Book Review: Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain

Book Review: necessary Errors by Caleb CrainNECESSARY ERRORS
by Caleb Crain

Penguin; Aug. 6, 2013
Paperback; 472 pages
Source: Publisher

It’s the fall of 1990, and Jacob is a young American expat who has arrived in Prague on a quest for self discovery. Although he is a year too late to witness the revolution, he hopes to catch the spirit of change and to observe the transition from communism to capitalism. He begins teaching at a language school, where he falls in with a group of fellow expat English teachers.

Necessary Errors is a long, meandering novel about Jacob’s experiences in Prague… his struggles in love (made more complicated because he is gay, and Czechoslovakia is less open than America), his growing friendships, and his observations of the transitioning country. It’s an everyday epic; although nothing terribly major happens, it chronicles the incidents and reflections that make a life. Continue reading

Book Review: Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson

Book Review: Bones Buried in the Dirt David S. Atkinson
by David S. Atkinson

Fiction: Novel in stories
River Otter Press, Jan. 2013
Paperback, 148 pages
Source: Provided by the author for review

Bones Buried in the Dirt is a novel in short stories that follows a boy named Peter as he grows from a child of four to a pre-teen of twelve. Atkinson shows us many moments, from the most everyday to the most memorable, that shape Peter’s personality and values during the time when he is the most impressionable. Continue reading

Book Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

book review: the age of miracles by karen thompson walker
by Karen Thompson Walker

Random House, June 2012
Hardcover, 269 pages
Source: Library

I don’t usually post the opening lines of a book, but the beginning of this highly original debut novel is so fantastic I have to share it:

“We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it.

We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin.

We were distracted back then by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets in distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that these hours, too, weren’t still pooling into days, each the same fixed length known to every human being.” Continue reading

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty SmithA TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
by Betty Smith

Harper Perennial, 2005
(first published 1943)
Paperback, 493 pages

In Brooklyn grows a singular type of tree that is able to flourish in the poorest of conditions, “the only tree that grew out of cement.” Under such a tree, at the turn of the century, grows a young girl named Francie. With an alcoholic, singing waiter father, a hardened but deeply caring mother, and a charming younger brother, Francie faces all the joys and hardships of growing up in the tenements of Brooklyn — from following musical performers through the streets to selling junk for penny candy, being picked on in school to reading in perfect solitude on a leafy fire escape, and the devastating loss of a loved one to the naive pangs of first love. Continue reading