Monday, February 25, 2013


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

This book was one of those happy accidents that, as a reader, I absolutely love. At first glance, this is not a book I would have chosen for myself. However, as I received it as a review copy, I plunged in and was pleasantly surprised.

The book opens in 1970s South Africa on the road to Botswana.  Medical student Isaac Muthethe is fleeing from South Africa and leaving behind his family and his life.  He has unwittingly become a political refugee after witnessing the murder of his friend by the South African Defense Force.  After Isaac arrives in Botswana, he begins the painstaking process of building a life and gets hired as a gardener by a young American woman named Alice Medelssohn. Alice also feels like an outsider in Botswana. She is trapped in an unhappy marriage and can't seem to grasp the social rules of Africa. As Alice and Isaac both struggle to find their place in this foreign land, they form an unexpected bond. When Isaac goes missing one day, Alice goes searching for him.  Both their lives are change forever.

It almost seems amazing now to think about apartheid in South Africa and how devastating it was.  This book was a good reminder of how difficult life was for black South African under that regime and how many political refugees escaped to surrounding countries. I found the relationship between Isaac and Alice to be extremely moving. I was reminded of how we all have the power to make a big difference in someone else's life if we will only take the time. This incredibly moving book was a wonderful read.

BOTTOM LINE:  Highly recommended.  I didn't expect to love this book so much but I was absolutely captivated by the story and characters.  Beautifully written and very emotional.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

GHANA MUST GO by Taiye Selasi

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

GHANA MUST GO opens with the sudden death of respected surgeon Kweku Sai at his home in Accra.  This unexpected death has far-reaching repercussions as news of his demise reaches his family.  This event has a profound effect on his children and his ex-wife.  GHANA MUST GO is an unusual family drama in that this death is the impetus for each family member to reflect on both their individual choices and the events that led to the dissolution of the family as a whole.  As Kweku's four children gather together, we are given insight into their secrets and the difficult choices and events that shaped them. We see flashbacks of the family when it was complete and marvel at how such a seemingly happy family could have fallen apart.  As the family gathers at Kweku's ex-wife's home in Ghana, everyone must face their demons and learn a new path forward.

This is a beautifully-written book. While I wouldn't say it was particularly enjoyable to read, I found myself caught up in this family's drama. There is an overarching sadness to their story and the reader can't help but feel melancholy at the opportunities lost and at a family broken.  It is the tragic event of Kweku's death, however, that has the potential to bring long-held secrets to light and to give the family a chance to reconcile and start over.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.  An interesting family drama about the things that tear us apart and the unexpected ways we can be brought together once again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

February Read for the Parenting Book Challenge

I was a little late but I finally finished our January read:  TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL by Madeline Levine. I'll be posting a review soon but I will say now that it took me so long to read because I was taking notes.  Lots and lots of notes. What a great book!!!

For our February read, I thought I would continue on a similar subject with Paul Tough's HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED.

While I will have one main book that I will be focusing on each month, I will also be reading and reviewing other parenting/education books on the side.   Stay tuned!!!!