Jim

About Jim: 

Jim has worked in bookstores since 1983 and at Gibson's, off and on, since 1987. He enjoys a good story more than anything else but is drawn to Young Adult fiction because of his day job as a middle school teacher. "Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book." --Author Unknown. Needless to say, I have lived many lives and there are countless more to come.

You can read Jim's 2016-2018 archived staff reviews here: https://www.gibsonsbookstore.com/jim-2016-2018

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle (The Country Nurse Series, Book One) Cover Image
By Mary J. MacLeod, Claire Macdonald (Foreword by)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781628725124
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arcade - May 5th, 2015

Jim's January 2020 pick, 1 of 2

This is, by far, one of the best books I have read in a long time. My praise comes from its simplicity. A woman and her family move to an island in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland, where she takes a position as a nurse. Nothing complicated there, right? Yes, and no. After all, the nurse is dealing with people, and the human race is anything but predicable, except in its unpredictability. She found that out in buckets.

     Macleod spins yarns of her daily comings-and-goings. Her tales are episodic, with island locals popping up here and there, as well as the odd off-islander. The mundane is mixed with the extraordinary, and in some cases, the horrific, things that I never expected in such a bucolic setting. Neither did MacLeod, which amplifies the gruesome nature of the deeds.

    Take a step into a world much unlike our own. A slower pace, fewer distractions, a simpler life. The only thing that I was happy about when I finished Call the Nurse is that there is a sequel. Bon voyage, to you, my friends, on your journey to the faraway island of Papavray (made-up name to protect the locals, so don't look for it on a map). You will be charmed.


Staff Pick Badge
Disney's Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781501190803
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - December 3rd, 2019

Jim's January 2020 pick, 2 of 2

If you have ever been to a Disney property, you will undoubtedly have noticed how meticulously detailed everything is. The artwork, the foliage, every last detail ornate and specific, nothing left to chance. That is not mere happenstance. Disney's Land chronicles the creation of the OG Disney park and how all that precision came about.

     Disneyland opened in 1955 but its origins, the light bulb moments that led to its creation, go back to the early decades of the 20th century and the days of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The slow evolution of Disney's land is mirrored in Stone's careful construction of the book. No quick or short cuts, the author puts each piece together with a craftsman's sense of perfection. Prominent to the park is the train that circles the property. Disney's lifelong interest in trains helped to make that a reality. Disneyland is actually Disney's land in one real sense, as it is the only park, of all the global Disney properties, that the man himself had a boots-on-the-ground hand in creating.

     Disney's Land is the history of a piece of American pop culture that is unequaled. Just ask anyone who has ever been there. Or anyone who has ever won a World Series or Super Bowl. They may say that they are going to Disney World, but that would not be possible without the original, Disneyland, an American treasure, lovingly chronicled in these pages.


Staff Pick Badge
Marley: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982129705
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - October 8th, 2019

Jim's January 2020 pick, 1 of 2

"Marley was dead, to begin with." So begins the novel that introduced Jacob Marley to the world, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Rest assured, Marley is alive and well in this novel. Clinch's book is an expansion of Dickens' story and reveals how Marley met and became the Ebenezer Scrooge's partner. Marley appears in A Christmas Carol wrapped in chains, and the cover of this novel also shows chains, but they are not the same ones. There are nefarious reasons why Marley suffers his fate, all of them quite alarming.

     Clinch does a wonderful job of recreating early nineteenth century England. He comes close to mirroring Dickens' writing style, too, which is no easy feat.

     If you are a fan of Dickens and A Christmas Carol, you will definitely enjoy Marley. It is not a Christmas story, so do not be put off by the association with that holiday classic. This one stands on its own. Enjoy.


Staff Pick Badge
North Korea Journal Cover Image
$24.50
ISBN: 9780735279827
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Canada - November 5th, 2019

Jim's January 2020 pick, 2 of 2

If you were lucky enough to have seen and/or read any of Palin's other travelogs, you will know what to expect here. From the trip's inception through to its end, the author spoons out observations about his tour of the country. Known for his cheekiness, Palin is nonetheless serious about his task of conveying the sights and sounds of this mostly forbidden place. He cannot help but make humorous asides, though, since North Korean society seems to be trapped in a time warp; the differences between North and South, Communist and free states, are so jarring that they elicit bemusement.

