- Hope: a tragedy by Shalom Auslander
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them by Meg Jay, PhD
Hope: a tragedy by Shalom Auslander
Shalom Auslander’s novel Hope: a tragedy may captivate some readers and outrage others. Whatever the case, this book will surely initiate discussion and controversy. The Kugels, a Jewish family who has moved to the middle of nowhere to gain a little perspective, find themselves grappling with the past…in more ways than one. With the amusing family dynamics of a grandmother who insists she was in the Holocaust, although she never lived in Europe, a wife who wants nothing more than to be a famous writer, and a husband who humors his aging mother and tries to figure out the life around him, the Kugels also discover Anne Frank, yes the Anne Frank, living in their attic. Through their salty everyday lives and language, concepts such as learning from history, living the (un)examined life, and the beauty and tragedy of hope, Auslander has meshed the Holocaust and its atrocities with today’s world of e-readers, microwaves, and Posture-Pedic mattresses. In doing so, he has combined pain and sadness, along with touches of humor, sanity and insanity. Through this dark comedy of a novel, the crimes of the past, particularly World War II, and today’s despicable acts are confronted. The question is begged: how do we keep history’s truth and hideous inhumanities alive for all generations? Fleeing the past can be haunting…
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Eowyn Ivey’s beautifully written debut novel, The Snow Child, is one that will capture you and leave you speechless. The story details the lives of Jack and Mabel, a couple in their early 50s, who have just moved to Alaska to escape their past: family drama, unfulfilling work, and the devastation of losing their newborn baby. Looking to restart their lives and repair their failing relationship, the pair starts a farm in the wilderness where they intend to live the remainder of their lives in solitude. However, one snowy evening, everything changes. Feeling childlike and playful, Jack and Mabel build a snow child, donning it with a coat, mittens, hat, and scarf, while carving striking eyes and full lips on the snow child’s face. The next morning, the snow child has fallen over and the coat, hat, mittens, and scarf are gone. Soon a little girl named Faina starts to show up at their doorstep wearing the same accessories. Refusing to divulge where she came from or where she lives, Jack and Mabel become enthralled with Faina’s mysterious and elusive aura. As Jack and Mabel get to know the little girl who always travels with a red fox, Faina makes their lives interesting and exciting again, bringing joy and laughter back into their daily routine. Years pass and Faina comes and goes, almost always magically appearing when she is most needed. Yet questions are still left unanswered: Where did she come from? Where does she live? And most importantly, does Faina even really exist? This fairy-tale of a novel is sure to warm your heart in the chilly, winter weather.
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them by Meg Jay, PhD
Media, friends, and even family, tell “twentysomethings” that the twenties is an age without consequence: school, work, and romantic relationships can all be postponed since “thirty is the new twenty.” Prominent professors and psychologists have even created a new stage of life for this group: adultescence, an age between adolescence and adulthood that can be spent aimlessly and lacking “grown-up” responsibilities. Well, Dr. Meg Jay has a different point of view. Jay, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia, contends that by taking control of one’s life professionally, romantically, and financially in the twenties, one can prepare for a happier and healthier future in their thirties, forties, and beyond. No doubt, the twenties are an important age for self-exploration and taking chances, and Dr. Jay encourages twentysomethings to do such things, but in an intentional manner that will have a positive long-term impact. In doing so, twentysomethings can take control of their lives, empower themselves, and even find that much-wanted freedom that is so often mistakenly believed to only exist in “adultescence.” Drawing on clinical sessions with many of her twentysomething patients, Dr. Jay focuses on topics such as creating an identity capital, the cohabitation effect, marriage, and employment. This is an insightful read for high school and college graduates, anyone in their twenties, and parents and grandparents who are looking to gain perspective into the life of 21st century twentysomethings.
Barbara Alvarez is an Adult Services Librarian at the West Chicago Public Library District. In addition to recommending reads to the newspaper, she also leads the library’s monthly book discussion group, Between the Lines.
The author does not allow comments to this entry