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When I read Beartown this summer, I had just finished the last of Fredrik Backman’s other novels, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and Britt-Marie was Here. I had listened and laughed out loud to the audio version of My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry the year before. My discovery of this author came when three different booksellers pressed a copy of A Man Called Ove into my hands with the words, "You have to read this.” And that curmudgeon of a character, Ove, won me over. When I discover an author–and discovering translates to love the book–it becomes a personal crusade to discover everything that he or she has written and inhale it.
This brilliant novel pulls you into its seedy underbelly through the gorgeous use of language and “the can’t look away” story.
Start it when you have a day and a night of nonstop reading time. Told from the point of view of 14-year-old girl who lives along the California Northern Coast with her survivalist father, the disparity between what Turtle sees as normal and what is normal shifts as she comes into contact with people other than her charismatic and opinionated father–despite his attempts to keep her to himself. It escalates as her consciousness awakens.
When selecting a book for a plane ride, it has to have these positives: the right length, the right tone, and the right story. It happened that on my trip from Boise through Seattle to Sonoma County this month, I found that book. It was Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different ($16.99, paperback).
I had just witnessed her in action at the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference where I found her to be funny in all the right self-deprecating ways. I could tell she was my kind of people – a mother with an attitude – who is not generally the most welcome person in a crowd, unless of course, you’re in my crowd. Her characters tend to have the same problem. Semple’s novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette celebrated the artistic madness and genius of a particular mother who lacked social graces. It quickly climbed to bestseller status. And now, Semple revealed, a movie is in the works, starring Cate Blanchett.