of character.  THE ROANOKE GIRLS stays with the reader.

“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.” – L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra

“AMY ENGEL is the author of the YA novels The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy.  She lives in Missouri with her family.  This is her first novel for adults. “ (Book Cover)

Amy Engle Website
Amy Engle Facebook
Amy Engle Twitter

RELATED
Whistling Women
Accidents of Marriage
The Fixer

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN: A Novel ~Suzanne Kamata

Monday, March 20th, 2017

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is one of the most beautiful coming of age stories I have ever read.  Perfect for young adult readers and people who have lived a full life.  The writing is like a lovely tea party and the characters are so full and well imaged.  The problems were real and inviting even though there was sadness, which rested in the heart.

Who are you like in your family tree?  Will you manifest a life like that or will you be the mystery person on the tree; always doing your very own “thing”?  Or do you have no family and must truly make your way in many situations and are you invested or maybe indifferent?  What does you lifeline say?

MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN is about a family who is with the Coast Guard attached to the Lake.   Mom was the Coast Guard Princess of the parade and now has two daughters, one traditional and one wondering about what will come next.  Elise is fascinated by the water, her town and reading all she can.  She is not a social butterfly but does find a friend in the young woman who comes to live with Grandmother a few doors down.   They have adventures and fall into love and ride the merry-go-round at the Carnival.   Music draws them together.

Elise has a Great Grandmother too who seems to be apart of her that wants to share in her adventures.   Great Grandmother was a wreck diver on Lake Michigan, she saw a mermaid, and truly her own spirit.

The story unwraps the mysteries of growing in a smooth language that draws one into the situation until you can feel as embarrassed as Elise or as concerned.  The characters questioning brings us right to the “Aha” moment and then lets us in without saying a word.  There is hope for the joy, which might just come with the realization. Secrets are exposed, are intimated, and revealed without saying a word.

There is definitely magic.

There is the tension found in the teenage life and tension of road trips that might now answer the questions.  There is love, lots of love and not true abandonment.

This story is a lovely capsule of life and living and tells a story that might just lead you there-you know to see a mermaid!    I just enjoyed every page.

TLC Book Tours sent me MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN for review.

A CHARMINGLY BEAUTIFUL STORY

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Suzanne Kamata Website
Suzanne Kamata Twitter

The Language of Hoofbeats
A Tale for The Time Being
The Whiskey Sea

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW: Another Wonderful Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master storyteller- SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is proof that her stories get better and better, all 30 of them.  She has over 50 short stories in major publications and awards upon awards for her artful writing.    I have had the good fortune of reading and reviewing three of her most recent novels within the past year.   Most people would recognize Catherine Ryan Hyde by her magnificently successful story PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a very successful movie staring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey.  Her writing is often cast as Young Adult, but I cannot think of a single adult I know who would not enjoy these coming of age stories and the look at adults though youthful experience and questions.

Most of Hyde’s stories seem to include horses, dogs and adventures that problem-solve and add meaning.  The adults in her stories make a number of discoveries that are life changing for them also.  The main characters often have high levels of responsibility and are cast in a lonely position, which clarifies their situation and allows the characters to get what they need to recover or grow.

Pete does not know that his father is psychologically and physically abusive because it seems to him that all the fathers that are in his community are so inclined.  His father is just going way beyond in his abuse and making Pete’s life impossible for success or sitting down after the whippings.   Pete is trying so hard to do the right thing and find favor and love from his only remaining parent.  He feels responsible for helping a dog that has been hit by a car which costs him a friend and delivers him a new friend and several adults that he can trust.

The story begins in 1959 when Pete is 12-years-old and beginning summer vacation from school.  His father has been injured on the job and is home on Workman’s Compensation and maybe abusing the pain medications and certainly alcohol.

Dr. Lucy is a physician who lost her son to pneumonia during a painful divorce. Dr. Lucy now rescues racehorses, which are not fast enough and dogs that no one wants any more.  She lives alone in the countryside in a house given to her by her father.  She has closed herself off from the community as this Texas community has made being a practicing female doctor an impossibility in 1959.  The community is extremely closed minded.   Here is where the story adds being against “Negros” and the hostile environment that is created.  The Doctor and Justin, Pete’s new friend, have very different value programing than what Pete has experienced in his life, and yet there is an attraction and the resonation of the new values within Pete.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW has many levels of discovery and very well written dialogue. The adults must explain many things from the meaning of words to telling the truth in a protective manner.

I would read this book again.  It made me think about current hatred and racism being expressed in our culture at this time.  I made me think about how one brings about new thinking and acceptance of others; it maybe only through one person at a time.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is an excellent read, and I have purchased a copy for the son of my new neighbor.

A TLC Book Tours review book.

Related:
Leaving Blythe River
The Language of Hoofbeats

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING: A Novel ~ Ruth Ozeki

Monday, December 5th, 2016

A nearly perfect read, which came into my awareness with nearly perfect timing, and gave me a nearly perfect excuse to do nothing else except read; Exquisite.

The story begins with a 16-year-old girls voice saying:  “Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is?  Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.” This child’s story is compelling and sometimes funny and sometimes very difficult.  Nao is trying to figure out life and how to live it after having been living the “good” life in California and now whisked back to Japan in the dot com bust.   Her father is extremely depressed and it is affecting the whole family.  The guilt, the anger, the shame is difficult to understand and yet it draws one into the story.  The bullying and shaming that Nao must endure is horrific.

There is a second story that takes place on an island on the British Columbia Coastline.   Ruth, a writer, is wandering the beach and finds a “Hello Kitty” lunch pail in a heavy plastic shipping bag.  When opened the lunch pail contains a journal and a Kamikaze pilot’s letters and watch, it appears to be debris from the Japanese tsunami of 2011.  It is Nao’s journal and her story and history.

The story is also about the Zen experience of life as shared by Nao’s lessons from her 104 year old great grandmother, who is the mother of the Kamikaze pilot.  How can there be humor in such a story?  There is a great deal of humor in the story.  The characters on the island truly come alive and participate in the story.  Ruth and her partner Oliver are strong characters in their own right.  Fact and fiction twirl about as compliments to understanding the deeper issues facing each person-culture.  Is Nao still alive and well?  How could this person be tracked down and could they all be on the Internet?

My book group chose this book and so it is apart of my own library.  The other members of the group discovered that there was a reader’s play of this story being performed in the city and they bought tickets and went to the performance.  We cannot stop talking about this book and we all agree that there is perfection in the writing of this story, which makes it a huge recommendation and a must read for so many people I know.    I just had to share it with you

Bursting with symbolism, a story for our time – full of topics to discuss; breaks the barriers and expectations of traditional thinking.

Ruth Ozeki Webpage
Ruth Ozeki Twitter

From the website:

“Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.Her first two novels, My Year of Meats(1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.”

“Tantalizing”– The Washington Post
“A spellbinding tale.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fractures Clichés” – ELLE
“Delightful.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific”– The Seattle Times

Related:
Breakfast with Buddha
Lunch with Buddha
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Sand