    I happened to listen to this as an audio book from Libro.fm. Palin's warm voice was inviting and welcome. North Korean Journal is a pleasant way to spend a few hours of your day.


Staff Pick Badge
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812984965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - August 18th, 2015

Jim's December 2019 pick, 2 of 2

I have been interested in reading this book for a while, and with the release of a film version imminent, knew that I the time was right. To be honest, I am curious to see how the filmmakers will translate this to the big screen; there is a lot to take in. I don't think that it's all going to make it, which is all the more reason why you should read Just Mercy, to get the full story, not a shaved down version of it.

    Stevenson writes mostly about Walter McMillian, a man unjustly accused of a murder he could not possibly have commited. That story is woven throughout the text but among many others. There are the tales of teenagers tried as adults, others about women wrongly incarcerated, and more still about people with mental disabilities behind bars after their disorders were ignored by judges and inept lawyers. The whole notion of a citizen of the United States being entitled to a fair trial is thrown out the window here, as is the belief that among our rights are those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A snowjob, if ever there were any.

    Stevenson raises important issues and has plenty of examples of how our justice system is rigged against the common man, especially when that man is black and poor. In the course of his work helping those who cannot help themselves, Steveson realizes that "We're supposed to sentence people fairly after fully considering their life circumstances, but instead we exploit the inability of the poor to get the legal assistance they need - all so we can kill them with less resistance." This book makes me want to resist - hard. Join me.


Staff Pick Badge
Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780062952394
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - November 5th, 2019

Jim's December 2019 pick, 1 of 2

Finding Chika is Albom's most personal book to date. It is a companion piece to, if not an outright soulmate of, Tuesdays with Morrie, if books can be such. Morrie even makes a brief appearance. Rather than five people you meet in Heaven, Morrie and Chika are two people Albom has met on Earth, both of whom have changed his life to its foundation. One, a mentor/father figure, the other a child. Part of the subtitle reads " the making of a family, " and this is exactly that, the creation of a family born from his efforts to help an orphan receive the medical care she so desperately needs. If you had ever wondered if Morrie's influence on Mitch endured, look no further than Finding Chika.

    Albom borrows the format of Morrie, too, alternating chapters between the past and the present, and as in Morrie, identifies and elaborates life lessons, this time, taught by a little girl, joyous in her approach to life despite being so close to death.

    You will laugh. You will cry - a lot. As a parent, I connected completely to this book and Albom's instinct to help a sick kid. He also opens up about his beliefs, raising the "touchy-feely" factor sky high. Many people are put off by the spirituality in his works, but I find it comforting. It is what touches me the most.  I was a big fan of the author before, but after reading Finding Chika, I am more so now than ever. This is a book that will speak to your soul.


Staff Pick Badge
Home Now: How 6000 Refugees Transformed an American Town Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781541767911
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: PublicAffairs - October 29th, 2019

Jim's November 2019 pick, 1 of 2

I knew, almost as soon as I started reading this book, that it was going to be good. My spidey-sense served me well. Anderson's book takes the reader to Lewiston, Maine and tells of the struggles by Somali refugees to create and native Mainers to maintain "home." The former take what they have and move forward, while the latter lament what they have lost and dwell on the past. That dichotomy creates a tension that sometimes erupts in protest but always is fed by misunderstanding.

     Anderson treats both sides fairly and shares the wants and dreams of all with an even hand, though it is obvious that her heart is with the new Americans. Home Now is the story of people who want to feel safe and grounded. Isn't that what we all want? Anderson shows what a true "melting pot" can be. Her words give me hope for the future.


