Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!
March 4, 2013
by Hopkinson, Nalo
This lyrical second novel by Locus award winning author Nalo Hopkinson stars the flawed yet sympathetic heroine Tan-Tan. Young Tan-Tan has lived on two Caribbean-colonized planets; she was born on the high-tech and lush planet Toussaint, then was stolen away by her father to live with him on the prison planet New Half-Way Tree, after he was sentenced for murdering his wife’s lover. New Half-Way Tree is not an advanced, urban society like Toussaint; Tan-Tan and her father have to learn to live in much harsher conditions. Her father’s temper and judgment gets worse as the years go on, and eventually Tan-Tan is forced to flee. She has friends within the indigenous population of the planet but when they are endangered by her presence she takes to the jungle. With no control over her own life and in constant fear of being caught, Tan-Tan adopts the persona of the Robber Queen, a character from Caribbean folklore, to right the wrongs she sees done all around her.
Weaving together themes of gender, colonialism and the power of myth and story is not enough for Hopkinson. She also creates an amazing dialect that blends the Jamaican and Trinidadian languages. It is a beautiful narrative voice that can take some getting used to, so don’t give up if you find it difficult right away! Your head will move to its rhythm soon enough. This dialect helps us grasp the sensuous and mischievous feel of Carnivale and sense the heat and humidity of the jungle as Tan-Tan tries to escape her past. We feel the weight of being a folk hero settle on Tan-Tan’s shoulders, and suppress a shudder at her rash decisions while our heart breaks for the girl who had to make them. The language that Hopkinson has created lends immense power to the story by reminding us where it came from and evoking setting in a way that cannot be glossed over or forgotten.
Some people still dismiss science fiction and fantasy as not being real literature; Hopkinson shows us what a talented writer can do with the form. This is a great novel for anyone who enjoys solid world-building, beautifully written prose, and strong and compelling characters.
— Recommended by Carri Genovese, Central Library
February 25, 2013
The Queen and I
by Townsend, Sue
The British have elected a new Republican government and the entire royal family has been ousted from their various palatial residences and relegated to council (slum) housing. This is the premise Sue Townsend’s alternately dark and witty novel.
Queen Elizabeth is doing quite well in her new circumstances, actually, stiff upper lip and all that. She’s trying to comfort Prince Philip, who has collapsed completely and refuses to get out of bed. Princess Anne is being romanced by a local horse trader. Charles is calling himself “Charlie Teck” (the maiden name of his great-grandmother, Queen Mary), and has allowed his infatuation with a buxom next-door neighbor to embroil him in a tawdry alley brawl. Even the Queen’s favorite Corgy, Harris, is running with riff-raff mutts. Can the Windsors learn to cope with life on the dole, cook their own meals and find change for the bus? A truly inspired fantasy!
— Recommended by Emily Talbott, Nora Library
February 18, 2013
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from Privileged Son
by Wise, Tim
305.8 WIS 2008
No matter your race or your feelings about the current state of race relations, Wise’s book will challenge your assumptions and turn your view of society on its head. Well written, not overly scholarly, filled with personal insights and stories, we find out about Wise’s own personal journey dealing with race and the effects white privilege on his family history and upbringing. He writes with insight about institutionalized white supremacy—so pervasive and ingrained as the status quo that most do not question it or even realize that there is such a bias. Two points I found particularly intriguing and that he elucidates very well are that of the “profound denial…and willed ignorance” of this privilege on the part of most whites and about the psychological, social and personal costs to whites because of this privilege—ideas I’ve not heard expressed anywhere else and that are really eye-opening. Find out why Wise so passionately fights racism and why, in this ongoing battle, it’s important for everyone to stand up to racism, in its many shapes and forms, in daily life. Wise gives the reader some tools to do so.
— Recommended by Nicole James, College Avenue Library
February 11, 2013
A Beginner's Guide to Rakes
by Enoch, Suzanne, read by Anne Flosnik
CD FIC ENO
This is the first book in Scandalous Brides, a regency romance series. On the CD audiobook and the downloadable audiobook, Anne Flosnik does a great job of giving the men distinct voices. Diane Benchley, a young widow, returns to London and turns her husband’s family home into an exclusive gentleman's gaming club. The twist is that all the employees will be women. Diane knows nothing about running a club, so she enlists the aid of the rakish and successful gambler the Marquis of Haybury, Oliver Warren. Technically, she blackmailed him, but he remembers their brief affair fondly and hopes to rekindle the flame. What I liked best about this book is that the female characters were women who survived despite being left alone in the world to fend for themselves. And yes, this title is available as a book.
— Recommended by Debbie Overshiner, Eagle Library
February 4, 2013
Claireece Precious Jones is a 16-year-old African American girl being raised in the projects of Harlem by her habitually abusive, single mother. Precious has been told all her life she’s “stupid” and that she’s nothing. She speaks with very broken English from being passed along in school; and to escape her miserable life she tends to live out her fantasy life in her head. She has a daughter who has Down Syndrome whom she calls “Little Mongo” and she is currently pregnant . . . both by her own father. Because of her “delicate situation” Precious has been transferred to an alternative school. In this new school Precious meets a teacher who helps her find her voice, worth and reason to “push” toward a better future for her and her children. She begins to learn she’s more than her dire circumstances.
— Recommended by Claudine Polley, African-American History Committee