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Check It Out

Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, May 7, 2000

New Fiction

The Spring book orders have been pouring in like the occasional rainstorms we've been experiencing. With home projects and a busy work schedule I am finding less and less time for recreational reading. I rely heavily on the recommendations of friends and fellow workers for the titles suggested in today's column. They are all available through your public library.

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells (Random House, 2000).

For some reason I found this little book calling to me from a big box of new arrivals. Emile (Meely for short) is the son of a Cajun alligator hunter. He has lost his mama and is pretty much raising himself because his Dad is busy trying to forget the past. Meely relates his story in down-home language that is natural and believable. This coming of age story works on several levels; it uses humor to hook the reader but also confronts issues of grief, parental neglect, growing up poor and living by one's wits. Though the book is often laugh-out-loud funny, it is also poignant Wells, an award-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal, has drawn a compelling portrait of a boy becoming a man .

More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon (Wm. Morrow, 2000).

A tale of true love and loss and of a ghost that appeared to teenaged Hannah in a Maine seacoast town one summer long ago. A "haunting" novel that bridges two centuries, two mother-daughter relationships, and two tragic love stories. I'm not usually a fan of ghost stories but this kept me enthralled from beginning to end, it is exceptionally well written and should appeal to readers of all ages.

Breakfast with Scot by Michael Downing (Counterpoint, 1999).

An enlightened, modern couple faces sudden parenthood--and the embarrassing truth about their own definitions of "normal"--in this hilarious and touching novel chronicling the lives of two gay men who find themselves unexpectedly landed with an eleven year old boy whose mother has died. Funny and off-beat, this is another slim book that will captivate many readers.

The Colored Garden by O.H. Bennett (Laughing Owl, 2000).

It is always a pleasure to discover a new author, especially one who is an Evansville native. Oscar Bennett has written a novel about a boy called Sarge who moves from Germany to rural Kentucky when his parents split up. His grandmother Ruth, shows him an old slave cemetery that she tends. As Sarge struggles to understand his parents' divorce, his grandmother begins to tell him adventures of the dead slaves. Bennett will be at East Branch Library to talk about his new book on Monday, May 8th at 6:30 p.m.

Special Circumstances by Sheldon Siegel (Bantam, 2000).

Fans of Grisham's, Turow's and Lescroart's legal thrillers are advised to try this tale of an attorney just setting up his private practice. Catapulted into a high-profile case, he must defend his former colleague and friend, who is charged with a double homicide. After a strong recommendation by a friend who reads lots of thrillers I checked it out for my husband who found it satisfying entertainment.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach (Delacorte, 2000).

In 1630s Amsterdam young, beautiful, and poor, Sophia weds a wealthy merchant looking for a young wife to give himself the joy, and heir, that his fortune could not buy. The rich husband commissions a talented young painter to capture his wife on canvas but a passion between artist and subject develops as the portrait is painted and the pair comes up with an outlandish plan to give the wronged husband an heir, while they escape and become rich as well. Here is light entertainment and romance for a rainy spring weekend. If you've enjoyed "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and "Girl in Hyacinth Blue", both about Vermeer paintings, you may want to continue the fictional exploration of life in seventeenth century Holland.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.