Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Sunday Salon

We're snowbound this weekend, which is just fine with me because this has been a long week with 4 too many deaths. By snowbound, I mean that there's 4"-5" or thereabouts of snow outside of our door and wind chills hovering around the 0 degree mark. Definitely not Snowmaggedon conditions as life in Pittsburgh goes, but enough snow to keep us comfortably indoors, ensconced on the couch with our Internet connections and whatnot. Fine with me.

And by four too many deaths this week, I refer to the losses of beloved blogger Susan Niebur, whom I wrote about here ("Remembering Susan Niebur"); author and Philadelphia native Jeffrey Zaslow, whom I was fortunate to hear give a fabulous talk in June 2008 about working with Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch while co-writing The Last Lecture; a wonderful former colleague of The Husband's, who I sadly never had the privilege to meet but who was a tremendous support to him (and one of the very FEW supports to him) during some particularly dark days; and of course, Whitney Houston, who provided some of the most memorable songs that were the soundtrack of my youth in the mid-80s through the early 90s.

I've written before of how much I really hate February and how February represents the month of the deads for me personally, and here we are at only February 12. Yee gads.

Anyway. So. That's all by way of explanation that I'm between books right now and not sure what to begin reading next. (Between library books and my overflowing TBR pile, I'm not lacking for choices.) Part of that is because I've just finished Jessica Keener's absolutely wonderful debut novel Night Swim, which I received from the fine folks at TLC Book Tours. (My full review will be posted on Friday, February 17 as part of the Night Swim blog tour.)  I really connected with this story on so many levels, particularly with the main character and narrator, Sarah, whose mother dies when she is 16.

There is an element of Night Swim that, to me, truly feels reminiscent of the work of Judy Blume (who is celebrating her 74th birthday today - yay! happy birthday, Judy!) and knowing what a revered icon in literature Ms. Blume is to many (myself very much included), I don't say that nor draw that comparison lightly. But it's there, and it exists, and although I am not a big YA reader, of those such novels I have read I cannot recall any modern YA/coming-of-age novel that has so poignantly reminded me of what I believe to be the standard-bearer.

Because like Judy Blume, Jessica Keener tackles the big themes and the larger societal, cultural issues - the dysfunctional disconnect of a family before and after a tragic loss, anti-Semitism, racism, Vietnam, feminism, one's emerging sexuality and personal experimentation - and connects them throughout Night Swim in a way that isn't heavy-handed nor patronizing to her reader.

That's just a preview of what I have to say about this one, and you'll want to come back on Friday (if not sooner) to read my full review - especially because I'll be giving away one copy of Night Swim to a lucky reader!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Unfinished Person said...

I hear ya...winter is depressing enough without hearing about more, more, more and more death. I'm sorry especially to hear about your husband's colleague. It can be difficult to lose someone so close to you. I'm trying to get through the winter doldrums myself by listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants. Yesterday afternoon, as I was listening, the tears were rolling down my cheeks. Luckily, they were tears of laughter.

Lisa said...

I hadn't heard about Zaslow yet. I literally just sat down with The Magic Room to try and finish it up this afternoon.

Florinda Pendley Vasquez said...

I'm glad to know you liked Night Swim so much--after seeing so many raves over it, I bought it for my iPad. (I have a whole new variant on TBR Purgatory now!)

Sue Jackson said...

Ah, yes, that's the difference between your end of PA and ours - we only got a light sprinkling of snow here. We could actually use a real snow day this winter, when there is a good excuse to stay inside and read!

The weather has been much milder than normal, but it still feels like February...I'm with you!


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K A B L O O E Y said...

I hope your deads toll taps out at four, which is too, too many. And thanks for the book recommendation. I'm juggling a few right now -- two Kindle, one papery, but I like to have backups. And the story AND the description as Judy Bloom-like sound good to me.