by Ayana Mathis |
REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI
Hattie is just 17 when this heartrending debut novel opens in 1925. The daughter of a blacksmith, she's newly married and carrying twins, living in joyful hope after fleeing the burdens of racism in the South for the relative freedoms of Philadelphia. But Hattie and her electrician husband are soon chastened by life's bitter realities; her optimism yields to steely resolve as she goes on to mother a brood of nine amid a constant swell of sorrows. Beautifully written and structured, the novel-Oprah's new book-club pick-devotes each chapter to one or more of Hattie's children, and their difficult journeys mirror changing aspects of the black experience in America over six decades. Hattie herself remains the least altered, a flawed woman lacking in tenderness but an unwavering force dedicated to her children's survival. Mathis has created a deeply nuanced portrait of the complexities of family and a resounding paean to the power of motherhood.
In a swiftly changing America, one black family survives thanks to a mother's harsh love.
Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter
by Melissa Francis |
REVIEWED BY HOWARD BREUER
In this engaging memoir, FOX News financial reporter Francis recalls her heyday on the child-actor circuit. As Michael Landon's adopted daughter Cassandra in Little House on the Prairie, she knew how to cry on cue-but it was her demanding and oversensitive mom who was the family drama queen. Both because of and despite the pressures, Francis thrived-landing dozens of jobs while scoring straight A's and even getting into Harvard (where, away from her mother's influence, she quit acting)-while her big sister wilted. "A fire-breathing dragon of a mom may produce a champion," concludes Francis, now mother to two sons, "or she might burn her child to death." Her book brings that poignant truth home.
The Child's Child
by Barbara Vine |
REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO
Unwed mothers, gay brothers and unruly boyfriends anchor this tale of mores and murder from Vine (a.k.a. Ruth Rendell). Grace Easton lives happily with her brother in London until the arrival of his prickly new boyfriend. She escapes by reading The Child's Child: An unpublished novel set in 1929, it was deemed too risque for its time, but it has uncanny parallels to Grace's life. Vine vividly conjures the high price paid by social outcasts-even in our own supposedly enlightened age.
by Karen Robards |
Single mom Samantha Jones scrapes together a living by repossessing cars. Trouble is, that BMW she's winching has a man in the trunk, and soon she's coldcocked and thrown in with him. The action turns propulsive as Sam, her 4-year-old son, and Marco, the handsome trunk occupant, try to outrun a drug cartel. But Robards, a prolific author of romance thrillers, never leaves lust behind in this entertaining romp. Even bleeding from a bullet wound, Marco admires Sam's "luscious mouth" and breasts "as firm...as Florida oranges."
COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick "It's a biography of Elvis that succeeds in making him human. It shows how quickly and powerfully fame can destroy people."
CHRISTA B. ALLEN
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
"I think it's a brilliant story. It's sick, but the way it's told with such authenticity.... I'm really into it."
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz "It's exposing me to the Dominican Republic lifestyle, which I wasn't really aware of. The characters are captivating."
WAS MOM RIGHT?
"Parenting's the last holdout of this weird oral tradition," says the Jeopardy! champ, whose new book fact-checks received wisdom. On the scale of bunk to bank-on-it:
The 'Five Second Rule'
If food hits the floor and lands on E. coli, it's contaminated, no matter how long it's been there.
Drink eight glasses of water a day
Unless you have a medical condition like kidney stones, there's no need. We get enough liquid in our regular diet.
Sugar makes kids hyper
Some research has even found that sugar has a calming effect on younger kids.
Never wake a sleepwalker
But it's dangerous for the waker, not the sleeper. Sleepwalkers are disoriented. You might get a sock in the jaw.
Chicken soup helps a cold
The "Jewish penicillin" can act as an anti-inflammatory.