Saturday, July 14, 2007

Reviews of Two More Newbery Winners and a New Mystery

The reviews of the Newbery medalists are up over at The Newbery Project: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin, and Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman (winners in 1979 and 1989, respectively). Check them out - for you or your kids - if you like classic mysteries or cute read-aloud poetry about insects.

I've also read A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini; Lean Mean Thirteen, by Janet Evanovich; and Origin, by Diana Abu-Jaber; in the last couple of weeks. A Thousand Splendid Suns left me pretty much speechless (in a good way), from both the writing and the story, and there's not a whole lot to say about Evanovich's Thirteen - it's like the earlier ones, but with less sex and more humor - but since Diana Abu-Jaber's new book isn't as well known as the other two, I thought I'd describe it here.

I liked both Crescent and The Language of Baklava by Abu-Jaber (a novel about Iranian emigrants, and a memoir about the author's childood) a lot, so I was intrigued when I saw that Abu-Jaber's latest was a mystery. It's a very gritty mystery - full of difficult people and uncertain relationships, freezing winter nights on the streets of Syracuse, NY, loss, and office politics. The main character, Leda, reminded me a bit of Smilla from Smilla's Sense of Snow, and a bit of Mallory from Carol O'Connell's mystery series. The story was chilling (even apart from the sections on hypothermia), unpredictable, and entertaining. The ending was a little too pat for me, but after such a good read, I could hardly begrudge Abu-Jaber for tying up the loose ends so neatly. A warning, though - there is a lot about SIDs and infants getting murdered in this book - it's probably not something anyone wants to read in their postpartum period, or perhaps even with a baby in your house if you're a very sensitive person.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Oh ha ha, I love Janet Evanovich. But I guess I've gotten behind because I think I've only read nine or ten of them... :)