Monday, April 17, 2017

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

Meredith Oliver is a very average middle school girl. She and her two best friends keep to to themselves and try not to be embarrassingly singled out in the cafeteria by the popular crowd. Especially Lisa Bellow. Although when they were much younger they had their friendship moments, Lisa is now at the tippy top of the totem pole. Pretty and already experienced with the older boys, she has a way of making everyone outside her inner circle uncomfortable. One day Meredith is waiting behind Lisa at the deli on her way home from school. What feels like a typical boring day turns upside down when the door opens and in walks a masked man. After lying on the floor terrified, the man asks Lisa to get up. And then she is gone. And so begins Meredith’s second life, the one after the fall of Lisa Bellow. Suddenly Meredith is getting an incredible amount of attention, wanted or not, this is her new reality. How Meredith deals with the aftermath only adds to the dynamics of her own presently tumultuous family. I thought this was an interesting take on a unfathomable situation. The writer’s interpretation of these young girls was so accurate, it was spooky. More a thinking story than action - so not necessarily suspenseful. Highly recommend this unique, well written and thought provoking novel. Looking forward to more from author Susan Perabo.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Woman in the Photo


On Memorial Day 1889, the South Fork Dam broke and the great Johnstown Flood occurred. Over 2200 people died. The entire town was destroyed and countless homes and families never recovered. This is the story of Elizabeth Haberlin whose wealthy Pittsburgh family had spent all their summers at an exclusive resort along the Little Conemaugh River, directly above Johnstown. Elizabeth is a young precocious woman who is on the brink of making her debutante entrance to society. Her physician father and high society mother obsess with making a match while Elizabeth questions her lavish lifestyle and the many restrictions placed on women of her time. The coming of this event changes her world forever. Fast forward to present day Lee Parker’s life in sunny California. At 18, when she expected her life to be taking off, it is stalled by her father’s disappearance, mothers financial struggle and her personal search for information regarding her birth mother. Each chapter presents the world from the perspective of these dynamic women who have more in common than one would imagine. Highly recommend this fabulous work of historical fiction by author Mary Hogan. A little bit long drawn at the end but overall a great book club selection with an interesting discussion and bit of American history learned.

Conviction


Rebekah Roberts is still working at The Trib as a stringer. Try as she might, she cannot seem to get to the kind of writing she’s always dreamed of doing. But Rebekah never gives up. While following a lead from a remarkable woman who follows murders through a police scanner, Rebekah becomes enmeshed in finding out who DeShawn Perkins really is and whether or not he killed his parents and sister in the summer of 1992. With sly wit and suspenseful twists, Rebekah Roberts must find the truth which is buried beneath lies, excuses and once again the Jewish community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Using her investigative skills and the contacts she has finally made Rebekah quickly learns that everyone is hiding something and DeShawn has spent most of his adult life in prison. She must find the truth. After loving Invisible City and Run You Down, Julia Dahl has done it again with another emotional thriller that takes the reader through the streets of New York City and lives of these unpredictable characters. Highly recommend this entire trilogy but I think you can read each individually as well. Loved author Julia Dahl’s easy, enjoyable writing and this dark glimpse into a sketchy underworld.

The Dinner Party


Sylvia Gold has worked hard to maintain her perfect family and home in Connecticut. This Passover will really put her to the test – like an eleventh plague called children growing up and disobeying. With two daughters and a son that have spent their young lives following very high expectations, Sylvia is not prepared to have her pretty picture disturbed. The knock on the door Passover night is her son, Gideon, not Elijah. He is with a woman they’ve collectively never heard about even though they’ve been skyping him in Sri Lanka. Joe, Sarah’s non Jewish childhood boyfriend, is bringing his mom Valentina, who neither wears nor says the right thing and Becca, the youngest, has invited her new Boyfriend’s parents – The Rothschilds. Yes, that is The Rothschilds with a capital “R”. After all these years the family is learning that honesty and forgiveness are a much quicker path to redemption. Sylvia painfully faces that her children are growing up and she must loosen the parenthood reins (or handcuffs) so they can follow their own dreams. Laugh out loud FUNNY - The Dinner Party was unputdownable, worth eating matzo for a week. Partly exaggerated and terrifyingly real, the “Jewish Mother” at her best. Highly recommend this enjoyable, easy, well written novel and I absolutely look forward to reading more from author Brenda Janowitz.