Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Global Girlfriends: How one mom made it her business to help women in poverty worldwide

This book tells the story of Stacey Edgar, a Colorado mom, who invested her $2,000 income tax refund to begin a program that would help poor women around the world.  She founded Global Girlfriends to help create a fair trade market that would specialize in handmade clothing, jewelry, baskets and other items.  As you read this book, you can follow the steps of growth of the project and meet some of the women in distant places in Africa, Asia and South America.  Her organization is now affiliated with Greater Good (another fair trade group) and the Whole Foods markets.  Her products are also available through the website http://www.globalgirlfriend.com/  The book includes links to other groups that are helping women worldwide. If you are interested in fair trade products, I would urge you to explore this book and website.

--Marquette Township Patron 

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Sandalwood Tree

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark tells two stories that take place in the same bungalow in India, almost 100 years apart.  The more contemporary story takes place just as the British are preparing to leave, and the other takes place during an uprising that took place in 1857.  The 1947 story revolves around an American couple that has travel on one of the first Fullbright fellowships.  The historian husband is emotionally wounded from World War II, and his wife is struggling to keep their marriage together.  The Victorian occupants, two young women, are struggling to dodge their parent's plans to marry them off.  The stories are skillfully entertwined and engaging.  Fans of historical fiction and novels about the meetings of different cultures will enjoy this novel.

--EM Reference Desk

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Lazarus Project

Billiantly written and set in both 1908 Chicago and contemporary Chicago and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Aleksandar Hemon's book The Lazarus Project links the murder of Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European immigrant, by Chicago's Chief of Police in 1908, with a contemporary fictional trip to Eastern Europe. The trip's purpose is to trace Lazarus's early life and journey to America but it also provides the narrator, a recent immigrant from Bosnia, a chance to visit his homeland which has been destroyed by the recent war. Hemon builds an awesome parallel structure between the two stories filled with irony and dark humor. He links attitudes and actions of his characters and history to current American attitudes and biases.  It's a very complex book and can be frustrating--not every question finds an answer-- but it is a very impressive work of literature.

Cathy Sullivan Seblonka, Youth services

Monday, October 3, 2011

South of Superior

I just finished reading South of Superior this weekend and now I miss it.  If you haven't already heard, it is the first novel from Ellen Airgood who runs the West Bay Diner with her husband in Grand Marais.  Not only is this story set in the U.P., it's the kind of story that is likely to have wide appeal.  I'm already creating a list of friends and relatives who live in far away places to whom I could give a copy for Christmas. 

The story revolves around two elderly sisters who have lived their entire lives in a small U.P. community, quite similar to Grand Marais.  One sister has had some serious health complications so the sisters have hired a younger, thirty-something woman from Chicago as a live-in caretaker.  This third woman has family ties to the area but has never before been to the U.P.  Though the novel stays closest to this younger woman's point of view, it is in many ways as much a story of the entire community as it is about her. 

One of the strengths is the sense of balance in this book.  The characters are all flawed, all make grievous mistakes.  Almost all have something likeable about them as well.  The pacing of events is just right.  The descriptions-- beautifully written.  The balance of story and character and setting--dead-on.

EM - Reference desk