Sunday, April 9, 2017

The New Odyssey - Patrick Kingsley

Sub-title: The story of the twenty-first century refugee crisis

This book is an eye-opener.  The author parallels the journey of one refugee with the facts and evolution of the massive migration of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.  The numbers of people impacted by the wars and repressive regimes is staggering - hundreds of thousands of attempted to leave their countries for a safer existence in European continent.

The book changed my understanding of the Syrian conflict and others in the region and humanized the people just trying to live and raise their families some place safe and secure.  These are not all individuals who are poor and uneducated, instead they are people like you and me who are caught up in societies being destroyed by tyrants and fanatics, paralleling the reign of Hitler in the 1930's.

The response of European nations that are overwhelmed with the numbers of people seeking asylum creates division and cooperation as they try to address the crisis.

A must read.

Published:  2017   Read: April 2017   Genre: Non-fiction

Nutshell - Ian McEwan

I liked this one for its quirky twist on the point of view - I won't give it away, let's just say I've never read anything from this kind of character.  It's a story about a murder plot and the speaker is trying to prevent it, mostly out of self-interest.  A quick read that's worth your time.

Published:  2016  Read: March 2017  Genre: fiction, mystery

The Nest - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

This was a first novel by a young author.  It tells the story of spoiled siblings who have waited all their lives for the inheritance of their parents, the "nest" of the title.  At first, they are unappealing characters, self-absorbed and petty.  And yet, as they realize the inheritance is unlikely due to the actions of their surviving mother and their feckless older brother, they grow to meet the reality of caring for their own future.  Funny and ironic, a good read.


Published:  2016  Read: February 2016  Genre: Fiction

The Orchardist - Amanda Coplin

I've had this book for awhile.  I'd picked it up because it was listed as a NYT bestseller and had started it once and then put it aside.  The second time was better.

It's the story of two young girls who escape a bad situation and are taken in by a farmer who keeps an orchard in the Northwest.  There's a back story on how he ended up there when his parents migrated West.  The book is a study on relationships that exist with few words.  We read the thoughts of the characters, but they are rarely shared with others and when there is dialogue, it's sparse and carefully chosen.  A tender gem of a book.

Some quotes I marked:

"And that was the point of children...to bind us to the earth and to the present, to distract us from death. A distraction dressed as a blessing: but dressed so well, and so truly, that it became a blessing.  Or maybe it was the other way around: a blessing first, before a distraction.  Caroline Middey scrutinized the point; did not know if the distinction was important (All distinctions are important.)  But she did not think any more about it because at her back, suddenly , the child work from her nap, and she rose at once to go to her."
 "When one is young, he thought, one thinks that one will never know oneself.  But the knowledge comes later, if not all, then some.  An important amount." 

Published: 2012  Read: March 2016  Genre: Fiction