Many people in the last few years have inadvertently opened a “pandora’s box” by taking a DNA test. Some take it for curiosity, some take it because they were given it as a gift, and why not? Then to find out that biologically they are not who they think they are can be quite a shock. This author has to come to terms that what she pictured as her “family unit” is an altogether different picture. Her journey of discovery as to the how, the why, and what to do now; is one of emotion, and trepidation. Privacy issues, religious questions and ethical mysteries are rampant. This memoir is a fair, honest recollection of the process this author took to make sense of her personal nature vs nurture situation and subsequent identity crisis. (Submitted by Jamie)
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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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How would your life change if you knew the date on which you will die? This is the premise of Chloe Benjamin’s novel, The Immortalists. It follows the lives of the Gold Family from 1960’s New York City to San Francisco in the 1980’s, Vegas in the ‘90s, to the present day in Upstate New York, and everything in between. The trajectory of the lives of the Gold siblings is permanently altered when they meet a psychic who reveals to each of them the date they will die. Benjamin takes us along for the ride as they grow from curious and innocent children in the summer of 1969, to adults with full and complex lives. One by one, we discover how their lives unfold, and how knowing when the end will come both burdens and frees them in unimaginable ways. Benjamin tackles the question of fate with clarity and heart, and I highly recommend The Immortalists for fans of thought-provoking, sweeping family sagas. (Submitted by Sarah J.)
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It’s been awhile since I’ve really loved a good book. Perhaps Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park was the last book that I finished and just wanted to hug. With Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, every page and every word, completely broke my heart into a million pieces.
Beartown is the name of a fictional small-town whose residents all pin their hopes and dreams on the local junior boys hockey team. We have Kevin, the team’s star player, who shoulders much of the pressure from his distant parents and all the citizens of Beartown. His best friend, Benji, is the boy with the sad eyes and a wild heart who tries to protect Kevin from anything that tries to break through their hockey bubble. Amat, whose mother Fatima works as a janitor at the ice rink, is the runty but speedy up and comer who has to battle being seen as a foreigner as well as deal with Bobo, the school bully. Then we have the coaches who constantly face the balancing act of taking care of their players and being forced to put the hockey club first. All of this buckles into a storm of emotions and events that eventually leads one teenager to raise a gun to the head of another and pull the trigger.
Beartown is filled with unforgettable characters that you will cry for, champion, be enraged at, and be inspired by. I could not put this book down, and I didn’t want it to end! A breathtaking fable of ambition, hope, and courage. (Submitted by Alan)
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I forgot the last time I read a book and laughed so much. The Rosie Project sure made me smile and chuckle more than a few times. The main character, Don Tillman, has an Asperger’s syndrome – a condition that is pretty much permanent in one’s life and clearly not a laughable matter. However, once you meet Don and get to know his way of thinking and his approach to life, you begin to ease a little and think- things are not that bad for Don, actually he seems like he figured out life better than most people. Don adores order, rules, predictability and it’s easy to label him as rigid and control-loving. But, he is also a nice, smart, talented, kind, and caring person.
Fun begins when Don decides to seriously look into his “Wife Problem” (he is in his late 30s and single) and this is how the “Wife Project” gets underway. Don Tillman, being a scientist (geneticist to be exact) approaches the love aspect of life fully prepared, with scientific research and measurements. Find out what happens next! (Submitted by Mariya)
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Book, eBook, Large Print Book, Audiobook CD
If you fall in love with The Rosie Project, read The Rosie Effect afterwards!
I can’t think of a better summer read than David Grann’s 2009 book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. This is the fascinating, page turning, nail biting true story of Percy Fawcett, a real-life Indiana Jones type adventurer who inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”, dedicated his life to finding the lost city of El Dorado deep in the Amazonian jungle, and the mystery of what became of him. The task of finding El Dorado is an unimaginably dangerous one; many hundreds have tried, and few have come out of the jungle alive, most disappearing without a trace, even as late as a 1996 expedition where none (of sixteen strong) was ever seen or heard from again. We watch this story unfold through a humorous and unlikely lens: an admittedly out of shape journalist from New York with no experience in the field deciding to go to the jungle and hunt for clues about Fawcett’s journey, 80 years later. Beginning with Fawcett’s early adventuring days hunting down legendary caves filled with gold and jewels in colonial Sri Lanka, to his days “learning how to be an adventurer” in the Royal Geographical Society, and finally to his final days trekking through the Bolivian rainforest, I could not put this book down and it sent me on a series of frenzied Google searches, my mind hungry for more information. I already plan to re-read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a well written mystery with a side of history. (Submitted by Mandi)
You are welcome to borrow The Lost City of Z at Surrey Libraries!
Audio-Book on CD
coming soon: movie adaptation – DVD
While I think you are either a Jodi Picoult fan or you definitely aren’t, I still recommend her latest novel. What draws me to all of her books is the character development and honesty she can relay to make the reader feel like they know the true thoughts and intentions of all the characters. This novel deals with race issues. And, I know, there’s a lot out there right now, but I guarantee you, you haven’t read one like this. A competent labour and delivery nurse faces racial prejudices when an extremist couple refuses to allow her to care for their child; nurse gets put in a situation that she is the only medical staff available when the couple’s child is dying. Queue an unlawful firing and a court case, but the details and reactions are far from cookie cutter plots! This book challenged my own thoughts about race, and I thought I knew where I stood! (Submitted by Marnie)
This book is available for borrowing in multiple formats; take your pick!
Large print book
Audiobook on CD