Monthly Archives: April 2005

Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson


I recently read Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson.

Stained is set in a small New England town in the seventies and deals indirectly with sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The main character sometimes feels like an outsider because her father left when she was young and her mother raised her without religion. The local priest is telling her boyfriend that he should stop seeing her because she is a sinner and her neighbor/love interest has disappeared and was last seen leaving the church late at night.

Each chapter, the story switches back and forth between the past and the present, which can be a bit confusing and disrupts the flow of the narrative. Otherwise, it’s a pretty compelling reading despite the religious overtones.

~posted by Liz

Prom, The Schwa Was Here, Naked


Recent Reads in Denver:

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
Reading this on the flight from Philadelphia to Denver was a great experience. The book’s setting is a working class neighborhood of Philly and Anderson did a great job of catching the Philly flavor (including the TastyCakes) in her novel.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
How is it that the Schwa can be standing right in front of you, but you fail to see him? How does an old man can live in an apartment with 14 dogs named for all the sins and virtues? Isn’t it strange that a blind girl, Lexie, can see better than anyone else, or can she? Who is a better cook, Antsy’s mom, or Antsy’s Dad?
Do we all feel invisible at times?

Naked by David Sedaris
I read this in preparation for seeing David Sedaris speak last night. I have loved the other books of his that I’ve read and listened to. This one was really good too. However, most of my friends who have read it thought it was his funniest ever, and I found myself crying through it. The descriptions of his OCD behaviors really got to me. David Sedaris live, on stage, is awesome. He got us laughing so hard that my roommate just about threw up and I couldn’t even see for all the tears in my eyes. He is hysterical, but has so much heart. Wow!

~posted by Alli

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson


I haven’t posted in awhile… I think I haven’t read anything outstanding or maybe I am just in a funk.

Finished Prom today by Laurie Halse Anderson. I think there is an audience for this book that has been untapped… the “normal” kid who isn’t college bound, has a kooky family (she seems to resent them more than they deserve), and has sex with her boyfriend without getting pregnant or dumped or cheated on. It was just a bit of a disappointment though since it is so different from Anderson’s other books which may not be fair to her. Prom has it’s funny, quirky, poignant moments but I did not find it as compelling as Speak or Catalyst. But for all those kids (and YA Librarians) who want a “soft” read this will nicely fit the bill. My favorite is still Fever 1793 … before that I never really liked historical fiction. I think that book is brilliant. Will we see anything like that again I hope?

Other recent reads:
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding
Thirsty by MT Anderson

Sarah Vowell will be in Boston this Wednesday. I wanted to read (or at least start) Assassination Vacation before (hopefully) seeing her but my library hadn’t ordered it (for shame!) and the waiting list is long. I also just put myself on hold for Small Town Odds… see the blog does work 🙂 A very compelling review.

~posted by April M

Small Town Odds by Jason Headley

Small Town Odds by Jason Headley

Headley, Jason. Small Town Odds. Chronicle, 2006. ISBN 978-0811853668 344 pp. $


April, cool about Kelly DiPucchio!

I too have had an author communication recently, from someone who read a review I posted here in which I mentioned that I love Richard Russo’s work. The someone, a first-time author named Jason Headley, told me that his novel Small Town Odds had been compared to Russo’s novels and invited me to take a look.

I was engrossed in this book from the first chapter, all over it “like white on rice,” to borrow a well-loved Southern phrase. The main character, Eric Mercer, is a 24-year-old West Virginian with a penchant for finding all the trouble that his small town has to offer, and making his own when supply lags demand. Fate (or rather, a drunken liaison with an “older” woman he had secretly admired since he was a boy) has left him playing a permanent gig in his hometown of Pinely with adorable five-year-old daughter Tess. Eric’s plans with Jill Dupree, his high-school love, were eradicated, as was his ticket to Providence (both to attend Brown University and to take advantage of the divine intervention that would have allowed him to escape Pinely), and he can neither forget it nor escape it, though he tries mightily to do both. When Jill’s father dies, she returns to Pinely for the funeral (at which, in his capacity as the town undertaker’s assistant, he assists), and Eric has to face his demons.

I like this book because it has that certain je ne sais quoi that exists when the author completely knows his/her characters’ hearts and minds. I don’t mean the omniscient point of view; I mean when you could make up the craziest scenario imaginable, or even the most nondescript one, and the author’s description has you nodding in total agreement. Like when Eric’s daughter pitches a fit after George Dupree’s funeral, wanting to ride “in the big car with George Dupree”; as Eric tries to calm her, Jill tells him that “I wouldn’t mind riding with you and George Dupree, myself.” I laughed and said to myself, “Of course you would say that, Jill!” Or the wry sardonicism Eric displays when his dad tells him that the star that he has wished on all of his life is actually the planet Mars; Eric “shook his head in disbelief that his carefully planned, intricate network of dreams had been, in all likelihood, negated on an astral technicality.” Or the author’s recounting of Eric and Jill’s first sexual experience together; it’s the best account of adolescent sex I’ve read in a long time, awkward and funny and honest. But I don’t want to spoil the book by recounting too much more of it; unlike the trailer for a bad movie, there are many more funny and interesting parts in the book than are shown up front. Read it and you’ll see what I mean.

~posted by Macee

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood


I just finished listening to The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood, which has been on my mental “to read” list since it was published. I love the audio version and can easily see myself restricting my listening to British novels since I am in love with the accents (one strong perk of listening to Bindi Babes on audio which was fun). In this story (which continues with at least 2 sequels I am looking forward to reading-since they are not available on audio!) the orphaned Widge finds himself stuck between gaining and keeping a real family of friends and trying not to get murdered by his master’s henchman, Falconer. I love this story for it’s historical elements as well as the intrigue and adventure. Widge is a great character, actually everyone in the book is well developed and interesting, but you just really fall in love with Widge who has had such a dismal life and is finally learning what friendship and honor are all about.

~posted by April