Set in Malaysia in the 1930’s, The Night Tiger presents a number of diverse characters, but the central focus is on Ji Lin, a young woman who secretly becomes a dance hall girl to pay off her mother’s gambling debts, and Ren, an eleven year old houseboy who has forty nine days to fulfill his dead master’s final wish. Ren is a twin whose brother died when they were eight years old, and Ji Lin has a step brother who was born on the same day and year as she was. As Ren gets close to the forty ninth day, there are several mysterious deaths that will effect Ren, Ji Lin and other individuals in the novel.
The Night Tiger is an interesting, sometime exciting novel. It will probably not appeal to everyone because much is written about Ren and Ji Lin’s realistic dreams as well as descriptions of Malaysian superstitions and symbols.
Bowlaway is the saga of three generations of Truitt’s told against the setting of a candle pin bowling alley. Bertha Truitt, the matriarch of the family, wakes up in a cemetery in Salford, Massachusetts and goes on to marry, have a child late in life and build Bowlaway, the town’s candle pin bowling alley. As the family evolves, so do the lanes, eventually becoming a modernized place with automated pin spotters and arcade games. Bertha’s heirs are a colorful group of individuals ranging from a born again Christian to a biracial jazz chanteuse.
Bowlaway is one of those novels that requires a lot of reading before there is satisfaction. However, those willing to give it about 100 pages will be rewarded. McCracken’s prose is delightful, her descriptions are vivid, and her characters are whimsical and tragic.
Identical twins Jonas and Wyatt were adopted by Kelly and Wayne Maines right after they were born. From the age of two on, Wyatt felt like he should be a girl. He preferred dolls to trucks, loved wearing high heels as tutus, and his favorite cartoon character was Ariel, the little mermaid. Kelly knew Wyatt felt he was a girl, learned everything she could about transgenders, and thoroughly supported his desires. Wayne ignored the issues for years until it was no longer possible. Becoming Nicole is the true story of an “average” family’s quest to understand Nicole, and their fight to help her feel comfortable with herself and her community.
If anyone is confused about gender identity or finds the world of transgenders a bit mysterious, I recommend Becoming Nicole. Pulitzer Prize winning author Amy Ellis Nutt takes a compassionate, yet honest, look at a remarkable family
Peter and Paul are twins. The family is from India, are practicing Hindus, and live in Trinidad. Paul, who was deprived of oxygen at birth has social, emotional and learning problems. Peter is an outstanding student and has always watched out for his bother. However, when the boys are thirteen, Paul walks into the bush, and literally disappears and there is nothing his twin can do about it. When Clyde, the boys’ father realizes what has happened to his troublesome son, he must make the most difficult decision one can imagine.
This is Sarah Jessica Parker’s second book club suggestion and it’s another winner. All of the main characters are empathetic and complex, there is tension and drama, but Adam’s writing is never verbose or stilted. I cried several times feeling Paul’s pain; something I rarely do when reading a book. I can’t wait to discuss Golden Child with someone!!
Land’s memoir covers roughly five years of her life. It begins when she discovers she is pregnant. Jamie, the father of her daughter, Mia, is verbally abusive often threatening Stephanie and giving her ultimatums. For the next five years they live in a homeless shelter, with a boyfriend who offers no affection or emotional support or in a studio apartment that continually produces black mold. Stephanie and Mia survive on minimal help from government agencies and her job cleaning houses. Her life as a single parent is a constant struggle for money, time and respect.
Maid illustrates how hard work will not always get you ahead. Land writes a good story. Her writing is clear and concise without being dramatic.
Women all over the world have become “afflicted” with The Power-an electric current which begins around their sternum and reaches to their extremities. It can cause pain and even death to others. With The Power, woman are able to reverse roles with men. Now they are in control but also capable of mass murders and rapes. Naomi Alderman focuses on several characters to illustrate some of the results of this electrical force. There is Tunde, a male Nigerian who discovers he can gain fame reporting on The Power around the world, Margot a politician on the rise, Allie, an abused orphan who becomes a savior and Roxie, daughter of an English mobster.
The Power is the kind of novel I usually don’t like-futuristic and violent. However, Alderman is such a fine writer who makes all of her characters seem alive and realistic that I found I couldn’t put it down. It would make an excellent read for a book group-lots to talk about.
It is 1979 in Iran, the year of the solar eclipse and the Iranian Revolution. In a city in northern Iran a retired judge and his wife are hosting the spring luncheon for their family. The family consists of a number of characters including a supposedly devout mullah, a nagging wife, an opium addicted nephew and his idealistic brother. As the year unfolds, each of the family members will encounter a crisis which for some will lead to self-awareness, for others power and glory and for others destruction.
Although the plot is somewhat predictable, Ghaffari, who grew up in Tehran until she was ten years old, tells a good story with insight into what happened to the average Iranian at the beginning of the revolution.