July 2021 staff picks roundup

Catherine Coles
Coles’ Notes

The staff of the County of L&A Libraries are avid readers and always eager to share their favourite books. Here we bring you a list of some of the reads we’ve recently enjoyed. This month, you’ll find an issue-driven YA novel, a charming children’s book about masking, and a memoir that is at once an environmental history and a travelogue.

Coleen suggests We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman

“The siren call of a bookstore theme drew me to Gayle Forman’s We Are Inevitable, a Young Adult tale that talks about books (obviously), interspersed with themes of grief and addiction. Our protagonist, Aaron Stein, is living with his dad above their independent bookstore, Bluebird Books. He is unsuccessfully coping with the loss of his brother, Sandy, and his mother’s departure from their lives. He has taken on the role of the parent – the business is failing due to neglect, and his father is struggling with mental illness. Forman introduces a foil to Aaron’s introverted ways: Chad, who was a friend of his late brother Sandy. Chad, a paraplegic, unfazed by his disability, has the uncanny ability to draw Aaron out of his comfort zone, and brings the story some added comic relief to balance the harsh realities of addiction. The themes are deep, but not depressing, you see Chad’s enthusiasm for life, and a community that gathers together much like an unusual family, to help the Steins. I especially enjoyed the unique book-themed chapters, the realistic portrayal of addiction, and the idea that, with a little bit of work, we can persevere through pretty much anything.”

Julie suggests Murder on the Inside by Catherine Fogarty

Murder on the Inside recounts the 1971 prison riot at Kingston Penitentiary that had six prison guards held hostage and left two inmates dead and dozens other injured over a period of four days. Catherine Fogarty’s well-researched book breaks down the root cause of the riot, shows the hierarchy not only in the prison bureaucracy but also the inmate population, and the reverberations of prisoner rights’ that still are in the spotlight today. This is a very readable book but be warned, there are some very gritty parts. If you are interested in prison reads, try Mouse on a String at the Prison for Women by George Caron and The Door: My Twenty-Six Years Working Inside Canada’s Prisons by Vern Thibedeau both of which can be found in our collection.”

Kristin suggests We Wear Masks by Marla Lesage

“In this adorable picture book, Marla Lesage normalizes mask-wearing for young readers by introducing them to a wide variety of people from various professions who wear masks in their daily lives. In this story, we learn that ranchers, artists, welders, scientists, pilots, and many others have already been wearing masks on a daily basis long before the pandemic started. The engaging rhymes along with the beautiful illustrations bring to life our diverse communities and show children that wearing masks is an act of kindness because it is an excellent way to limit the spread of our germs. We Wear Masks is a timely and heartwarming tale that can also be the perfect tool for parents to use to help them explain to children about this new reality that we live in.”

Karen suggests One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

“At its heart, One Two Three is a coming of age story, told through the perspectives of the three Mitchell triplets – Mab, Monday, and Mirabel (known to each other as 1, 2, and 3). Seventeen years ago, Belsum Chemicals offered the promise of good jobs, growth for their community, and hope for the future – instead, the water turned neon green, many residents got cancer and other ailments, and a generation of children were born with various birth defects. One Two Three has a cast of ability diverse characters who mirror the personalities in any small town. The whole town bands together to make sure there are ramps, devices, and accessibility for all of its residents. It’s intricately plotted, issue oriented (think Erin Brockovitch) and told with lots of heart, and plenty of humour. I especially enjoyed the audiobook because it gave the three girls distinct voices which made it easy to keep track of who was speaking, as well as helping to flesh out their personalities.”

Jennifer suggests Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica Lee

“Lee unpacks how Colonials remake environments to suit their purposes and how Indigenous languages hold the key to re-establish the original sense of place. Upon reading her grandfather’s notes, Lee embarks on an emotional and historical investigation into her family’s displacement from Taiwan to Canada, which spurs her to revisit her ancestral homeland. This lyrical story is at once an environmental history and a travelogue that weaves the island’s tumultuous past into a chronicle of current adventures. As Lee learns the language (Mandarin) and returns to the community (Taiwan), she roots the island’s degradation in its colonial past and ties in her family’s lived experience of dislocation. Don’t miss this authentic exploration of family, time, and place.”

All of these titles can be reserved online with your library card at CountyLibrary.ca.


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