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Girl: A Novel by Edna O'Brien - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780374162559
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 15th, 2019

The girl was only a child when she and many of her classmates were abducted and held for ransom by a fanatical religious sect in Nigeria. She endures brutal physical and mental abuses that more rightfully belong in Dante's Inferno, ultimately giving birth to a child. Even submerged in a sea of horror, the flame to endure is never quite extinguished. Her daring escape, however, only leads to a different, more subtle kind of persecution. This isn't an easy road to travel for the reader, but, in its reaffirmation of the power of the human spirit to triumph over unimaginable suffering, its rewards are abundant. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525521143
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Published: Knopf - March 24th, 2020

Jonathan Alkaitis' massive financial fraud was like an explosion in the center of a fabulously wealthy neighborhood. The blast waves shook every house to its foundation leaving the inhabitants in varying degrees of desperation and despair. With shades of the Bernie Madoff scandal haunting the pages, The Glass Hotel allows the reader a rare insight into the damage that one corrupt person can inflict both upon the people close to him and those who trusted him. Opulence, greed, betrayal, weakness and the strength to endure all are pieces in the mosaic that makes up this intriguing and thought-provoking novel. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780316449236
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Published: Hachette Books - January 21st, 2020

The brutal killing of two young women on their way to a festival in West Virginia called the Rainbow Gathering haunted the mountains and hollows of Pocahontas County for decades. Most people thought the murders had been committed by a bunch of raucous local men. Even as the months dragged into years, a police officer and a local lawyer were determined to break through the wall of silence and fear and find justice for the two victims. The author lived in West Virginia, where she helped to bring literacy and guidance into one of the most poverty stricken states in the country. She acquired a unique perspective into its insular social structure. This is a taut true crime story with a surprising resolution. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Greenwood: A Novel by Michael Christie - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781984822000
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Published: Hogarth - February 25th, 2020

This majestic, century-spanning novel is largely told from the viewpoint of Harris and Everett Greenwood, who were thought to be brothers after the boys were discovered by rescuers combing through the wreckage of two passenger trains. Though the bond between them was not instilled by blood, their impact upon each other would reverberate throughout their lives. Harris used his business acumen to become a prominent lumber baron in Canada while Everett led a shiftless, nomadic life until he came upon a baby left in a vast forest by her dying mother. The decline of Harris Greenwood's fortune is counterpointed by the growing awareness in the world of the irreplaceable value of our natural resources; personified by his granddaughter's commitment to protecting the environment. In this rousing, engrossing saga of a dynamic family, the author has quietly woven a warning to us all. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

The Innocents: A Novel by Michael Crummey - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780385545426
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Published: Doubleday - November 12th, 2019

A brother and sister are left to fend for themselves on the rugged shoreline of northern Newfoundland after the deaths of their baby sister, mother, and father. The knowledge the two children have of how to survive in this unforgiving terrain has been imparted in meager portions by their parents. Their only regular contact with the outside world is the annual arrival of a ship, ironically called The Hope, which provides them with enough supplies to barely survive another brutal winter in return for their catch of fish. The author's prose is as stark and vibrant as the landscape in which this remarkable story of determination and endurance is set. This is easily one of the year's best novels. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Redhead by the Side of the Road: A novel by Anne Tyler - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525658412
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Published: Knopf - April 7th, 2020

Micah Mortimer leads a perfectly self-contained life. He has a flawless driving record, a comfortable relationship with a woman friend, operates his own small business, and maintains a cordially distant rapport with the tenants in his Baltimore apartment building. The placid water that Micah has sailed upon for so long starts to ripple when a young man shows up claiming to be his son, the offspring from a college romance that Micah recalls as being disappointingly chaste. Once again, Tyler demonstrates her mastery at capturing in prose the hopes, the flaws, and the spirit of ordinary people and presenting them in such a way that her characters' small triumphs become a cause for celebration for her readers. No other contemporary American author does it quite so effortlessly. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves


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