“Mary Jane” by Jessica Blau is a coming-of-age story set in the 1970s. Mary Jane, living in Baltimore with her very traditional parents, is hired by a neighborhood family as a mother’s helper for the summer. As she is exposed to a vastly different lifestyle, the reader will enjoy the food, music, clothes and new attitudes of the ’70s.
“One Two Three” by Laurie Frankel is the story of the Mitchell triplets. Born in a tiny industrial town haunted by an environmental catastrophe, they have watched their mother fight for justice against the perpetrator of the polluted water. Exceptional character development in this remarkable book.
“A Peculiar Combination” by Ashley Weaver introduces us to Electra McDonnell. Raised by her uncle and trained in the art of lock picking, she is “engaged” by the British military to help retrieve some valuable documents. When the owner of the documents is found murdered, the sleuthing begins. A fun and engaging read.
“The Maidens” by Alex Michelaides is set in Cambridge and involves some disreputable professors and staff, and female students who keep turning up dead. Mariana is a therapist who is determined to prove who is responsible. I found her a rather implausible detective and the ending a bit off kilter, but the story moves along and has some sly references to Michelaides’ previous book, “The Silent Patient.”
“Lorna Mott Comes Home” is by Diane Johnson, who is celebrated for her books of social moral comedy. This one is a pleasant family tale set in 2008 in San Francisco and France. Marriage, divorce, financial wealth and ruin, the tech industry, teen pregnancy – she covers a lot of territory in this book. It made me glad to have a less complicated life!
“Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams catches up with Eva and Shane, two Black kids who rose up from their circumstances to become celebrated writers. But they haven’t seen each other in years. Is there still a flame there? Hilarious depictions of fans when Eva goes on promo tours for her vampire romance books.
“The Killing Hills” by Chris Offutt takes us to the hills of Eastern Kentucky and the search for who killed a nice enough lady and dumped her in the woods. Local combat hero Mick Hardin comes back and becomes involved as he knows the locale, the locals, and possesses a deep understanding of the workings of the Appalachian community.
“Razorblade Tears” by S.A. Crosby is the second book I have read by him. There is almost nonstop action and violence, but Crosby is a gifted writer and his characters are fleshed out for the most part. John Singleton or JJ Abrams have probably already optioned the movie rights.
“Revival Season” by Monica West is a slow burn of a novel. Miriam Horton is the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher and healer, but she knows the truth about his powers. Does she possess the true power? Is it even possible for a girl to be a healer? A painful family story, but there is strength in Miriam. And hope.
“The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray is the fascinating story in novel form of the Black woman who passed as White and became the personal librarian to J.P. Morgan. The daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard, Belle da Costa Greene was a brilliant scholar and transformed the collection of Morgan’s books and papers.
“The Great Mistake” by Jonathan Lee also tells the story of a brilliant, influential person few have heard of: Andrew Haswell Green, who is considered the Father of New York City. He is responsible for Central Park, The New York Public Library, The Bronx Zoo, The Natural History Museum and the Metropolitan Museum. He also orchestrated the annexation of Brooklyn into Greater NYC. The book, however, is a reconstruction of his life and not just a list of his public works. What experiences shaped him and why was he shot at his front gate on Park Avenue one day when he was 83 years old?
“The Secret History of Home Economics” by Danielle Dreilinger is our nonfiction book this month. So much more than cooking and sewing, Home Economics was the backdoor to STEM fields of study before women were deemed capable of serious scientific study. Women in Home Ec worked tirelessly to affect change in our country, socially, politically, environmentally and medically. A worthy read!
For more information, go online to beckysbookclub.com.