Archived Staff Picks - March 2016
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
By Gil Courtemanche; translated by Patricia Claxton
Recommended by Marilyn
The swimming pool of the Mille-Collins hotel is a magnet for an eclectic group of
Kilgali residents: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates and prostitutes.
Among them is the hotel waitress Gentille, a beautiful Hutu often mistaken for a
Tutsi, who has long been admired by Bernard Valcourt, a Canadian journalist.
As the two slide into a love affair, civil unrest in Rwanda makes insidious progress,
engulfing the people around the pool in the chaos of civil war.
This landmark novel by an acclaimed journalist who spent several years working
in Africa- confronts the nightmare that ravaged Rwanda in April 1994, when the
Hutu-led government orchestrated genocide against the Tutsi people.
With profound compassion and consummate control, Gil Courtemanche navigates
a world about to be wrested apart, where the faces of the aggressors are those
of neighbours, friends and family. (book fly leaf)
This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable eBook and AudioBook formats.
By Elizabeth Strout
Recommended by Pauline
The novel is set in a New England town on the coast of Maine. Olive Kitteridge, a seventh-grade math teacher and the wife of a pharmacist, isn't a nice person. As one of the town's older women notes, "Olive had a way about her that was absolutely without apology." Olive's son puts it more bluntly. "You can make people feel terrible," he tells her. She dismisses others with words like "hellion" and "moron" and "flub-dub".
But a more complicated portrait of the woman emerges. Olive may hurl invectives at her son, but she also loves him, almost more than she can bear. Her husband is a kind man and she loves him too, although she has trouble expressing it. She's prone to "stormy moods," as well as "sudden, deep laughter" and she has a remarkable capacity for empathy.
She understands that life is lonely and unfair, that only the greatest luck will bring blessings like a long marriage and a quick death. She knows she's been rotten; she has regrets. She understands people's failings -- and, ultimately, their frail hopes.
The pleasure in reading "Olive Kitteridge" comes from an intense identification with complicated, not always admirable characters and the recognition that we need to try to understand people, even if we can't stand them.
This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable eBook and DVD formats.
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Recommended by Robert
Having seen it for a long time on the New York Times Bestseller list and knowing that it had won the Pulitzer and many other awards, I was intrigued by Anthony Doerr's work, "All the Light We Cannot See". When a male and a female teen are a novel's main characters, it is normally assumed that a relationship between the two will be the novel's prime focus. This is not true in this case. We are introduced to Marie-Laure, blind since six, who lives with her father, the keeper of keys for the Paris Museum of Natural History. When World War II breaks out, they are forced to flee to the coast to St. Malo to live with her reclusive uncle and housekeeper. Her father has also escaped town with a cursed gemstone which he has hidden in a miniature building in a scale model of the town. (Marie-Laure has used the model to help her get around the real town). Her father is eventually imprisoned leaving Marie-Laure alone with an uncle and housekeeper who are providing communication assistance to the Resistance.
Werner is an orphan living with his sister Jutta outside Essen who has shown great talent with radios and receivers. As the war breaks out, Werner's talents are identified and he is sent to an elite Nazi training school. By the age of 18, he is assigned to a Wehrmacht unit which tracks down radio communications of resistance fighters. After learning much about the ugly nature of war in Russia, his unit is moved to St. Malo to find the source of illegal transmissions in that area. Amid American bombardment of German defenses at St. Malo, Werner hears the voice of Marie-Laure who has found the transmitter in the house and is reading from a braille copy of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Realizing that this is not a coded message, Werner is transfixed and is determined to meet her.
War has made the normal development of a relationship impossible. The essential goodness of these teens shines through all the bad and the losses that they have both experienced. Will they survive to have some kind of future together? The author has produced a memorable work which demonstrates that, under great duress, some individuals can still enjoy special pleasures. "All the Light we Cannot See" is a fine historical novel for all those who enjoy fine writing about special people surviving war with their humanity intact.
This title is available in Regular Print. Talking Book, Downloadable Audiobook and EBook formats.
A Walk In The Woods--DVD
Recommended by Kathy
"One of the year's best Buddy Movies--Redford and Nolte capture perfectly the familiarity, frustration, and ultimate delights of a long-term, grownup friendship." - Meg Grant, AARP
In this new comedy adventure, celebrated travel writer, Bill Bryson (Academy Award winner Robert Redford), instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson), and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2,200 miles of America's most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine. The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek - his long lost and former friend Katz (Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law - sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before its too late. The trouble is, the two have a completely different definition of the word, "adventure". Now they're about to find out that when you push yourself to the edge, the real fun begins.
Review is taken from http://www.sebastianitheatre.com/movie/walk-woods
This title available in DVD, Non-Fiction and Book on CD.
Lair of Dreams
by Libba Bray
Recommended by Rachel
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people's secrets, she's become a media darling, earning the title "America's Sweetheart Seer." Everyone's in love with the city's newest It Girl...everyone except the other Diviners.
Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret--for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.
As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess...As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?
In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.
This title is available in Young Adult regular print.
Review taken from goodreads.com