Staff Pick Badge
The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life: A Library of America Special Publication Cover Image
By Andrew Blauner (Editor)
$24.95
ISBN: 9781598536164
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Library of America - October 22nd, 2019

Jim's November 2019 pick, 2 of 2

If you remember that happiness is a warm puppy, or use a "wah-wah-wah" voice to mimic an adult speaking, or know what a kite-eating tree is, or a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, for that matter, this book is for you. I grew up with the Peanuts gang. Needless to say, I took to this book like Linus to his blanket.
     The Peanuts Papers made me realize just how much Charles Schulz's comic strip kids influenced me (optimistic Charlie Brown = me). And, I never considered just how "deep" the Peanuts strips are, but the authors demonstrate the varied intellectual characteristics of Schulz's work time and again. Some essays, however, are bit too academic for my tastes. I thought that I was reading about a bunch of little kids and a beagle - silly me. The essays here also made me sad for the children of today who know Peanuts only from advertisements or the giant Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Snoopy balloon. Perhaps that explains why our society is in its current state. I don't know, but I am sure that if you are a fan of Charles Schulz and Peanuts, you will love this book.


Staff Pick Badge
The Book of Dust:  La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780553510744
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 4th, 2019

Jim's October 2019 pick

His Dark Materials is Pullman's first trilogy about young Lyra Belacqua and her adventures in the North. La Belle Sauvage is the first book in Pullman's new trilogy, still with Lyra but, at least in the case of this book, as a vital but secondary character. Here, eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead is cast as Lyra's protector, from a devastating flood and men who want to kill her to stop a prophecy from becoming true.

    From the start, Pullman keeps the tension high. The action sequences are  thrilling to read. "Pulse-pounding" is an understatement. The abusive power of the church is still a focus of Pullman's storytelling and continues to leave me incredulous that these stories are meant for teens. This is pretty heady stuff.

    If you are a fan of Philip Pullman, be prepared to be dazzled. If you are new to Lyra and her world, you will be amazed. This is a story, a series, not be missed.


Staff Pick Badge
Anthem (The Sixties Trilogy #3) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780545106092
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - October 1st, 2019

Jim's September 2019, 2 of 2

It is 1969 and the living is not easy. The Vietnam War rages on. People are protesting in the streets. Racial strife continues to plague the country. Driving the rhythm of life is the music, music, music of the times, everything from folk to rock, from the Beatles to an up-and-coming band called the Allman Brothers. Of course, the music is all Norman cares about as he sets off cross country with his cousin Molly to find her brother, who has run away from home rather than live under the same roof as his right-wing father.

    Anthem is the final book in Wiles' Sixties trilogy. She has a keen eye for recreating the feel of the time and through Molly's eyes captures the complexities of a nation in transition. I especially loved that characters from the first two books in the series appear to play a part in the cousin's cross-country odyssey. Wiles intersperses segments of news photography throughout the story to give the reader a sense of the reality the characters were living in. It is what drew me to the series in the first place and it is firmly in place here. I enjoyed this book from page one and was sad to see it end.


Staff Pick Badge
Born to Run Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781501141522
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 5th, 2017

Jim's September 2019 pick, 1 of 2

The main reason that you should read this memoir is that it is written about the Boss by the Boss. All the interviews and research in the world cannot reveal what a person is really like on the inside. Here there is no middle man to pretty things up. Born to Run captures Springsteen raw, the good and the bad. At times he presents himself as an ordinary person simply trying to make it in the world like everybody else. Later, he's a concerned citizen commenting on the injustices around him. Then, he's a proud papa gushing about his burgeoning family.  The big reveal is that, for most of his adult life, he was haunted by depression, which led him to struggle with personal relationships. Through it all, every step of the way, Springsteen is a man driven to by music. It is his way of making sense of the world.
    Springsteen is not always a great writer; there are a few instances of leaden prose. However, there are moments when it seems like he is penning an extended lyric for a monster song. Beautiful visual references that made me stop reading and appreciate his skill as a songwriter. He is the Boss, after all. B-r-u-u-u-u-c-e is an American icon. These are his words, and they are worth your time. Saddle up, my friends.


Staff Pick Badge
Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062313805
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Paperbacks - November 1st, 2016

Jim's August 2019 pick, 1 of 5

  The opening scene of the film Saving Private Ryan is one of the most powerful in cinema yet lacks one thing - anyone of color. I do not think that Steven Spielberg was making a statement that there were no soldiers of color involved on that day. Growing up, all I ever saw on the silver screen were armies of white soldiers fighting Hitler and the Nazis; however, Linda Hervieux demonstrates in Forgotten that this was pure Hollywood whitewashing of history. Soldiers of color not only stormed the beaches of Normandy, but they also had a particularly tough job to do - deploy and maintain barrage balloons.

