Recommendations by Susan Lipstein
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Nicole Chung wrote this memoir about her struggle for her own identity. She was born to Korean parents who had come to the US but released her for adoption as they felt they couldn’t take care of Nicole due to her medical needs. Adopted by white parents and raised in a small town in Oregon, she never met another Asian child until she was 18, and never told her parents about her struggles with racism and self-identity. She connected to her biological family when she was pregnant with her first child and her story is a poignant struggle to make peace with herself and her family.
A Better Man by Louise Penny
Inspector Gamache is back. He is now sharing a job with his son-in-law, and, as if that were not difficult enough, he is asked to take on a case that tears at his heartstrings-a man’s daughter is missing and he specifically asks Gamache to help him find her. This only complicates Gamache’s personal and professional life.
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
A debut novel by an English author. Susan is 45 years old and content with her very controlled life-until she finds that her mother has left the family home to Susan’s ne’er do well brother; at the same time, Susan finds out she is pregnant, with a child she very much wishes to have. It’s a real delight to watch Susan, the prickly cactus, discover and deal with unexpected life changes and surprising chances to open herself to love.
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
Decades of love, friendship and struggles are revealed in this novel about two very different couples whom we follow from the 1950’s into the modern age. Each husband and wife face challenges in their personal lives as well as the work lives that the husbands share.
A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
The two authors won a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for their article about a young woman whose report of a rape is not only not taken seriously, but results in her being charged with false reporting. The article grew into a book which then grew into the Neflix limited TV series, “Unbelieveable,” which follows the case once two female detectives discover that the woman’s story is true and a serial rapist has been allowed to strike over and over again.
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke
African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has been assigned to investigate the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Because of this assignment, he is sent to work with a white local sheriff in a small town in Texas where the young son of an imprisoned white supremacist has been reported missing. The novel deals with a story about crimes, both old and new, in a time of political and racial tension. It’s a modern mystery reflecting our complicated times.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
The novel deals with 3 generations of a family. The four daughters tell their stories-their whole lives they have been trying to find the happiness that they believe their parents have found in their relationship. Everyone’s lives turn up-side down when the son who was given up at birth by one of the daughters returns to assert his place in the family.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
This popular author starts with two characters who seem to be based on two familiar sisters in the beloved novel “Little Women,” Jo and Beth, But Weiner switches the personalities around and takes them on a surprising journey of 70 years. Difficult subjects such as abortion, rape and racism are dealt with as well.
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Amy is living a wonderful life; she is married to a devoted husband with a beautiful baby, with a step-daughter who even likes her. Into this mix comes a new neighbor who seems to know an awful lot about the secrets that the women in Amy’s up-scale neighborhood would like to keep under wraps-including secrets about Amy that she wants kept quiet. The book is “diabolically entertaining.”
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Four characters in one African American family tell their story. In 2001, 16 year old Melody. is being ushered into adulthood at a lavish party hosted by her wealthy grand-parents who, along with her father, raised her when her mother, pregnant at 16, left the child with them to pursue her own independent life.