Along with the long-forgotten contents of the basement of the Panama Hotel, Henry Lee’s memories of 1940’s Seattle are unearthed. When new hotel owners start to renovate the boarded up, old Japanese-designed building they discover the personal belongings of numerous Japanese families who were interned during WWII. As a resident of Seattle’s Chinatown, just the other side of the Panama Hotel from Japantown, Henry witnessed first-hand the removal of the Japanese.
When Charlie Nancy’s estranged father passes away, family secrets come tumbling out at the funeral. Disbelieving that he could possibly be the son of a god, Charlie inadvertently calls the brother he didn’t know he had into his life. Havoc ensues and Charlie must find a way to extricate himself from his brother while learning what it means to be the son of Anansi, the African and Caribbean trickster god. Adult fans of Harry Potter will enjoy the sudden revelation of a secret life and Charlie’s ensuing transformation.
Books that don’t match their descriptions are extremely annoying, and this one especially so. The book jacket says, “It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.” And the beach scene really is exceedingly horrific. Unfortunately, the comic relief I was led to expect never followed. I failed to be even slightly amused by this story of Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, whose life becomes entangled with a vacationing English couple.
Although Williams is primarily a triathlete, her book is really for anyone looking for inspiration on their journey to fitness. According to her, this book is for “real people with jobs and kids and love handles”. As a plus-sized athlete, she advocates concepts like abandoning self-consciousness, being slow, embracing bodily fluids, and becoming an active wear advocate. She asks her readers to examine their motivations for losing weight and to change their focus to being fit.
When Junior announces that he wants to attend the white school off the reservation he is not only ostracized, but tormented by his own people. As he dips one foot into the strange world of white people and keeps the other firmly planted on the reservation he feels torn between the better life he glimpses at his new school and the life he has always known.
Senna’s narrative is very much in the vein of Walls’ The Glass Castle or Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin. It surpasses both for its examination, not only of Senna’s parents relationship, but for its exploration of identity today, yesterday and tomorrow.
According to Wikipedia, a “coming of age” story is one which details a young person's transition from adolescence to adulthood. This describes Every Last Cuckoo, except Sarah Lucas’ transition is one from a comfortable coupled existence as a mature woman to one in which she must make her own way. At seventy-five, Sarah’s husband of fifty years has died unexpectedly leaving Sarah and their two dogs alone in their rural Vermont home.
Alford’s exploration of what constitutes wisdom and where it comes from read a little more lightly than I would have expected. While Alford has done his research and shares many of the gems he has gleaned from his reading, I didn’t feel enlightened. His experiences during his mother’s divorce and his interviews with the elderly are entertaining, but they impart no wisdom in the end.
David Sheff shares the heart-breaking story of his son Nic’s tenuous life on drugs. Interwoven in the story are the results of research and studies about kids from shared custody homes, the affects of drugs (especially Methamphetamine) on the human body and psyche, and advice from a variety of sources for friends and families of addicts. Beautiful Boy especially resonates with me, as Sheff searches for answers as to how this could have happened to his son and in what ways he might be responsible.
In this remarkable story, Dempsey takes birdwatching (which, in his words, serves the social use of “keeping those nerdy kids who have no chance of ever making a real friend out of already overcrowded bars”) and makes it cool. While I probably won’t immediately invest in a pair of binoculars, Dempsey has effectively instilled an appreciation of a pastime to which I had never given a single, solitary thought. On the one hand, the sub-title of this book pretty much sums it up. But on the other, it says nothing.