Friday Finds -- October 22, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


Friday FindsHosted by MizB at Should be reading, this meme asks you what great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Every week, I post three selections, and choose one among them as my pick to read, should I choose among the three books.

I had a tough time choosing three books this time. I came across so many amazing recommendations this week that I'm heading off to the library tomorrow, and then to B&N.


The first time I heard of this book, I thought it was another Let Me In kind of book. Then when I read the synopsis, I realized I was too wrong. The cover itself speaks volumes. Plus, there is the added factor of this book having a fairy tale-element mixed with war literature. I'm not a fairy tale-type of person, but this is a combo I can't resist. My library doesn't stock this book, so I'm going to have to look at B&N for a copy.
In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.

Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story.

In the Wake of the Boatman by Jonathon Scott Fuqua

I spotted this one at NetGalley the other day and right away requested it. I doubt I have read an LGBT book before, so I am quite eager to read this one.
Puttnum Douglas Steward, born during the middle of World War Two, is immediately considered better off dead than alive by his father. A befuddled adolescent, Puttnum is a good, hardworking student, but an angry young man. In his junior year of high school, he is arrested for joy riding, an event which galvanizes his father's poor opinion of him. Nevertheless, two years later he is accepted into the University of Virginia on an ROTC scholarship. Cloistered away at school, he begins to detect something different about himself, culminating in a brief, unnerving fling with his annoying cadet commander.

After college, in the weeks prior to officer's training school, he dons a dress and pantyhose for the first time, initiating a struggle to accept this unexpected and entirely unwanted facet of his personality. Initially horrified, Puttnum asks to see action in Vietnam, where he is determined to suppress his urge or terminate all problems. Instead, he returns to the states three years later, wounded and decorated and no less confused. A flustered icon with a bizarre secret, Puttnum becomes the armed forces' token hero, its soul luminary in the Vietnam era. Racked by guilt and his father's death, his problems begin to boil, and he flees his life and celebrity in a final attempt to come to terms with himself.
Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange

I came across Ntozake Shange's Some Sing, Some Cry a while ago, and was fascinated by it. While looking through her bio, I saw this one book, which was published way back in 1985 - a book about the desegregation move in schools.
This is a unique and vividly told novel about a girl named Betsey Brown, an African American seventh-grader growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, based specifically on the nationwide school desegregation events of the Civil Rights movement in America's recent past. Shange has set her story in the autumn of 1959, the year St. Louis started to desegregate its schools. Betsey is the oldest child in a large, remarkable, and slightly eccentric African American family. Her father is a doctor who wakes his children each morning with point-blank questions about African history and Black culture while beating on a conga drum; her mother is a beautiful, refined, confident, and strong-willed social worker who is overwhelmed by the vast size of her young family and who cares very little for "all that nasty colored music."

Her parents' difficult marriage is the realistic, conflicted, yet ultimately hopeful backdrop before which Betsey's lip-syncing, poem-reciting, soul-searching, truth-seeking, tree-climbing, and fact-finding take place. This is an episodic, character-driven saga of the Black experience in St. Louis at the end of the "Fabulous Fifties," but it is also a story about the many and various-and basically familiar-growing pains of a precocious, passionate, spunky young protagonist.

4 comments:

Molly said...

This is the second time that I have been introduced to The True Story of Hansel and Gretel and I am very interested to read your review. It sounds fascinating!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Oh, the Hansel and Gretel book sounds so intriguing! I can't wait to see if you think it is well done

bermudaonion said...

They all look good to me! I've read several good reviews of In the Wake of the Boatman, so I'll be anxious to see what you think of it.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Cool finds!