Aya, By Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

Aya is the first of three graphic novels in an award winning series, originally published in France. It’s a comical story about a working class community in the late 1970’s Ivory Coast town of Abidjan. The story is told by Aya, a hardworking, studious and responsible nineteen year old with dreams of attending a university.

Aya is often accompanied by her less responsible, party-loving friend, Bintou and her easy going, friendly neighbor Adjoua. Bintou and Adjoua sneak out one night to attend a party where they meet and flirt with some of the local boys. This becomes the beginning of series of funny situations, connected love stories and a few unexpected and sometimes unpleasant adventures for the characters and their families.

Overall, Aya, is a fun and funny read that will especially appeal to older teenagers or young adults. Its comedy is based on the situations the characters encounter. While its colorful and vivid artwork does a good job of reflecting the character’s emotions as well as the feel and culture of this community. The story also includes a surprising ending that will leave many readers anxious to read the sequel.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Darlene White, Library Services

The Horse Boy, By Rupert Isaacson

Wow, what an amazing story, a father willing to try anything to help his son. Rupert and Kristin fell in love, got married and had a little boy. Rowan was diagnosed with autism. The parents were having a hard time finding any conventional therapies that were of help to their son. At age five Rowan is having daily tantrums and is incontinent.The parents are wearing out and don’t know what to do. Rowan loves animals and seems to have a special affinity with horses. Rupert decides to have the wild idea to take his son and wife to Mongolia and see if some shamans can heal his son.

Did I mention the camera crew? The trip is also being filmed for a documentary. If I was Kristin this would definitely be grounds for divorce. They go to Mongolia and find quite a few shamans and also some Buddhist priests. Rowan returns potty trained, does not have any more tantrums, and is able to make friends. He is still autistic, but now has a much better quality of life. I think on this trip not only was Rowan healed, but the whole family.

Do I believe in Shamans? I don’t know. Do I believe in the power of Love? Yes.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

The Help, By Kathryn Stockett

This book is set in the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi. The book is a work of fiction, written from the viewpoint of the maids, by a white women from Mississippi. I found the book to be quite a revelation. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1964. I have family in Jackson, Mississippi. There were maids in my family. I felt this book did well in portraying the strict limits that black women and white women dealt with in the society they lived in. I enjoyed the way the author wrote. One of the maids, Aibileen, is serving the ladies during a luncheon. She is in the kitchen preparing the food. Aibileen says “I hear the word Kennedy, I know they ain’t discussing no politic. They talking about what Miss Jackie done wore on the tee-vee.” I felt that really helped to evoke the era the author was writing about (Pg. 6).  Later on Miss Skeeter is describing her friend, Hilly.  She says “With other people, Hilly hands out lies like Presbyterians hand out guilt” (Pg. 88).  I think the book does have merit, it would be nice to have a black author write about the same subject from their perspective. I felt the book fell apart at the end, but for me it was an important book and I’m glad I read it.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed by Anne Egger, Library Services

A Lion Among Men, By Gregory Maguire

A Lion Among MenThis volume talks about The Cowardly Lion. We learn his history and regrets. We finally find out who Mother Yackle is. We find out that Nor is alive! I just love this series. There is so much meat in these books. Religion , Politics, Love, Sexuality, Magic, and Animals. I desperately hope this is not the last one and that Gregory will write more.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

Son of a Witch, By Gregory Maguire

I read Wicked, by Gregory Maguire and I really enjoyed it. There are currently three books in this series. I have really become intrigued with these characters and I had to know what happened to them. This book focuses on Liir, who is the son of Elphaba. For a long time he is quite inept, but he does blossom toward the end of the book. I think I actually enjoyed this book better than the first one, which is something I have never said in a series of books. Gregory has created an entire world similar to Harry Potter, but definitely for adults. I have the third volume and am looking forward to starting it.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

Wicked, By Gregory Maguire

My book club chose this book for the selection for our December meeting. In November, the lady who was facilitating the meeting said “Ladies, I don’t know about this book. I am having trouble getting into it and it is 519 pages.”

I tried to read a book by Salmun Rushdie one time called “The Last Moor’s Sigh”. I got about half way through it and gave up. The book was very disorganized and he threw in scenes just to be shocking, that could easily have been left out. Gregory also had scenes in this book which I wish he had left out.

