We’re shining the spotlight on nine new books in our collection. These four fiction and five non-fiction titles are by and/or about women, and include historical fiction, mystery, memoir, and history.
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
Debut novel. Bracht, of Korean heritage, writes about a little known horror of WWII, the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers during the war. The novel begins in a seaside paradise where female sea divers follow the rhythm of the ocean tides to maintain an illusion of independence during the Japanese occupation of Korea. A Japanese soldier takes 16-year-old Hana from her 9-year-old sister, Emi, to become a comfort woman. Seventy years later Emi travels to Seoul searching for answers and closure regarding a sister she barely remembers.
Queen of Hearts by Martin Kimmery
Debut novel. Since meeting at summer camp as young girls, Zadie and Emma have grown together as doctors, mothers, and friends. Told from both women’s points of view, the novel toggles between a crucial year in med school and the present. In the third year of school, the women experience a tragedy that upends their lives. The unforeseen consequences ripple into the present and force the women to grapple with a secret that could end their friendship.
Sunburn by Laura Lippman
Lippman writes in a style that is a tribute to the master of noir fiction, James M. Cain, author of such works as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce. One long, hot summer, Polly walks away from her family while on vacation, walks into a bar and runs into Adam, also on a break from his life. Their tempestuous affair is so full of secrets that when a suspicious death occurs, it’s hard to figure out how they might be implicated.
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
Debut novel. The story is told by six-year-old Zack, who huddles in a closet with his teacher while a gunman ranges through his school, killing 19 people. One of the dead is his older brother, Andy. His parents are too consumed by their grief to notice Zack’s anguish. Zack retreats into his own special hideaway and uses his imagination to heal. His tactics include assigning colors to his feelings and making paintings of them and studying the ‘secrets of happiness’ as championed in the Magic Tree House books.
This is a group biography of four women who created profound social changes. Carson fought for the environment long before environment became a household word. Jacobs was an advocate for livable cities. Goodall showed us the link between humans and animals and Waters how to eat well. Each was hardworking, determined, strong-willed and intelligent. Encountering derision from powerful men, they stood their ground and changed our world.
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler
Bowler, a professor of divinity, sets this memoir against the backdrop of the prosperity bible, the promise that you will be rewarded for good behavior and get what you want if you want it enough. Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in her 30s, she chronicles her journey from what seemed like a death sentence to a lifestyle of living from one test to another, surviving as the result of the effects of a clinical trial and counting on a community of friends and family.
Dusenbery interweaves history, medical studies, current literature, and hard data to produce damming evidence that women are taken less seriously than men when presenting symptoms and exposes the biases underlying treatments for established conditions such as heart disease. Using actual patient histories, she illustrates how often women’s symptoms are diagnosed as arising from anxiety, depression, and stress. She is fair to physicians who are “…fallible human beings doing a difficult job”. One of her solutions is increased funding to close the knowledge gap about sex and gender differences in disease.
Educated by Tara Westover
This memoir chronicles the improbable journey of Westover from uneducated child to a professor with a PhD from Cambridge University. Born in rural Idaho to a strict Morman family, the youngest of seven children, she was in her teens and had never heard or the Holocaust or the World Trade Center tragedy. Facing almost unimaginable odds, including physical and mental abuse by her mother, her survivalist father and one brother, she managed to rise above it all. Although not attending school, she taught herself, sometimes with the help on one of her older brothers, by studying what books she could get. An inspiring coming-of-age story.
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss
Despite our knowing how this fight turns out, the book focuses primarily on the fight in Tennessee to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920. Tennessee was the last state needed for ratification to end a 70-year battle for granting universal suffrage for all women in all elections, and quite a battle ensued. The political landscape of the time has much in common with the political landscape today: corporate shaping of legislation, bitter partisanship, and an intense effort by some groups to obstruct what looks like simple justice.
Books recommended by Regina S., Collection Management Specialist