     I had always wondered what those mini-blimps were. This books explains their use as a military weapon and gives a concise history of ballooning as well. As the subtitle indicates, Hervieux also explores the use of black troops throughout American history but focuses mainly on a handful of men who fought in the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion during WWII.

     The book as a whole is fascinating. The author can be a little redundant, especially when explaining some Jim Crow practices here in the states, but overall, her chronicles of the men of the 320th glued me to the page. Herviweux makes the exploits of these brave men, who cared more for their country than it cared for them, come alive with rich details of their lives on the battlefields both in Europe and here at home. Most surprising is the treatment the men receive in England while training for D-Day. Let's just say that the Brits had a lot to teach us back then. 

     Forgotten is a worthy look at a facet of American history that has largely been left in the dust heap of time.


Staff Pick Badge
Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316422772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - June 11th, 2019

Jim's August 2019 pick, 2 of 5

Cormoran Strike is back! In their fourth outing Strike and his partner Robin are on the trail of crooked politicians. In the course of their investigations, they come across a rumor of a child being strangled and buried in a ditch decades ago. An hallucination of a deranged mental patient or an unfortunate memory that won't go away? Strike and Robin have their hands full.

    What has always made this series stand out is the author's attention to detail and character development. Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) has a keen eye for the minute and the writing is rich. My favorite new character, Barclay, is a Scot, and his dialog is written with his accent intact - fun! Most interesting of all is the way the main players have changed over time. Galbraith generously allows Strike's and Robin's stories to take the focus away from the mystery at hand. Of course, their relationship is one that we fans have been eager to see mature beyond their initial state (nudge-nudge, wink-wink).

    I was waiting for this book for a while and savored every page, knowing that it will be some time before the next adventure. I hope the wait won't be too long. As for you, dear reader, dive in and enjoy!


Staff Pick Badge
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781400069996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - April 2nd, 2019

Jim's August 2019 pick, 3 of 5

I am new to Ruth Reichl. I have always known that at some point her work and I would cross paths. I just wasn't sure when. At last, the inevitable has happened, and I am so glad that it finally did.

     Save Me the Plums is her memoir of her time as the managing editor of Gourmet magazine. Her stories of wining, dining, and traveling the world held me in thrall from the start, mostly because I listened to this as an audiobook (from libro.fm-check it out, seriously, you will not be disappointed), and Reichl's narration is warm and welcoming. I felt like I was sitting down with a good friend sharing her latest exploits as we sipped cups of coffee. This book also made me want to go out and scoop up a copy of Gourmet, which, of course, I cannot since it is no longer published. Sadly, this is chronicled in the book.

     The world that Reichl writes about (limos, rubbing elbows with the hottest chefs, having a wardrobe budget) is way out of reach for most people. but when Reichl writes about food, she does so in a way that is accessible, not fussy. She has an attitude of semi-incredulity, as if she cannot believe that her job is to taste and to tell people about such delicacies, almost as if she doesn't deserve it. Her magazine may no longer be published, but her books still are, something for which we should all be thankful. Dig in, friends!


Staff Pick Badge
What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?: Trump's War on Civil Rights Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781541788268
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: PublicAffairs - September 25th, 2018

Jim's August 2019 pick, 4 of 5

 It is no secret that our current Commander-in-Chief, bone spurs and all, has been called a lot of things, among them "racist." The title is a quote from candidate Trump, enlightening people of color that they should vote for him because he's just as good as any other candidate. What have they got to lose? In the book, Williams answers the question by examining the work of six people who have helped African Americans make advances in voting rights, education, housing, freedom of speech, public accommodations, and employment. By the time he is finished, Williams has spelled out clearly that African Americans, and society in general, have a lot to lose and have suffered social setbacks since Trump's inauguration.

