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The Space Between Us: A Novel
by Thrity Umrigar
FANTASTIC!!! (3/1/2011)
Thrity Umrigar's "SPACE BETWEEN US" is a novel of moral integrity, social/class division, emotional isolation, profound passion and intimacy.



Ms. Umrigar has given us an achingly beautiful, mesmerizing and engrossing story of culture, intimacy and bonding between social class. Both Sera and Bhima are women shaped by suffering who find a common thread in each other. How is it possible for two women from such starkly different backgrounds to capture and cultivate a bond such as that shared by Sera and Bhima? In 'THE SPACE BETWEEN US' Umrigar weaves a compelling story of two unforgettable women and their struggles, their crises, their triumphs and the captivating tale of their lives intertwined by need, circumstance and intimacy.
The Memory Palace: A Memoir
by Mira Bartok
Such Sadness (2/28/2011)
Mira and her sister Natalia, grow up under the veil of their mother’s madness. Norma was a schizophrenic often given to crazy outbursts, physical attacks on the girls, strings of verbal vulgarity, and generally making a nuisance of herself. Norma showed up at their workplaces, wrote them crazy letters, purchased a gun, cut Mira’s throat with a broken bottle and made life hell for these two girls.

Finally, both girls were forced to move away and not tell Norma where they were, it was the only way they could live their lives in peace. Years later, after learning that Norma is dying, Mira and Natalia come home and must sift through the feelings they each held against their mother.

This was a riveting, spellbinding, and deeply entrancing read. Mira Bartok’s The Memory Palace is a lesson for us all in the sadness and extremely difficult lives people live when a family member is struck with a mental illness. Throughout the book I found some humour but I also found a lot of misery and melancholy. This is a book everyone should read.
The Camel Bookmobile
by Masha Hamilton
A Camel Bookmobile...Fantastic! (2/24/2011)
Fiona Sweeney is a 36-year-old librarian from New York. She decides, somewhat naively, to move to Garissa, Kenya in Africa in the hope of educating the children and adults of small villages dotting the vast landscape through reading books and learning English. Of course, their current language is Swahili. Fiona receives help from Mr. Abasi and soon her mobile library becomes a reality, thanks to the ‘camels’ who carry the books over the rugged terrain! As they set off, the village of Mididima becomes her favourite stop and there she meets a cast of characters you will come to love.

Written with humour, naivete, drama and wit, The Camel Bookmobile will be sure to brighten your day! It was one of those books that left me leaning my head back and smiling!
The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles: A Woman's Fight to Save Two Orphans
by Hala Jaber
Captivating!! (2/21/2011)
The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles is such an enchanting and captivating story. The writing was so vivid that I felt as though I was Hala and experiencing what she was. I could see the devastation the bombs had created, could see the injured and burned children and heard their cries of pain as though I was standing next to them. War is never a good solution and its ramifications are not limited to the area being targeted but instead have far reaching repercussions.

The children in this story have lost and suffered more in their short lives than most of us will ever have experienced in our entire lifetime! The resilience of the families is unbelievable.

The story follows Hala, a Muslim woman who is a British journalist covering stories in war torn Iraq. Hala ultimately makes a promise to two sisters to help them after being injured in the war but finds she isn’t able to keep one of those promises and then must face the grandmother she also promised. The trauma that this causes her is surreal and affects her life in ways she didn’t expect. Hala must come to terms with her broken promise to the sisters’, the grandmother, and also for the lack of something within herself she has wanted for years but was unable to achieve.

This was a powerful, potent, completely unforgettable, and hauntingly good memoir!
Sold
by Patricia McCormick
Wonderful Novel!! (2/21/2011)
The innocence with which Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl, is lead into prostitution is truly heartbreaking. Lakshmi lives with her Ama, stepfather, baby brother and her precious goat, Tali in a small village in Nepal. Her days are filled with chores, caring for her cucumbers, her goat and attending school.

Lakshmi’s friend Gita has gone to a big city to work as a maid and is sending her wages home to her family. They now have lights inside at night while Lakshmi’s home is still studded with darkness. Lakshmi hopes to become a maid for a rich family in the city too so she can send her wages to her Ama to buy all the necessities she needs but has never had.

