Sandy's Staff Picks
"You think you have a crazy family? Read Katy Tur’s memoir and see how yours compares with hers.
You may be familiar with Katy from her coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign and her book about it titled Unbelievable. She’s also the anchor of MSNBC’s Katy Tur Reports. Little of that figures into this book which delves into her unconventional upbringing by her pioneering helicopter journalist parents. Remember the OJ chase and the Rodney King riots? Katy’s parents covered them from their perch above the city. But this is only the beginning of Katy’s story that includes an honest look at her parents’ marriage and her estrangement from her father, who surprised Katy with his transition to a woman in his 60’s. This is a fascinating story of a family as well as a look at how news has changed since the 1990’s."
"The Summer Place is another intricately woven and character- driven novel by best-selling author Jennifer Weiner. The action is divided between her beloved Cape Cod and New York City, and the story involves multiple plotlines that come together in surprising ways. Weiner has written another absorbing and touching book that is perfect for a summer afternoon by the pool, at the beach or on your favorite couch."
"Note: That Summer is not a sequel to Big Summer!
That Summer is a book that mothers and their teen or young adult daughters might want to read together as the topic - sexual assault and its aftermath - is timely and epidemic in schools and on college campuses. The story revolves around two women named Diana whose friendship develops as a result of their involvement with the same man. The central questions Weiner seeks to answer are: Can we make up for past bad behavior by living an upstanding life, and what does it take to make a victim of sexual assault whole – and is it even possible?
Although the topic is a heavy one, Weiner’s sharp eye for detail and ability to tell a good story balance out the painful parts."
"In addition to having a provocative title and cover, this book names names and pulls no punches. Copaken's memoir mines her health crises, marriage, and financial freefall. As a reader, you might feel like a voyeur peeking into the life of someone you think is at times brave and at others foolhardy. Whether you find her whiny or a person deserving of admiration for getting out of bed most days, this is a compelling read. Copaken, a longtime journalist and photographer, also seeks to educate her readers about the inequality that's inherent in our economy and exacerbated by the lack of affordable healthcare.
This book will educate, entertain, and aggravate you, but, most importantly, it will make you think."
"Laura Lippman is a former news reporter and the wife of David Simon, creator of the tv series The Wire and Treme. They met when both were working as journalists for The Baltimore Sun. As with most of her other novels, Lippman sets this story in Baltimore -- my hometown – and bases it on actual murders that occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s. Maddie Schwartz, the protagonist, becomes involved in the stories behind the murders and talks herself into a job at the local newspaper.
Sex, race, infidelity, and women’s roles outside of the home are all part of this interesting story. When you finish it, I recommend that you read another of Lippman’s mysteries!"
"I am a fan of stories about families and this one about the Gleesons and the Stanhopes does not disappoint! Ask Again, Yes is a well-written account of two families headed by policemen in the NYPD. Both families deal with trauma that reverberates from one generation to the next. The characters are well drawn, and the plot makes the book a page-turner. I really enjoyed the book and have recommended it many times to other readers."
"I have read everything Jennifer Weiner has written, but this book is her best! It pulls you in immediately and keeps you reading because you want to know what happens to her characters, sisters Jo and Bethie. Jo is loosely based on Weirner's own mother's journey from conformity to self-actualization. Life is complicated and messy in all of Weiner's books, but this one has an ending full of compassion and reconciliation."
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"Listen to the Marriage is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it. I was intrigued by the title and was curious to see what the author had to say.
Steve and Gretchen are on the brink of divorce and decide to go to couple’s therapy to see if there is anything about their marriage worth saving. The therapist they see has her own issues to deal with, however, she gets Steve and Gretchen to understand that the marriage they have created has its own qualities and characteristics and should be listened to. Needless to say, the idea is a provocative one and the book is worth reading!"
"Most readers seem to know Celeste Ng from having read her second novel, the best-selling Little Fires Everywhere, which was turned into a series by the same name. However, I would like to suggest that her first book – Everything I Never Told You – is the better of the two.
If you are a parent, this book is a difficult but compelling read. It deals with a Chinese-American family who has placed a great deal of pressure on their daughter Lydia, whom we find out in the first sentence of the book is dead. The rest of the novel deals with what happened to Lydia and the different ways her parents understand and process her death. I’m going to leave my recommendation there for fear of spoiling the reader’s experience. I just can’t recommend the book highly enough."
"Liz Moore is the author of the recent best-selling novel Long, Bright River. Having liked that book a great deal, I was eager to read her earlier book Heft. I ended up liking it even more than Long Bright River. Heft centers on Arthur Opp, a reclusive obese former professor and his student Charlene. Like Arthur, Charlene is battling various demons. However, her life is complicated by her teenage son, Kel, whom she is raising on her own. Arthur and Charlene commence a years-long correspondence that Kel learns about and seeks to discover the nature of. This is a wonderful story of friendship and love among a set of characters not often depicted in novels."