THE PLUM TREE

plumELLEN MARIE WISEMAN

Christine Bolz is a young German woman in love with her employer’s son Isaac Bauermen, a young Jewish man. The date is 1938, just before World War II. Unfortunately the author gets bogged down in long descriptions of the town and its citizens delaying the time the narrative gets to the meat of the matter. So skim the first half of the book. It gets interesting when Isaac is take away by the Nazis. He is brought back to his hometown to do forced labour. Christine helps Isaac escape and hides him in her attic without letting her family know what she is doing. The house gets searched as all houses in the village are. Isaac is not found. But months later the nazis are back for another search and he is found. Both of the young lovers are sent to the SS‘s death camp at Dachua. Christine is assigned to clean and cook for Jorge Grunstein one of the commanders. She spends the day cleaning, gardening and cooking for the Lagarkommandant. Grunstein relays to her is story of trying to tell the world about what was happening to the Jews in the death camps but no one would listen.

amenGrunstein’s story is much better told in the movie AMEN by the wonderful director Costa-Gavras. The book is about a young woman. The movies is about Grunstein. The movie is a must see. The book is alright.

LONG LEGS BOY

boyBENJAMIN MADISON

When Modou’s parents are both dead from AIDS and his entire village is decimated he seeks help from an African  holy man, Alhaji, who takes care of boys who have no parents. Of course there are chores for all the orphans but there are also lessons to teach them the Koran. Reba Brecken, country director for Rights for Kids Coalition comes to their compound to check that the boys are being well taken care of. She believes the children should not have to work, and that they should be with their families. Unfortunately she is blind to the reality of life in Africa. News of another man who helps boys in need that his compound had been shut down and the boys sent off to various villages, Alhaji decides to move the boys to the capital. In the city the boys have no work so they must go beg to help support themselves. But the government doesn’t like street kids and rounds them up and dumps them at various villages after beating them. Most of them slowly and painfully make their way back to the capital. Modou has the gift of speed. He whizzes through the market earning money by quickly delivering messages and packages. He is also so fast that he can avoid the police who look foolish being unable to catch him. He earns the name Toofas (Toofast) and becomes a creature of myth and legend.

The part of the story where Modou becomes a rallying figure for rebel forces is overdone and unbelievable. But the rest of the novel is great. It highlights how the best meaning aid worker can create an even bigger problem by not comprehending the whole picture. A cautionary tale.

A must read.

GONE GIRL

GILLIAN FLYNNgone

I love the way Flynn gradually peals back the layers of both characters and plot to expose the inner core of the truth. I laughed out loud at the ending it is so great. This is a great book so I don’t want to reveal too much. The book opens on the fifth wedding anniversary of Amy and Nick Dunne. But by the end of the day Amy is gone. Disappeared. Passages from Amy’s diary show her to be a perfectionist but also unhappy. Having lived in New York city all her life, she is bored in her husband’s small home town. Nick, like the reader, knows when a man’s wife goes missing, the husband is usually to blame.

Go get your copy right now!

 

Quote:   “‘What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?’”

Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren’t his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? And what was left in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

dog2MARK HADDON

What a pleasure it was to finally take the opportunity to read this book. Published in 2003, the book is ten years old and has greatly been discussed. It takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a high functioning autistic fifteen year old boy, Christopher. “It was 7 minutes after midnight.” The attention to detail in opening sentence alerts the reader that something is wrong.  At first I thought the narrator might be Asperger’s but at 15 asperger’s kids are not kicking and screaming when they are over stimulated by what to everyone would be normal situations. His autism means he can only ever tell the truth, and he becomes determined to discover who was responsible for murdering the neighbour’s dog. Through his detective work he unearths uncomfortable truths about his family and the way adults lie to children and to each other. Haddon has done a superb job of detailing the inner works of an autistic brain. A great read if you have missed it.haddon

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF OSCAR WILDE

wildeNEIL MCKENNA

wilde2This is riveting and heartbreaking biography of the wonderfully talented and genius Oscar Wilde. At the heart of the book is the trial that broke down Wilde and ended up in his outrageous incarceration. McKenna has left no stone unturned, and you almost feel, reading those pages, as if he was not only in the courtroom, but also in Wilde’s bedroom, in his friends and nemesis’ houses, in the cell where he was locked down. That, of course, makes for a great read – and McKenna is clever enough to show all of Wilde’s faces, revealing a complex and tortured man behind the facade. But more than that, this book is also a passionate cry for compassion, justice, and tolerance, three things that, sadly, Wilde was denied in his lifetime. The humiliating treatment he had to endure for just being gay is, for us in this day and age, really horrifying. And there are few things sadder than Wilde’s last year in Paris.