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A Few Good Books: November 2017

by Emily M | Nov 08, 2017
Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.

TheKitchenDaughterBook Review: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

Twenty-six year old Ginny Selvaggio has undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome and leads a protected life, living at home with her parents who provide for her, while she spends her time surfing the internet and perfecting her cooking skills. When Ginny’s parents die in a freak accident, Ginny finds herself struggling under the weight of her grief, while clashing with her sister, Amanda.  Amanda believes they should sell their parents’ house and Ginny should move in with Amanda and her husband and children.  Ginny, on the other hand, is determined that she can continue to live alone in her parents’ home. 

The themes of grief and family conflict are hardly original in fiction, but The Kitchen Daughter is unique in that it mixes in a touch of magical realism.  After her parents’ funeral, Ginny discovers that if she cooks the hand-written recipe of someone who has passed on, their ghost will appear to her.  Clues shared by these ghosts, along with old family mementos Ginny discovers while cleaning out the house, will unveil family secrets that are not what they seem.   

hownottohateyourhusbandafterkidsBook Review: How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

Jancee Dunn’s How Not to Hate Your Husband after Kids is laugh-out-loud funny, full of relatable, real-life anecdotes, and the advice is both practical and helpful. 

Many couples have strong, healthy marriages before having children, but develop struggles after children enter the picture.  Dunn, a free-lance writer living in New York City with her husband and six-year-old daughter, felt her marriage fit this category and wanted to do something about it.  While Dunn openly admitted she could sometimes turn into a screaming harpy, she felt justified in her anger considering she did the majority of the childcare and housework, despite the fact that she and her husband both worked.  Dunn spent months doing research, interviewing family and friends, and going to various counselors with her husband.  What she found was that her situation was one shared by many women, and one that often wreaks havoc on marriages. 

Dunn’s honest and self-deprecating portrayal of herself within her marriage was both entertaining and insightful.  The many stories shared, both from her own marriage and from friends and family, illustrated perfectly what she found to be true in the academic research.  Perhaps most important of all, the advice shared in the book can easily be put into practice.  While simple, it is also effective.  “Your spouse can’t read your mind.  Tell them clearly what you want” and “Say thank you often” are just a few of the gems Dunn shares with her readers.  While the title indicates this is a book for women with children, it’s actually great for both men and women, as well as couples who don’t have kids. 

thetwofamilyhouseBook Review: The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

In New York City in the 1940s, two brothers live intertwined lives, despite being vastly different in temperament, interests, skills, and personality.  Together, the two brothers run the cardboard box factory left to them by their father.  And together with their wives and children, the brothers live in the same house, one family in the upstairs apartment and one family in the downstairs apartment.

At first glance, this is a scene of domestic bliss: a successful family business, sisters-in-law who are the best of friends, and cousins who can play together every day.  Underneath the lovely façade, however, fissures of discontent will lead to a shocking choice wrapped in secrets and lies.  In The Two-Family House, Loigman explores themes of family, friendship, loss, and betrayal with subtlety and grace. 

What about you?  What good books have you read lately?

EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


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