User Reviews

Reviews by jlasky
An American Marriage
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An American Marriage heartbreakingly depicts racial injustice in modern America. Up and coming in their careers, and newly married, Roy and Celestials lives are thrown into chaos one fateful night when Roy is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Tayari Jones likens it to the Odyssey. Odysseus embarks on a challenging journey, hoping to find his faithful wife waiting for him.
The challenge of maintaining the marriage affects the couple as well as their parents, families and friends. Jones wanted people to understand that for black Americans, "Injustice in the criminal justice system — it's just in the air. Like hurricanes if you live on the East Coast or earthquakes if you live out West. It's just something that is." The possibility of being snapped up into the system is always there, hovering.
The story is beautifully written. Jones is a remarkable writer. Using alternate voices helps the reader to see the circumstances and viewpoints through each narrator. If you enjoy character-driven, compelling stories, this will be a great addition to your reading list.

A must read non-fiction
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On April 29, 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library burned down. It burned for 7 hours. We don’t know or remember much about it because it was underreported due to an incident called Chernobyl taking over the news cycle. In her exquisite writing style, Susan Orlean takes on the research of this fire, as well as the history of libraries throughout time.
Orlean learns about the fire when she takes her child to visit the LAPL. This, as well as fond memories of attending her child hood library in Ohio with her Mother, sparks her curiosity to dig deeper. A man named Harry Peak, a small time actor wannabe was the only suspect, but the cause of the fire, possible arson, is still unsolved. Orlean turns into investigative reporter as she pours through city and library files as well as shadowing Los Angeles librarians as she tries to finds answers. What she does find is the extent of books, manuscripts, maps, menus, ephemera and more that the LAPL carries, which unfolds the history of Los Angeles and it’s astounding library.
In what becomes a love story to libraries, The Library Book tells a story. A story of a fire, a story of Los Angeles, a story of the impact and importance of libraries on their communities. With many colorful characters, facts, research and interesting chapter layouts from the Dewey Decimal System, Susan Orlean delivers a non-fiction book that reads like a fiction. The friend who handed it to me and said “just read it” was right. I couldn’t put it down. I hope you relish it as well.
Warlight
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With incredible detail, Michael Ondaatje carefully lays out the mysterious story of the childhood of Agnes and Nathaniel. In post WWII London, the adolescents are left by their parents, in the hands of eccentric and possibly nefarious family friends, who take the children on covert nighttime river excursions into the underbelly of post war society.
It is not until a decade later that Nathaniel begins to unravel his mother's secret life during the war, as well as the lives of the characters that spent time at the family home during that time.
Warlight comes from a term used during London blackouts for the dimmed lights of essential vehicles, which plays right into the dark atmosphere Ondaatje creates. A haunting character-driven novel that offers an unusual view of the many underworlds at work during war.




The Great Believers
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Based in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in 1985, Chicago author Rebecca Makkai tells a heartbreaking story about the AIDS epidemic. Working with a paired storyline thirty years later in France, Fiona, a woman in grief has been an intimate witness to the losses through her beloved brother and his friends. A photographer from that social circle, comes back into her life as she is trying desperately to find and save her estranged daughter. The richly developed characters in The Great Believers, will make you want to turn back time and guide them to a different ending. The staggering number of those who were lost, and what could have been will stay with you long after you finish the book.

Historical Fiction
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Joseph, a college student at UC Berkeley, receives a mysterious package from Cairo, the home of his birth father. Although he was raised in the states by his Jewish mother, he spent several summers in Cairo traversing a completely different culture and lifestyle with his Muslim relatives.
The package leads him on an adventure that peels back the rich history of his ancestors on both sides. Going back a thousand years, the Muslim men in his family kept watch over the sacred Ezra Scrolls in a small synagogue in Cairo. The story is helped along by two British sisters at the end of the 19th century, who travel to Egypt to rescue sacred texts.
In “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo” Michael David Lukas weaves a remarkable tale of various traditions, cultures and religions through the centuries. Vivid scenery, mysticism, love, devotion and richly developed characters make this a tale you will find hard to put down.

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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