Reviewed by Linda Shroyer
George Orwell’s 1984 presented a troubling view of the future when it was written in 1948. Today Orwell might be considered a visionary. His “Big Brother” is all too true with the internet, webcams, phone tracking, and our general lack of privacy. With a similar foreboding, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America twists an event from the past and takes the reader on a journey of ‘what if.’ Imagine life in America if the Nazi-leaning famous aviator Charles Lindbergh had defeated Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. The masses rally around Lindbergh’s isolationist policy and his “America First” slogan and are not concerned when he negotiates a nonaggression pact with Hitler. Subtle changes in government result in a swell of anti-Semitism that threatens the nation’s stability. With our current political climate filled with anger and dissent, Roth’s work stands as a cautionary tale. Could a similar demise be on the horizon for America? Despite this ominous tone, I enjoyed reading the sometimes humorous family drama of a middle class Jewish family in Newark, NJ in 1942 from the point of view of seven year old Philip Roth. This is the kind of distressing book you need to read.
Available at TCPL: Book | Book on CD | Playaway
Reviewed by Children’s Specialist Morgan Hayes
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, tells the story of Dr. Alice Howland who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As Alice comes to terms with the disease, she also clings to her sense of self as long as she possibly can. Told from the viewpoint of Alice herself, the reader sees the good days and the bad and for a moment experiences what it must be like to be a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Still Alice is a very touching book that will make one take a step back and really understand just how precious life is. As Alice says, “I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.”
This book would appeal to variety of people. Be prepared to cry, laugh, and struggle right along with Alice when you read the novel because you want desperately for Alice to be okay while at the same time knowing that everything about her life has changed. For me, this book was very heartbreaking but also very powerful. Alice’s story helps the reader gain a better grasp on just what Alzheimer’s disease is. While it is still a very scary part of life, at least there is a small bit of comfort in knowing that you are still a person and despite the disease you still matter.
Still Alice is also a movie starring Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart.
Available at TCPL: Book | Digital Audiobook | DVD
Book: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Reviewed by Technical Services Assistant Jade Crabtree
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the love story of two misfits. Despite living in Omaha, Nebraska all of his life Park (the son of a Vietnam vet and his Korean wife) still feels like an outsider. Eleanor is the new girl at school who is bullied because of her weight and her clothes, then goes home to be bullied by her stepfather. They are forced to share a bus seat and slowly start to form a bond over their mutual love of comic books and punk rock music; as they struggle with peer and family pressures, they begin to fall in love.
Eleanor & Park is a sweet love story that isn’t only for teenagers. Adults and teens alike will enjoy the story, adults will enjoy the throwbacks to the 1980’s and teens can make a playlist of songs along with the characters. Almost everyone can relate to some of the struggles the characters go thru; from bully to the bitter sweetness of first love. Eleanor & Park has been optioned by DreamWorks and Rainbow Rowell has written the first draft of the screenplay so we may see a movie sometime in the future.
Available from TCPL: Book | Overdrive Audiobook