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Posts tagged 'Sara Picks'

The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas

The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas

     The Family Tabor is an evocative family saga that explores hidden secrets, repressed memories, and ultimately, the power of atonement.

Harry and Rona seemingly have the perfect marriage and are still passionately in love after 44 years. Their three children are a success in each of their respective fields—Phoebe is an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles; Simon is also an attorney and has recently been made partner; and Camille-the most adventurist of the lot—is a social anthropologist whose research takes her to remote places. Rona is a noted child psychologist, and Harry has devoted the last 30 years to resettling Jewish immigrants. The nonprofit he founded in the Palm Springs, California desert—where he and Rona live—has helped countless people build new lives.

When the book opens, the reader meets Harry the night before he is to receive an award—Man of the Decade—for his service to humanity. But there is a foreshadowing of danger at the end of that chapter. “I am a very lucky man,” Harry thinks as he falls asleep. But another voice tempers the thought: “…Luck is a rescindable gift.”

Sara Picks  Realistic Fiction  Fiction  Character-Based


The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

     The Book of Hidden Things is a Bildungsroman, fantasy, detective story, and psychological thriller. It explores the meaning of friendship, the strength of familial bonds, and the impact of the past on the present. Dimitri, a noted fantasy writer in his native Italy, has written a stunning book of realistic fiction interwoven with the supernatural.

The story centers on four childhood friends and the pact they made, 17 years ago, to meet every year on the same date in their hometown in Southern Italy.  All four have idealized their boyhood days as a time of great promise and adventure. Tony, a successful surgeon and the most grounded of the group, is an outsider because he is gay. Mauro, who married the beautiful Anna and has two daughters, is a discontented lawyer who regrets missed opportunities. Fabio, whom the others think is a famous photographer, is barely solvent. Finally, there is Art, a Pan-like drug dealer who may or may not be delusional.

When Art fails to come to their most recent reunion, memories of another time are reawakened. When the boys were 14 and in an olive grove one night, Art wandered off and was not seen for seven days. Tony, Mauro, and Fabio were too frightened to go into the woods to look for him. He comes back visibly the same but emotionally altered. He said he ran away from home. But is this true? And if not, where was he? What happened to him during that time and who is responsible?

Sara Picks  detective  bildungsroman


Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” Thus begins the novel, Warlight, by the Booker Prize winning author of The English Patient. Set during and after World War II, Warlight captures the lasting impact of war on those individuals who worked behind the scenes in British intelligence. Ondaatje focuses on the effect of secrecy on the children of those operatives living double lives.

The narrator of the book is Nathaniel--first introduced as a 14-year-old boy, and later, as a 29-year-old man.  Seen through his eyes, the first 180 pages introduce us to unfamiliar people and places and seem to lead nowhere. Ondaatje brilliantly mirrors the sense of confusion that Nathaniel and his sister Ruth feel after their parents disappear.

 All I knew, Nathaniel reflects, was that the political maps of [my father’s] era were vast and coastal and I would never know if he was close to us or disappeared into one of those distances forever, a person who, as the line went, would live in many places and die everywhere. (p. 180)

Sara Picks  Historical Fiction  Fiction


Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Horn is a contemporary writer of note and author of five novels. She wrote her first novel, In the Image, while studying Hebrew literature at Cambridge University. Her second, The World to Come, was published in 2006--the same year that she completed her Harvard Ph.D. in comparative literature. She is also the mother of four young children.

Horn’s scholarly background, as well as her experience as a mother, play a large role in her most recent book, Eternal Life. When we first meet the main protagonist, Rachel, she is a 16-year-old girl in ancient Israel. The book recounts her life—and the lives of the Jewish people—during the next 2000 years.

Horn, in an interview for Publishers Weekly, notes:

Sara Picks  Fiction


Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday


Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (Sara’s Picks)

Halliday’s debut novel is comprised of three seemingly unconnected stories.

Sara Picks  Fiction


Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo


Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo

Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo (Sara’s Picks)

Eshkol Nevo is a best-selling Israeli author whose books have earned top literary prizes and been translated into many languages. His latest book, Three Floors Up, is a psychological study of the residents of an apartment building in Tel Aviv. The building provides the structure of the novel and is comprised of three interconnected stories whose narrators live on the first, second, and third floors respectively. Each story takes the form of a confessional.

Sara Picks  Fiction


Improvement by Joan Silber


Improvement by Joan Silber

Improvement, by Joan Silber

Improvement is a collection of interwoven short stories about the choices we make when young and the impact of those choices on our lives. The book’s main characters are Reyna, a young single mother living in Harlem, and her free-spirited aunt, Kiki, who is now in her 60s. Forty years earlier, Kiki lived in Turkey with Osman, a Turkish rug-seller who was then her husband. What Kiki and Reyna have in common are the recklessness of their youth and their exotic taste in men.

Sara Picks  Fiction


The Friend by Sigrid Nunez


The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

The Friend is less a novel than an elegy on friendship, writing, and loss. Its narrator is a middle-aged intellectual—an aspiring and unnamed author who teaches creative writing classes. She is mourning the suicide of her former professor—the man who became her lifelong friend and mentor. Overcome with grief, she believes her own life has lost its purpose.

Sara Picks  Fiction


In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende


In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

This story about late love and second chances is set against the backdrop of a raging Brooklyn snowstorm. But the novel is more than a love story. It examines the complex pasts of its three protagonists while tackling human rights abuses in Chile and Guatamala. The novel also highlights the life of an illegal immigrant whose main concern is her personal safety.

The novel revolves around Evelyn Ortega, a slight Guatemalan woman living in the United States illegally. Her story of escape from the horrible gang violence that plagues Guatemala is a focal point in the book. Another protagonist is 62-year-old Lucia Maraz, a survivor of the Pinochet regime in Chile. She has lived for years in exile in Canada and the United States. Although she has returned to Chile in recent years, her bout with illness and her divorce have left her at loose ends. When Richard Bowmaster, a fellow professor, invites her to teach at his university in Brooklyn and offers her lodging, she accepts.

Sara Picks  Literary Fiction  Fiction


New People by Danzy Senna


New People by Danzy Senna

New People ambitiously combines comedy of manners with literary thriller. It is a character-driven novel that explores issues of mixed race, love, and infatuation, while examining what it means to be black. It also looks candidly at a mother-daughter relationship in which a daughter is never quite black enough to suit her mother. Issues inherent in adoption and the impact of parental expectations permeate the book.

Set in the late 1990s, New People features a young, upwardly mobile couple, Maria and Khalil, who are planning their wedding. Khalil is a mixture of black and Jewish, and Maria is the light-skinned, adopted daughter of a single mother. Khalil is starting his own dotcom company; Maria is finishing her dissertation on the Jonestown Massacre. Having met in college, they are in love with each other and in what they represent—“the King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom.”

Thriller  Sara Picks  Racial Identity  Literary  Humor  Fiction


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