Soon the Monsoon season hits and washes away all the crops Lakshmi’s family had, so it is now time for her to take a job to help support her family. Lakshmi is excited but also worried whether Krishna, the shepherd boy, who she says has: “...sleepy cat eyes...” will wait for her as she has been promised to him in marriage.

Even ensconced in a house of ill repute far away in India, the innocent Lakshmi still believes she is there to be a maid. The prostitutes decked out in their brightly coloured clothing with make-up and bangle bracelets, Lakshmi wonders if she has landed in a house of movie stars! Lakshmi still doesn’t understand that her stepfather has SOLD her into prostitution to re-pay his debts. The atrocities that are visited upon Lakshmi by the men and her house mother are utterly shameful and disturbing. I’ve never felt such compassion and sorrow for a character as sweet and innocent as , Lakshmi.

The story was told in a series of vignettes which is quite different from other writing styles but suits the story and book well. SOLD will now become part of my permanent collection as it’s the type of story that I’ll read again as I won’t ever forget the innocent Lakshmi. I’d love for Ms. McCormick to pen a sequel to find out what happens to Lakshmi later on in life.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
by Amy Chua
Chinese Parenting or Western Parenting? (2/19/2011)
Chinese parenting or Western parenting – which one is better? I never really gave much thought in the past about any specific differences between the two styles. I did, however realize that a lot of Asian children seem to be more ‘gifted’ academically, technologically, and musically but put it down to longer school hours and Saturday classes in the Asian world.

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother is the true story of a Chinese Mom raising her two Chinese/American daughters in the Chinese parenting way. The level of respect, obedience, altruism, and integrity that is expected from the child(ren) is almost mind-numbing! An immensely enjoyable book that had me pulled in from the first page where Ms. Chua lists some things that Chinese mothers would NEVER EVER allow their Chinese children to do. I understood completely the comparisons and the clash of cultures and the bluntness and almost arrogant and insulting way these children are raised in.

In the end, who is the better parent? Well, that is for each of you to decide after you’ve read this amazing, humbling, and brutally honest story. I’d highly recommend this book to any one, I read it in one sitting. It mesmerized me and I really GOT IT as I'm sure many of you will too!
If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
Beautiful Novel!! (2/18/2011)
If I Stay is a tear-jerker that will illicit emotions about things buried deep inside you. There are so many words I could use to describe this story: inspiring, funny, visceral, humbling, touching, powerful, sad but yet calming.

Young Mia is a cellist who lives with her wonderfully happy family who are all musically inclined, or at least enjoys and appreciates music for the feelings and emotions it can bring out in us.

Young Mia faces a tragedy that is so profound you’ll be shaking your head wondering how such a young girl is going to be able to cope with what lays before her and the decision she has to make. This is a story that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. A book for everyone to enjoy! I loved it!!
The Things That Keep Us Here: A Novel
by Carla Buckley
Grabs You and Pulls You In! (2/13/2011)
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!

Ann and Peter Brooks have two daughters: twelve-year-old Kate and seven-year-old Maddie who live in the comfortable suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Their baby, William, had died causing unspeakable grief for Ann and Peter which has affected their relationship irreparably. One night while driving home from a family get together, Peter announces that they should separate and spend some time alone. He tells Anne that he “still loves her”, but he’s “not IN love with her anymore.” As expected, Kate and Maddie don’t take the news of their parents split very well. Peter collects some clothing and moves into a small one-bedroom apartment, leaving the house for Ann and the girls.

Peter is a Professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine but is now doing research. After a year of separation, Ann is feeling confident that she can deal with any problems or hardships. But, just before Thanksgiving, a serious and dangerous crisis hits and topples everybody’s world upside down. Out at one of the lakes close to their home, Peter and some duck hunters have discovered hundreds of blue-winged teal birds, mottled brown and cream bobbing upside down in the lake. They soon learn that the avian influenza virus H5N1 is loose in their community. Everyone is trapped inside their homes making life and death decisions in an environment where even opening your front door could mean the end of you and your family.

Ann now has to make choices that will affect the lives of Kate and Maddie and others around her. Quarantined in their own home, Ann is soon forced to make her first of many life or death decisions!

An excellent debut novel geared for everyone.

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