A recurring feature showcasing recently released books that book clubs may find interesting.
By Becky Meloan
Heading out to Wonderful
In 1948, Charlie Beale shows up in sleepy Brownsburg, Virginia, with two suitcases. One suitcase contains a set of butcher’s knives; the other is filled with money. He settles into town and finds work with the butcher, Will Haislett. The Haislett family befriends Charlie, and their son, Sam, becomes especially enamored of the enigmatic stranger. As the townspeople show up in the butcher shop to buy Charlie’s perfectly trimmed cuts of meat, Charlie makes the acquaintance of everyone, including the town’s richest man, Boaty Glass, and his beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan. Told through the eyes of young Sam, Goolrick weaves a story of passionate love, secrets, revenge and justice.
Bottom Line: Book clubs that enjoyed Goolrick’s bestselling A Reliable Wife will relish this atmospheric tale of tragic love.
The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker
The Earth’s rotation has slowed. At first, it’s only a few minutes of darkness and sunlight added to each day. Soon, though, days have increased by hours, and life as we know it ends. Birds fall out of the sky, crops die, resources become scarce, and mysterious illnesses plague the population. But Julia is still an 11-year-old girl who likes a boy who never pays any attention to her, and her best friend seems to thinks she’s invisible. As the planet reels from the impact of the slowing, Julia navigates family life while watching the world disintegrate around her. In the face of catastrophic change, Julia is forced to adapt to a new way of living, but still goes through the emotional upheavals of adolescence.
Bottom Line: Set against the backdrop of the end of civilization, this novel gives an imaginative twist to the standard coming-of-age tale. Book club members will enjoy discussing the changing world through Julia’s eyes.
by Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster
Zoe and Kate are Olympic-level sprint cycling champions. Rivals on the track, they become best friends in real life. Through successive Olympic seasons, their lives intertwine in soap opera-worthy plot twists. Kate marries Jack, also a sprint cycling Olympian. He competes in Athens while Kate stays home in England with their infant daughter. Zoe, single and childless, covets what her best friend has – a family. A love triangle develops, private lives are made public, secrets are revealed, paternity questions emerge, and childhood leukemia takes a turn for the worse just as the games begin. When the Olympics committee changes the rules to make only one cyclist eligible for the games, which one will compete? What will be the cost to motherhood and friendship?
Bottom Line: Cleave’s descriptions of racing are thrilling, and his characters are engaging. This is a fun read in conjunction with the 2012 summer Olympics in London, where indoor track cycling is a popular sport.