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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Review of “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell

15745753I was recently blown away by a book.  And I do not say this lightly.  As a librarian, you might guess that I read my fair share of books.  And among those books there is quite often a dud or two, a book with which I just don’t connect.  And then, very rarely, there is one that I literally have the inclination to stop random people at the grocery store or in line at the post office and brow beat them into reading it.  I have half a mind to buy several copies and just start handing them out.  Because anyone who was once a teenager should read this book.  Anyone who has ever been in love or believes love exists should read this book.     

The book is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (even the author’s name is great).  It’s 1986.  Eleanor has red hair and is built like “she runs a medieval pub.”  On her first bus ride to a new school, she ends up sitting by Park, a half-Korean boy who is quiet and well-liked but not really popular.  They soon bond over a shared love of punk music and comic books.  But, as in every great love story, the world conspires against the star-crossed duo.  Eleanor is unpopular, disliked and misunderstood by the majority of her grade.  And her stepfather, Richie, doesn’t harbor any love for her, either.  Her home life is cramped and dangerous, and there is no way Richie would ever consent to her having a boyfriend.  But Eleanor and Park are drawn to one another:  “You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.”  “And then there’s this one, which I absolutely love:  “For the first time in weeks, Park didn’t have that anxious feeling in his stomach on the way home from school, like he had to soak up enough of Eleanor to keep him until the next day.”  Can’t you just hear the exquisite longing in those words?  Soon the two start spending a lot of time at Park’s house, with Eleanor lying to her family about where she’s been.  You, as the reader, know that the status quo can’t last forever, that things will eventually come to a head and the truth will out.  So you find yourself racing through the pages to the end to see what becomes of them.   

Be sure to check out this new book, and any one of the whole host of new books we’ve recently added to the collection.  Our new book shelf is bursting with books, so we’re sure to have something to help you while away the summer hours!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Your Vote Counts!

For What’s Cookin’ next week, we really need your help.  See, we here at the library don’t like to settle for anything less than perfection.  Which is why we’ve set ourselves the task of finding the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie!  But I don’t think a panel of just one or two judges can really declare a winner.  We need a lot more voters (i.e. taste testers) to make this official. 

Just like we did for birthday cakes in March, we’ve been sampling countless recipes and trying out techniques over the last few months to bring you some stellar, tried-and-true recipes.  And we’ve stayed up nights asking ourselves questions like, “Should I use all-purpose flour or bread flour?” “If I melt the butter, how much will that change the texture of the cookie?” and “Is it possible to make a healthy chocolate chip cookie?”  But I’m sorry, as much as I want to share our new found knowledge with you, I can’t, at least not via this blog.  You’re going to have to come to class next Monday, May 13th at 4:30 p.m. to find out the answers to these burning questions. 

If you do come, I can promise you some really good cookies.  I’ll be sharing our family favorite, which has made my mother famous in several states.  We’ll also be bringing you the now ubiquitous, tried-by-every-food-blogger-out-there New York Times‘ chocolate chip cookie recipe by Jacques Torres.  And we’ll share some techniques and ingredients you may not have thought of before (at least they were news to me!). 

So come one, come all, and be prepared to cast your vote for the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie!  We can’t crown a winner without you.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo

11869272Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a National Book Award winner, is a nonfictional account of life in Annawadi – a makeshift settlement behind Mumbai’s international airport.  Journalist Katherine Boo did three years of exhaustive research and interviews, which turned into a story about three very different individuals:  Abdul, a quiet, observant boy who has managed to raise his family’s status and income through his skill in recycling garbage.  His status and income are threatened when he’s falsely accused and imprisoned for inciting a neighbor to set herself on fire.  Asha is an aspiring slumlord, expert at negotiation and manipulation.  Her daughter, Manju, is sweet and hardworking and determined to be the first female college graduate from Annawadi.  

I will be honest with you – as much as I loved this book, it was almost too difficult to read at times.  I wanted to shut my eyes to the fact that there are women who find life so devastatingly without hope that they drink rat poison or set themselves on fire.  I didn’t want to read about the corruption that is present at every level of government or how almost anything can be bought and sold, including someone’s virtue and integrity.  And the descriptions of the living conditions in the slum and the way supposed friends and neighbors treated each other were unbearable at times. 

Yet, you, as the reader, keep on reading because you realize this is happening, people are living these kinds of lives, and it’s important for you and the rest of the world to know about them.  Boo doesn’t offer any kind of grand solution or even a lot of hope in the end.  She is a realist and doesn’t do her interviewees the injustice of suggesting that these conditions are easily remedied.  Throwing money at the problem won’t make it go away, especially when so many of the charities that are supposed to benefit the people of Mumbai often end up exploiting them (one charity actually turns around and sells their expired goods).                 

This is why I’m so grateful to writers like Boo who expend time and talent in sharing people’s stories.  One can only hope that some good will result in the telling of them.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
 
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