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Melinda Gates has written an impressive memoir, not only about working in impoverished countries to improve the plight of women, but also her growth and evolution as a woman with a voice. Being married to Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, challenged her to assert her role in their philanthropic endeavors, and to garner the self confidence to speak about the importance of women’s roles in changing the dynamics of developing cultures. She tells an inspiring story and one we can all work toward. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow
What it's like to grow up in poverty. The shame of it, the struggles of one family in Vermont with illness, hard-line Catholicism, the loss of a job and coming of age. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow
The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai, is definitely one of the most profound novels I’ve read recently. It’s focus is on the height of the AIDS epidemic of the mid 1980’s and centers around relationships that comprised the gay community in Chicago at the time. The story is complex, moving and devastating, exploring a culture most people are loathe to try to understand, thinking it messy, immoral, and easier to ignore. Named one of the ten best books of 2018 by the NY Times, The Great Believers is profound, unforgettable, and beautifully sad. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow
An exquisitely written book about a Nigerian American caught between two worlds. Niru is a privileged senior at a prestigious private school in Washington on his way to Harvard, struggling with his sexual identity and his relationship to his conservative and very traditional Nigerian parents. It also explores his friendship with his best friend, who happens to be a girl who is in love with him. The denouement is devastating but totally believable, and leaves you breathless and saddened at our cultural response to “other”. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow
A beautifully crafted novel, by the author of Cold Mountain, about one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve encountered in recent fiction. Based on historical research - letter, diaries, memoirs - much of Varina’s character is rounded out by Frazier’s brilliant imagination. The novel goes back and forth in time from pre-Civil War, through the actual war from the southern perspective, post-war, and up through the early 20th century. Family, marriage, slavery, race relations, battles lost, women's roles - all are explored stunningly here. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow