The best part about Flying across the United States is you are pretty much locked into a space that gives you ample time to read. This past week I was able to read one great novel on each leg, one to and one from the West and East Coast.
The trip west I read Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. The novel, just Long-Listed for the National Book Award is her first fiction since her last, Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award in 2011. This new entry is a tale of family in the Mississippi Delta. A dysfunctional family as told by several characters. Jojo is the likable son of Leonie, his Mother, Kayla his sister, mam and pop his grandparents. Jojo’s father is released from prison and the plot thickens as each of them is presented with the reality of the present day struggles and the ghosts of their pasts. The novel deals with many topical issues such as drug use, social, racial injustice and issues criminal justice system past and present. I found it to be a gripping narrative. It holds your attention while dealing with some ugly realities. After reading this I found myself needing a moment to grasp the whole of what I had just consumed. The writing is fantastic. For me, I may not list it as a best of, but it is certainly is well worth the read. I highly recommend it.
Next On my trip back to the East Coast I read a book I picked up on a trip to Georgia. I always try to visit an Independent book seller on my trips and this one landed me at Avid Bookshop in Athens. A very cool bookshop that will be remembered fondly for a long while. On the shelves I found a recommendation for Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship By Michelle Kuo. This memoir of the authors time in a small town in the Arkansas Delta Region of the U.S. takes you on her journey as she volunteers for Teach-America, a program that places teachers in the very poorest regions of the country. In it she touches on many insights of racial, social, criminal, and educational issues present in underprivileged America. When she meets a Student, Patrick, a special bond is formed. As she attempts to impact his life and others for the positive, she finds that she is impacted just as much, learning more about herself. A paradigm shift occurs within her along with lingering guilt. While Patrick is a large part of this novel the story is really hers. I felt inspiration and disbelief. This is the kind of novel that makes you want to get off the chair and do something. It also is a book about books and how reading can impact everyone’s life. How books can connect people with feelings and understanding they did not know the held. I loved this book. It is not perfect, but it is, for me, really a great impactful read.
Two fantastic novels – While they touch on many of the same themes one is Fiction, the other Non-Fiction. One fantastical yet fictional realism, the other a dose of reality with passionate story telling. I was very happy that I threw both of these into my bag on the way out the door. I love when you find something wonderful you didn’t even know you wanted to read. Reading For Patrick was that novel for me. I am very Thankful for the person who wrote the card about the book in the Avid Bookshop in Athens Georgia that I was not planning on visiting until I came upon it.
Do you have a book you fell into quite by accident? I would love to know about it.