Book review blast!
While I was at the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Colorado a few months ago (yet another thing I should post about – fear not, it’s on the way) I picked up various advance readers’ editions of books scheduled for publication this spring. Instead of doing in-depth reviews, I’m going to briefly mention some along with my observations. Here goes:
“Socialism is Great! A Worker’s Memoir of the New China” by Lijia Zhang
Zhang’s poignant memoir makes the case for literacy, education, freedom of expression, coming of age, intellect and love. That may seem like a high charge for a 360-something page book, but you will not be able to put this one down. Zhang’s experience as an international journalist makes this autobiography flow with rhythm and spirit sure to engross anyone interested in China’s cultural history.
“Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret ” by Steve Luxenberg
This memoir tells the story of Luxenberg’s unearthing of a deep family secret. When his mother passes away, he finds out that she had a sister – kept hidden in various mental institutions throughout her entire life. The book is well-written and holds a journalistic bent, expected as Luxenberg is the editor of the Washington Post. As he traces Annie’s records from one hospital to the next, readers learn much about the social history of various institutional movements in America. While the story is an interesting one to follow, the questions Luxenberg asks of himself reveal the true gems. Should he be blowing open this closely kept secret? What will the publication of this book do to his family? Are some secrets meant to be kept forever?
“Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival” by Clara Kramer
Un-fucking-real. Pardon my language, but this story is incredible. Kramer and 17 other Polish Jews lived in an underground bunker for twenty months in order to escape persecution and murder by the Germans during WWII. During that time, we learn about the depths of humanity, the loss of loved ones, the sacrifices of family and more. The diary of 15-year-old Kramer is on permanent display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and is the basis for this heart-stopping story.
I also picked up the following but have yet to complete them: “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” by Giulia Melucci, “The Believers” by Zoe Heller (author of “What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal”), “Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska” by Miranda Weiss, and “Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes- From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between” by Leslie Simon (author of “Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture”). More on those soon! And by soon, I might mean summer…
What are you reading?