Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

January 17

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An Unanticipated Book Splurge

by Ann-Katrina

I went out this evening to pick up a new stereo system for my living room and came home with more books. (By the way, how, in any world, is that logical? But I digress.) The three new books added to my library:

Century's Son coverLeaving coverTreatment cover

Century’s Son by Robert Boswell:

In the small college town of Hayden, Illinois, Morgan and Zhenya have settled into a loveless, stagnant marriage. He is a former labor organizer who now works as a garbage collector, and she is a political science professor and the daughter of a prominent Russian émigré. The suicide of their son, Philip, some ten years before has left the pair emotionally dead, lacking even the courage or initiative to separate from each other. Their surviving child, Emma, has become a teenage mother and refuses to reveal the identity of the child’s father.

Into this sullen mix marches the Century’s Son, Peter Ivanovich Kamenev, Zhenya’s exasperating father. A Russian writer and an impresario of history, Peter Ivanovich claims to have had the opportunity to assassinate Joseph Stalin, to have marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the American South, and to have visited a strip club in Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, Zhenya has discovered several inconsistencies in her father’s invented history, and she also discovers the limits of her patience with his neediness and self-dramatization.

Peter’s arrival, though it tears at the family, also rejuvenates it. He forces Morgan and Zhenya to confront themselves, their children alive and dead, and their lives past, present, and future, as lived, as planned, and as imagined. He embraces Emma and her child; he recognizes and exploits all of the small hypocrisies and foibles of daily life. His deceitful, smooth-talking vibrancy invigorates and infuriates everybody around him.

Leaving by Richard Dry:

In 1959, newly widowed and pregnant Ruby Washington and her thirteen-year-old half brother, Easton, board a bus in rural South Carolina. There, far from the violent events that forced her to flee her home, Ruby hopes to make a new life for her family.

Ruby gives birth to a daughter, Lida, and strives to raise the girl and Easton. But as their Oakland neighborhood changes during the turbulent 1960s, the three are driven apart by forces that Ruby cannot control. Easton becomes involved with civil rights activism and the Black Panthers; Lida, keeping a hurtful family secret to herself, spirals into a cycle of dependency and denial. Finally, Lida’s sons, Love LeRoy and Li’l Pit, must fend for themselves in the inhospitable streets of America, leaving one city for another, searching for a home.

The Treatment by Mo Hayder:

It is the middle of the summer in Brockwell Park, a pleasant residential area in London. Behind the placid façade of one house, a man and wife lie tied up and imprisoned in their own home. When they are discovered, badly dehydrated and bearing the marks of a brutal beating, they reveal one final horror: Their young son has disappeared. Called in to investigate, Jack Caffrey uses all the tricks of the forensic investigator’s trade to piece together the scanty clues at the crime scene. But the echoes of a heartrending disappearance in his own past make it almost impossible for him to view the crime with scientific detachment. As Jack digs deeper, attempting to hold his own life together as the disturbing parallels between past and present mount, the real nightmares begin.

The three books were on the clearance rack, so I won’t be heartbroken if they aren’t the best choices ever, but I’m yanking out my optimistic disposition. I’ve read the first chapters of each (while standing in the aisle like a giant bookend) and the Amazon reviews and they all look promising. Plus, they’ll introduce me to some new authors. That’s a win in my book.

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