Multcolib My Librarian Diana: 2014, Book of the Month
Annotation:January. In this loosely connected sequel to Code Name Verity, Rose, a young American pilot, winds up getting captured by the Germans near the end of WWII and gets taken to the concentration camp Ravensbrück. It's great, well-researched and moving. Also available on audio book CD.
Annotation:February. This book was a kick in the pants. It tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, two young Nigerian lovers who try to get out of Nigeria, succeed in doing so, and then move back. Ifemelu is very perceptive and outspoken, and this book is most interesting when she emigrates to the United States and sees from both the outside and the inside what race means here. Available also on e-book.
Annotation:March. I resisted this for a long time because it was about kids with cancer. But I heard such good things about it, and I really love John Green, the way his smart funny teens talk to each other. And this is marvelous, funny, clever, romantic, very moving. Prepare to weep, but it's worth it. This is available in downloadable audio, audio book CD, e-book, and large print.
Annotation:April. The very privileged parents of two small boys have a fight and take off, separately, without talking to each other or their Mexican maid, who made it clear when she was hired that she doesn't do childcare. A big mess ensues. I liked this a lot. It had a lot to say about attitudes about immigration, class, the first world's differences from Latin America. This is also available on downloadable audio book.
Annotation:May. This is the best book I read in 2014. The goon in the title is time, and the main theme of this book is how time changes us, turns us into someone we wouldn't have recognized when we were young. This could be a real bummer of a theme, too, but the book is so smart, engaging and intricately plotted that the theme just kind of washed over me as I was involved with its characters and delighted by its fine writing. This is also available on downloadable audio, audio book CD, and e-book.
Annotation:June. This is a great book about survival (and the failure to survive) on the ice after an expedition to the Arctic runs into terrible trouble. It's good on so many levels-- lots of good characters, there's something creepy out on the ice stalking the crewmen, and there are a ton of interesting facts-- about Arctic ice, early problems with canned food, mid-19th century shipbuilding, Inuit lore, and more. It will also make you very grateful you will probably never suffer from scurvy. Also available on ebook and audiobook CD. (And it was great on CD!)
Annotation:July. This wonderful novel follows two characters, one of them a young German man whose path leads him to become a soldier, and the other a blind French girl, who winds up doing work for the resistance. Very moving and beautiful written, I think that despite its title, it showed us the light we can see in the midst of terrible darkness.
Annotation:August. Long ago, I spent four summers working in the seafood industry in Southeastern Alaska, in a town much like the one in this book. I can't live there, but I'm still kind of in love with the place. John Straley brings that beautiful, vivid, quirky world to life in his books, the landscape, bits of folklore, and most especially the people. Straley's characters have the best conversations! Oh yeah, and there are a few crimes. But really? This book is all about the place and its people. I listened to it on audiobook, and it was read well.
Annotation:September. Quentin is a mopey teenager, obsessed with a Narnia-like country called Fillory when he winds up stumbling into a tangled garden and emerging at the preeminent magic school in North America. He's given an entrance exam and is admitted, and his study of magic begins. He meets amazing people and does amazing things-- flies to Antarctica as a goose! Learns different and powerful spells! Begins a romance! Graduates with magical powers and a world of possibilities at his feet... but then he just drinks and does drugs and mopes. And then he finds out that Fillory is real-- and he can actually go there. This is both a cautionary tale about young adult angst and a wildly entertaining book.
Annotation:October. We all have to create our own identity, but Johanna, a young teenager at the beginning of this hilarious and moving novel, starts younger, has further to go, and makes bigger mistakes. But there are also real successes. This was loads of fun. I adore Caitlin Moran.
Annotation:November. This is Robinson's third book set in the fictional town of Gilead, and this one focuses on Lila, Reverend Ames' much younger wife, just as she first shows up in town with a knife and a lot of emotional baggage from her strange, disconnected life. I don't think there's another writer in English like Marilynne Robinson.
Annotation:December. This is based on real events. Margaret Mead and her husband, also an anthropologist, were living with and observing a tribe in New Guinea when they encountered Gregory Bateson, another anthropologist who had been alone with the tribe he was observing for a long long time. In real life, Bankson became Mead's next husband. This is a small, beautifully written book full of interesting information about early anthropology that also really captured the feeling of new love when the attraction is very strong.