Weekend Reading

Al Woodworth on October 18, 2019
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It's the weekend! And for us that means kicking back and diving into books. We've got a cross-country road-trip memoir of father and his biracial son; a funny, big-hearted novel of raising children that spontaneously burst into flame; speculative fiction that is reminiscent of The Hunger Games and The Testaments; and a tear-jerking, but life-affirming novel of a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Sounds like some of us might need some tissues, and others a room where we can laugh with abandon or gasp in fear.

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Once More to the Rodeo: A Memoir by Calvin Hennick

What does it mean to be a man today? What kind of role model should you be for your kids? What do you have to teach your 5-year-old son about the world if you’re white and he’s biracial? What if you want a sip of whiskey, but you know it will end in finishing the entire bottle? These are some of the questions that Calvin Hennick grapples with in his probing memoir, Once More to the Rodeo. To address these issues, Hennick decides to go on a road trip with his son - from Boston to Iowa, where he grew up. The ultimate destination? The rodeo. What follows is a pull-at-your-heart-strings account of their conversations and observations of what surrounds them literally and metaphorically. On the trip, and in life, Hennick is determined to be there for his son, even though his dad wasn't: to love him, to support him, to show him what manhood looks like, while ensuring they have the “most fun anybody’s ever had.” As a reader, I’m signed up for the fun and for Hennick’s humble, perseverant spirit to wrestle with the hard questions.—Al Woodworth


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Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

In Kevin Wilson’s weird and wonderful fifth novel, the erstwhile friend of politician’s wife is called upon to care for her children, twins that spontaneously combust when stressed (like, literally). Nothing to See Here is a poignant and laugh-out-loud tribute to the trials and treasures of being a parent. If you haven’t read Kevin Wilson before, this is the perfect book to start. —Erin Kodicek


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The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

I picked up The Grace Year earlier this week and am now consumed by it. When the young women in Tierney’s county turn sixteen, they come into their wild magic that has the ability to drive men mad. Or at least, that’s what everyone is told. To force the magic out of the girls, they are forced to live a “grace year” in a remote compound in the woods. Many do not return. Those who do survive immediately become wives, work as laborers, or move to the outcast areas and become prostitutes. As young Tierney is sent with 30 others into the wilderness to begin their grace year, she must fight not only for what she believes is right but for what she believes must be true, despite all the evidence. Those who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Testaments will find a heck of a lot to enjoy in The Grace Year. And I can’t wait to discover this weekend what—or who!—else is lurking in the shadows of Tierney’s woods. —Adrian Liang

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Dear Edward: A Novel by Ann Napolitano

Whenever friends or family ask me to recommend books to them, there’s usually some sort of proviso. “Nothing where animals die.” “I can’t read anything sad about children.” “I like funny books.” Sorry, friends and family – I like dark books, and books that make me cry, although I admit that as a parent to young boys it’s very hard for me to see bad things happening to children, especially little boys. So it might be odd that I’m reading, and loving, a book where something sad happens to a little boy, and sort of the ultimate sad thing. In Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (January 2020), 12-year-old Edward is the sole survivor of a major plane crash. He’s not only lost his family, but he’s the source of worldwide fascination. So far it reminds me of a mix between the first season of the television show Lost and the bestselling book Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. (That mash-up is high praise, in my book.) The description of Dear Edward promises it to be life-affirming, so maybe I’ll be able to recommend it to my happiness-seeking friends anyway.—Sarah Gelman

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Bunnicula: 40th Anniversary Edition by James Howe

I recently did a blog post to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a favorite children's book, Bunnicula, with a collection of book jackets it's worn over the years. In the days since, I've been amazed at all the love this book has received. Comments on social media, emails from friends in publishing, all sharing their memories of reading this delightful tale of the Monroe family and an orphaned bunny that has the other household pets--especially Chester the cat--convinced that those fool humans have brought a vampire into their home.  When I wrote the post it brought up my own recollection of reading the book and loving it, but it's been--ahem, a long time, shall we say.  So this weekend I'm going to sit down with this fuzzy, red, anniversary edition of Bunnicula and revisit old times.  My 12-year-old thinks she's too old for it, but I say NO ONE is too old for this classic...--Seira Wilson

 


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