Shelf Control, Books From the Backlog, Can't Wait Wednesday #18
These mid-week memes suit me well because they provide me a quick reminder to check my own shelves and see what interesting books are lingering there. How about you? Why don't you feature one of your shelf books (or e-reader) and see if that helps you decide to read it or toss it. Since this is a split focus post, I'll share a book from my bookshelf or Kindle first and then a newer release (often an ARC I've received) that I'm eager to read.
Book I Own and Still Want to Read
Oh my. This oldie has been on my bookshelf since 2014 - I earmarked it to read this year and still didn't read it. If I don't read it in 2023, it may be time to move it along. It's short, only 250 pages, so why have I waited? I heard it recommended on NPR and picked it up at our annual library sale because the cover blurb sounded intriguing and it was on my NPR list.
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel longs to hang out with Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull in New York City’s East Village. Instead she’s trapped in East Village, Manitoba, a small town whose population is Mennonite: “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager.” East Village is a town with no train and no bar whose job prospects consist of slaughtering chickens at the Happy Family Farms abattoir or churning butter for tourists at the pioneer village. Ministered with an iron fist by Nomi’s uncle Hans, a.k.a. The Mouth of Darkness, East Village is a town that’s tall on rules and short on fun: no dancing, drinking, rock ’n’ roll, recreational sex, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o’clock.
As the novel begins, Nomi struggles to cope with the back-to-back departures three years earlier of Tash, her beautiful and mouthy sister, and Trudie, her warm and spirited mother. She lives with her father, Ray, a sweet yet hapless schoolteacher whose love is unconditional but whose parenting skills amount to benign neglect. Father and daughter deal with their losses in very different ways. Ray, a committed elder of the church, seeks to create an artificial sense of order by reorganizing the city dump late at night. Nomi, on the other hand, favours chaos as she tries to blunt her pain through “drugs and imagination.” Together they live in a limbo of unanswered questions.
Nomi’s first person narrative shifts effortlessly between the present and the past. Within the present, Nomi goes through the motions of finishing high school while flagrantly rebelling against Mennonite tradition. She hangs out on Suicide Hill, hooks up with a boy named Travis, goes on the Pill, wanders around town, skips class and cranks Led Zeppelin. But the past is never far from her mind as she remembers happy times with her mother and sister — as well as the painful events that led them to flee town. Throughout, in a voice both defiant and vulnerable, she offers hilarious and heartbreaking reflections on life, death, family, faith and love.
Eventually Nomi’s grief — and a growing sense of hypocrisy — cause her to spiral ever downward to a climax that seems at once startling and inevitable. But even when one more loss is heaped on her piles of losses, Nomi maintains hope and finds the imagination and willingness to envision what lies beyond.
Few novels in recent years have generated as much excitement as A Complicated Kindness. Winner of the Governor General’s Award and a Giller Prize Finalist, Miriam Toews’s third novel has earned both critical acclaim and a long and steady position on our national bestseller lists. In the Globe and Mail, author Bill Richardson writes the following: “There is so much that’s accomplished and fine. The momentum of the narrative, the quality of the storytelling, the startling images, the brilliant rendering of a time and place, the observant, cataloguing eye of the writer, her great grace. But if I had to name Miriam Toews’s crowning achievement, it would be the creation of Nomi Nickel, who deserves to take her place beside Daisy Goodwill Flett, Pi Patel and Hagar Shipley as a brilliantly realized character for whom the reader comes to care, okay, comes to love.”
I'm linking to:
Shelf Control is hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies every Wednesday. Details here.
Books From the Backlog is hosted by Carole's Random Life. posted weekly on Thursdays.
New Release Book I Want to Read
There was no blurb on Goodreads when I requested this book and the tragedy that was Japanese internment camps interests me. But after reading the few GR comments so far, I'm not sure this will be for me. Comments indicated it's more geared to kids, maybe middle grade. Hmmmm - I will still give it a try but maybe not squeeze my reading to make it by publish date.
No Quiet Water by Shirley Miller Kamada
Publish Date 1/5/23
After the U.S. declares war on Japan in 1941, all persons of Japanese descent in the Western U.S. come under suspicion. Curfews are imposed, bank accounts frozen, and FBI agents search homes randomly.
Despite the fact that two generations of the Miyota family are American citizens, Fumio and his parents and sister Kimiko must pack meager belongings and are transported under military escort to the California desert to be held at Camp Manzanar, leaving their good friends and neighbors the Whitlocks to care for their farm and their dog, Flyer.
The family suffer unimaginable insults, witness prejudice and violent protests, are forced to live in squalor, and are provided only poor-quality, unfamiliar food which makes them ill. Later, they are transferred to Idaho's Camp Minidoka, where Fumio learns what it means to endure and where he discovers a strange new world of possibility and belonging.
Lyrical, visual, and rendered with strict attention to historical accuracy, No Quiet Water, shines a poignant light on current issues of racism and radical perspectives.
I'm linking to Can't Wait Wednesday hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight the upcoming books I'm excited about.
Have you read either of these? What did you think - worth having on my shelves? Hope you join the fun and share what's been lingering a LONG time on your shelves OR a new release that you're excited to read. Happy Reading.