“Kissing the Virgin’s Mouth” a novel by Donna M. Gershon
There are many who will tell you that the dark-skinned girls, las morenitas, have got no chance.
This moving, thought-provoking and beautifully written novel was the first winner of the Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver to support literature of social change. Not only is the story of Guadalupe Magdalena Molina Vasquez (an amazing name) compelling, the prose is almost poetic in its beauty and the novel offers a glimpse into another culture. My book club read the entire last chapter out loud just for the beauty of the scene as well as the language.
What I learned: To read my own work out loud in order to find that beauty and rhythm.
“Twenty Thirty- The Real Story of What Happens to America” a novel by Albert Brooks
It was a normal day, or so it seemed.
The premise is simple: there is a cure for cancer. It’s the holy grail, right? What we all hope and pray for, especially when it touches our own lives. But there’s a downside. With people living much longer lives, they take up many more resources, depleting those resources that were meant for their children and grandchildren. Thus begins a great divide between the younger generation and the Olds as they are called. What makes it so entertaining and yet so eerie is how much of what is going on politically in our country and around the world from the national debt to earthquakes is echoed in the story. His vision of America is compelling and disturbing. Even though it’s a novel, I put the book down and wondered what, if anything, could be done to change our course.
What I learned: To anchor an intriguing premise with equally intriguing characters.
“The Journal Keeper” a memoir by Phyllis Theroux
A Monday Morning
All the neighborhood children are back in school.
“The Journal Keeper” details six years in the life of writer Phyllis Theroux. Her careful observations of her life and the people who inhabit it remind me of May Sarton. There is the same generous intimacy in these journals that are a great gift to the reader.
What I learned: To slow down in writing my own journals in order to savor the big and small moments.
“Healer” a novel by Carol Cassella
The body is a miracle, the way it heals.
Cassella, a practicing anesthesiologist, merges her medical knowledge with a love of literature to write compelling stories, with compelling characters that delve into the world of medicine. In “Healer” Claire’s husband, Addison makes a breakthrough medical discovery that sends their lives in a direction they never expected. She puts her own career as a doctor on hold and hangs on for the ride as they live a lavish life while raising their daughter. Then a risky gamble costs them everything. They move to an old farmhouse and Claire must find work but the only place that will take her is a crumbling public health clinic. In today’s economy this is a story that resonates as a family struggles to start anew and a marriage struggles to find its bearings once again.
What I learned: To use what fascinates you and what you have knowledge of to inform your stories.