June has been my lucky month for books. Not only did my coastal town reverse its usual June Gloom but the four o’clock winds also abated for most of the month. This all made for some great outdoor reading weather.
I’ve also had luck with finding fascinating, funny, and fearless books for a fraction of the cost: (yes, that F thing was on purpose and I’m tired of it now too). Let’s proceed.
First the Fascinating Read: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and an African American G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. She does not remember much about what happened until later in the story, so I won’t spoil the ending.
As a young girl she is forced to move to a new city and largely African American community. With her light brown skin, blue eyes, and Danish upbringing she is the oddity among her peers.
Rachel’s adjustment to the tragedy and her grief is heart-wrenching. Biracial identity, the mother daughter bond, the desire to fit in, and abandonment are major themes.
The novel is the winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction as well as several other awards. Bought it for $10 and had it signed at a book reading by Heidi Durrow-she is one of the most gracious author I’ve met and gives a heck of a presentation.
The Funny: WOW! A South Bronx Memoirito of Boyhood and Catholic School by David Perez.
Now this one was almost guaranteed to make me download onto my Kindle Fire. Latino in Catholic School and the South Bronx= Funny before I flipped the page.
This is a memoir set in 1964. David Pérez is living in the Millbrook housing projects, about to be transferred to St. Luke’s Elementary School, where the Brothers of the Sacred Heart are about as scary as the baddest gangs.
This “memoirito,” follows David trying his best to be cool in a neighborhood where being the smartest guy in school isn’t something to brag about. His trials and tribulations as he navigates through his ‘tests of manhood,’ altar boy experiences and his first date are laugh out loud funny.
Perez has a great way with detail, description, and dialogue. I was able to borrow this e-book from Amazon Lending Library, but I would have bought it for the 2.99 Kindle price if it hadn’t been available.
The Fearless: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
“The war tried to kill us in the spring,” begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city.”
This book is due out on 9/11/12. A 20 page excerpt was in the free Book Expo America Buzz Books of the 30 top Fall 2012 titles. I was mesmerized from the first line to the last. Powers creates a setting that is both fearful and fearless. The narrative is clean but descriptive of setting, emotive, and insightful.
Powers joined the army at the age of 17, later serving a year as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He is currently a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will receive his M.F.A. in 2012.
I can’t say I’ve ever read a book about the Iraq War but from what I’ve read I’ll definitely be waiting for this one, which I’m sure will become a classic.
A F not read yet: Fifty Shades of Gray
My sister and most of the world raves about this book. She just finished the first two of the trilogy and lent the first one to a girl friend who said she couldn’t understand all the hoopla and the book was boring, so she’s getting it back and lending it to me to see what I think.
I’m not holding my breath for the book, it received 2,500 1 star ratings and 3,000+ 5 star ratings.
July started out beautifully over here in coastal Southern California, but today it’s overcast, 68 degrees and humid. Forecast is the same all week. Doesn’t really matter to me, I’ll read most anywhere. I hope to fit in 4 or 5 more books this month.(Using another letter in the alphabet).