Monday, June 1, 2015


As the weather warms, many of us pine for distant places, or maybe it’s the idea of the journey that draws us onward. Here are a few new items about special journeys available from Peter White Public Library.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Emma Hooper’s first novel, is an enchanting story of an 83-year-old woman’s thousand mile walk from rural Saskatchewan to the Atlantic. Etta leaves a brief note on the kitchen table informing Otto that she has gone to see the water. She takes chocolate, their rifle, and a note telling herself who she is and where she lives. While Etta makes her way to the sea, we learn about Otto, her husband who crossed the ocean to WWII France long ago, and their friend Russell, who stayed home and who harbors an almost life-long love for Etta. Without Etta, Otto teaches himself to cook from her recipe cards, creates life-sized papier-mâché animals and writes letters to Etta which he never mails. Russell finally begins his own journey when he decides to track Etta. James, a coyote, becomes Etta’s guide and leads her to the sea. This is a story of young love, dignified aging, compassion, and permission. And a magical coyote.
Emma Gatewood also left home with only meager supplies. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by journalist Ben Montgomery, tells the true story of Gatewood who told several of her children and grandchildren that she was going for a walk. She left her small Ohio town in May 1955 and became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone and eventually the first person to walk the whole trail three times. Montgomery writes about Gatewood’s hike and about her early life and difficult marriage. Gatewood’s walks drew national attention to the conditions of hiking trails across the United States, highlighting the need for maintenance and preservation of our national trail system.
Ida is a 2013 film directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Set in Poland in the 1960s, a young orphaned woman, on the eve of taking vows in the convent, finds out that she has an aunt who survived the war. When Ida visits her aunt at the Mother Superior’s insistence, she finds out that her parents were Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. Ida, now Anna, and her aunt set off on a journey to discover what happened to her parents 20 years earlier. Shot in black and white, this quiet and slow moving film tackles powerful themes with incredible cinematography and acting.

In Louise Penny’s 10th Inspector Gamache novel, The Long Way Home, Armand Gamache, Quebec’s retired former Chief Inspector of Homicide, has settled down in Three Pines, the small hamlet he loves and where he is surrounded by quiet, good food, books and friends. One of these friends, Clara Morrow, convinces him to investigate the disappearance of her husband, Peter, who spent the past year searching the world trying to recapture his artistic muse and fame. Peter failed to return home as promised. Discerning clues in one of Peter’s recent paintings, a Three Pines crew led by Gamache, travels the length of the St. Lawrence River where they encounter poison, murder, and madness alongside the beauty of the region.

There Was and There Was Not is Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani’s energetic and sometimes humorous account of her journey to Turkey where she spent two years hoping to better understand her culture’s traditional enemy and to examine for herself why and how a century-old hatred imprisons people living today. Between 1915 and 1923, almost one million Armenians were massacred and over one million were exiled from the Ottoman Empire. Many in the Armenian diaspora work for world recognition of this genocide while Turkey rejects this terminology. Toumani’s work is really brave; many in her own family didn’t understand her idea that “getting Turks and Armenians to interact as human beings” could be a step toward reconciliation. Toumani’s book speaks to us all as we deal with traumatic histories and current violent events everywhere.

In 2012, Elena Gorokhova, author of that year’s One Book One Community selection, Mountain of Crumbs, enchanted a Marquette audience with tales from her memoir of growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. That book ended with her hasty marriage to an American and subsequent immigration. We all wanted to know what happened after she got here. At last, after a three year wait, Gorokhova’s follow-up book, Russian Tattoo, satisfies our curiosity. We learn about Gorokhova’s first year in America and her unhappy marriage through candid, often humorous, deeply observant and powerful descriptions of her new life. She remarries, bears a daughter and hosts her mother for a 24-year visit. Gorokhova’s command of language stunningly describes all she has to learn to fit into American culture, mourn what she left behind, and come to understand and love both her mother and her daughter.

If you are hungry for a deliciously lovely film with a happy ending, try The Hundred-Foot Journey available in both DVD and Blu-Ray. An Indian family loses their wife/mother in a politically motivated fire at their family restaurant. The remaining family emigrates to the South of France and works hard to turn a run-down building into a new eatery. The problem being that this building is located directly across the road from a classical French restaurant owned by a very severe woman, Madame Mallory, played by Helen Mirren. Mallory exists for her Michelin star and declares her own war on the definitely non-classical restaurant across the street until a near tragic fire begins to melt her heart.

Take the journey to your local library and discover these or any of the more than a hundred thousand other items we hope you browse, borrow and enjoy.

--Cathy Sullivan Seblonka, Collection Development/Reference Librarian

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