I didn't read a whole lot last week—combo of feeling reading slump-y and just being HIDEOUSLY busy in other life departments—but I'm starting to come out of both of those things, so hopefully, next week's list will be MORE IMPRESSIVE.
We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickinson Rich
A memoir from 1942 about living way out in the Maine woods, with only lumberjacks and a few other people for company. It's smart and funny—laugh-out-loud funny, in parts—and heartfelt and I loved every single minute of reading it. I loved that the life and culture she depicted was both completely different from anything I've experienced (giving birth on her own at home, the lumber camp) and also very, very familiar (town meeting, her back-and-forth with her husband, the locals' attitude about people from away). I loved that she had a clear love for where she was, a passion for her way of life, but didn't equate that love with the idea that EVERYONE should share that love and passion:
There are other things that contribute to health besides a balanced diet. There are fresh air and sunlight and lack of nervous tension. I think, probably, whether you're better off in the country or in the city depends, in the final analysis, on where you'd rather be. You're best off where you're the happiest.
My reading speed on this one was WAY down, because I had to pause every paragraph or two to read a newfound gem aloud to Josh. (And clearly my enthusiasm was contagious, as he's reading it for himself now, AND has plans to buy all of her other stuff, AS WELL AS ordering a first edition of this one.)
Lumberjanes #10, by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters
New arc! It's a free day, and except for Mal and Molly—who head off together on a picnic date—the girls are bored, bored, bored. But as Mal and Molly have a run-in with the Bear Woman—and yes, DINOSAURS ARE INVOLVED—I can't imagine that our girls will stay bored for very long.
The Girl is Trouble, by Kathryn Miller Haines
Sequel to The Girl is Murder, about Iris Anderson, 16-year-old aspiring sleuth in WWII-era New York City. This one is set a few weeks after the first book, almost a year after Pearl Harbor. Iris is trying to get her private investigator father to let her work for the family business, but then gets pulled into two of her own mysteries: The first, at school, where someone is leaving horrible anti-semitic notes in the lockers of the Jewish students; and the second, at home, when she discovers that her mother might not have committed suicide after all... she may have been murdered.
Minor ding for some stiff dialogue and occasionally awkward historical notes directed at the modern reader, but overall, huge fun. I especially love the depiction of homefront tension, in that some people blame their Jewish neighbors for the US being at war, while others blame the Germans; and I loved that Iris was investigating the nasty notes while also struggling with her own Jewish identity AND (spoiler) the possibility that her German mother might have secretly been a Nazi (end spoiler) AND working on the idea that it might be possible to celebrate BOTH her German and Jewish heritage. I love that Iris is an imperfect detective, in that, again and again, she allows her emotions to guide her towards leaping to the worst possible conclusion, and I love that her friend Pearl has become an integral part of Iris' process, in that she reels Iris back in, again and again, making her slow down and think critically—instead of purely emotionally—about the problem.
This Side of Home, by Renée Watson:
It’s emotionally engaging and philosophically thoughtful; it’s concerned with current issues, but not at the expense of Maya’s voice or her more personal journey. It’s a book that speaks frankly about race and culture and socioeconomics, giving voice to thoughts and feelings that are often swept under the rug in this, our supposedly “post-racial” society.