Monthly Archives: December 2011

Why We Broke Up, (novel) by Daniel Handler and (art) by Maira Kalman.

It’s an irresistible combination, Daniel Handler (the words) and Maira Kalman (the corresponding pictures)… actually Maira Kalman with anyone (see also Strunk and White, see also Michael Pollan) or Maira Kalman alone… but ’tis the tale of 16 year-old Min & Ed’s breakup, itemized by illustration.

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The Good Muslim, by Tahmima Anam.

Brother (Sohail) and sister (Maya) have different, though similar, reactions to the devastating-to-their-country civil war in Bangladesh.  Their stories jump from the end of the conflict in the early 1970s to the 1980s when Maya returns after years of (self) exile.  Finally, there’s a coda catching us up to 1992.

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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley.

Like a gift, I discover a new series to read.  This is Alan Bradley’s Christmas offering featuring 11 year-old Flavia de Luce– a young lady endeared of poisons and chemistry, and mystery.  She’s trying to prove the existence of Santa, on the rooftop, while a body turns up dead in the mansion below.

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Bent Road, by Lori Roy.

The Scott family fearfully flees Detroit during the race riots, anticipating safety and a more peaceful existence embedded with family in Kansas, conveniently forgetting why they originally fled from there in the first place.

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Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward.

… and this one (I previously missed) was brought to my attention by winning the National Book Award.  In the days leading up to the assault of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, fifteen year-old Esch (who has just realized she is pregnant)  and her motherless family of brothers manage a new litter of pit bull pups, practice basketball moves, and try to stay out of the way.

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The Death Instinct, by Jed Rubenfeld.

I’m enjoying and appreciating and jotting furiously from the various year-end best book lists that I’m seeing here and there, including this one from Library Journal (reviews.libraryjournal.com).  Somehow I missed Jed Rubenfeld’s delightful, if I can use that term considering the events it tells of, The Death Instinct when it was published earlier this year.  It is the true/fictional story of the (first) “most destructive and deadly terrorist attack” on US soil (drawing fascinating parallels with the more recent one) on September 16, 1920.

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The Book of Lies, by Mary Horlock.

In parallel stories, contemporary teenager Cat tells of her unbalanced (of power) friendship with charismatic classmate Nic while, in a typed manuscript dated almost 20 years previously, her great-uncle writes of his wayward wartime escapades with the devilishly charming Ray Le Poidevoin.

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