Every now and then, I hit a patch where I can really move through a book or two, usually vacation or when I'm sick. Other times, I'm sludging through, chapter by chapter because the only time I read is while sitting in the car waiting for some child to finish doing something (I'm either reading or crocheting). So by some alignment of the stars, I've had some down time and am on book number 2 for the week. And since I have friends who will fire me an email as they are packing for vacation, asking for any suggestions of good books, I figure every now and then I'll drop them here (and there's no spoilers, I hate when people tell me the ending).
I just finished Tayari Jones' Silver Sparrow. Chaurrise and Dana are half-sisters - same father, two different mothers, only about a year apart. BUT Dana and her mother are the only ones that know that, other than, of course, the father and his not-really-adopted-brother. They all live within the same general area in South Atlanta and as you do in life, have overlapping friends and acquaintances and sometimes pass each other in the stores. Without knowing it, Chaurrise's life decisions have some affect on Dana's because their father has to keep the two lives as separate as possible. So when its time to select magnet high schools, a summer job at Six Flags or college, Dana gets frustrated and annoyed that she either gets second choice, or at least has to wait to be the second to choose. They do, of course, meet up face to face - it wouldn't be too much excitement if they didn't. I'm left wondering, was the meeting planned and purposeful? Were the results what were expected or genuinely accidental? And then, I go back to the beginning of the story and wonder - why did Dana's mom (the second wife, although Dana is the older daughter) decide to marry James in the first place when she knew he was already married? Interesting premise, that goes a few steps beyond the regular mistress and outside child storylines.
Besides the book, here's an article I like on her blog about an important lesson she learned from a typewriter repairman - Is Fear Keeping You From Doing What You Love?
The book I'm reading now is The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. I'm not sure where its going yet because I have this habit of briefly skimming the first one or two paragraphs of the brief description, if reading it at all, for fear that it will give away too much of the story. So, yes, I choose my books by their cover. On the cover of this one, there's a tiger - tiger's are exciting and its a pretty cover. And I seem to like books about people's wives, like Time Traveler's Wife, so it seemed like a good combination. I'm only a couple chapters in and so far - Natalia, a young doctor in some war-torn countryside (which I would probably know where if I read the back cover) is on a medical journey to deliver immunization shots to an orphanage when she gets a call from her grandmother telling her that her grandfather has died of some unknown sickness in a city they've never heard of and had no idea that he was going there. However, Natalia does know that he had cancer and was hiding it from her mother and grandmother. Foreign lands, mysterious death, sad old ladies - its off to a good start. And the writing is beautiful - wonderful language, surprising humour, great storytelling.
Its a relatively slow weekend around here, so maybe I'll figure out where Natalia is and how her grandfather died by the end of it.