Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that that arrived during the previous week. Created by Marcia @ The Printed Page, this month's host is: Laura @ Library of Clean Reads.
Here is what arrive last week despite the (2) days of horrible weather:
- The Tiger's Wife; Tea Obreht (Amazon Vine) - Starred Review. The sometimes crushing power of myth, story, and memory is explored in the brilliant debut of Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker's 20-under-40. Natalia Stefanovi, a doctor living (and, in between suspensions, practicing) in an unnamed country that's a ringer for Obreht's native Croatia, crosses the border in search of answers about the death of her beloved grandfather, who raised her on tales from the village he grew up in, and where, following German bombardment in 1941, a tiger escaped from the zoo in a nearby city and befriended a mysterious deaf-mute woman. The evolving story of the tiger's wife, as the deaf-mute becomes known, forms one of three strands that sustain the novel, the other two being Natalia's efforts to care for orphans and a wayward family who, to lift a curse, are searching for the bones of a long-dead relative; and several of her grandfather's stories about Gavran Gailé, the deathless man, whose appearances coincide with catastrophe and who may hold the key to all the stories that ensnare Natalia. Obreht is an expert at depicting history through aftermath, people through the love they inspire, and place through the stories that endure; the reflected world she creates is both immediately recognizable and a legend in its own right. Obreht is talented far beyond her years, and her unsentimental faith in language, dream, and memory is a pleasure.
- A Midwife's Confession; Diane Chamberlain (2-copies sent by Mira - watch for my February Giveaway) -
'I don't know how to tell you what I did.' The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her family - described a woman who embraced life. But they didn't know everything. Because the unaddressed letter reveals a terrible secret...and a legacy of guilt that changes everything they thought they knew about the woman who delivered their children. A legacy that will irrevocably change their own lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - forever. Diane Chamberlain gets to the heart of the story.
- A Discovery of Witches; Deborah Harkness - (sent by Viking Publishers) -
In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. "Magic is desire made real," Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations. Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure with an ending that keeps the Old Lodge door wide open.
- Skippy Dies; Paul Murray - (sent by paperback swap member) - Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2010: Seabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school's "brand" and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It's the boys--and one boy in particular--that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick. Daniel "Skippy" Juster is a breed apart from his friends, more sensitive than any of them, but never visibly reactive to the pressures that weigh heavily on him. The events that lead to his untimely (though tragicomic) death unfold scene by scene, in a chorus of perfectly executed moments that are powerful enough to make you laugh and weep at once. When you read Skippy Dies, you won't necessarily feel like a teenager again--and in fact, may realize you'd never want to--but you'll certainly appreciate how painful, exhilarating, and confusing it still is to grow up.
- Learning to Die in Miami; Carlos Eire - (sent by paperback swap member) -
In his 2003 National Book Award–winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire narrated his coming of age in Cuba just before and during the Castro revolution. That book literally ends in midair as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother leave Havana on an airplane—along with thousands of other children—to begin their new life in Miami in 1962. It would be years before he would see his mother again. He would never again see his beloved father. Learning to Die in Miami opens as the plane lands and Carlos faces, with trepidation and excitement, his new life. He quickly realizes that in order for his new American self to emerge, his Cuban self must "die." And so, with great enterprise and purpose, he begins his journey.
We follow Carlos as he adjusts to life in his new home. Faced with learning English, attending American schools, and an uncertain future, young Carlos confronts the age-old immigrant’s plight: being surrounded by American bounty, but not able to partake right away. The abundance America has to offer excites him and, regardless of how grim his living situation becomes, he eagerly forges ahead with his own personal assimilation program, shedding the vestiges of his old life almost immediately, even changing his name to Charles. Cuba becomes a remote and vague idea in the back of his mind, something he used to know well, but now it "had ceased to be part of the world."
But as Carlos comes to grips with his strange surroundings, he must also struggle with everyday issues of growing up. His constant movement between foster homes and the eventual realization that his parents are far away in Cuba bring on an acute awareness that his life has irrevocably changed. Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own.
An exorcism and an ode, Learning to Die in Miami is a celebration of renewal—of those times when we’re certain we have died and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.