Book Reviews

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To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It’s where he was born, where he eats and sleeps, and where he plays for hours every day with his beloved Ma. To Ma, Room is an 11-by-11 square-foot prison where she has been confined and sexually abused for the last seven years.

Emma Donoghue’s ninth novel, Room, introduces us to Jack and Ma in a strangely uplifting story of survival, hope, and love. Completely told from the viewpoint of Jack, we learn that Ma was abducted when she was 19 years old by a man they call “Old Nick.” After kidnapping her, he threw her into a windowless, soundproof shed in his backyard and locked the door. Two years into her captivity, and after trying every possible way of escaping, she gave birth to Jack.  

If you glance through Room quickly, you might mistake it for a wannabe crime novel copied from today’s headlines. In actuality, Room focuses little on the crimes committed by “Old Nick.” Instead, it intricately examines the lives of Jack and Ma – how Ma protects Jack, and what they do to mentally and physically survive each day. Donoghue herself describes the story as being about, “the essence of confinement and captivity.”

Many of us may dream about one day waking up, putting on a disguise, and completely walking away from life as we’ve known it. But take a quick second and consider the situation: could you actually do it? Could you throw on a wig and walk out the door without looking back? This is what Holly Hogan does in Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd.

 

Holly wakes up one day, decides she’s had enough, and hits the road in search of her old life.After spending some time in a home for troubled teens, Holly is sent to live in a foster home in England. Instead of embracing a new life in a new place, Holly is haunted by thoughts of her past. When she discovers a blond wig in the attic, Holly takes off in search of her mum in Ireland. A new wig means a new hairstyle, a new attitude, and a new life for Holly. She begins calling herself Solace and embarks on a journey with many ups and downs that almost cost Holly her life in the process.

As an outsider looking in on Holly’s situation, I started to wonder about Holly and why she so desperately wanted to find her “Mam” and return to her old life. If her life was so wonderful before, how did she end up in a place for troubled youth? The farther she treks on her journey, bits and pieces of Holly’s past life come to light, however, and soon we can see that everything wasn’t as wonderful as she remembers it, even if she can’t yet realize it herself.

Libraries have started grouping thrillers, action/adventure novels, and suspense together under one umbrella that we like to call “Adrenaline.” What do all these books share? The ability to get your blood pumping and to literally stop you from putting them down.

Here are some of the best adrenaline reads from the past year. Click the title links to see the items in our catalog, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, put one or two on hold.

They’re Watching by Gregg Hurwitz

What would you do if you found out you were being watched? When Patrick Davis starts to get DVD’s showing him inside his home, going about his day, he realizes that he is in serious trouble. And then he gets a phone call asking, “Are you ready to get started?” and that is when the fun really begins. This is one nonstop ride full of action and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end.

Do you think of Heaven as a place where disembodied spirits float in the clouds, listening to harp music for eternity? Many people stereotype life in Heaven as a church service that never ends.

In his thought-provoking new book, Randy Alcorn dispels all misconceptions about a believer’s eternal destination and presents a compelling case for one of the least-talked-about subjects in Christianity.

The founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries, a nonprofit organization that promotes an eternal viewpoint and helps underprivileged people around the world, Alcorn based his entire book on biblical study, research, and extensive reading on the subject of Heaven. The book is divided into three sections: “A Theology of Heaven,” “Questions and Answers about Heaven,” and “Living in Light of Heaven”.

In “A Theology of Heaven,” Alcorn explains that contrary to a popular belief, Heaven is a real, physical place where bodily resurrected people live and engage in various meaningful creative activities. Heaven will not be a foreign place for us but we will recognize it as home: “Too often we’ve been taught that Heaven is a non-physical realm, which cannot have real gardens, cities, kingdoms, buildings…So we fail to take seriously what Scripture tells us about Heaven as a familiar, physical, tangible place.”

Move over Jane Austen, there are new “It Girls” in town. After getting their fill of the witty, drawing-room banter of impoverished spinsters with no prospects in the Regency period, readers and viewers are ready for the lusty power plays of spirited wealthy heiresses and socially manipulative dowager countesses and their secret sidekicks, butlers and ladies’ maids. In short – it's a whole new century!

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