If nothing else, this incredibly cold weather is cozy reading weather. Here in New England, it’s not as bitterly frosty as in my native midwest, but still….cold enough that I’m in my pjs at 8:00 and opening a book! To begin 2014, here are the books that have been on my nightstand:
Schroder by Amity Gaige (Named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2013 by the New York Times, it had been on my “to read” list for several months. It did not disappoint. In fact, I find myself thinking about it at different points of the day – and “googling” Clark Rockefeller, the German man who pretended to be lots of different people and is now in jail. Schroder is loosely based on Rockefeller, although the novel’s protagonist takes the last name Kennedy rather than Rockefeller. Gaige’s powerful novel takes place over the seven days in which “Kennedy” and his six-year-old daughter are on the run. As the two travel across New England, “Kennedy” looks back over his life to try to make sense of his actions. They don’t make sense, but his thoughts about identity and parenthood are powerful and thought provoking.
Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (A memoir by an Inuit woman who grew up in the Arctic – way up in the Arctic, in a place that is so remote that, admittedly, I hadn’t looked at it on a map before reading this compelling and often sad story. When Margaret Pokiak was eight-years-old, she went to a residential school which was run by the Catholic church and overseen by a group of nuns, many of whom were quite cruel and hard-hearted. Margaret is driven by her desire to learn to read, and her commitment to that goal gets her through some serious obstacles. This book, written for kids between the ages of 10 and 14, is inspiring and fascinating.
Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (a novel in verse about an eleven-year-old girl growing up in Haiti. Serafina wants to go to school and, ultimately, to become a doctor. Her life in a remote part of Haiti is hard, and there is not enough money for her to attend school. Things get even more challenging when a flood washes away her home. Told in the first person, the reader connects with Serafina’s struggles. I found myself pulling for her on every page – but like the young girl in Fatty Legs, Serafina is determined to succeed.)
The weather is supposed to improve over the next few days, but it’s early in the winter. The cold will be back soon. Stay warm out there!