Friday, March 22, 2019

The only white boy ~ book beginning

"I am the white boy at Martin Luther King Middle.  Well, one of two."
Green ~ by Sam Graham-Felsen, 2018, fiction (Massachusetts)
Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut novel is a wildly original take on race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America.  Boston, 1992.  David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School.  Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won’t even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school.  Unless he tests into the city’s best public high school  — which, if practice tests are any indication, isn’t likely — he’ll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody’s more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria.  Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture:  He’s nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird.  Before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard.  But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s.  Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he's been given — and that Mar has not.
The New Yorker lists this as one of the books they loved in 2018, and I happened to find it in our little library at the Crown Center when I was re-shelving books today.  I've never seen it before, and neither has Donna.  Someone here must have shelved it as a donation, or the third person who shelves books found it shoved through the return slot and shelved it.  So I checked it out to read myself.



Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click link for more book beginnings.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Borrowed books ~ and two programs

Back When We Were Grownups ~ by Anne Tyler, 2001, fiction (Maryland)
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
That's the opening line of this novel, about a 53-year-old grandmother who wonders if she's an impostor in her own life.  Or is it indeed her own life?  Or someone else's?  I thought I had read this book, but it doesn't seem to ring any bells, now that I have it in hand.  You may wonder why I am contemplating a novel I thought I'd already read, so here's the story.
2019 Book Club Kick Off
On Thursday, we met here at the Crown Center with a woman from the University City Library Outreach program, who introduced this novel, told us a bit about the author, and distributed copies of the book along with questions from the publisher already printed out for us to consider.  This is the same great library that sends books every three weeks for home bound patrons living here at the Crown Center.  So we'll be discussing Anne Tyler's book on April 4th.  This is in addition to the two other, completely separate, book clubs already meeting here.
Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps ~ by Dave Isay, 2013, social history
StoryCorps founder Dave Isay draws from ten years of the revolutionary oral history project’s rich archives, collecting conversations that celebrate the power of the human bond and capture the moment at which individuals become family. Between blood relations, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, in the most trying circumstances and in the unlikeliest of places, enduring connections are formed and lives are forever changed.
I borrowed this book from my friend Donna after we were each invited to a meeting about a project similar to what StoryCorps does.  I'd never heard of it, but Donna had this book of stories she's letting me read.
Oral History Project
Last week, I got a letter from the office in the box beside my apartment door that began with these words:  "How would you like the opportunity to share your story with others?  University City has begun an oral history project and you have been invited to participate."  The U-City Library representatives explained the local project to us on Thursday.  Besides answering our questions, their handout had a two-page list of possible questions we could discuss.  Some examples:
  • Great Questions:   How would you like to be remembered?
  • For older community members:   What do you miss most about the way it used to be?
  • For friends:   What makes us such good friends?
  • For parents:  Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me?  Can you sing them now?
  • For grandparents:  Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Growing up:   How would you describe yourself as a child?
  • School:   Are you still friends with anyone from that time in your life?
  • Love and relationships:   What lessons have you learned from your relationships?
  • Marriage:  How did you meet your husband/wife?
  • Working:   What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Religion:   What role does religion play in your life?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

TWOsday ~ two new books

Never Let Go ~ by Elizabeth Goddard, 2019, fiction
As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago.  The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.  Ex-FBI agent — and Willow's ex-flame — Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away.  Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget.
Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival ~ by Velma Wallis, 1993, fiction
Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine. Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness "speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness, and wisdom" (Ursula K. Le Guin).
I added these two books to my Kindle this evening, even though I haven't read 97 of the 265 books (total) now on my Kindle. So many books, so little time.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Free fruit for kids

Yesterday, I went into my nearby grocery store to pick up a few items and saw this wagon in the produce section.  Click to enlarge the photo, if you want to read it:
Schnucks FREE FRUIT for kids
In the wagon are mandarin oranges on the left, apples in the middle, and bananas on the right.  I had heard about stores doing this, but it's the first time I'd actually seen it.  I no longer have children shopping with me, since I'm a great-grandmother, but this warms my heart.  I want to show it to everyone and brag about the Schnucks grocery store near my home.  Maybe all of the stores in this chain are doing it, but I am showing you that Schnucks in Ladue Crossing is, for sure.  Thank you, Schnucks.

Friday, March 8, 2019

International Women's Day

For all my women friends
on International Women's Day,
March 8th, have a wonderful day!

Wear purple today!

The 2019 initiative is aimed at gender equality, a greater awareness of discrimination, and a celebration of women's achievements.  Read more about this day, including its history (since 1909), by clicking here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mindful March 2019

Click on calendar to enlarge it.
I found this month's calendar by searching for "calendar" on the Action for Happiness (AfH) web site.  Here are the first seven days of March.

March 1
~ Start today by appreciating that you're alive and have a body.
March 2
~ Get outside and notice five things that are beautiful.
March 3
~ Cultivate a feeling of loving-kindness towards others today.
March 4
~ Stay fully present while drinking your cup of tea or coffee.
March 5
~ Every hour simply take three calm breaths in and out.
March 6
~ Eat mindfully.  Appreciate the taste, texture, and smell of your food.
March 7
~ Listen to how you speak to yourself.  Try to use kind words.

"The best way to take care of the future is to take
care of the present moment." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

First Line Fridays ~ The Borrower

Welcome to First Line Fridays, a meme hosted by Hoarding Books.  Grab a book, and share the first line.
"I might be the villain of this story.  Even now, it's hard to tell."
The instructions for this meme I've just discovered says to share "the first line" of my book.  So which line is the FIRST line?  Is it the Prologue that I shared above?  Or would you say the REAL first line of a book comes in the first chapter?  Just in case I'm wrong, here's the first line from the first chapter, followed by a description of the book, shown on the right.
"Every Friday at 4:30, they gathered cross-legged on the brown shag rug, picked at its crust of mud and glitter and Elmer's glue, and leaned against the picture book shelves."
The Borrower ~ by Rebecca Makkai, 2011, fiction (Missouri)
Lucy Hull, a young children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home.  The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy's help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly anti-gay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob.

Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan.  Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian.  The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets and an inconvenient boyfriend thrown in their path.  Along the way, Lucy struggles to make peace with her Russian immigrant father and his fugitive past, and is forced to use his shady connections to escape discovery.

But is it just Ian who is running away?  Who is the man who seems to be on their tail?  And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?
I'm hooked.   I just got this book from the library, and I'm ready to find up what Miss Lucy Hull and Ian Drake will do next.