    Williams opens and ends the book examining Trump's background in real estate, recalling Trump's father's practices of refusing to rent to blacks and "the Don's" adopting of the same illegal ways. Rather than rant, which he easily could do, Williams uses facts, a lot of them, to support his observations. The stories of struggles and social successes should be enough for anyone to see that America had a lot at stake before Trump entered the Oval Office and unfortunately are watching civil rights dissolve with each passing day. Williams has hit the nail on the head with this one.


Staff Pick Badge
The Hate U Give Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 28th, 2017

Jim's August 2019 pick, 5 of 5

This is the OG "Black Lives Matter" book. The one that practically started a whole new genre in young adult literature. The thing is that this is a book for young and not-so-young adults. It's subject is for everyone to know and understand because it is about some of the complex issues of our times. The main character, Starr Carter, watches as her close friend Khalil is killed by a police officer who had pulled them over as they were on their way home from a party. Did he have a gun in his hand or something else? That's the set up for the story, but there is so much more here about societal norms: what to do if you are black and the cops pull you over, the effects of white privilege, and the cliche that most young black males from inner cities are drug dealers (chapter 10 has got to be read more than once), among others. Then there are the issues of personal and familial identity and what is important enough for one to take a stand against.

    Thomas does an outstanding job of bringing so much together here. Particularly effective are the times when she lets Starr's thoughts carry the weight of the moment, revealing the teen's struggle between doing what is safe and doing what is true to oneself. Starr attends a private high school of which the student body is mostly white and wealthy. Her daily emotional dance between the haves at school and the have-nots of her neighborhood is raw and real. Not only is this a good story, but it could open the eyes of folks who do not fully comprehend the reality that many people of color live. I cannot recommend this book enough.


Staff Pick Badge
The Nickel Boys: A Novel Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780385537070
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 16th, 2019

Jim's July 2019 pick

 In some ways, this is a horror story. Nickel Academy is a reform school in Florida from which few, if any, ever graduate. The gruesome goings-on at Nickel are related through the story of two boys, Elwood Curtis, a naive high school senior sent away on trumped up charges of car theft, and Jack Turner, a cynical boy who has been there for awhile. Elwood believes that hope is essential to living, while Turner has seen too much to trust anyone and to expect only the worst. Their guilt or innocence is of no matter; that they are a young black men in the South in the 1960s is the only thing that does.

    Whitehead's prose is straightforward, allowing the details to speak for themselves. His matter-of-fact style makes the sinister practices of the Academy all the more striking. Whitehead modeled Nickel after a real Florida reform school, which is both shocking and no surprise at all, in our "land of the free and home of the brave," in which "all men are created equal."

     The Nickel Boys is a startling peek into the darkness lying beneath humanity's righteousness. Appearances are meant to deceive and the truth lies below the surface.


Staff Pick Badge
An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385538800
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nan A. Talese - March 5th, 2019

Jim's June 2019 pick

America is heralded as "the land of the free and the home of the brave," yet anyone who has a pulse can easily see that that ideal is largely a sham. Alex Kotlowitz shows this time and again in An American Summer. Chicago in 2013 is a city of extremes: rich and poor, North Side and South Side. The poor are not free, especially if one is poor and black. Not only are there the shackles of economic limitations that leave one with few alternatives than to turn to petty crime, but there is also the constant fear of violence and the possibility of being shot even if one does try to rise above. Added to these is the knowledge of the citizens of the South Side that for outsiders, the victims got what they deserved, that they brought it on themselves, while those living within are aware that more than anything, they are victims of a system that counts them out before they have had a chance to prove themselves.
    Kotlowitz brings these messages home in stories of people who are truly brave for facing each day with even a grain of hope. An American Summer left me wondering if our identities are bound by the worst thing that we have ever done? If so, then we are all guilty of some maliciousness and have no right to point fingers. These stories reveal that often our most vile actions are born out of frustration and anger. It would be easy to say that one always can make the choice not to turn to crime, to drugs, to anger; I ask you simply to walk a mile in the shoes of the souls of South Side Chicago before deciding once and for all.

