This is always a difficult task but my choice for 2013 must be “Wash” by Margaret Wrinkle.
As the country expands westward in the early 1800’s, Richardson, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran who is in debt, reluctantly decides Washington, one of his young slaves,will become a breeding sire (traveling negro),and even keeps meticulous records of Wash’s progeny.
Despite this brutalizing subject matter, Wrinkle opens a window into the human spirit and its struggles against dehumanization. While Wash is being treated like a breeding animal, he tells himself - “I keep my mind turned toward how I’m handing all my people some new bodies to live in. I’m pulling my people back into this world so they can be here with me...these here will die and mine will breathe in new air and it will be a new day.” The value of finding oneself inside a meaningful story, and retaining control of one’s life, is a major theme - we are the stories we tell ourselves.
This amazing novel carries us from the heart of whiteness into the center of ancestral African spirituality and back again. It is luminous and moving and an incredibly important debut novel, that I wish could be read and considered by us all.
“TransAtlantic,” by Colum McCann. I loved this book because it is an artistically woven novel, poetically written with unforgettable emotional moments.
Redwood Falls, Minn.
“Gift from the Sea” is as pertinent today as when it was first written and applies to all generations. This book is a life lesson about relationships, and the author tells us roads we can take to simplify our lives and be at peace. This book is written by a compassionate, patient woman named Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of a Minnesota and United States hero (Charles Lindbergh).
Kay J. Barrett
“The Distance Between Us,” by Reyna Grande, a memoir about a Mexican who, at a young age, was left with her siblings at her grandparents’ in a poor neighborhood in Mexico. Her parents had illegally immigrated to the United States, and though they forwarded money for the care of the children, the grandparents were neglectful and abusive. We hear a great deal about the angst of illegals who worry about ICE deporting them, but this is the struggle of the families left behind.
I had to pick “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” by Jon Meacham. The book was so interesting regarding the relationships between Mr. Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and his relatives, including wife and children. It was an easy read and well written.
I read a great new children book called “The Spy on Noah’s Ark,” by Lindsay Hardin Freeman, published by Forward Movement. Its a new twist on the bible stories that we grew up on. It was easy to read and made me laugh.
Although the book “One Thousand White Women: The Journal of May Dodd,” is not a new book, I read it this year. The book begins in 1875 when the American government, as an experiment, sends women West to intermarry with Cheyenne Native Americans. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was fiction, for it is so realistically depicted. Another unique characteristic is this novel is written from a woman’s point of view, but the author is a man!
The best book I read this year was “Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger. It had such wonderful characters, a bit of a mystery, great family relationships, and much more. It is a complete departure from his usual books, although it still takes place in Minnesota. I have been recommending this book to everyone, and lending it to friends. I can’t recommend this book enough.
My answer is easy, “Ordinary Grace.” There were moments in what seemed like a quiet book that blew me away.
“Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier,” by Bob Thompson. It is a compelling search for the “real” David Crockett that ended up raising more questions than it answered. The author researches what little is actually known and how the legend of Davy Crockett grew out of mostly fictitious accounts, often with the help of Crockett himself. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
One I very much enjoyed was,” Orange is the New Black.” It was a window into a lifestyle I never hope to experience, a gripping story of human endurance, and a call to action.