Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reading List...

On a visit to Rainy Day Books today, I saw a couple of books worth checking out.

A Secret Kept by by Tatiana de Rosnay - This new novel from the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his
sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming,
A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

Rose in a Storm by John Katz - From New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz comes a moving and powerful novel, the first one inspired by life on his celebrated Bedlam Farm—and perceptively told from the point of view of Rose, a dedicated working dog.

Rose is determined and focused, keeping the sheep out of danger and protecting the other creatures on the farm she calls home. But of all those she’s looked after since coming to the farm as a puppy, it is Sam, the farmer, whom she watches most carefully.

Awoken one cold midwinter night during lambing season, Rose and Sam struggle into the snowy dark to do their work. The ever observant Rose has seen a change in her master of late, ever since Sam’s wife disappeared one day. She senses something else in the air as well: A storm is coming, but not like any of the ones she’s seen over the years. This storm feels different, bigger, more foreboding.

When an epic blizzard hits the region, it will take all of Rose’s resolve, resourcefulness, and courage to help Sam save the farm and the creatures who live there.

Jon Katz consulted with animal behavior scientists to create his unique and convincing vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a dog. Poignant, thrilling, and beautifully wrought, Rose in a Storm is a wonderfully original and powerful tale from a gifted storyteller.

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris - In the wake of talk of a “postracial” America upon Barack Obama’s ascension as president of the United States, Michele Norris, cohost of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered, set out to write, through original reporting, a book about “the hidden conversation” on race that is unfolding nationwide. She would, she thought, base her book on the frank disclosures of others on the subject, but she was soon disabused of her presumption when forced to confront the fact that “the conversation” in her own family had not been forthright.

Norris unearthed painful family secrets that compelled her to question her own self-understanding: from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer weeks after his discharge from the navy at the conclusion of World War II to her maternal grandmother’s peddling pancake mix as an itinerant Aunt Jemima to white farm women in the Midwest. In what became a profoundly personal and bracing journey into her family’s past, Norris traveled from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South to explore the reasons for the “things left unsaid” by her father and mother when she was growing up, the better to come to terms with her own identity. Along the way she discovered how her character was forged by both revelation and silence.

Extraordinary for Norris’s candor in examining her own racial legacy and what it means to be an American, The Grace of Silence is also informed by rigorous research in its evocation of time and place, scores of interviews with ordinary folk, and wise observations about evolving attitudes, at once encouraging and disturbing, toward race in America today. For its particularity and universality, it is powerfully moving, a tour de force.