Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

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I loved this memorable and touching children’s story about a little girl who lives in a graveyard in the Philippines with her mother and her struggle to find her mother when she goes missing. Appropriate for grades 4 to 7, in my opinion, it sensitively tells Nora’s story while focusing on themes of friendship and loyalty.

I was fascinated with this idea of living in a cemetery, and here’s a great article with pictures in it from the New York Times about North Cemetery in Manila, where this story takes place.

Thanks, Net Galley, for my review e-copy! This title publishes in the beginning of October (2018).

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Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

 

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes the story behind the picture is worth a thousand more…

Philadelphia, 1931. A young, ambitious reporter named Ellis Reed photographs a pair of young siblings on the front porch of a farmhouse next to a sign: “2 children for sale.”

With the help of newspaper secretary Lily Palmer, Ellis writes an article to accompany the photo. Capturing the hardships of American families during the Great Depression, the feature story generates national attention and Ellis’s career skyrockets.

But the photograph also leads to consequences more devastating than ever imagined—and it will take jeopardizing everything Ellis and Lily value to unravel the mystery and set things right.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers throughout the country, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of ambition, redemption, love, and family.

 

I love Kristina McMorris’ writing, and was thrilled to receive this galley through Net Galley. I actually thought of the picture that this novel is based on as I’ve seen it, too, so I had the picture perfect (no pun intended) image in mind while reading. This is such a sad but moving story, reminding us that sometimes desperate people do desperate things. The main characters, Ellis and Lily, want to right the wrong that was done and put themselves on the line to do it.

I love a book that has self-forgiveness and redemption as a theme, and that ran throughout, culminating in a satisfying ending.

I follow Ms. McMorris on Facebook and she seems like a lovely and positive person. This is the second novel of hers that I’ve read – and it won’t be the last! Thank you for my e-copy!

For My Ears: BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate – Read by Emily Rankin

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Wow! This story was recommended online in the blogisphere, and I thought I might enjoy it, but I was blown away by this story of a family torn apart and the young girl who tries to keep her siblings together against all odds.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

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While these children weren’t real, this is based on true events, and you will be forever haunted at the shocking and terrible things that happened to poor families in the Depression and post-Depression era South. Normally I don’t like disturbing books centered on children, but this story was so compelling, and I loved the character of Rill so much, along with the fact that the present day protagonist was unraveling the mystery of the family tree, I just could not stop listening!

Beautifully narrated, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

I used my audible credit for this one.

Review: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout

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Several years ago I read OLIVE KITTERIDGE and just loved it. It’s hard to describe why – I just did. I was excited to MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON come up on Net Galley and got it to read.

Here’s how Net Galley describes it:

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A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

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I just loved this story. Again, it’s hard to explain why. Lucy is a typical woman, though you can see that she has had hardships (unexplained) in her past. She is just trying to get through life. She wants to be (and becomes) a writer. Her illness gives her an opportunity to reconnect with her mother (her entire family was very dysfunctional). Throughout there are hints that Lucy is keeping some parts of her past hidden as they are too painful to think about. What I really liked, though, was that there never was a “big reveal”. We never exactly discovered all there was to discover about Lucy Barton (though one could make some guesses). It was one of the things I liked most about this book — it’s ability to keep the narrator slightly unknown.

This book would be an excellent book club book, giving folks a chance to make their decisions about what they think about Lucy and her family and her life. Some might find this book slow or unexciting (no car chases!), but I thought it was just right. It is short but beautifully written. Elizabeth Strout has the ability to craft a sentence that is so right and so true that it stays with you.

Thank you for my review e-copy, Random House and Net Galley! MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON publishes today – 1/12/16.

Now I’m throwing it back to my earlier review of OLIVE KITTERIDGE – for your reading pleasure:

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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt like they knew you stripped bare of your outer facade?

This is how I felt about the characters of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olive Kitteridge. Olive Kitteridge is a middle-aged woman, living in the small town of Crosby, Maine, and this novel is a series of vignettes depicting the people of the town, their lives, their hopes, dreams, and disappointments. The common thread running through these short stories is the character of Olive. In each story we see a different side of Olive, and by the end come to know her as multi-faceted and deeply human.

Whenever I pick up a Pulitzer, I’m never sure if I’m going to like it. Will it be too deep to get through? Will I feel compelled to love it, and don’t? Will I be able to read it enjoyably, or have to attack it like a college textbook? I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. It is a gem. Strout’s writing is so beautiful and descriptive. She calls on elements of human nature that, as I read, I found myself shaking my head and saying, “Yes, that is exactly how it is in life, isn’t it?” This book portrayed her characters in such a raw state that at times it was a bit painful to read. Yet, each story had a feeling of redemption in it, too. This was a wonderful book. I picked it up on a whim at a local bookstore and purchased it – and I’m so glad I did!