 


Staff Pick Badge
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062684301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - March 26th, 2019

  A lot of WDKYMYB is the author telling stories about growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, hanging out with friends, maneuvering through school, and playing lots of sports. There are laugh-out-loud observations about adolescence and the awkwardness of an ever-changing body, something I could readily identify with. But underlying the relative ordinariness of life is that his life is lived in black skin, which brings a layer of complexity to every situation. Young elucidates the differences between "n**ger" and "n**ga, which should make it clear to anyone who has every wondered "But why do they call each other...?" He explains with humor and dead-eye seriousness a "down white boy" versus a "woke white boy." There is also a dissection of the effects of "white privilege."

     What I most enjoyed about WDKYMYB, is that, whatever the topic, Young sees the absurdity of it brought on by people trying to rationalize their own choices. We're all screwed-up, some of us more than others.

      WDKYMYB is an eye-opening, thought-provoking memoir that is bound to create conversations, with yourself, if with no one else.


Staff Pick Badge
American Dialogue: The Founders and Us Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385353427
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - October 16th, 2018

Jim's March 2019 pick, 1 of 2

Let me say emphatically: this book is both enlightening and infuriating. Ellis examines several aspects of our current society and looks back at how various founding fathers first dealt with them. Topics include race, equality,  law, and leadership. What Ellis points out through the words of Adams, Jefferson, Washington, and Madison is that America was founded by normal men, full of faults and uncertainty, not quasi-shaman who knew that every decision they made was to be enshrined for posterity. Yet, most Americans view these statesman as the latter, not to be questioned.

    So, what's the big deal? Well, according to Ellis, just about everything that Americans consider to be hallmarks of what it means to be an American turns out to be a sham. The most maddening part is that not only did the founding fathers know it from the start, but that those in power have been perpetuating the deceit ever since.  Black Lives Matter origins, here. Birth of the "one percenters," here, too. Needless to say, I've been "woke."

     You will have to read the book if you want more details but will not be sorry that you did. Have a stress ball handy when you do, though.  You've been warned.

 


Staff Pick Badge
SHOUT Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780670012107
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - March 12th, 2019

Jim's March 2019 pick, 2 of 2

Ms. Anderson, Laurie,

has written a memoir

chronicling her life.

In her youth, she hated

writing

yet, that became her strength,

capturing the thoughts and experiences

of teenage girls suffering

from life's impressions of them

as lesser than,

not good enough,

property to be handled

no permission needed.

She writes of her breakout novel

Speak,

about the rape of a fourteen year old girl,

based on her own nightmare

that haunts her to this day.

Anderson's SHOUT,

and those of too many other victims

both male and female,

must be heard by everyone

if we are to save our children

and ourselves.


Staff Pick Badge
The Martin Chronicles Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781538729830
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - January 8th, 2019

Jim's February 2019 pick

This is a charming book. At first, I wasn't sure if it were meant for young adults or just regular adults, although I am not sure if there is such a thing as "regular adults." My hesitancy stems from the protagonist, Martin Kelso, who is eleven at the start of the novel and a high school senior at the end. In between, Fried reels out vignettes of Martin's life, as the titular character slowly transforms from a kid to an almost-adult. A lot of what Martin experiences, I easily identified with - first kiss, hashing out life's intricacies with a small group of close friends, high school hi-jinks. In some ways, I felt like I was reading about my own past in a pleasant, reassuring way, often catching myself thinking, Oh, yeah, I remember that. I guess, then, that the martin chronicles is meant for adults looking to reminisce or for young adults searching for a little self-reflection.  In either case, Fried superbly captures the quirky journey of being a teenager in this affectionate ode to growing up.


Staff Pick Badge
Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316420235
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Poppy - October 9th, 2018

Jim's January 2019 pick

This book did not turn out the way I expected. I thought that this was going to be a book about discovering one's identity, as in coming out of the closet. Instead, Dear Evan Hansen is about the power of lies and the consequences of not speaking up to quell them. And, what if the lies actually lead to some good? Does that make it okay to sustain the lies and perpetuate them further?

     The answers are for both Evan and the reader to figure out and will be the deciding factor whether Evan is seen as a hero or a villain. I've made up my mind. You'll have to tell me what you think.

     The story, adapted from the Broadway musical, is captivating from the start and had me eagerly coming back to find out what Evan's fate would be and if he could finally manage to get out of his own way.