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A Few Good Books: September 2018

by Emily M | Sep 28, 2018
Looking for a book recommendation? Look no further! Here are a few good books I've enjoyed lately...

The Child FinderThe Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Naomi is the country’s top private investigator for missing children, and her work is her entire life.  She has no spouse or children, and she can count her friends on one hand.  She doesn’t even have her own home, but works out of a hotel room in whatever town her current case is based. 

In The Child Finder, Naomi has returned to the area where she grew up to work two cases: a five-year-old girl who has been missing for 3 years, and a baby who went missing a month earlier.  Told from multiple perspectives, The Child Finder not only follows Naomi’s investigation of the two missing children, but finds Naomi reluctantly facing truths from her own past that have long stayed buried.  While the subject matter of The Child Finder is dark, the writing is lovely, and the ending hopeful.    


The NewcomersThe Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe

Journalist Helen Thorpe spent a year in an English Language Acquisition Class at South High School in Denver, Colorado.  This class is for students who have little or no English language skills – recent immigrants and refugees from various countries around the world.  Thorpe gets to know these students from Iraq, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador and many other countries by observing them in class, interviewing them outside of class, and, in some cases, spending time with them and their families in their homes.  Over time, the students open up to Thorpe, sharing with her their stories, and she, in turn, gifts them to us. 

Thorpe soon discovers most of these students have experienced warfare or trauma, have been or still are separated from members of their immediate family, or have spent months or even years as refugees in countries other than their own before coming to the United States.  She observes their struggles as they wrestle with learning English and understanding American culture.  She learns about the process of coming to the US and how much and what kind of support they receive.  She ponders and hypothesizes on why some students (and their families) seem to thrive while others flounder.  Ultimately, Thorpe humanizes the individuals who are so often thought of as only “immigrants” or “refugees” and shows the unique potential they have and challenges they face, while also demonstrating the immense undertaking our schools are tackling in educating students who enter the building without the English language skills necessary to succeed.  The Newcomers is both eye-opening and highly readable, and I recommend it to anyone interested in either immigration or education in the United States. 


The Time Travelers WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Fifteen years ago everyone was talking about this book, but somehow I never got around to reading it until now.  If you also missed it the first time around, I’ll tell you why you might like to give it a shot. 

Henry DeTamble is a music-loving librarian who has been involuntarily time-traveling since the age of five.  Henry finds himself thrust forward and backward through time, often landing in scenes of his own past or future life, always naked and hungry.  While the time travel in this story is well done, at its heart, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romance, telling the story of Henry, and his wife Clare, who first meets him as a child, as over and over again Henry finds himself thrust back in time and landing in the meadow behind Clare’s rural Michigan home.  This book is not without faults (despite being the titular character and approximately half the book being from her point of view, Clare’s character is surprisingly underdeveloped), but the time travel, and the way Henry’s life story and Henry and Clare’s romance is revealed in circular timeline is so interesting, that the faults are easily overlooked, making The Time Traveler’s Wife hard to put down. 

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

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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