Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.
Here are a few finds I discovered this week. Have you read any of these?
(amazon)....Starred Review. This exquisite and haunting second novel from Aw (The Harmony Silk Factory) follows a vibrant cast searching for a sense of home during the political upheaval of 1960s Indonesia. After 16-year-old Adam de Willigen's adoptive father, Karl, is arrested by Indonesian soldiers, stranding Adam in their remote island village, he sets off for Jakarta to find him. Meanwhile, American ex-pat professor Margaret Bates is reminded of her teenage love for Karl after an embassy contact informs her he's been arrested. Soon, Adam arrives on Margaret's doorstep, and though practical, good-natured Margaret has never felt any maternal longings, the two bond instantly. Their search for Karl continues amid the riots and protests filling the city streets, but is interrupted when Adam is kidnapped by a Communist student with a sinister agenda. With the help of a friend, Margaret uses every ounce of diplomacy she has to find Karl and Adam and construct the family she's discovered she's wanted all along. Well-paced and gorgeously written, this epic story of loss and identity mirrors the struggles of the young Indonesia in which it takes place.
(amazon)...When weaving baskets, what is more important, strength or beauty? In Cynthia Thayer's startling debut novel, baskets become an evocative metaphor of the self. Beauty is important, certainly, but if a basket isn't strong enough to hold potatoes, it is worthless. Meet Blue Willoughby, a brave and creative girl in the midst of a difficult journey into adulthood. Blue's whole life has been scarred by two events from her childhood: an accident that left her with a limp and a glass eye, and the tragic death of her twin sister just after their birth. The events, though, seem to have destroyed her parents more than they damaged Blue herself. Her mom and dad have all but disappeared from her life. Only Blue's grandfather, a Passamaquoddy Indian, sees her as she really is--strong, vibrant, and lovely in spite of her scars. With his encouragement, Blue learns to weave traditional baskets. The ash and sweet grass cut her hands, making them bleed, but Blue perseveres through the pain and learns to weave tight, strong, beautiful baskets. As she refines her craft, Blue finds the grace that heals her inner pain, setting her free into the richness of her own future. Strong for Potatoes is a complex, deeply moving story that will encourage mature teens and adults to pay more attention to the ways they weave experiences and people into their lives.
(amazon)....Thayer's (Strong for Potatoes) second novel treats the unusual relationship between an aging, socially withdrawn man and a young, pregnant woman. Peter has lived a hermit like existence in his cabin on the Maine coast for years since his wife and children died in a house fire. His only companions are an old dog and Dora, an elderly Native American woman who lives in a nearby cabin. Elaine, who appears at Peter!s cabin during an ice storm, has deliberately sought his place as a refuge while she make decisions about her life and baby, who may require a blood transfusion at birth, a procedure forbidden by her Jehovah!s Witnesses sect. Peter is at first angry at the imposition of a needy stranger, but he gradually comes to rely on Elaine!s companionship and help with his animals and garden. He finds himself opening up to the world again, falling in love, and resolving his guilt over his family!s death. Dora, a former midwife, assists with Elaine!s delivery, while Elaine!s husband, the book!s only two-dimensional character, provides a threatening presence. Thayer's knowledge of gardening, sheep herding, and even bagpipes (Peter!s avocation) enriches the story, and the uncertainty of Peter and Elaine!s future together keeps the pages turning. Highly recommended.