Thursday, March 30, 2017

Two Wonderful Reads

Thanks to Soho Press and Skyhorse Publishing, I enjoyed two wonderful spring reads.

The first, WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS (Soho Press), by Danish mystery author Agnete Friis, is a chilling and atmospheric suspense novel about a twenty-seven-year-old woman who is unmarried, unemployed, and suppressing a major trauma that is making it hard for her to function in her everyday life and putting her in grave danger of losing her son.

The main character, Ella, witnessed the murder of her mother when she was seven years old, but remembers nothing about the incident. Instead, her body does, and she suffers seizures whenever something reminds her of the night she lost everything--her mother to death, and her father to jail, for killing her mother.

Author Agnete Friis takes readers on a fairly predictable ride into Ella's past, but the book is compelling because of Friis' gift for description and characterization. Ella is prickly and vulnerable, and the ghosts of a twenty-year-old crime loom over her throughout the story, ready to emerge at any moment.

The book also raises some interesting questions about the nature of poverty, welfare, trauma, and essential humanity. Ella cannot hold a job, and she is judged harshly by a world that did little for her when she was broken by a terrible event.

While the novel holds few surprises in terms of the plot, it is stylish, compelling and hard to put down!
A totally different reading experience was Julian Lennon's beautiful TOUCH THE EARTH (Skyhorse Publishing). This book seeks an audience of very young readers who have the potential to save the earth by learning of our inextricable relationship to the environment.

I always loved BLUE'S CLUES because of the way it allowed young viewers to feel that they were taking an active role in the adventure. Lennon does the same here (along with his co-writer, Bart Davis) by letting young readers sit inside the White Feather Flier and take control of the instrument panel. He teaches them the four directions, and the way to use a compass. And then he lets them fly up and down, all over the earth, learning about the importance of water all over the earth--for people, animals, and the maintenance of all life on earth.

The book, in a simple and entertaining format, with beautiful illustrations by Smiljana Coh, includes young people in the important questions that face humanity. It encourages them to see that clean water is crucial to life, and that we can do things to help make the world a better and more ethical place.

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