The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
When Charlie Boykin gets a scholarship to the all-boys school, Yeatman, it is a tremendous relief for his single mom who works as a cocktail waitress. At Yeatman, Boykin’s world is greatly expanded as he learns about class, privilege, and a new set of friends. This is a quiet novel that explores Charlie’s world as an outsider in a very prestigious world. Tarkington nails the coming-of-age trope and I found myself taking my time with this one. There was nothing exceptional that happened – in the writing or the story – but I still found myself wrapped up in this world, curious to see the ways the world opened up and changed for Charlie.
*** Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter’s School by Courtney E. Martin
This was a very interesting read and I learned quite a bit. My kids are in a very rural district so the social justice movement hasn’t quite reached us yet. I have been very interested in all the happenings around the US since the murder of George Floyd, so this book gave me some great context in regard to how cities are seeing and handling some of these issues. I found Martin’s methodical decision-making admirable and could only hope I would follow in her footsteps if given the same circumstances. I liked how inclusive she was with those less fortunate in her neighborhood and how she worked towards solutions instead of just complaining about them.
We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper
Similar to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, We Keep the Dead Close is a literay true crime story that also has memoir vibes. It was a page tuner and the bulky book read very quickly. As Cooper investigates the 1969 murder of Jane Britton, she also delves deep into the cultures of anthropology, academia, and cold cases. Unlike some murders that go years without being resolves, this one does have a resolution by the end…so try not to google the case so you can learn the twists and turns of the case authentically.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
During the summer of 1955, Ethan’s dad drops him off in a small Alabama town known for it’s racist and separatist mentality. Ethan is biracial and normally lives in a more racially accepting environment in Washington state. He is quickly introduced to ways of the South…but thankfully he befriends a red-headed, quircky girl, Juniper Jones. They decide to make the summer one they’ll never forget but have no idea how true those words will be by the time Ethan is ready to head back to Washington. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s sad that we’re sixty years past the timeline of this book and yet so many of the themes still ring true today – racism, cruelty, and unacceptance. This book is unforgetable and reminds us that we can still always do better.
*** Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
This isn’t going to be a formal review…mostly my thoughts on it. You can read a synopsis for it here. Let me start by saying that I generally like Jodi Picoult novels, though I have found myself burned out by them lately. Still, that doesn’t deter me from at least giving them a try. This book, like all of Picoult’s books, is highly readable. I fell into the story quickly and found the whole story to be unputdownable. However, I’m not totally sure how I felt about a book about Covid…it maybe feels a little too soon for me? I know Picoult felt the urgency to document this experience and I can really appreciate it, but sometimes it feels like some time needs to pass before a fair and balanced look at the issue can be presented more appropriately. This version feels very one-slanted and perpetuates a lot of things that I don’t believe have been determined to be 100% factual yet. I truly wonder how this will stand up against the test of time.
(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)