“The stolen marriage” Diane Chamberlain

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook.St. Martin’s Press. To be published October 3, 2017. (Includes “Author’s notes and Acknowledgements.”)

TheStolenMarriageIn 1943 twenty-three year old Tess DeMello was set to marry Vincent, the love of her life, in their Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore where they’d grown up together. He had become a doctor and she was studying to be a nurse so, when a severe outbreak of polio struck children in Chicago, Vincent volunteered his services for several months. His absence set the stage for Tess to visit Washington D.C. where she met Hank Kraft, a rich furniture maker from Hickory, a small North Carolina town. When she becomes pregnant she abandons Vincent, marries Hank, and moves to Hickory.

Hatred from her mother-in-law, as well as from Hank’s sister, former girlfriend, and all their friends greeted her, causing loneliness to cloud her every move. In addition, Tess soon realized Hank seemed to be hiding secrets, and had no feelings for her. Anxious to find a way to relieve the pressure of her marriage, Tess disobeyed Hank to volunteer her services as a nurse at the hospital the town built in 54 hours when polio struck their part of the state.  There she learned to stand on her own again, finally able to become the person she was meant to be.

Many themes are at work in this book, ranging from infantile paralysis (what polio used to be called), religion, mediums, relationships, racial inequalities and more. Readers will definitely have much to ponder, making this a great choice for a book club.

As a child my mother suffered from polio in the mid 1940’s, which caused her to be in a leg brace. To this day, she still has problems with that leg. This is the first book I’ve ever read about infantile paralysis/polio, which helped me understand what she and thousands of other children had to endure. Thank you Diane Chamberlain for enlightening readers on the subject through your excellent research and, of course, a huge round of applause is reserved for Jonas Salk.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The Possibility of Somewhere” Julia Day

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published September 6, 2016. St. Martin’s Press. 308 pp.

thepossibilityofsomewhereEden has had to work three days a week to help her father and stepmom make ends meet after her dad was laid off, while still managing to keep a 4.0 average in school. Despite her stellar school record, her classmates keep her at a distance because she lives in a trailer. Knowing they see her as trailer trash, Eden created a prickly armor of self-defense focusing all her energies on getting nominated for a prestigious scholarship that could offer her a full ride to college.

As if trying to get good grades and working didn’t carry enough stress Eden finds out that Ash Gupta, an Indian student and fellow overachiever, is also seeking the same scholarship. Resenting his interference, knowing he has rich parents, Eden sets herself against him to do battle but soon finds herself drawn towards him in a way that surprises everyone. Within a short time their racial differences threaten to tear them and their racially divided town apart.

I really enjoyed this book, and saw it as a modern day “Romeo and Juliet.” My heart ached for Eden and her dead end life, knowing she is representative of thousands who find themselves in the same circumstances. Their story of romance is told in a poignant and eye opening manner, which should cause teens to question their own thinking towards interracial relationships.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

 

 

“All the missing girls” Megan Miranda

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. To be published June 28, 2016. Simon & Schuster.

AllTheMissingGirlsTen years ago Nicolette Farrell left her friends, boyfriend and family behind in her sleepy hometown of Cooley Ridge, North Carolina. Over the years she worked hard to bring herself up by her own bootstraps, and is engaged to a rich lawyer in Philadelphia with her own career. When a mysterious letter arrives from home, followed by a call from her brother, she realizes she has to return to face the demons she’s been running from ever since her best friend Corinne vanished.

It doesn’t take long for Annaleise Carter, another young woman, to disappear soon after Nic arrives in town. The police are sniffing around her ex-boyfriend Tyler, Corinne’s old boyfriend Jackson, Nic’s brother Daniel, and even her senile father. Nic doesn’t know who to believe and, as the truth is gradually revealed, her world will never be the same.

I loved the suspense in this book, and suspected everyone as I eagerly devoured it. I was sure I knew who was guilty, and was SHOCKED when Miranda played her last card and revealed her hand. I did NOT see THAT coming!

I didn’t like that the story was told backwards, which is why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars. It’s a unique way to write, but I kept getting confused. I would read about events in one chapter that weren’t explained until the next chapter, but there was an earlier chapter after that which really came before it. HUH?! I found myself going back and forth several times to get the gist of the action, which took away from the storyline, and was especially hard to do with an ebook. Though I was not a fan of this, the suspense and whodunit atmosphere makes “All the missing girls” worth a read.

Recommended for Adults.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Sex & Violence” Carrie Mesrobian

Rated 3 stars *** 2013. Carolrhoda Lab (Lerner Publishing). 294 pp. Finalist for the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2014 Morris Award.

Sex&ViolenceSeventeen-year-old Evan has been dragged all over the country by his father’s jobs. He uses his New Kid status to scout out girls who’ll Say Yes with the least amount of trouble, knowing he’ll soon be gone and won’t have to form any attachments. While at a boarding school in North Carolina Evan meets Collette, a beautiful girl on the track team. They begin a secret relationship that is ruined when Tate and Patrick, two jealous classmates, viciously assault him.

His father decides to move them to his old family home on a lake in Minnesota, to help Evan heal. Evan begins to see a psychiatrist to work through his issues and, on her advice, begins writing letters to express himself addressing them to Collette, who we soon find out had also been assaulted.

As Evan learns to work through his trauma and sexual issues, he begins calling himself “Dirtbag Evan” as he remembers the many one-night stands of his life and fluctuates between his old persona and trying on a new one with a group of friendly teens who take him under their wings. In “Sex & Violence,” readers gain insight into the mind of a young man trying his best to unlearn his violent sexual past and reinvent a calmer future.

I was disappointed that the boys who assaulted him and Collette did not get their “due,” as readers were left with a nebulous court date and no closure on the crime. It was also a bit discomfiting to see “you’re” for “your” and “they’re” for “their” several times in a book that was not an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). If the book gets a second edition run it would be nice to see these misspellings corrected as well as a chapter or two describing a trial that would send Tate and Patrick to jail for an indeterminate amount of time for their crimes.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

“Prairie Evers” Ellen Airgood

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published May 2012. Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Group Inc.) 215 pp.

Prairie has always been a free child, growing up with her beloved Grammy and parents in the North Carolina mountains while being homeschooled. When her parents relocate to a farm in New Paltz, N.Y., Grammy returns to North Carolina and 10-year-old Prairie enters school for the first time. Life in 5th grade is very hard, especially for someone who’s never been to school before but, when she becomes best friends with Ivy, things become bearable.

Prairie loves sharing the raising of her chickens and farm life with Ivy, and can’t understand her sadness. When she realizes Ivy comes from a bad home life, Prairie is determined to change things to help her become happy once more.

“Prairie Evers” is a story about change and growth in a young girl’s life, and will be enjoyed by students aged 9-12.