A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

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A quiet, unassuming novel that was completely excellent. “Christina’s World” is an iconic American painting from the mid-20 century by Andrew Wyeth. It’s famous for it’s so-called “magic realism” style. At first glance, the girl in the painting is simply sitting in the grass, titled towards the farmhouse. Upon closer inspection, however, there is a sense of eeriness and foreboding: the girls’ arms are too thin and sickly, she is twisted at a wrong angle, the farmhouse is ghostly, and the placement of her hand on the grass suggests both yearning and escape.

The painting triggered many questions, but most of all, people asked this: who IS Christina?

Kline has written a beautifully wrought story here, about Christina’s life, historical American farm life, and living life with a disability. She has balanced these elements of the story so well. I was blown away by the depth of emotions conveyed in her elegant, concise language. The research and facts behind the fiction are clear – everything is believable. Not only does the truth come through, it was fascinating.

Such a wonderful, enjoyable, interesting read. Just like the original painting, there is so much more to Christina Olson’s world going on beneath the surface; beyond what you see at first glance. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Humans by Matt Haig

Image result for the humans by matt haigI listened to the audiobook: The Humans by Matt Haig. This is the story of an alien who comes to earth and assumes the likeness of a mathematics professor in order to prevent that professor from a mathematical discovery which may have catastrophic impact on the universe. At first, the alien is repulsed by humanity and does not understand the meaning behind even the most basic human interactions. However, as his mission extends, he is drawn into the emotional depth of human interactions. He starts to appreciate music and poetry and develop deeper relationships with the family of the man he’s disguised as.

This book was extremely amusing at times and at other times, extremely poignant. It was really interesting to hear perceptions of humanity from an (albeit fictitious) alien perspective. A lively and entertaining read, I would highly recommend The Humans. (Submitted by Seline)

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The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

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Wonderful characters and a unique crisis make this novel an enticing read, but solid writing and a great plot will keep you reading to the end. Single mom, Janie, struggles to keep herself together and protect her four year-old son, Noah, as his bizarre behaviour destroys their lives. Noah panics when Janie tries to wash him, constantly shares information that he can’t possibly know, and begs to be returned to his real home and mom. In desperation Janie contacts Dr. Jerome Anderson, whose life and career is ending tragically, creating an alliance that offers hope and resolution for them all. Supernatural elements are intelligently explored and rooted in research so the mystery is solid and believable. I strongly recommend this captivating story (Submitted by Pippa).

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The Brightest Sun by Adrienne Benson

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In Benson’s debut novel, we are swept away to the world of Africa, where European settlers in the big cities live alongside traditional villages with its inhabitants and culture. Throughout the stories in this book, the thread that ties it all together is the theme of motherhood.

We meet Leona, a woman traveling from the United States to study and live among the villagers. After accidentally getting pregnant and giving birth to her daughter Adia, Leona decides to hand off raising the child to Simi, the only villager who can speak English and who yearns for a child of her own but cannot have.

Meanwhile, Jane, another Westerner, has arrived to photograph the horrors of elephant poaching. She winds up falling in love with a fellow ex-pat and the two have a daughter of their own: Grace.

Eventually, the stories of Leona, Simi, Jane, and Grace all intertwine like the gnarled roots of an African tree rising high from the desert ground. This is an epic tale of mothers and daughters, friendship, culture and colonization, family secrets, and the need to belong, all set against the backdrop of the blazing African sun (Submitted by Alan).

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The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

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Caroline cannot remember anything from her past life, but she doesn’t know that there is an incredible gap in her memory. A coincidental Google search lead her to discover that and it turns her life upside down. Her mission to uncover the truth about her past begins.

The Memory Box is a fascinating, well crafted psychological thriller that’s full of twists and turns. Her college Alumni, her doctor, the newspaper, all have info about her past but she is clueless.

It kept me wondering what really happened in her past life? Is she a victim or an instigator? Why was she so keen to uncover her past, and what was that destructive pull that led her to keep looking into her past at all costs? Find out by reading this gripping, ‘unputdownable’ novel. (Submitted by Jamila)

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Wrecked by Joe Ide

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This is the 3rd book in the IQ mystery series and it holds together really well. Like the first two books, I have to get over some of the violence and language used, but I keep coming back. I still find Isaiah Quintabe, IQ, a believable and relatable character, and the world he moves in, his ‘hood’, is filled with gangs and grandmothers, those that are homeless and those that are damaged, families and individuals, all trying to either get by or fight their way through life.

The author grew up in the same part of the Los Angeles as the book’s setting and his description of streets and houses and strip malls bring you right there. Now I just have to be patient for book number four to come out. (Submitted by Renee)

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The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton (a woman of colour) writes a heart-rending tale about Africans who forget how to fly on the slave ships on the way to America. But will they be able to remember? The poetic prose and soft illustrations are equally touching, and anyone who has wished they could remember how to fly will love this book. (Submitted by Rebecca O.)

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