~The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck~ “Once you tell a lie, you have to keep tellin’ and tellin’ and tellin’ to make it stand.”
I passed this one by more than once, but as it gained popularity my curiosity was peaked. This book proves the old saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Ora Lee Beckworth hires the Pecan Man, pronounced Pee-can, a homeless black man, do do yard work for her. When a young man turns up stabbed to death, the murder is pinned on the Pecan Man, but Ora Lee knows the truth. The year is 1976 and the voice is authentic. I felt like I was listening to an actual person telling me about real life events. Ora Lee is finally coming clean and telling what she knows about the murder, who really committed the act, and the horrific events that led up to it.
I made the mistake of starting to listen to this book late one evening thinking it would put me to sleep. Instead it kept me up! I listened to the audio version read by Suzanne Toren, who performed the book wonderfully.
Click here for Book Club Questions for The Pecan Man.
~Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford~ “Parents always have a story that their children don’t really know.” “I wonder if the best thing any of us can hope for in life is a soft place to land.”
“Sometimes you need to feel the sadness, you need to feel everything to finally leave it behind, to have peace.”
I chose this book out a recommended list based on the title. In 1962 Seattle, Ernest Young is dealing with his wife’s memory loss and her troubled mental condition. This is historical fiction and love story combines, but is more than that. There is a lot of story packed into this novel that didn’t feel at all like a long read. Never once did it seem to drag.
The story moves back and forth from 1962 and the 1902 World’s Fair. Ernest, half-chinese and half American, came to America when he was five years old after his mother could no longer care for him, sending him away rather than see him starve. After he arrives, life is not easy. He is twelve years old when he gets to attend the 1902 World’s fair only to find that he is being raffled off “to a good home”. His benefactor, who up to this point has paid for his schooling and upkeep, is offering him as a prize. When the owner of a high class brothel comes to claim him, intent on making him a houseboy, Ernest’s guardian balks, but in the end Ernest goes home with the Madame.
There actually was a raffle held for a child at the 1902 World’s Fair, and his name was Ernest, but he was an infant and never claimed.
Full of historical tidbits. This story made me reflect on human nature and love. I will look for more books by Jamie Ford.
~The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See~
Li-yan is from a remote village in China where her family makes a meager living by cultivating tea trees and picking the leaves to sell. When Li-yan has a baby out of wedlock, she takes her newborn to a nearby city and leaves the baby outside an orphanage. A cake of tea, wrapped in a paper with writing on it, is tucked in the baby’s blankets.
The infant girl is then adopted by an American couple and taken to America. This epic story spans from 1988-2016 is is told in alternating points of view, switching between mother and daughter. The history and customs of the Akha people, the cultural minority that Li-yan belongs to, is fascinating, and I was hooked from page one. In reading, I could tell that a great deal of research went into this novel and was impressed by how well See melded facts and story.
This is my first Lisa See novel and I was completely intrigued.
~A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake~
Kate Drayton is a grad student studying the 1800 time period under the guise of research for school in an attempt to uncover a family mystery. The story is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and movies in time, alternating chapters from present day to 1822 during the events surrounding the Charleston slave revolt. I had a hard time relating to Kate in the beginning, but quickly became interested in the story. The supporting characters in both timelines are well done, and I immediately became engrossed by the 1822 storyline.
I enjoyed reading this book, although I have to admit I liked her novel, Blue Hole Back Home, more and marked it as one to reread. Still, this one a great book and I will be on the lookout for new books by Joy Jordan-Lake in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction. If you liked The Invention of Wings, or other fiction about 1822 Charleston, you may like this one. Good read with interesting characters.
~Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate~ Lisa Wingate delivers. This book wrecked my productivity. Once I started I had to finish it. The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was a real organization that removed and sometimes even kidnapped children from poor families and sold the children to wealthy families wanting to adopt.
Twelve year old Rill is the eldest of five, and the siblings are taken away against their will to a boarding house of horrors while waiting to be placed. Rill knows her parents would never give them away. The story alternates between 1939, Rill’s story, and present day when Avery narrates as she unravels the past mystery of deep family secrets.
I had heard about the Tennessee Children’s Home before, but I didn’t realize the extent of the abuse. I was holding my breath hoping for Rill to get away. This one may end up being my favorite Lisa Wingate novel. It is definitely on my list.
This book will make you hate Georgia Tann, the woman who ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I don’t think I can read another story about her for a while.