So Much To Tell You – by John Marsden (1987)

So Much To Tell You

When we think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, we normally think of people who have survived war conditions. But as is illustrated in this novel by Australian author John Marsden, PTSD can happen to civilians as well.  The idea for the story came from a famous case in Australia of a young woman, Kay Nesbit, being shot in the face by the irate ex-boyfriend of her roommate. She ended up having 57 surgeries to restore her face to a somewhat normal condition..

In “So Much To Tell You”, 14-year-old Marina has been the victim caught in the violent relationship of her parents. She has been traumatized to the point that she no longer speaks. When she is discharged from the hospital, Marina is sent to a boarding school, where it is hoped that being around other young people will pull her out of her self-imposed silence. The English teacher makes each young person keep a daily journal. The rest of the book is the slow healing process that Marina undergoes.

This is actually John Marsden’s first book, written before his famous “Tomorrow” series. It won several Australian awards, such as the Christopher Award and the Victorian Premier’s Award, and was the Austalian Book Of The Year in 1988. A few years after he wrote this book, Mr. Marsden wrote a play version so that it could be performed in the theatre.

Although I liked the author’s later books better, this is a well-written first book.

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Grace Will Lead Me Home – by Katherine Valentine (2004)

 

Grace Will Lead Me Home

I have to say, the entire time I was reading this book, I felt as if I was just down the road from Mitford, the fictional town created by author Jan Karon. It had a priest as one of the main characters, just as Mitford had Father Tim (although the Grace book has a Catholic priest instead of an Episcopal priest). The storyline centers around the happenings and mishaps of the townsfolk. People are tight-knit and neighborly, just as they are in Mitford. It’s the kind of place everyone wants to live, but such a place probably doesn’t exist.

This is one of those feel-good novels that is soothing to the soul and easy to read. It is uncomplicated and pleasant. So if that’s the kind of story you are looking for, pick it up at your local bookstore or library, and enjoy!

Life Among The Savages – by Shirley Jackson (1953)

Life Among The Savages

Maybe you had to read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” in high school. Or perhaps you’ve read one of her horror novels. But what was Shirley like in real life? You can find out in this humorous biography. The book is actually a compilation of articles that she wrote for various women’s magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day back in the 1950’s. The stories were then put together and published as a memoir.

If you’ve ever wondered what the daily life of a housewife and mother was like back in the 50s, this book will give you a picture. I particularly laughed over the description of naughtiness in kindergarten, of recycling clothes to last through three children, and early attempts at driving a car. The description of house-hunting with her husband was also quite amusing. Her experience with going to the hospital was definitely from a different era. (Imagine getting to spend ten days in the hospital after having a baby, even though you had a perfectly normal delivery!)

This was an enjoyable audiobook to listen to as I worked. After having read several books with heavy themes recently, this book was like a breath of fresh air. If you need a book that you can laugh with, give this one a try. Check to see if your public library has it as a downloadable book through CloudLibrary or another e-book service.

The Button War – by Avi (2018)

 

The Button War

Seven young boys live in a Polish village that is occupied by soldiers during World War One. All they have ever known is their tiny corner of the world. They amuse themselves by roving about in a pack and exploring the nearby forest. Jurek is their ringleader, and he dares the others to find the best soldiers’ button. The winner of the contest will be king, and the others will have to bow down to him.

There are soldiers everywhere – their own Polish soldiers, the Russian soldiers that occupy their village, and the German soldiers who come later. At first it’s fun, but as time goes on, Patryk and the other boys realize that their game is becoming quite dangerous. They want to quit, but Jurek has become obsessed with becoming the winner, and refuses to let them quit.

The story is well-written but depressing. It shows the effects of war on children who don’t fully comprehend the situation they are in. It also clearly shows how easily one child can manipulate and many others. Although the book is meant for children, its grimness makes it a poor choice for pre-teens to read.

 

“A Town Like Alice” on DVD

town 2

A week ago, I was in our local library, perusing the DVD’s when I noticed “A Town Like Alice”. I had read the book, as well as seeing the 1981 television mini-series.  At one point I had even owned the mini-series on old VHS tapes. But the picture quality was really bad. By the time we got used to the improved resolution of modern television and DVDs, it was difficult to watch the old fuzzy videocassettes. So I got rid of it.

But there it was in DVD form on the shelf of my library! Right next to it, I noticed the 1956 movie version of the book. So I checked out both and brought them home. Sadly, the tv mini-series was just as grainy as my old VHS tapes. The black-and-white 1956 movie, on the other hand, had surprisingly good picture quality. But the sound of the voices was so garbled that I had trouble understanding about half of it. I sighed and put the DVD back in its case. So both DVDs ended up going back to the library unfinished.

The moral of the story? Just read the book.

town 1

Lost In NYC: A Subway Adventure – by Nadja Spiegelman (2015)

Lost In NYC

Do you have a reluctant young reader in your family? At my local library, this book cover caught my eye. I picked it up and read it, and thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s about a 5th grade class that’s in New York City on a field trip, and two of the kids get separated from the rest of the group. It’s a scenario that could happen to young people or adults. But instead of panicking, the kids stay calm and manage to get back to the rest of their class.

What I loved about this book was the way they explained the history of the New York City subway system. There’s also a wonderfully drawn map of the subway lines inside the front cover. It made me want to experience the subways of New York – minus the part about getting lost. Check out this graphic novel for a great short read!

Deep Storm – by Lincoln Child (2007)

Deepstorm-book
(photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to put this novel into a category. It could be called a medical story. It could be a mystery. There’s a military aspect. It definitely has suspense. There are hints that there could be some paranormal activity.  Together, all of these elements made for a fast-paced story that was hard to put down.

Retired Naval doctor Peter Crane is asked to make a medical diagnosis of what is afflicting the workers on an oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean near Greenland. When he arrives, he finds that it is not really an oil rig, but something totally different, something that is top-secret. By this point, Peter really wishes he had never agreed to come. He is being tracked everywhere that he goes, and has no way to leave. It will take every bit of his wits and ability to survive this assignment.