“Anna smelled the bay, its oily piers. Clusters of seagulls hopped at the shore like white rabbits.”

manhattanbeachThe Brown Baggers met on May 16 to discuss Jennifer Egan’s award-winning novel Manhattan Beach. The novel follows three intertwined characters- Anna Kerrigan, her father Eddie Kerrigan, and the gangster Dexter Styles. The book spans the end of the Great Depression through World War II. After working as a bagman for Styles, Anna’s father has disappeared and now, at 19, she has a job measuring small metal parts for the navy. However, after seeing a professional diver, she starts to train to become one. Because Anna is female, becoming a diver is very difficult and she faces a lot of discrimination.

On a night out with a friend, Anna meets Styles in one of his nightclubs and eventually through him, tries to find out what happened to her father. Styles has become a crime boss, owns several nightclubs, and married into New York Society. They become attracted to each other, and Anna becomes pregnant with his child. After Styles is murdered, Anna moves to California and with her aunt’s advice pretends to be a war widow. She later is reunited with her father.

The Brown Baggers had mixed reactions to this novel- some loved the book, while others did not care for it. Some mentioned that it was beautifully written, and that Egan really got into the minds of the characters. But others felt that the book was hard to figure out and that time shifting back and forth was disruptive to the story. All agreed that Egan did a lot of research for this novel.

A few people mentioned that the story line with Anna’s disabled sister, Lydia, was beautiful, and it really showed the love that people can have for one another. Others really liked Brianne, Anna’s aunt and thought she was an interesting character. And everyone liked the aspect of Anna working as a diver and women working outside of the home, (most of them) for the first time.

Books Mentioned:
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

More Information:
About the author
Review from The Kenyon Review
Women divers of the US Navy

The Brown Baggers will meet again at the Central Library on Thursday, June 20 at noon to discuss Thomas Mellon’s Fellow Travelers.

Craving a new book but not sure what to read?

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Staff at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library are always testing out and sharing their favorite ‘good reads’ with patrons! Check out some of the books on this month’s staff picks list.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Gray, Anissa

“If you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls…an absorbing commentary on love, family and forgiveness.”

-The Washington Post

**recommended by Meredith Dickens, Collection Manager

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Callahan, Patti

The love story of C.S. Lewis and his wife, Helen Joy Davidman Gresham, was improbable–and seemingly impossible. Their Eros-story led to some of Lewis’ greatest works, yet Joy is most commonly known for how she died. “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” allows readers to see how this brilliant and passionate woman lived, and why she stole Jack’s heart.

**recommended by Gail Ott, Branch Manager – Gordon Avenue Library

The Fifth Season by Jemisin, N. K.

Awards: Nebula Awards (2015)

“At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this “intricate and extraordinary” Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution.” -The New York Times

**recommended by Willow Gale, Branch Manager – Bookmobile

The Last Place You Look by Lepionka, Kristen

“Roxane is a wonderfully complex character…This is a remarkably accomplished debut mystery, with sensitive character development and a heart-stopping denouement. Let’s hope there are more Roxane Weary novels on the way.”–Booklist (starred review)

**recommended by Megan England, Young Adult Librarian – Crozet Library

The full list of staff picks, as well as information about upcoming events, can be found on www.jmrl.org.

Outdoors-ing 101

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With the warmer weather settling in and plenty of trails to explore around Charlottesville, it’s time to freshen up on our outdoor skills!

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library boasts a variety of books that will help even the most novice outdoors-enthusiast become an expert.

Check out these helpful books below and make sure you’re ready to conquer the next adventure:

Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, fishing, hunting, boating, wilderness survival, first aid by Vin T. Sparano

Outdoor parents, outdoor kids: A guide to getting your kids active in the great outdoors by Eugene Buchanan

The bumper book of nature: a user’s guide to the outdoors by Stephen Moss

The Campout Cookbook: Inspired recipes for cooking around the fire and under it by Marnie Hanel

For more information about upcoming events and services, visit www.jmrl.org.