I'd rather read than write, so blogging falls by the wayside sometimes. Then I'm sorry that I don't have a record of some of my favourite books this year. So here are a few notes about the amazing connections I've noticed between books that I've read in the last month or so:
Alex + Ada (by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn) is a 3-part comics series about sentient robots that I loved. Alex never wanted a robot but Ada is a gift from his grandmother. A complicated situation that turns out well in the end. Then I listened to the audiobook The War that Saved My Life (by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; read by Jayne Entwistle) and the narrator is a crippled 10-year-old girl named Ada. She and her little brother are evacuated from London before bombing begins during the second world war and they get placed with a reluctant host, a crotchety single lesbian. It ends up being the best thing that could have happened to all three of them. (And I'm game for more heros named Ada.)
In The Thing About Jellyfish (by Ali Benjamin), a 12-year-old girl studies jellyfish as a way to understand her friend's death by drowning. She also follows the failures and eventual triumph of Diana Nyad, who successfully swam from Cuba to Florida. I hadn't remembered hearing about Nyad before, but encountered her name soon afterwards in The Argonauts (by Maggie Nelson). The Argonauts is an exciting literary memoir about motherhood and living queer; I listened to the audiobook read by the author and was tempted to start back at the beginning as soon as I finished it. Then I picked up Red Jacket (by Jamaican-born Canadian author Pamela Mordecai). Within the first few pages, when the central character Grace is still a small child, she encounters a jellyfish for the first time:
"'Well, it's never stung me,' Gramps say the day Grace ask him about the pretty purple-blue bubble lying on the sand at Richfield. It was the first day she put her eyes on so much water, big shining acres of it that blind her as the truck emerge round corner from the dark of the forest. 'However, I know plenty people who it sting and make well-sick,' Gramps continue. He sound serious, like parson at a funeral."
Red Jacket is set on a fictional Caribbean island, St Chris, and follows Grace from babyhood into her adult years, when she works toward a global strategy to combat HIV/AIDS. Another novel that I recently read was also set in the Caribbean and also revolved around family secrets: The Land of Love and Drowning (by Tiphanie Yanique) is a compelling saga set in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As part of my job, I'm going out to schools to book talk the contenders for this year's Bataille des Bouquins, a French-language reading program for children in Grade 4 to 6. When I talk about Bine: L'affaire est pet shop (by Quebecois author Daniel Brouillette) I mention that Bine wants to catch the eye of the coolest girl in Grade 6, Maxim, who can burp the entire alphabet. Should I have been as surprised as I was to encounter another burping genius? One of the minor characters in Circus Mirandus (by Cassie Beasley) can burp the Greek alphabet. I listened to Circus Mirandus in audiobook, narrated by the incomparable Bronson Pinchot. It's a charming tale about believing in magic.
Okay, I'm going back to my books now. Thanks for stopping by my blog.