Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Genre: Middle grade science fiction
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Cynthia Holloway
First line: So Mom got the postcard today.
When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal, and the honor is definitely deserved. This story of a girl growing up in New York City in the late 70s is amazingly well-written. I loved the main character, Miranda, and her fascination with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Her best friend, Sal, is avoiding her; her new friend Annemarie has a secret; her Mom’s trying to decide whether to marry her long-time boyfriend or not; and she’s receiving strange notes that seem to be from someone with knowledge of the future. This truly is a must-read – and the reader of the audio version is perfect.
Title: Whitethorn Woods
Author: Maeve Binchy
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Irish fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my own library, audiobook copy from the public library
Audiobook reader: Sile Bermingham
First line: Father Brian Flynn, the curate at St. Augustine’s, Rossmore, hated the Feast Day of St. Ann with a passion that was unusual for a Catholic priest.
This novel is more like a collection of connected short stories. The citizens of Rossmore, including their priest, Father Flynn, are all up in arms over a proposed highway near their town. Many people believe the highway is necessary to take care of the bottle-neck traffic in Rossmore. Others are against it because the highway will go through nearby Whitethorn Woods, which contains a shrine to St. Ann that is believed to have miraculous powers. Each of the people who visit St. Ann’s Well has something they want from the Blessed Virgin’s Mother – and those wishes and requests make up the heart of the stories. While not my favorite of Binchy’s novels, I still enjoyed it – and it is wonderful on audio.
Title: My Husband’s Sweethearts
Author: Bridget Asher
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
First line: Careening past airline counters toward the security check-in, I’m explaining love and its various forms of failure to Lindsay, my assistant.
Bridget Asher’s writing style reminds me a little of Marisa de los Santos, who has a blurb on the front cover of my ARC copy of My Husband’s Sweethearts. While Asher may not have quite as unique a voice as de los Santos, or be quite as polished an author, her characters are fully drawn, quirky, and will make you love them.
Lucy hasn’t lived with her husband Artie for six months, since he confessed to multiple infidelities. Artie has been trying to win her back, sending her flowers every day, swearing that he still loves her, but Lucy’s not buying it. Then she receives the news that Artie is dying. She heads home to Artie’s deathbed, angry that she will have to go through this hardest of times alone, while Artie’s sweethearts got to be in on all the good times. She decides she won’t go through it alone, and starts calling the women in Artie’s “little black book.”
During the weeks that follow, Lucy will learn the meaning of forgiveness, letting go, and family. Is family simply the people we’re related to, or can family be something we choose?