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.

“Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.”

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The Brown Baggers book group met on Thursday, August 17 to discuss My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

Published in 2004, the story centers around a teenager, Kate, who suffers from leukemia and her younger sister, Anna, who was conceived as a perfect genetic match to Kate. Having been required by her parents to participate in ever more serious medical treatments to save her sister, Anna finally sues her parents for medical emancipation when she is told she next must donate a kidney.

Most readers thought Anna was a very realistic and well developed character. They noted how her struggle to win her freedom from medical procedures she did not agree to was constantly at odds with her hesitation to harm her sister by doing refusing. This constant vacillation was very indicative of her young age, readers felt, and contributed to her authenticity.

Readers felt other characters in the book were not as well developed. While they understood the mother’s struggle, and thought her single-minded-ness and need to fix everything seemed accurate, she came off as a bit of a martyr. There were mixed feelings about the brother. While readers all agreed his behaviors were believable in response to being more or less overlooked during the medical and legal drama of the sisters they debated whether or not he would have reformed so quickly and completely. The father was a more unrealistic character, readers felt, since you don’t see his struggles the same way as the rest of the family. This may have been due to his tendency to avoid confrontation but it made him seem flat. The Campbell and Julia story line was deemed entirely unnecessary by readers.

The story has several narrators. This led a few readers to speculate about the ending before it was revealed due to who had a voice and who didn’t. While they didn’t object to multiple narrators, some readers felt the styling of the text was unnecessarily flowery (italics, different fonts, poorly tied in quotes). Mostly, though, readers felt Picoult handled the reveal at the end very well.

Readers complained that Picoult had some factual inaccuracies which made them disbelieve or struggle to get into the rest of the book. The inclusion of vast amounts of medical terminology related to Kate’s condition made it hard to enjoy the story for some readers. They also did not appreciate the perfectly tied up in a bow ending.

Reactions to the book were mixed – some readers enjoyed the ethical quandaries that were posed and others thought there were too many story lines and that the writing was a little formulaic. Overall, readers agreed that while the book is over-plotted and maybe not as substantial as they’d like, it is definitely worth reading.

Similar reads:
Family Life by Akhil Sharma (featuring a medically overshadowed sibling)
Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry (featuring a medical mystery and court case)
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (featuring a family focused on one child, an elite gymnast)

More information:
New York Times Magazine article about Jodi Picoult
Bio of the author
Other books by Picoult
Article about a similar situation involving the Ayala Sisters that may have provided inspiration

Brown Baggers will meet again on Thursday, September 21 at noon to discuss 1984 by George Orwell.