dear mr. hemingway’s 2019 holiday books & pairings
Figgy Pudding Fiction
the most fun we ever had by Claire lombardo (Doubleday)
I loved this book to pieces. I am not going to lie though, it is a BIG book. However, big stories sometimes require many pages to breathe. This family drama that spans multiple generations will absolutely over power you with emotions Follow Marilyn and David and their four daughters through the good times and the bad.
From the Publisher: “When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.
As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.”
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
I loved Colson Whitehead’s new book, The Nickel Boys. His story is loosely based on the real life Dozier School in Florida that operated for decades as a reformatory school for boys . Though the school opened with what appeared to be good intentions, it quickly turned into a dark place filled beatings, torture, rape and death. Whitehead’s main character is Elwood Curtis, an African American teen living in Florida during the Jim Crow era. The story follows Elwood at the fictional Nickel Academy. Whitehead does a fantastic job depicting the south in the early 1960’s and getting his point across without overly graphic descriptions of the unimaginable. Yes, the subject matter is harsh and upsetting, but it is told in a delicate manner making for a less stressful read!
From the Publisher: “In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.”
The Girl he use to know by tracey Garvis graves (St. Martin’s Press)
I loved this book!!!! I was literally glued to the couch reading it. Annika and Jonathan’s love story will tug at your heart strings. Tender moments, harsh realities and the test of time will keep you hooked!
From the Publisher: Annika Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.
Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.
Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.
Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books)
This is a beautiful story. It may be short, but it delivers an emotional charge for you to ponder long after you finish the last page. A decision’s impact is not always visible to the decider. Whether good or bad, there is often a domino effect from one choice. Woodson’s beautiful story about family ties and love will touch your heart. Woodson’s writing flows like a dreamy poem.
From the Publisher: ”Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.
As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.”
the dreamers by Karen Thompson walker (Random House)
Wow! I tore through this book in no time. The chapters are short and move you through the story quickly. The writing is absolutely beautiful and haunting. Imagine if everyone around you fell asleep and didn’t wake up????? Not dead mind you, just not awake. How do you prevent this illness from spreading???? Fear and panic take over in this California college town. Plan on reading this durning the day…not right before you go to sleep.
From the Publisher: “One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.
Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?”
Dear Mr. Hemingway’s 2019 Holiday Books & Pairings
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