Meet Britt-Marie, a Scandinavian housewife whose tolerance of her husband’s philandering has finally ended. In need of a job and a place to live, she badgers a bewildered employment office worker into finding her work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be-closed recreation center in tiny, economically depressed Borg. Her neighbors include an enterprising teen whose business ventures are never completely legal; a vision-impaired ex-soccer star who “accidentally” hits people she doesn’t like with her cane; a shy policeman with a crush; a rat that likes Snickers; and a youth soccer team in desperate need of a coach. As Britt-Marie is drawn into their passions, dreams, and schemes, she begins to consider what she wants out of her own life, and both she and the town of Borg find something they thought they’d lost forever: hope.
Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
In the sub-Saharan country of Mali, Abdel Kader Haidara was 17 years old when his father died and he became the custodian of the family’s library—a collection of five thousand manuscripts in Timbuktu and about eight times that many in their ancestral home in Bamba. Not long after, the director of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research in Timbuktu hired him to collect and preserve manuscripts.
Over the years, Haidara located thousands of manuscripts from as early as the 11th century on diverse topics including Islamic jurisprudence, Korans, theological treatises, conflict resolution, contemporary politics, geography, poetry, and astrology. He struggled to save these priceless manuscripts from the devastating effects of mold, termites, and dust because they had been hidden in holes in the ground, caves, secret closets, and storage rooms. Then Al Qaeda’s presence in the area changed everything. It became painfully clear they would need to save as many of the 377,000 manuscripts under his purview from Al Qaeda’s destruction of everything it considered to be sinful.
Readers will be swept into this gripping recounting of a frantic race by ordinary people against time and jihadists.
Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
In this follow up to The KItchen House, Jamie Pyke, son of a white father and a slave mother, is currently living in Philadelphia as a free white business owner since fleeing from his life on a southern plantation.
A good friend’s son who is Jamie’s house servant Pan, has disappeared and possibly been sold into slavery from the Philadelphia docks. Jamie sets off on a journey to find Pan, which ultimately leads him back to his past and too close to the plantation life he fled with slave hunters on his trail.
The story is told via multiple narrators and is a gripping, fast-paced read. Focusing on race, slavery, and the underground railroad, The Glory Over Everything attests to family ties and upbringing as strong influences. Great read!