I love it when the books you are expecting actually start coming in. The anticipation is nice but to actually have the hard copy in your hand is better. Actually, the very best is probably when you are still holding the unopened box or envelope so you haven't yet discovered the joys the package holds. It could be anything. What joy, what rapture. So this week in my mailbox came:
Old World Daughter, New World Mother by Maria Laurino.
Amazon describes it thusly: In a memoir that combines the personal and the political, Laurino (Were You Always an Italian?) documents her journey from a childhood spent in the company of a traditional Italian family to becoming a mother herself and the many differences between her mother's life and her own. Laurino's mother, a stay-at-home mom, claimed that she was not like the other mothers—she didn't drive or participate in the school's PTA; she was superstitious and read omens from dreams into daily life, while keeping an overprotective eye on Laurino and her mentally disabled brother. Laurino's father believed in the power of education and supported Laurino through college, where she pursued her burgeoning interest in the feminist movement. She began her career in the early 1980s at the Village Voice and later became New York City Mayor David Dinkins's chief speechwriter. As she married and had a child, her worldview expanded to include that of a working mother, and she struggled to find a comfortable place for myself amid the hum of two dominant, divergent traditions. Laurino deftly tells her story, while succinctly expressing a feminist's perspective on motherhood and explaining how much further we have to go as a country in order to honor every woman's work.
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton.
Amazon's blurb reads: This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat. Despite their obvious differences, they've got a lot in common -- both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they've just found it? CROSSED WIRES is an old-fashioned fairy tale. It is about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha.
Amazon's take on it is: Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.
Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.
Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come to terms with the past.
Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson.
Amazon reads: Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances. Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water.
As always, if you'd like to check out the goodies that other people found in their mailboxes, check out The Printed Page where Marcia kindly hosts this meme every week.
And don't forget to check out my Cinco de Mayo giveaway for 5 copies of Robin Hemley's wonderful non-fiction work called Do-Over: In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments. It's really worth the read and the giveaway doesn' end until May 27th so there's still a few days to throw your sombrero into the ring.