AHHHHH Spring… the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the maggies are swooping and there’s light at the end of the tunnel…
Here are the Library team’s top recommendations for this month.
One hundred days by Alice Pung
From one of Australia’s most celebrated authors comes a mother–daughter drama exploring the faultlines between love and control.
In a heady whirlwind of independence, lust and defiance, sixteen-year-old Karuna falls pregnant. Not on purpose, but not entirely by accident, either. Incensed, Karuna’s mother, already over-protective, confines her to their 14th-storey housing-commission flat, to keep her safe from the outside world – and make sure she can’t get into any more trouble.
Stuck inside for endless hours, Karuna battles her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life, as a new life forms and grows within her. As the due date draws ever closer, the question of who will get to raise the baby – who it will call Mum – festers between them.
One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale exploring the faultlines between love and control. At times tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless brimming with humour, warmth and character.
Library Call Number: F PUNG
The Underground by Mirranda Burton
Led by an unconscientiously objecting wombat registered for military service during Australia’s war in Vietnam, Underground digs tunnels through a chapter of Australian history that many have attempted to bury.
Why would a wombat be registered for war?
It’s 1965, and an old Tattersalls barrel starts rolling marbles to randomly conscript young Australian men to fight in the war in Vietnam. Melbourne housewife Jean McLean is outraged, as are her artist friends Clif and Marlene Pugh, who live in the country with their wombat, Hooper.
Determined to wreck the system, Jean forms the Save Our Sons movement’s Victorian branch, and she and her supporters take to the streets to protest. Meanwhile, in the small country town of Katunga, Bill Cantwell joins the Australian Army, and in Saigon, young Mai Ho is writing letters to South Vietnamese soldiers from her school desk. And when Hooper’s call-up papers arrive, he mysteriously goes underground…
As these stories intersect in unexpected ways and destinies entwine, a new world gradually emerges – a world in which bridges of understanding make more sense than war.
This stunning graphic novel, full of empathy, courage and resistance, is based on true events. Not only is it fascinating but also educational. I wish a book like this was around when I studied the Vietnam War.
Library Call Number: GRA F BUR
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious fresh water pond below ‘The Paper Palace’ – the gently decaying summer camp in the backwoods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from a dinner party the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the table cloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, as her husband and mother chatted to the dinner guests inside.
So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision.
Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives. A page turner by a debut novelist.
Library Call number F COWL
Plague, pestilence and pandemic – Edited by Peter Furtado
A collection of intimate and revelatory first-hand accounts of pandemics through the ages.
Humanity has always been struck by pestilence and pandemics, from the plagues of ancient Egypt to the pox that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, to Covid-19. People living through the crises have always recorded what they saw, what they felt, and what they did. Some presented sober facts laced with anecdotes, while others produced emotional outpourings; moralists speculated on the origins of the horror, poets distilled the suffering. Doctors described how they were able to advance their understanding of disease and scientists how to cure it, while survivors and the families of victims gave the inside story of the nightmare that develops when a long-feared disease enters your home or your body.
There was a time when to read accounts of the Plague in Wittenburg by Martin Luther or the Great Plague of 1665 by Samuel Pepys – scenes of anguish and woe, empty streets, quarantined houses, closed businesses, overflowing graveyards, heroic doctors and nurses, quack remedies and charlatans – was to enter a disturbing and unfamiliar world. Today, to read the same words is to be hit by a jolt of recognition and understanding. As well as causing a huge loss of life, the Covid pandemic has taught us a great deal about ourselves and the way we live, illuminating tensions at the heart of society. This collection of intimate and revelatory first-hand accounts of pandemics through the ages bears witness to despair, rage, the blackest of humour, heartbreak and hope. These voices hold up a mirror to our own experiences of, and responses to, the crisis today.
Library Call number 614.4 PLA
Billy Summers – by Stephen King
Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?
This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King’s fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.
You won’t put this story down, and you won’t forget Billy.
Library Call number CRI F KING