Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Waiting for the Biblioburro=Esperando el Biblioburro - by Monica Brown

Ana lives in rural Colombia and owns one book. She loves to read, but her village has no teacher, so she has no access to more books. One day she hears the clip-clop of hooves and discovers a librarian coming with two donkeys who are carrying books! The librarian tells her she can borrow some books and he will come back in a few weeks so she can return them and borrow others. Ana not only loves to read stories, she likes to tell them, too, so she writes her own book. A book about the biblioburros!

This is the second book I've read about the Biblioburro, but the first that is written in parallel English and Spanish text, which means this one is my favorite.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

Based on her own experiences, and interviews with dozens of women, Klein's scholarly memoir describes how the purity movement (or what Jessica Valenti calls "the cult of virginity") perpetuates rape culture and creates a climate of humiliation for women. Far from being healthy, many of those who grew up with abstinence-only messages not only found themselves unable to have a healthy sexual relationship, their mental and physical health often suffered as well.

Libraries are mentioned in only three places in this work, but of course that is three times as many as are needed to secure a spot on my blog. They all came near the end. One involved a young evangelical man concerned about his obsession with women's bodies. He would walk "around campus, the library, the supermarket, perpetually hoping to see another accidental glimpse of ...something [cleavage, leg, skin]". He was, laughably, advised by his pastor to attend a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting, where, not surprisingly, he was met with "an awkward silence" after sharing his story.

Another passage recounted a gay lawyer's research in Washington, DC's theological libraries "where he continued to wrestle with the rift between theology he loved and the lived experience he couldn't refute."

The most interesting, however, was this passage of a young woman who told her story of contemplating suicide
Rosemary prepared for a trip to Europe, where she would spend her sophomore year of college. By the time she was packing her bags...she was so depressed that she was seriously planning her suicide. She would kill herself in a European library, she told herself. She had always loved books so much.
Ultimately, the trip had a healing effect when Rosemary found a brand of Christianity in Europe that focused on fellowship rather than shaming.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

American Dreamer - by Adriana Herrera

The most important criterion I have when I make my selection for Read-A-Romance-Month is that the book have a librarian as one of the main characters. Of course many books fill the bill, but since I only read 1-2 books of the genre per year any book I select has to be extra. Herrera's book made the final cut for this gringa bilingual librarian because Jude Fuller.

When blond librarian Jude surprises the swarthy Ernesto (Nesto) Vasquez (owner of the Afro-Caribbean food truck parked outside the library) by flirting with him in Spanish Nesto falls hard. The two waste no time in beginning a hot and steamy relationship. So lucky that it turns out they are neighbors, too!

This one follows the expected three point romance plot with a "boy meets boy" twist. I also liked that in lieu of the "sassy gay friend" we so often see in boy-girl romances Herrera gives that role to the meddling Carmen, smart-aleck straight friend to Jude. And, of course, I loved that Herrera recognizes that not only do librarians have sex, it can actually be intense.

I have to admit though that the millennial main characters in this book stressed this baby boomer out a bit. They worked 12-14 hour days and then came home and seemed to have energy for acrobatic sex at 11:00 at night. I was always worried that they would oversleep the next day, or simply burn themselves out.

Find out more about the author and her works at

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls - by Anissa Gray

When Althea and Proctor Cochran are arrested on food-stamp fraud, and for skimming money from the fundraising charities they organized, their teen aged twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi, are left in the care of Althea's sister Lillian. Lillian also cares for her deceased ex-husband's grandmother. Additionally, she must negotiate the relationships she has with her other siblings (Joe and Viola).

There are three types of libraries mentioned in this work: prison, public, and home. Each appears to  represent both a place of hope and of harsh reality.

Proctor uses the prison library to verify that there is a women's prison in West Virginia, when he is told he could potentially end up at a men's facility in Virginia. He writes to his wife
I was talking to our friend the other day, and he was naming off a couple of possibilities. He mentioned a prison out there in Virginia...He was going on about how he heard it was easy time out there in the federal system and I said, man, I don't know what "easy time" is. He got me and tried to make up for it by telling me about a ladies' prison out in West Virginia, and he said wouldn't it be nice if Althea ended up there?...And you know what? For a minute, your boy was happy, just imagining it. I even went to the library and looked it up. And there it was, West Virginia with what looked like a little arm, snuggled up there with Virginia. Then, it hit me: This is what it's come down to...I can't believe that this is the best we can hope for...

Althea's fellow inmate Mercedes describes a favorite teacher (Ms. Peterson) she had growing up who would stop by the house when I didn't make it to school. "And she started taking me to the library and everything like that...She took me to my first Disney movie...The Fox and the Hound."  Ms. Peterson's encouragement led Mercedes to aspire to a career drawing for Disney. But ultimately, Mercedes determines that "Some of us just got Kick Me signs tacked to our backs straight outta the womb."

When Kim runs away from Lillian's home there are a number of leads, and people reporting having seen her, including a report of
a girl sleeping in the library. From the description, Hop thought it could have been her, but when he got there whoever it was was gone.
Lillian renovated the family home following her father's death, creating a library where the living room used to be. A place "enveloped in warmth" where "orange flames writhe and rise in the stacked stone fireplace..." the warmth is deceptive to Viola, who would have left the room exactly as it was had it been up to her. She would rather remember the space as it was when he mother hosted Tupperware parties, a memory that
lives in a burst of color: green plastic bowls, pink plastic pitchers, orange plastic cups; gold couch, gold chains, gold charms; Mama's white dress; her lotioned, light brown skin.
I often see libraries in novels representing some kind of promise. It seems that these all do, too, but that the promise remains unfulfilled.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Goin' Someplace Special - by Patricia McKissack

A post in honor of National Book Lovers Day

In the 1950s Jim Crow south, 'Trisha Ann faces a number of indignities on her way to "someplace special". She is forced to stand in the back of the "colored" section of the bus, even as she can see empty seats in the front area reserved for whites. She can't sit on the bench for "whites only" to look at the fountain her grandfather helped to build in the park, and she is forced out of the fancy Southland Hotel after she gets caught up in a crowd of people trying to catch of glimpse of a famous person. Remembering her grandmother's encouraging words help her to make the difficult trip to the library - someplace special where she is treated with respect, a place her grandmother calls "a doorway to freedom".

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.