This was an interesting reading month for me. I read 3 nonfiction books, all good, which is more than normal. I also read 3 #OwnVoices books, which were all good. This month I read:
- Honor by Thrity Umrigar – This was an Indie Press List from the Currently Reading podcast and I’m so glad I bought it and read it! I love starting the month with a 5 star read! Smita is an Indian-American woman who was born in India, and whose family moved to America when she was 14, under mysterious circumstances we learn about later. When she arrives, she thinks she is helping a journalist friend recover from surgery, but she is taking over the story her friend was covering. Meena is a young Hindu woman who married a Muslim man. When her brothers learned she was having a baby, they decided to burn their house down, killing Meena’s husband and disfiguring their own sister, in the name of honoring their traditions. As Smita is reminded of some of the horrors of the patriarchy and traditions of India, she is also reminded of the good in people and the blending of cultures in Mumbai. As we get to know her, we watch her decide how to remember India and how to honor herself. Trigger warnings for serious violence and abuse.
- The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede – I saw (and cried through!) the musical Come From Away on Broadway years ago, and fell in love with the kindness of Gander, Newfoundland after 9/11. This is the nonfiction account of what happened in many small towns across Newfoundland, when 38 plans were suddenly diverted there after US air spaces were closed following the terrorist attacks. The incredible neighborly spirit was and still is unheard of, but leaves you with hope for our fellow humans. This is a beautiful portrayal of genuinely good people in trying times.
- An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole – This is my second Indie Press List book this month. In this historical romance, written by a Black woman, who meet Elle. Elle was born enslaved, but her family was freed and able to move to the North. Years late, we find Elle working undercover for the Union as a slave back in the South. When Elle meets Malcolm, a white man, sparks fly. Then they realize they are both working undercover. Soon they are falling in lust and working together. This is not my favorite genre, but I enjoyed the story.
- Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard – After loving her two latest books over the last few months, not only am I an avid Howard fan, but I am now happily reading her earlier books as well! I loved this one! Adam’s wife leaves for a work conference and doesn’t return. As he tries to figure out what happened, he uncovers secrets he didn’t want to know, and how easy it is to commit a crime on a cruise. At the same time, we are following Romaine’s childhood, where he continues to make bad choices that lead to injury and death around him, and he is just a child himself. Where and how the two storylines meet up was tense and suspenseful in this thriller!
- Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout – Having read two other books by Strout, I know I have to be a in particular kind of reading mood to pick up her books. She writes with lots of descriptive language, and her stories are heavy on character and light on plot. Knowing that, I enjoyed this book as it was unique. Lucy was telling the story of some hard times of her ex-husband William, after his third wife left him. the story weaves in bits of their marriage, their past, his mother, their children, and his other wives, all while we learn more about the friendship these two still have. This is the third in a series, but I haven’t read the others. I read this because Laura Tremaine raved about it (same person who turned me on to Strout’s Olive books). It was a good Saturday afternoon read.
- The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs – I’m so grateful that Laura Tremaine picked this for our February Book Club book. I hadn’t heard of it, and now I’m so glad I read it. This is a beautiful and sad telling of the lives of these three amazing Black women, who fought through their own traumas as Black women in America, to raise three powerful Black men who impacted the Civil Rights movement and all of America. We learn where each woman grew up, about their families of origin and the families they created. Each one followed her passion for faith, education, social justice, and more, while loving their families and their communities in their own way. Each woman ended up burying their adult son, two lost to murder and one to cancer. This book also tells many brutalities faced by Black women in American across many decades, and the power Black women have to lift up a nation, when given the respect they deserve. Written by a Black woman who had to dig up these small facts on the women behind the men of a movement, this is an incredible look into the history of white supremacy and the value of education, community, and kindness.
- The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success by Jim Knight – I received a free copy of this book in order to write a review for the AASA journal. I always enjoy Knight’s passion for and knowledge of instructional coaching. This book felt like a summary of a lot of his previous work, packaged into a new system. The seven factors were all elements of a coaching system that I agree with, and that I have written about as well (from voice and choice to relationship building to time management for coaches). This is a practice guide for setting up a new coaching system.
- Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah – What a sweet and odd story! Jo rents a cabin in the woods to conduct her summer research on birds. While there, a strange young girl, called Ursa, shows up with a story about being an alien. As Jo tries to figure out what to do about Ursa, they meet neighbor Gabe. Both Jo and Gabe are recovering from their own past traumas and are filled with grief and depression. As the story unfolds, we see love, found family, literature and science collide in a beautiful way.
- The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith – This was a cute YA book about two teens who meet up unexpectedly in the middle of a blackout in NYC. Immediately after they have one great day together, where it is clear that they like each other, their lives are pulled into different cities across countries. They communicate via postcards for awhile, try to create relationships in their new cities, and fight the urge that is drawing them closer together. This was a sweet story, but also had a lot of the usual teen tropes – telling lies to avoid having hard conversations, hiding parts of your life from your parents/ others, and not admitting how you really feel. This book and the one I finished before it have been on my Kindle for at least a year, so I’m glad I’m going cleaning out my TBR!
Favorite book(s) of this month: Fiction–> Honor; Nonfiction–> The Three Mothers