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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Recommended by Jeff in Technical Services… Jeff’s synopsis: A group of “picture brides” from Japan sail to California after WWI to meet up with their prospective husbands. With dreams and promises of a new and better life, they soon realize that everything is not as it seems as the men are not always who they claim to be and life in America is not what they thought it would be. They do their best to survive by raising their families until they are once again uprooted, this time to internment camps after the start of WWII. He says: This is a short novel without a main character or dialogue, but the words flow and the story is compelling because of the author’s minimal technique but very descriptive passages. Using a collective voice for the woman makes me think about what it would have been like for them emigrate leaving everything familiar and comfortable...

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Recommended by Colleen in Outreach Services… Colleen’s synopsis: This is a story of a 17 year old Jewish boy left on his own in Leningrad during WWII. After being arrested for looting, he is sent, along with a 20 year old army deserter, on a “mission” to get a dozen eggs for a Russian General. In less then a week he goes from being a boy to being a man. She says: This book is wonderfully written. The author is able to grab your interest from the first sentence and keep you engaged with the characters to the very end of the story. Even if you feel that you have read too many war books give this one a...

The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton

Recommended by Jeff in Technical Services… Jeff’s synopsis: Henry Dampier is on the road spreading the word of God by selling Bibles that he gets for free from different churches and religious organizations. While traveling, he meets Preston Clearwater, a car thief posing as an FBI agent who offers Henry a job. Henry likes the idea of serving the Lord and working undercover. However, this leads Henry into actually reading the Bible, questioning its contents, and into possibly more adventures than he bargained for. He says: This is a funny story about conflicts such as Henry serving God but selling Bibles he gets for free and Preston being a criminal posing as a FBI agent. Henry starts questioning what he reads in the Bible; however he also justifies his actions because of what he reads as he tries to lead a dual life for God and J Edgar Hoover or so he...

Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta

Recommended by Jeff in Technical Services… Jeff’s synopsis: Nik Worth never quite made it as an artist and musician and is a bartender as he turns 50. He leads the bands the Demonics and the Fakes. He does side projects and solo works such as the 20-CD series: The Ontology of Worth. He even  wrote the Chronicles, which is a series of scrapbooks documenting his life and work. Denise is his younger sister who has a daughter in New York. She struggles with her mother’s onset of dementia, her brother’s lack of responsibility, and her own depressive reactions to news of world events. He says: I like the idea of outsider artists that still create their art no matter if they become famous or wealthy from it. Nik even mentions Henry Darger who was a Chicago janitor who was found, after his death, to have written and painted a great deal of work. Nik is this type of character. It seems like Denise, his sister, remains his biggest fan even though she is no longer willing yo loan him money for rent or agree with the way he lives. This is a great book about brother/sister relationships, mother/daughter relationships and the success and failure people find in their families and...

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Recommended by Karyn in Youth Services… Karyn’s synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. She says: This is magical realism at its best. I instantly got swept away by the world created within the striped black and white tents. Such beautiful...