Beat the Reaper
Beat the Reaper is an unique read. Read it for the quirky characters. Read it for its dark humor. Read it because it's one heck of a thriller. Read it for the history, or for the medicine. Read it before it's turned into a bad movie. Read it for the gimmicks; I'm not telling .Read it because it's a debut effort and a new voice in fiction. Read it because it's a real hot book and everybody's reading it. Read it before Bazell publishes number two (fingers crossed)!
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a book that always frightened me. I couldn't tell you why exactly, I just knew it did. It might have been something about falling down the hole and not knowing what to expect and perhaps the fear of loosing control of my life. In Lisa Genova's Still Alice, this Alice begins an adventure she never planned on taking. Alice Holland, Harvard Professor, finds herself forgetting words, loosing snippets of time, etc. Initially it's possible it's just stress. After all she has a full schedule, teaching and presenting lectures. When the lapses continue, medical exams confirm a grim diagnosis, early onset Alzheimer's. Alice is in her early 50's. It's a story that made me squirm with uneasiness. It paralleled that feeling of falling down the rabbit hole; falling, falling, with no end in sight. Once I started it I couldn't put it down. What made the book for me is that it is told from Alice's point of view, much more poignant this way. It will make a great discussion book and is bound to be hand sold by its readers. I know I'm going to recommend it to a few friends.
The Sweet In-Between is a sweet read
I must confess that I have always had a weakness for a good Southern novel, whether it be Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Prince of Tides, or The Secret Life of Bees. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that Sheri Reynolds’ new book, The Sweet In-Between, made it to my “must read” list, and I am so glad that it did.
The Sweet In-Between is a fascinating, character-driven family drama. Kendra, or “Kenny,” lives with a family that is not her own. Her mother died of cancer when she was very young, her father is in prison for drug trafficking, and “Aunt” Glo, her father’s girlfriend, took her in when there was no place else to go. As she nears the age of eighteen, Kenny worries that Glo will ask her to leave, and she’ll be left on her own. Kenny also has gender issues; she binds her chest with ACE bandages, cuts her hair short, and goes to great lengths to avoid the bathroom at school, where she is an outcast.
The supporting characters are also well-developed, and I found myself subconsciously casting various actors and actresses into the roles. Tim-Tim and Quincy are Glo’s sons. Daphne, Glo’s young granddaughter, who cusses like a sailor, and Sneaky, Tim-Tim’s girlfriend, are also part of this large, extended family.
In addition to the marvelous sense of place Reynolds gives this novel, her lyrical prose further captivates the reader. I very seldom copy down lines or passages from the books I read, but I was compelled to do so while reading this poignant story. A sampling of my favorites include:
• “Here’s the thing: There are holes that never go away, holes that never fill back up no matter what.”
• “I wear her desperation like a collar.”
• “I love cutting grass. You can see exactly where you’ve been and where you need to go next. You can’t really hurry. You just move steady, one step at a time, and with that lawn mower handle vibrating in your hands, you know you’re alive.”
Read this heartwarming, coming-of-age novel. Reynolds is a masterful storyteller and Kenny is a fascinating character. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
For all of you who do read this novel, I have a special request. You can leave a comment to my review, and I am hoping that someone will respond to this question: In what ways and to what degree do you think that the trauma Kenny experienced at the hands of Tim-Tim, her father, and the man next door contributed to her gender ambiguity? I would love to add this dimension to our on-line reviews and turn them into a virtual book discussion group! So please leave your comments!