In this devastatingly honest memoir Michael MacDonald, one in a family of ten, recounts his experience growing up in Southie which is one of South Boston’s public housing projects. Described by all the residents as “the best place in the world”, McDonald has the courage to pull back this veil and tell the emotional and powerful true story. MacDonald explores the busing riots of the 1970s, Southie’s “no snitch” culture, the loss of four of his own siblings, and the exploits of Whitey Bulgar (the town’s top gangster and father figure). Through all of this pain and loss McDonald is still able to point out areas of hope and the strong sense of community that is still alive in Southie today.
No one is more surprised than Judd Foxman when his father passes away. Not so much by the death, but by the nonreligious patriarch’s last wish to have the family sit Shiva, a Jewish tradition that requires his mother and siblings to spend an entire week together under one roof. This wouldn’t be so bad if Judd’s family wasn’t so dysfunctional. As this group of unique characters are forced to spend time together old wounds are brought to surface and they are made to deal with issues they would have rather continued to ignore. The only family member not present is Judd’s wife who has been openly having an affair. As Judd unwillingly reconnects with his family and struggles to deal with the reality of his deteriorating marriage what results is a novel full of biting, albeit slightly dark humor with realizations about family life and love.
There is no better time to curl up with a love story than around Valentine’s Day. The following are some recent novels that go perfect with the holiday.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison:
This quirky love story features a protagonist who may be brilliant, but lacks basic social skills. Determined to find love he starts “the wife project” using his own calculated plan for finding the right partner. When he meets Rosie, who is nothing like his ideal partner, his plan goes off course and he sets out to help Rosie with her own project. In the end the reader is reminded that sometimes love happens when you least expect it.
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman:
Both romantic and nostalgic in tone, this novel tells the story of Lenka and Josef who are torn apart by war and eventually reunited by fate years later. Richman manages to deliver a beautiful love story while telling about the real life horrors and hardships of the Holocaust era.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell:
This young adult book tugs at the heart strings of all ages. Set in the 1986, Eleanor is new to town and is seen as an outcast by all of her new classmates including Park. Eventually the two bond over comics and music which leads to a love that will remind readers of their first time falling in love.
As the year winds down and the Best of 2013 Book Lists start rolling out, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Below are links to many of the recently released lists for your browsing pleasure. Enjoy!
- Amazon: Best Books 2013
- Entertainment Weekly: 10 Best Fiction Books of 2013
- Entertainment Weekly: 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2013
- Goodreads choice awards
- Kirkus: Best Books of 2013
- Library Journal: Best Books 2013
- National Book Award Winners
- New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013
- NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2013’s Great Reads
- O Magazine: The Ten Best Books of 2013
- Publisher’s Weekly: Best Books 2013
- The Slate Book Review: Top Ten of 2013
- Time Magazine Top Ten Fiction Books
- Time Magazine Top Ten Comics and Graphic Novels
- USA Today: 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2013
- The Washington Post: The Best Books of 2013
News from Heaven by Jennifer Haigh follows a town Bakerston PA.; a coal-mining company town that went from booming prosperity to sharp decline. Beautiful writing though not too flowery, touching but not sappy, Haigh casts ordinary people into ten short stories you will not forget. Read more about it over at NYT Books.