Clay Girl by Heather Tucker, ECW Press, October 2016
This is the story of Ari, a girl growing up in a dysfunctional, dangerous family in Canada in the 60s and 70s. Her mother is a drunk and an addict and her father abuses his wife and daughters, then kills himself in front of them. With only a brief respite before her mother marries a corrupt cop, it seems impossible for the girls to achieve much from life. But Ari wants more, and she has the ability to grasp it- if she can escape her background. And what of her sisters?
This story is told in a compelling manner that kept me reading way after bed time. It’s emotionally difficult, but so dynamic, with Grade A storytelling, that I have to rate it as one of the better books I have read of late. The content does make this a book for more mature teens and adults.
Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer, Dutton – August 2016
Mara’s last year of school seems perfectly normal – until seniors start exploding. A plague of spontaneous combustion? As the media and the FBI gather, Mara and her friends deal with the usual teenage issues, while wondering if they will survive to graduation. Bizarre fun in this well-told and amusing tale. Great entertainment for young adults.
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs, Arcade – September 2016
An historical fiction concentrating on the relationship between Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, which offers a good balance for lovers of both the biography and the hit play.
The book does a good job of presenting the civilian as well as the military side of the Revolution. The romance between Hamilton and Elizabeth was strong to the end and, despite the duel over another affair that ended Hamilton’s life, the book shows that the real love of his life was Elizabeth. While undoubtedly a romance, the novel also tracks the revolutionary war and the historical background. The characterization gels with all I have read in non-fiction and although personally I was a little disappointed with the lack of political conflict that was Hamilton ‘s life, I would still say that this is a fine story.
Saladin by John Man, Da Capo Press – April 2016
An extremely good biography of Saladin that also does a good job of explaining a convoluted period in history. The writing is fast paced and extremely readable. I can think of no other recent book on Saladin that is as good and no other short volume that is as comprehensive. Saladin lives in conscious memory as a man of complexity as a great warrior and empire builder, as well his generosity and compassion. He was also a very shrewd political strategist. I highly recommend this book.