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GYPSY MOTH SUMMER: A Novel ~Julia Fierro

Monday, June 26th, 2017

GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is being praised as the must read of the summer of 2017.  I have seen lots of promotional material for the book and was looking forward to having an opportunity to read and review this book as presented by TLC Book Tours . The Huffington Post was truly wrapping lots of energy around this highly anticipated book.

I jumped right into the read and it compelled me to stick with the book from cover to cover.  I just knew that somehow this story was not going to end well, and then again maybe I was hoping that it was not going to end well for the people on Avalon Island – the wealthy and the poor.  The story is a tragedy.

I knew many of these character types and I lived through this period of time with great awareness and a budding interest in ecological studies.  I was beginning to understand pollution and how cycles of problems exist and I lived through several Tent Caterpillar infestations and could hear the squish, crackle of walking on the creatures under my feet and know the sticky goo that stuck to everything; really creepy was the critters falling onto your hair and body.

I need to back up here and outline the story of the island people and their sordid, limited view of the world.  Many characters were introduced and before and after each chapter there was information about the Gypsy Moth’s life cycle and years of infestation.  How they marked the world in a very disgusting and filthy pattern.  Because the island was experiencing an infestation throughout the story, which paralleled the slimy behaviors of the community, I did not enjoy the read as much as I thought I would.

About THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER:

“The summer the Gypsy Moths descended, an even more toxic pest was spreading its way through the people of Avalon. East Avalon is the upper crust, built with generations of military engineers who had exchanged their Navy whites and blues for suits and offices, while West Avalon families hailed from generations of factory workers.

In the summer of 1992, Maddie LaRosa tries to figure out how to survive high school and its queen bee, Bitsy, and worries about maintaining her East Avalon persona and picture-perfect family life. Meanwhile, Leslie Day Marshall, daughter of Avalon Island’s most established wasp-y monarch, has just moved back home with her husband, Jules, who is black, and their kids. Their move from a one bedroom apartment in “the City” to “The Castle” isn’t as big as the change from the melting pot of New York City to the homogeneity of East Avalon. Jules and Leslie’s presence triggers tensions, romances, and unusual alliances that simmer all summer and lead to violence that leaves the community atomized forever.

Diving deep into research on gypsy moths, Fierro was inspired by her own childhood on Long Island, and the tensions that exist in a community where there are two economically different sides of town. Also included in her acute observations are the political tensions of 1992 during a different Clinton campaign and the rise in cancer rates due to the community’s water pollution. Grounded in real events, Fierro’s writes an intense and engrossing story that will stick with you long after the tragic ending.”    (From the promotional materials)

The teenagers in the story were the same unhappy, drunken, drugging, sniffing, nasty behavior laden kids I knew back then and tried to stay away.  They felt so entitled and are still acting entitled as they move into the Medicare years.  They still deny climate problems and toxic waste sites.  They feel they can just purchase their way out of everything.  Fierro wrote about them with brilliance and they were awful in the story as they were in person.  The sad thing is that they have been trying to lead the world now and be the leaders because they are “rich” and they are just as awful to encounter today as they were.  I still attempt to stay away but they keep trying to damage health care, public schools, and destroy social programs – they want to make money from schools and prisons and they truly do not care about human beings.

The story is very bright and capable and does keenly capture a segment of our community and wrap them in Moth slime tying them up smartly in a bow.  It was my pleasure to finish reading the book and be done with it.  GYPSY MOTH SUMMER left me wondering how to help people change and want to live by kindness.  There was no attempt to illuminate the future in GYPSY MOTH SUMMER.

“Fierro doesn’t just observe, she knows. Like all great novelists, she gives us the world.” – Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us

About the Author:

“JULIA FIERRO is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, a creative home to more than 4,000 writers in New York City, Los Angeles and online. Her first novel CUTTING TEETH, was praised by The Boston Globe (“at once modern and timeless”) and The New Yorker (“a comically energetic début”).

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IN FLAMES: A Thriller ~Richard Hilary Weber

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

“We were all good examples, and at the same time casualties, of a hunger for easy profits edging inexorably around the globe, our goal specific if narrow, little more than simply cashing in.  Despite the rising heat, this grim insight made me shiver.” (Loc 595 of un-proofed e- copy)

IN FLAMES  is quite the story and it moves at lightening speed; the setting is the exotic island of San In’igo, AKA the jeweled paradise of the Caribbean and a monumental jungle, lots of clandestine ruminations and  peasant strife.  The first pages are about the arrival of our fair-haired boy from Princeton, Dan Shedrick, and his walk across the tarmac to his first architectural job and a journey that appears to be a rich boy’s survival sequence.

While most of his peers are job-hunting states side, Dan has found this yearlong internship with an oil company and a foot in the door to his wealth and fortune.  Elaine the naughty bad girl finds Dan right away and he moves from the National Hotel to a country club site with lots of his cronies.  He runs, swims, works the drawings of the new wharf and drinks rum by the gallons.

He is offered a part-time job at the new Art Gallery in exchange for some spying and information sharing.  It is at the gallery where he meets an interesting Ex- Communicated Priest, who flares Dan’s curiosity and interest in the attached characters in the story.   At a club party , a very popular radio entertainer is murdered  and during the night the club’s owner and Elaine’s husband dies of a heart attack and the story quickens pace because Dan holds a clue and evidence to the murder.

Add the Island fortuneteller and a whole section of battling the jungle when trying to escape the kidnappers and we are roped into an amazing adventure and tons of insects.  This story has lots of appeal and is a very quick read.  I can visualize lots of folks enjoying this story on their daily commute or just to unwind after a busy day.

There is a great deal of escape in the story and even though there is a clear formulation, the premise is catchy and every young man dreams of making his fortune the easy way, accompanied a sexy girl, and with lots of money involved.  How about CNN making footage of a young man’s survival story?

Oh yes!  Some bad girls are amazingly successful and smart; some turn out to be just another pretty face.

TLC Book Tours  sent me this thriller for review and it provided a great escape and a quick trip to an island paradise.

About the Author (from book cover)

Richard Hilary Weber is a native Brooklynite- Park Slope Born and bred – and a Columbia Grad.  He’s taught at the universities of Stockholm and Copenhagen, has been a scriptwriter for French and Swedish filmmakers, among them Claude Berri and jBo Widerberg, and now lives in Provence, France.

www.richardhilaryweber.com

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