Here Are the Library Team’s Top 5 Recommendations
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
When Oprah (no surname needed) anoints a novel in her famous Book Club, then you can expect world- wide exposure, increased sales, fame – and a whole lot of scrutiny.
The initial buzz and hype over American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins turned to criticism with detractors claiming the book’s depictions of Mexican culture are inaccurate, cliché, and offensive. Supporters counter claim it’s simply a matter of literary jealousy.
Controversy aside, American Dirt is a thrilling page turner.
It tells the story of Lydia Quixano Pérez who lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco with her journalist husband and beloved son Luca. Lydia runs a bookstore and enjoys a modest but comfortable lifestyle.
One day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with some of her most treasured and favourite books. Javier is charming, educated and clearly interested in more than just buying books.
And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the head of a drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, her life is irrevocably changed.
Lydia and eight-year-old Luca are forced to flee and find themselves miles and worlds away from their middle-class existence. Turned into migrants and fearing for their lives, Lydia and Luca make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach the US, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But she is unsure what exactly they are they running to.
Library Call Number: F CUMM
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
The perfect poolside summer read (or when you are stuck indoors due to torrential rain) about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable and disturbing abilities. Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for help.
Madison’s twin step-kids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but truth is stranger than fiction.
Thinking of her dead-end life at home, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one hot summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s image conscious politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her.
Library Call Number: F WILS
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The prison population has increased from 300,000 in the early 1970s to more than two million now. One in every 15 people is expected to go to prison. For black men, the most incarcerated group in America, this figure rises to one out of every three.
Bryan Stevenson grew up a member of a poor black community in the racially segregated South. He was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the US’s criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young black man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination and startling racial inequality.
Just Mercy is an incredible account of an idealistic, gifted lawyer’s coming of age, a moving portrait of the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice. We have both the young adult and original copies.
Library Call Number: BIO 362.5 STE
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
I read this book during the Christmas break and I had planned to write the review while it was fresh in my mind, but I had to walk the dogs to the vet, finish another book I was reading, drive the kids to Wet ‘n Wild (I know, parent of the year!) fertilise the lemon tree, clean the leaves out of the gutter… well, you get the gist.
Like most people, I may have a few procrastination issues so I thought here’s my chance to read a legendary classic (more than 450,000 copies sold and translated into 23 languages) and break that cycle.
Eat That Frog! provides the 21 most effective methods for conquering procrastination and accomplishing more. This new edition is revised and updated throughout, and includes brand new information on how to keep technology from dominating our time. Simple, easy to read and some sturdy common sense advice and its bite size snippets are perfect for busy readers.
Library Call Number 640 TRA
Buckley’s Chance by Garry Linnell
Growing up in Geelong, this reviewer was very familiar with the story of William Buckley. There are several landmarks in the region named after the escaped convict who lived with the Wadawurrung clans for 32 years, including Buckley’s Falls in Highton where he swam and fished, and Buckley’s Cave near Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Even if you are unfamiliar with William Buckley – most would know the Aussie aphorism – “you’ve got Buckley’s Chance”. This phrase is believed to have developed following Buckley’s disappearance.
It was July 6, 1835, and William Buckley had just entered a colonial camp at Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula. He had lived with local Aboriginal people for 32 years, with no contact with Europeans. He was a giant of a man with long hair and beard and must have looked a sight to the Europeans when he sauntered into a camp in his animal skins. The tattoo of his initials, WB, confirmed he was the same convict who had escaped in 1803 and was long presumed dead.
Author, Garry Linnell said it is “a tale bordering on the unbelievable” but one that we should all know. In Buckley’s Chance, Linnell has written a thorough account of Australia’s settlement. The events are not glossed over to be politically correct. It follows William Buckley through his army days to being convicted of stealing and instead of a death sentence, a lenient judge transports him to Australia.
Enduring a long and harrowing journey to Australia, Buckley escapes the first chance he gets. After weeks on the run he is found, near death, and taken in by an aboriginal family. Linnell’s detailed and well researched novel is heavy on the politics of early Port Phillip and Hobart. It includes the feud between John Fawkner and John Batman and the slaughter of unknown numbers of aboriginals and details the bloodshed of the people he grew to admire and respect.
Library Call Number: 994.502 LIN