South of Broad By Pat Conroy Leo King was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. The story begins with Leo's senior year in highschool where his mother is a tough principal and father an adored science teacher. Leo has had a difficult past and is determined to make his life more positive and fulfilling. He has lost his dear brother, survived a mental breakdown and is on probation for a drug bust he could not explain. Leo quickly learns that when one one door closes, a window opens. His senior year becomes a series of life experiences that he could never have dreamed. His group of friends fast become life long connection and South of Broad takes this motley crew through all the trials and tribulations of adulthood, family and friendship. My first Pat Conroy novel. He is an exquisite writer dispensing warmth, love and humor generously. South of Broad brings Charleston and its characters to life in the readers imagination. It is rather lengthy but if you have the time to indulge in this saga of Charleston, enjoy.
Love and Shame and Love By Peter Orner Alexander Popper grew up in Chicago in the 1970's. He had an older brother Peter, classic grandparents, Bernice and Seymour and Phillip and Miriam, his mother and father. This novel time travels between Poppers life and his family history dating back to when his grandparents began their courtship in the early 1940's. The writing is eclectic and the author is funny. It is easy to read. But the big question, what is this story really about? It is about family dynamics, the pains of adolescence and Chicago life and politics. The read is an enjoyable one but not a page turner and frankly it could have ended at any point and it wouldn't have made a difference.
The Language of Flowers By Vanessa Diffenbaugh In the Victorian age flowers had a language of their own. If you gave someone a certain flower or bouquet it had a specific meaning, love or happiness, forgiveness or even jealousy. Victoria Jones is a foster child who barely survives a sad and difficult childhood. She goes from foster home to foster home and craves love and a place of safety in the world. Unfortunately, that day never comes and Victoria is finally thrust out on her own at 18 to truly fend for herself. At 10 yrs old, she had lived with Elizabeth on a farm that was a vineyard. Elizabeth had a love for flowers and the language they represented. She taught Victoria all she knew. Victoria had a gift and by a miracle found a job at a florist designing bouquets, the one thing she was truly good at. Victoria begins a journey to find friendship and love and learns that it is not too late. Her life is not meant to be solitary, she is not being punished. This is an amazing first novel. The author brings us on a journey into the world of flowers and also the despair of the foster system and its children that want so little but often get nothing. The simplicity of what a flower means, the simplicity of a smile, some food, a place to stay, can be shared with those who do not have. The things we take for granted and complain about nonchalantly are only dreams for many.
Walking Israel By Martin Fletcher NBC Foreign news journalist Martin Fletcher has spent the better part of his career reporting from and about Israel. It has become his home and his passion. His love and deep understanding of this country is evident throughout this small journey he made hiking alone down the coast of Israel a few years ago. The reader is taken on a trip from the Lebanon border down the coast past Tel Aviv to end in Gaza. Mr. Fletcher visits and meets with a diverse group of Israelis with an open ear and open heart. He has intense conversation with Holocaust survivors, Israeli Arabs, young and old and some unique individuals trying to rebuild a new type of kibbutz life. This is not only a pleasurable trip through a mesmerizing country but an educational one as well. The author never fails to find both sides to every story in the most fair honest light possible, a difficult task for any reporter in this part of the world where emotions run high and histories collide. Whether you have never been to Israel or have traveled there many times, this would be an enjoyable easy read.