REVIEW: ANOTHER BROOKLYN, BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

My Thoughts: In the narrative voice of a young woman named August, we follow her journey back to Sweet Grove, Tennessee, and forward to Brooklyn in the 1970s.

Memories and moments that seem to come in flashbacks are snippets out of time, revealing nostalgia and loss. A death, a missing mother, friendships that seem forever but then are not…all of it is seen from the character’s adult perspective.

Sometimes flashes come that signal fantasy, not reality. And then reality slams into her with all of its dangerous brutality.

Dead bodies are discovered nearby; drug addicts hide in the hallways; and children disappear when white women come for them.

Another Brooklyn is a panoramic view of a time, of dreams, and of how reality can turn grim…or hopeful. It snaps a portrait of growing up Girl in times that were a-changing. 4 stars.

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AUTUMN LEAVES: NOSTALGIC MOMENTS

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On a somewhat cooler Friday morning, I sit in my temporary office in the dining area…and gaze out the open patio door at the image (above), which reminds me that autumn is on the way.  Just a few leaves on the table, but that’s all I need to sweep me back to all the autumns of the past, moments I’ve loved.

First of all, I love the colorful leaves juxtaposed against rough surfaces, like these:

 

 

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Some of my sensory moments from the past exist no more, as they include the scent of smoke from fireplaces…not something we like to think about when we are surrounded by fires….Our drought, the heat, all the elements that conspire to bring frightening conflagration during the summer and fall.

 

 

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My first published novel was set in California’s Central Valley, published in the fall of 2006….and it contained a lot of my “accidental moments” from the past:  An Accidental Life.

 

 

 

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Blurb:  Summertime is hot and dull in the Central Valley of California and four teenage girls from very different families are determined to spice it up. With a single-mindedness that foretells disaster, they push aside all the rules and explore the underbelly of valley life. Drugs, sex, alcohol, adventure, anything to challenge the norm, yet all experienced without the benefit of maturity. As the girls become increasingly uncontrollable, their mothers-from dramatically diverse social castes-are forced to work together to save their daughters. Like a tornado moving across the landscape, lives are wrenched from their foundations. Page after page, and over a period of two years, the author introduces characters who struggle to support and defeat the dreams of what began as four innocent girls desiring to taste the forbidden fruit. Laurel-Rain Snow’s An Accidental Life is a fascinating look into not only the lives of very diverse family systems, but the mechanism that drives a cross-section of an all-American community.

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When I think of autumn, I think of those accidental moments in life:  leaves, fire, combustible happenings fueled by drugs and youth….and my nostalgia ratchets up to its fullest.

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Today I am thinking about family….and how my eldest son Craig and his lovely wife Gabi are now on the coast, having spent the week driving down 101 and the Pacific Coast Hwy., enjoying the coolness, before heading this way again.

The house is spiffed up, as described in this post, Spiffing up My Interior World:  The Berliners Return.

I am on my laptop in my temporary office, below, enjoying the autumn breeze.  Already I can feel the heat, though, and will have to close the door and sigh.  Not quite autumn!

 

 

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I am reading All the Summer Girls, by Meg Donohue, clinging to the last gasp of summer.

 

 

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A rich and detailed novel about women, relationships, and forgiveness. 

Now I will move from my laptop to my cozy couch and read.  Enjoy your day!  What autumn moments are tugging at you?

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REVIEW: LOST LAKE, BY SARAH ADDISON ALLEN

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After sleepwalking through the year following her husband Matt’s death, Kate Pheris is ready to escape her Atlanta home, which she has just sold. Devin, her eight-year-old daughter needs a change, too, so instead of moving in with her mother-in-law Cricket, as planned, Kate impulsively jumps in the car and heads to Lost Lake.

While clearing out for the move, she had found an old postcard from her great-aunt Eby (one her mother apparently kept from her), and suddenly wants to reconnect. Her last time at the summer camp, when she was twelve, was when she last felt free and happy.

Meanwhile, at the retreat, Eby is pondering her own changes. A developer has repeatedly approached her about selling, and since she would need a lot of money to fix things up, just to continue, she has verbally agreed to do so. Plus, they haven’t had a lot of guests lately.

Lost Lake is a lovely, magical tale about nostalgic moments, the past connections that remind us of love lost, and hope for a different kind of future.

Devin is a delightful character who sees the magic in her surroundings, and her quest for an “alligator box” keeps things interesting. Eby thinks of her past and her great love, George, who has passed on. Selma and Bulahdeen, two elderly women who come every year, have their own unique stories to share. Then there is Lisette, whom Eby saved years before when she jumped from a bridge in a suicide attempt. Lisette doesn’t talk…her notes are her means of communication. She has “ghost-like” conversations with someone sitting in a special kitchen chair.

What memorable moments from Kate’s past remind her that she is finally where she needs to be? What role did a local man, Wes, have in Kate’s past, and will he help her find a future?

Recommended for those who enjoy magical tales with just enough reality to make the story believable, I give this book 4.5 stars.