Category Archives: Reviewed by JoAnn

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

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Orphan Train is a book set in both the present day and in the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The two main characters are Vivian and  Molly.

The present-day story focuses on Vivian and her relationship with Molly, a teenager who has been bounced around from foster home to foster home and is about to age out of the foster care system. The early years of the story concentrate on Vivian, as a young orphaned girl who traveled from NYC to Minnesota on one of the infamous “orphan trains” that were used to get orphans out of the cities into the country where they might have a better opportunity to find families and to be able to make a good life.

The story is bleak at times, and captures the incredibly hard lives orphans were subjected to in the past, as well as the hard times for some of those in our system today who are tossed from place to place and used for labor and money.

This was a very interesting story about a piece of American history that was previously unknown to me.  I really enjoyed the part of the book that dealt with the young Vivian and her life on the Orphan Train.  As a result of reading this fictional account of this piece of history, I have looked into reading some of the true accounts of some of these orphan’s lives on that Orphan Train.

 

 

 

 

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

memoirs-of-an-imaginary-friend

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I have never read a book like this before.  It was recommended to me by a friend, so I took it on vacation and finished it during the week I was away.  The narrator throughout is Budo, the imaginary friend of Max, an eight-year-old autistic boy who “imagined” Budo 5 years earlier.  Budo watches over Max, but being imaginary, cannot make his presence felt in the real world. This becomes a problem when Max is in real danger and Budo must find a way to help his friend.

The author has created a world of Imaginary Friends that is fascinating and well thought out, and his understanding of little boys like Max is also incredible.  Budo’s biggest fear is that he will fade away into nothingness as all imaginary friends eventually do when kids grow up and stop believing in them.  The bond between this special “imaginary” friend and the love he feels for the boy who created him makes this such a wonderful story.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

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This debut novel for Emma Cline is very true to the 1960s, with young girls looking to find themselves and ending up finding security in cults. The main character,  Evie, is lost — her parents just got divorced, her dad is living with a younger woman, her mom is trying to find a new husband, and Evie and her best friend have a falling out.  What she ends up finding is this clan of girls in the park.  That leads her to their ranch, where she gets drawn into their wild lifestyle of drugs, sex, and eventually horrible crime.  The story starts in Evie’s present time and keeps flashing back to tell this story.  I enjoyed this weird book, which concentrated not on the horribleness of this time, but more on the relationship between the girls.

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden

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This is the first book by this author.  I read it over a weekend.  The story begins as a letter from Rahkee (a young Indian woman) to her fiance as she is leaving him to return to her ancestral home in India to deal with her past.  The bulk of the novel settles on Rakhee’s summer spent in India before her 11th birthday with her mother’s (Amma) mysterious family and away from her father, Aba. Most of the story is told through the voice of young Rakhee, an innocent girl exposed to a brand new life in India as she discovers a secret garden that holds dark secrets of her family’s past that will change her life forever during that summer.  It’s a quick read that was beautiful but also sad.

 

 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time

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Is reincarnation possible?  This wonderful new book explores what can possibly happen after we die and how far we would go to help our children and those we love.  This is a debut novel by  Sharon Guskin.

Janie Zimmerman became pregnant after a one-night stand.  Now her son Noah is four years old and highly intelligent.  He begins to experience bizarre behavior.  He becomes difficult, and is kicked out of school.  He is not crazy.  He does not like baths and is afraid of water.  He speaks of another mother whom he wants to go home to.  Dr. Jerome Anderson, a psychologist,  has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives and is documenting this into a book.  Soon Noah, Janie, and Anderson  find themselves on a journey looking for answers — has Noah indeed been reincarnated?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find HerI have never read Lisa Gardner before.  This book is the eighth in the  Detective D. D. Warren series, but you really didn’t need to have read the others.  This chilling murder mystery thriller stands on its own.  Florence Dane spent 472 days as the prisoner of a sexual predator, spending most of her time in a wooden coffin.  The story picks up after fice years of her being free.  Her kidnapping has left her scarred and obsessed with finding missing people and bringing their kidnappers to justice, which leads to her being abducted all over again.  Detective D. D. Warren’s job is now to find Flora as well as another missing girl.  A very highly emotional, haunting thriller.

 

 

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman

Where It Hurts

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Where It Hurts is a hard crime story.  It is tightly plotted and very descriptive with lots of information on its setting in Long Island, which made it a bit slow at times.  However, the characters and plot were so interesting that  it had me coming back to see how it would all play out.

This is the first book in a series featuring ex-cop Gus Murphy.  His son’s sudden death has thrown him into a deep hole of grief leading to the end of his marriage, problems with his daughter, and a menial job as a hotel van driver, living at the hotel and isolated from everything he knew. Then he is contacted by a man he regularly used to arrest and asked to look into the barbaric death of the man’s son.  Initially reluctant to do so, Gus slowly uncovers more and more details about those involved and as he does so, he also learns to deal with his personal grief and move on with his life.

I have never read this author before, but will look into some of his other popular series since I enjoy mystery.