However, once I got past that I became very intrigued with Elphaba and her journey through this book. One of the ladies last night said “This book is the history of how one becomes a criminal.” I thought that was an interesting idea. The story really talks about good and evil and what is the difference between the two. Boq says, “It’s people who claim that they’re good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” (Pg. 457) I think this is a fascinating and intriguing book.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Anne Egger, Library Services

The Soloist, By Steve Lopez

The SoloistI saw the movie “The Soloist” with Robert Downey Jr.,and Jamie Foxx. I really enjoyed it. I hope they both get nominated for an Oscar. My book club read the book for our October meeting. Steve Lopez is a journalist, so it is all about details and getting it right. As an author one needs less detail. But the book is a beautiful exploration of friendship between two unlikely men.

Nathaniel Ayers was homeless for many years in Los Angeles. He suffers from schizophrenia. Steve Lopez is a journalist with The Los Angeles Times. Mr. Ayers was a promising musician who went to Julliard. These two connect because one loves music and the other loves writing. Mr.Lopez wants Mr. Ayers to be happy and whole. He is very frustrated about how to help his friend who has a mental illness. Mr.Lopez expresses his frustration to a counselor. The counselor says “You literally have changed his chemistry by being his friend.” (page 210) What a wonderful definition of love.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed by Anne Egger, Library Services

BookMarks, By Karla FC Holloway

BookmarksI was on vacation in Washington, D.C., in the gift shop of the Library of Congress, when I came upon a book that looked good. Karla Holloway is a black woman around fifty years old. She is a professor of English at Duke University. She has written a book, which I love, but the subject matter may be a little esoteric. She talks about libraries and how libraries have shaped her world and black intellectuals through the history of America. She talks about personal libraries, prison libraries, negro libraries, and school libraries. She talks about the importance of books and how they can change lives. She talks about how race can effect what you read and why.

I found it interesting that almost all the people she mentioned loved Dickens and Shakespeare. I guess good writing is good writing. Maya Angelou said “But it was Shakespeare who said , When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes. It was a state with which I felt myself most familiar. I pacified myself about his whiteness by saying that after all he had been dead so long it couldn’t matter anymore.” (Page 96) Karla talks about her son in prison. She sent him books in hopes that would help. She sent him The Ender’s Game by: Orson Scott Card. When she went to visit him, he pretended he had read it and enjoyed it, to please her. Ralph Ellison could not get a library card, so he would check out books under his co-worker’s card. The librarian was suspicious because the book he checked out was by H. L. Mencken. The idea that you could not check a book because of the color of your skin really struck me. I have had a library card since I was about eight years old. I remember as a little girl being very proud of my library card and my mother showing me how to use the library and how to act in the library. The book is composed of short stories which lack some cohesion, but being someone who loves to read and loves libraries I really enjoyed it.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

The Zookeeper’s Wife, By Diane Ackerman

ZookeepersWifeI went to Washington DC in June. One of the places I visited was the Holocaust Museum. They have a whole room devoted to rescuers. I thought that was pretty cool. In the museum gift shop I bought The Zookeeper’s Wife. I had looked at the book before, but had not picked it.

A husband and wife lived in Warsaw during the war. He was head of the zoo. His wife was very good at taking care of sick animals. He was an atheist, she was a devout Catholic. He had grown up in Warsaw with a lot of Jewish friends. They wer able to aid 300 Jews during the war. Ms. Ackerman really does a lovely job of describing not only the war in Poland, but also all these wonderful animals. There is a movie called “The Seventh Cross” with Spencer Tracey, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy. In the movie Spencer Tracey is a german who opposes the Nazi regime. He is put in a concentration camp. He escapes and turns to friends for help. The feeling is of always being to danger and careful not to cause too much notice by the neighbors. I was impressed by how many people aided Jews in Warsaw despite what could happen to their own families if reported to the Nazis.

I thought this book was well done and that Ms. Ackerman did a good job in getting the right feeling of the war in Poland.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Anne Egger, Library Services

The Weight of a Mustard Seed, By Wendell Steavenson

The Weight of a Mustard SeedWendell Steavenson is a female journalist who is British. She was trying to find out why Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein for so many years. Why those in power didn’t rebel. Did they feel loss, remorse, fear, guilt, for their actions or lack of actions? She interviews the family of General Kamel Sachet. He was an honorable man caught in a corrupt system. He tried to protect his family to the best of his ability. The feeling is similar to Germany during World War II. What could I do? I was just following orders. Who could you trust? Power of any type is illusive, corruption lasts longer.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Anne Egger, Library Services