Saturday, October 14, 2017

Weekend shopping: Underrated Books (part 2)

I am having a lot of fun coming up with this list so I hope you're enjoying reading them. The three books I'm featuring today are some of the first books I reviewed as an official book reviewer.

An extraordinary debut from a talented new voice, Up from the Blue untangles the year in Tillie's life that changed everything: 1975, the year her mother disappeared.

Tillie Harris's life is in disarray—her husband is away on business, the boxes in her new home aren't unpacked, and the telephone isn't even connected yet. Though she's not due for another month, sudden labor pains force Tillie to reach out to her estranged father for help, a choice that means facing the painful memories she's been running from since she was a little girl. 

Anytime I'm asked about a book that shook me to my core, or one that I identify with, I will ALWAYS pick this one. Not only is it profoundly sad for Tillie, but when you find out what really happened to her mother, your heart breaks in a thousand pieces. At the core, this is about mental illness and when you think about the 70's, people just weren't educated on it and it was taboo, hidden. I read this years ago but when I think about it now, I relate to Tillie's mother so much and Tillie herself reminds me of my Olivia. Just so much about this book pulls at my heart. 
Prudence Burns, a well-intentioned New Yorker full of back-to-the-land ideals, just inherited Woefield Farm—thirty acres of scrubland, dilapidated buildings, and one half-sheared sheep. But the bank is about to foreclose, so Prudence must turn things around fast! Fortunately she'll have help from Earl, her banjo-playing foreman with a family secret; Seth, the neighbor who hasn't left the house since a high school scandal; and Sara Spratt, an eleven-year-old who's looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens.
I so enjoyed reading and reviewing this one because it involves a sheep with maxi pads stuck to it. That alone should make you want to read it. If I had to run a farm, I guarantee you this would be exactly how it would go.

Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera is the true story of a family's battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. In many ways, it is a cross between Mary Karr's The Liar's Club and James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Dina's grandfather and father were alcoholics. Her grandmother was a pill addict. Dina is an alcoholic and pill addict, and all three of her daughters struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, including her youngest daughter, who started using heroin at age fourteen. 

Dina's household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin, a mother who has Parkinson's Disease, a grandson who has cerebral palsy, and various other friends and family members who drift in and out of the household depending on their employment situation and rehab status. On top of all that, Dina is trying to make it as a stand-up comic and author so she can quit her crummy job as a grocery store clerk. Through it all, Dina does her best to hold her family together, keep her faith, and maintain her sense of humor. 

I hate to end this post with a heavy book but what can you do? Especially given the drug epidemic in this country, this book is just as relevant now as when it came out. It's a memoir about a woman who is surrounded by addicts and alcoholics. It makes you question whether addiction is hereditary (I believe it is), and essentially it's a cycle of addiction. Dina has humor and tries to make light of the serious situation her and her family is in, and it's a glimpse into middle America. Low end jobs and how they cope. Fascinating book.

Again, here are the buy links so you can start your Christmas shopping early. Some jerk put a meme up on Facebook about how many Fridays there are until Christmas and it's like, NO. No, stop it, I can't handle that kind of stress! So I'm helping YOU out.

No comments: