June Book Marks
Summer months were made for reading, whether you’re at the beach, lake, mountains or on your backyard hammock. As I downshift into six weeks of summer, I’m tucking in to write, hike and start training for the empty nest.
Twenty-seven years of frontline mothering is about to come to an end. My navy fighter pilot friend calls this “a ton of time in-jet.” Oh, I know. You’re always a parent. And I’ll probably see more of my girls home from college than I did this past senior year, where they mostly lived in the bathroom and used me for Netflix and Amex.
Everyone asks me how I’m feeling about sending the last two chickadees off to college. The truth is, I’m really OK. Milestones are probably “stones” because they carry some serious weight. It will take time to break the habit of screaming them awake for school or assembling an FDA approved and balanced dinner. This September, please think of me at 6:00 PM. I’ll be the one eating cereal over the sink with a double vodka, or eating my ice cream semi-nude and out of the container watching a docu-drama.
If we’ve raised them right, they’ll keep flying back to us. Eventually, they’ll quit seeing us as stern disciplinarians and we’ll begin to look more like the riveting, fun-loving couple we are, if I say so myself.
“We’re just you,” I said to my son once, “and then a few years passed and we got old. But we’re the same 20 something knuckleheads inside.” I think he got it. It’s only a matter of time before the other two see the light….
Non-Fiction (Military Theme):
Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom by Christopher S. Wren
Growing up in the Adirondack summers, the legend of the Green Mountain Boys has always loomed large. They were the scruffy hometown patriots in my mind, the boys who had the advantage over the Red Coats, with their knowledge of the terrain and the harsh Northern winters.
Wren, a respected New York Times bureau chief, sets legend aside to focus on the reality. Working with original documents, he overturns the myth that Ethan Allen was a legendary hero and patriotic son of Vermont. In truth, he never served in the Continental Army and George Washington was leery of him, refusing to give him troops. Allen was more scoundrel than hero, a ruffian who joined the cheap land rush from Connecticut. He was a fighter with a bad temper, and his life had not gone easily. Allen and traitor Benedict Arnold had a longstanding rivalry, and Allen raced Arnold to capture the strategic hold of Fort Ticonderoga.
Allen was ultimately shipped back to Britain to be hanged, but instead, spent years negotiating to bring Vermont back under the British rule. If you’re a student of American history, this book brings a fresh perspective to the crucial northern front of the Revolutionary War.
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
“Zero Shadow Day” is an actual phenomenon that takes place annually in India, when the shadows of all beings cease to exist for a moment in time.
“The Book of M” imagines this ceremonial event as an epidemic, causing humans across the world to lose their shadows and thus, their memories. One day in a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears, and with it comes the loss of all of his memories. He is the first, and after that the inexplicable phenomenon spreads like a plague. Ory and Max have escaped “the forgetting” by hiding out in an abandoned hotel, but when Max’s shadow disappears, he runs away. Ory sets out to track him down in a world turned upside down, with roaming bandits, danger and the rise of a sinister cult. The answer to everything may arise from a strange new force, one that could hold the cure for the shadowless.
Set in a frightening new world, this debut novel explores connection, survival, the power of memory and the limits we would go to protect and save those we love most. If you like futuristic novels in the vein of “Station Eleven” or even “Exit West”( loved those books) this is an original tale with a love story bonus.
The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino
Set on the New England coast, this gem of a novel weaves a magical, fantastical and believable story about a group of aging writers living in an old folks home for the once famous and prolific. These folks are the publishing industry’s nearly gone, but not quite forgotten greats. Famous writer Alfonse Carducci has writers block. A muse arrives in the form of a young woman who has suffered a tragic accident. The relationship formed between the two and the memories unlocked from the past are woven together as deftly as a braid. Love, forgiveness and a little magic are themes of this quick breezy read. This is a perfect one to pop in your beach bag!
LEFT: A Love Story by Mary Hogan
June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and this disease is personal for me, having lost my Dad to it. It’s also personal for the 5.7 million people whose memories are currently being erased by this insidious illness. Hogan’s newest novel, set in New York, centers on Faye Agarra, a wife forced to witness her husband’s descent into the black hole of Alzheimer’s. As the book progresses, (ala The Notebook) what is left is the final, shared memory of their love.
What makes this novel so poignant is that Hogan’s real life actor husband is the inspiration for fictional Faye’s husband in the book. The author says this about the genesis of the book: “When I first thought about writing LEFT, I had the idea to create a hybrid: part memoir, part novel. Meaning, I would fictionalize true events that happened in my marriage. The final product turned out to be part truth, part fiction, and part my imagining of how my real life will be in a year or two.”
And while that premise may seem bleak, at its core LEFT is a love story and a love letter to those caring for loved ones diagnosed with the disease. It’s a heartening—and at times humorous—story that celebrates the bonds of marriage and a love that overcomes all obstacles.
Between You and Me by Susan Wiggs
Two worlds collide when Caleb, an Amish man, meets an emergency room doctor during a life-or-death situation. In the Amish community of Middle Grove, Pennsylvania, life revolves around family, farm, faith and a long-held suspicion of outsiders. When Caleb’s nephew is maimed in a grisly accident, an ambitious doctor from a wealthy family, Reese Powell, is ultimately forced to challenge everything she knows. Her growing relationship with Caleb makes her question her own long-held beliefs.
One impulsive act brings about a clash of cultures and beliefs that ultimately plays itself out in the court room. The results will strain generations and set both Caleb and Reese on a different path.