This week I’d like to mention a few novels which are not by James Patterson or Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts or John Grisham. Not that I have anything against these authors, it’s just that their books tend to overshadow others at times. So, here are a few novels which you might enjoy, even if you’ve never heard of them.
We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
This powerful novel brings together a disparate group of people – a middle-aged housewife, an immigrant boy, and two very different soldiers – in the desert outside of Las Vegas, in ways that are unimaginable. Your heart will break as each one faces his or her crisis. Yet as connections are made, the characters are called to rise and we are reminded that it’s the small things that matter every day and ordinary folks who become heroes. I actually copied a page from this book and carried it with me for weeks after I finished reading.
The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan
The unusual premise of this book raises disturbing questions about humans as scientific subjects, the pervasiveness of the media, and the essential definition of the individual. While searching for small life forms in the frozen Arctic, Dr. Kate Philo and her team come across the perfectly preserved body of a man who fell overboard, and was instantly frozen, more than 100 years before. Through techniques she had developed but never tried on a creature the size of a man, Dr. Philo is able to reawaken him and we meet Judge Jeremiah Rice. The firestorm that follows will push all of the characters to their limits.
The Plover by Brian Doyle
I confess, the run-on sentences in this book almost made me put it down, but I became so engrossed with the characters that I relaxed and just “went with it.” Declan O’Donnell has had enough. The old fishing trawler he’s been tinkering with for years is finally in good enough shape that he takes off, sailing west to get away from the world with no intention of ever returning. Of course, the Universe is rarely so considerate and he soon finds himself picking up passengers, both human and seagull, and becoming drawn back into Life again. With his trusty copy of Edmund Burke’s speeches always close to hand, Declan ponders the trials and marvels of humanity.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
A haunting book about the internal lives of some very solitary people, The Orchardist is set in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. William Talmadge tends his apple and apricot orchards with a love that most folks show only to family. His peace is disturbed when he catches two teenage girls stealing fruit – and running from a very violent existence. Rather than turning them away, he chooses to help and all their lives are changed forever. Amanda Coplin is primarily a short story writer. I read in an interview that she started this one as a short story and just kept going; it took her eight years to complete the novel. Well worth the effort!