The Mothers by Brit Bennett
(Riverhead Books, 2016, 278 pages)
I decided to listen to the audio of this book and I am so glad I did. The talented narrator was able to use different voices to portray the different characters. She really brought the story to life. When I first started listening I was worried that it would be a story that would not hold my attention, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it drew me in.
This novel touches on aspects of life that I think many people can relate; the longing for close friendships, a parents’ love, trying to find a place in this world, and even sometimes having to make decisions that could possibly have a lifelong effect on you and/or your loved ones. Bennett writes this story beautifully. She is a great new voice with a compelling debut novel. Definitely an author to keep an eye on.
What Happened by President Hillary Rodham Clinton
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, 512 pages)
I laughed, I cried, I cursed, but mostly I just shook my head. What Happened has been marketed as the story of the 2016 presidential election, but it’s more than that. The first half of the book is an autobiographical account of Mrs. Clinton’s life and how the events and people close to her helped her get to this point. She also gives insight into her everyday personal habits—her diet, her fashion sense (or lack thereof), and what she watches on tv. In the second half of the book, Mrs. Clinton talks about the policies, spending a lot of time on coal, an issue on which she felt misunderstood. Everything else you would expect to be here is—“those damn emails,” Russian interference, Trump creeping up behind her during debates, etc. She even reads a portion of what would have been her victory speech. Those who should read this won’t, but supporters of Mrs. Clinton will find it bittersweet and lament what could have been.
(aka 5/5 stars)
Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
by Josh Wilker
(Seven Footer Press, 2010, 208 pages)
Josh Wilker tells the story of his life growing up in the late 1970s in New England as a diehard Red Sox (and Carl Yastrzemski) fan. As many young baseball fans did in the 1970s, Wilker would often take $1 to the corner store to buy four packs of Topps baseball cards. He describes the feelings associated with opening a new pack and the taste of the hard, sugar-filled gum. Wilker begins each chapter with the year, card number, and player of a certain card from a year between 1975 and 1981. Not all the players he highlights were stars, but each had an interesting story to tell—sometimes a statistic or a life tragedy, and sometimes a story Wilker had made up himself as a child of what he thought that player’s story might be based on the photo on the card. He tells these stories as he tells his own story, making parallels between them. I imagine a small audience would pick up this book, but that audience would enjoy it. Recommended to baseball fans, especially those who grew up in the late 1970s collecting baseball cards.
Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family by Kathy McKeon
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, 321 pages)
As a teenager, author Kathy McKeon left Ireland for the U.S., and in 1964, landed a job as the personal assistant to Jacqueline Kennedy. Referred to as “Jackie’s Girl” by JFK’s mother Rose Kennedy—who couldn’t keep all of her children’s employee’s names straight—McKeon also often served as the caretaker of Mrs. Kennedy’s children, Caroline and John. This is an insightful and touching story of what it was like to be close to the most famous family in the world at the time. Mrs. Kennedy (called “Madam” by McKeon) expected loyalty of her employees—sometimes demanding overtime even if they had other plans, or requiring them to drop everything at the last minute to leave the country for 2 or 3 weeks—but she returned the loyalty “tenfold” with her generosity and otherwise caring nature. The stories of Caroline and John as children are also very endearing. McKeon takes the reader through all of the Kennedy main events—the untimely assassination of Robert Kennedy, the tragic death of a young woman in a car driven by Ted Kennedy, Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis, and, ultimately, the deaths of Jackie and John, Jr., to whom she had remained close over the years. The audio version of the book is read by Irish American actress Aedin Moloney, whose accent gives authenticity to McKeon’s words. She also does a great job with the sweet, high, sometimes breathy voice of Jacqueline Kennedy. The book made me chuckle and cry, and I would listen to it again. Highly recommended.
The Natural by Bernard Malamud
(Perennial Classics, 2000, 228 pages)
Women – both problem and answer.
Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV
by Joe Buck
(Dutton, 2016, 320 pages)
Intimate relationships revealed: personal; professional
Life by Keith Richards, with James Fox
(Little, Brown and Co., 2010, 564 pages)
Manual on guitars and knives.