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.
Spinning by Tillie Walden
(Roaring Book Press, 2017, 402 pages)
This autobiographical graphic novel follows Tillie Walden through her teen years starting when her family moves to another state, and she is forced to join a new skating rink and get used to a new group of girls. With an emotionally absent mother and parents who never attend her skating events, Tillie becomes the target of other girls’ mothers who continually stare her down and accuse her of not paying for lessons. Tillie also experiences bullying by other girls, sexual harassment by her SAT tutor, and loss of a first love. She finds solace in a few close friends and her cello teacher. Not too many good things happen to this poor girl except that she’s a good skater, but she doesn’t always succeed at that. There isn’t really anything intriguing about this story, but it was interesting enough that I continued to read it; maybe I was hoping it would get better for her. Recommended if you like graphic novels, but not if you’re looking for something really exciting to happen.
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 Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story
by Marie Kondo; illustrated by Yuko Uramoto
(Ten Speed Press, 2017, 192 pages)
Marie Kondo, best-selling author of Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, presents her KonMari method of decluttering in graphic novel form. Her subject is Chiaki, a 29-year old Japanese woman with a house so cluttered she can’t invite people inside. Embarrassed when a handsome neighbor knocks on her door and sees the mess, she contacts Kondo to give her “tidying lessons.” Kondo helps her through the process of discarding clothing, books, papers, and sentimental items—in that recommended order. This is a quick and fun way to learn the KonMari method of decluttering outlined in her previous two books.
Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin
(Flatiron Books, 2016, 304 pages)
Speaks kindly of most celebs.
Breaking Cat News by Georgia Dunn
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016, 128 pages)
Cats broadcasting from their house.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
(Simon & Schuster, 2008, 163 pages)
Princess Leia is wickedly funny.