Posted in Best Sellers, Contemporary Fiction, General Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mid-Atlantic, USA, Murder Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Publication Info: Published January 27 by Riverhead Books. I read the hardback edition through my Book of the Month membership. Other editions available.

Summary: Two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, live in a distressed neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were raised by their over-extended and emotionally distant grandmother after their mother died from drugs and their father vanished. As young children, the siblings were very close, sharing a single bed and whispered secrets. But as they grew up, they grew apart and those secrets turned into silences that came between them.

Mickey rose out of the depths of her childhood experiences to become a cop and a single mother. She worked in her neighborhood and knew its dark corners all too well. Kensington was the place to go if you wanted opioids and heroin. Kacey turned to drugs and the streets, working as a prostitute to feed her habit. Mickey knew where Kacey’s corner was and kept an eye on her, although they didn’t speak to each other.

After discovering the body of a woman, Kacey realized the deceased wasn’t just another overdose. The woman had been strangled. She tried to get more information from her department head, but kept getting the brush off. She began to worry about her sister, as she hadn’t seen her in over a month. When more women turned up murdered, Kacey risked her career to find her sister and discover the identity of the murderer.

Comments: I know it’s only February, but Long Bright River is already on my top 10 list of most memorable books for 2020. This vivid, poignant novel of how drugs impact one family affected me deeply. The author created realistic and complex characters.

I have a family member who was hooked on opioids and heroin, so have first hand experience with the tragedy that ravages through communities and families throughout the country. From this painful knowledge, I can attest to the realistic depiction of addiction in Liz Moore’s novel.

Very highly recommended for readers of Literary Fiction, General Fiction and those who like novels with deep, authentic characters. The novel also has elements of a murder mystery, but while that drives the plot, the novel transcends that genre.

My Rating: 5 STARS +

Posted in General Fiction, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Uncategorized

Old Newgate Road by Keith Scribner

Publication Info: Published January 8th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group. Pre-pub e-book edition provided by NetGalley. Other editions available since publication.

Summary: Cole Callahan, a successful home restorer, travels from his home in Portland back to his hometown in East Granby, Connecticut. He’s convinced himself he is just there for five days to observe the dismantling of an old tobacco shed. He wants to use the wood for an addition onto his own house in Portland.Old Newgate Road

Cole hasn’t been back to Granby since his father murdered his mother in one of his frequent rages. As Cole checks out his old home, a disintegrating Colonial, he hears piano music coming from inside the house. He is shocked to discover his father, now out of prison, living there. The home, perpetually under reconstruction during his childhood, is in deplorable condition. He soon discovers that his father is also disintegrating into senility.

Meanwhile, Cole’s marriage is falling apart and his son, Daniel, is in danger of being expelled from school for breaking the law while protesting against food waste. Cole decides that the best thing for Daniel would be a summer of working in the tobacco fields, like he did as a boy. But as the summer progresses and he is forced to take a good hard look at his family’s history, he learns lessons not only from the men in his past, but also from the one of his future–his son.

Comments: Cole narrates this story in both the present and in large memory chunks of the past. As he describes his father’s rage and violence, he also says he once believed that all men beat their wives, based on what he saw in his own and his friends’ families.  And that is the core of this novel–the cycle of violence that is passed down from generation to generation.

Scribner is a good writer, but his was not an easy novel to read emotionally. Not only are the men implicated but the women as well–by their expectations of what it means to “be a man” as well as by their silence. I was a victim of domestic violence in my first marriage and witnessed the effects of just the kind of multi-generational behavior patterns he describes in Old Newgate Road.  But this is not a completely gloomy book. Lessons are learned —  and in at least in Daniel, there is hope for the future.

I’m not sure who to recommend this book to — maybe book clubs who want something meatier than the usual fluffy female fare (this book is chock full of discussion topics).

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

General Fiction, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction