This year was light for me in terms of books I’ve read. I just couldn’t get into anything for such […]
This year was light for me in terms of books I’ve read. I just couldn’t get into anything for such a long time. Finding a great book is kind of like a relationship, it’s all about the timing. My timing was the end of 2016. I can’t say that I was happy to have found these books because each of them is characterized by such sadness. How is a person supposed to feel when they read about awful things? But I do think each of the books I’ve listed is in my category of Must Read. I will include the summaries from Amazon, as any summary from me would be woefully inadequate. Please let me know if you have read any of these books or if you read them from my suggestion. Let me know what you think.
1. Life in a Jar by Jack Mayer. *During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war, her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years.
Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in southeast Kansas stumbled upon a tantalizing reference to Sendler’s rescues, which they fashioned into a history project, a play they called Life in a Jar. Their innocent drama was first seen in Kansas, then the Midwest, then New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, and finally Poland, where they elevated Irena Sendler to a national hero, championing her legacy of tolerance and respect for all people.
2. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. *The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. ** I’d like to add that although this book has elements that are tragic, there are also portions that bring a smile to your face. Just not as many.
3. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, *When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.
*Summaries and pictures courtesy of Amazon.com