Asking Literary Mama staff members what they've been reading lately is like taking a walk around the library—the offerings are always so varied. This month we have recommendations from the fiction department, from the children's section, and from the poetry/women's interest shelves.
Christina Consolino, Senior Editor, enjoyed this novel about connection and healing: "As a rule, books with very little dialogue don't draw me in, but Katherine Forbes Riley's The Bobcat is an exception to that rule. The story line, the author's word choices and sentence structure, and the descriptive imagery quickly pulled me into the novel. The book tells the story of Laurelie, a young art student living and going to school in Vermont after having been sexually assaulted at a college in Philadelphia. Quiet and reserved, distrustful and wary, Laurelie interacts only when needed and with trusted people like her adviser, landlady, or the boy she babysits to help pay her rent. While out on a walk one day, Laurelie and her young charge encounter a pregnant, injured bobcat and the hiker who has been following the animal for hundreds of miles. The idea that the bobcat—territorial and predatory—does not view the hiker as a threat intrigues Laurelie. As the two characters' lives intersect, Laurelie and the hiker forge paths toward connection and recovery and come to understand that both bodies and souls can heal from past traumatic events. Fans of picturesque yet precise writing styles will enjoy this book."
Managing Editor, Hope Donovan Rider, recommends this series for young readers: "My seven-year-old son still loves being read to, and this summer we have been avidly reading our way through the Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins. Fifth grader Nory Horace and her friends at Dunwiddle Magic School all have magic—everybody in their world has magic—but their magic is a little . . . unusual. When Nory flunks the entrance exam to a fancy magic academy because she turns into a dragon-kitten (a dritten) instead of a nice, normal kitten, she is sent to a new class for students like her—students with upside down magic that doesn't work as expected. There, she makes new friends and starts to learn to value her unique abilities, even while wanting to be normal and dealing with bullies. The books tackle the hard feelings that every child has, of being different, of being wrong, of not fitting in, with sensitivity and humor. Refreshingly for juvenile fiction, the adults are supportive and helpful, providing reassurance and love for the children in their care. This series is a great stepping stone into fantasy for kids who might not be quite ready for Harry Potter, but love the idea of a world where everyone has magic, and kids can learn to fly or turn into kittens."
Meredith Porretta, Photo Editor and Blog Editor, thinks this one might resonate with you: "I love a good, tackily titled women's empowerment book circa 1975-2005! That’s why I was delighted to discover Women of the 14th Moon by Dena Taylor, an anthology of prose and poetry related to the phenomena of menopause. I feel like I need all of the information I can get so as not to be blindsided when 'the change' graces my life, but as the average female lifespan 300 years ago was just 30, and the only other mammals who experience menopause are whales, studying its reasons and origins has proven to be extremely difficult. Kicking off with an old favorite by Ursula Le Guin, this anthology has been helping me realize and remember that we are so unique. I will warn you though, I had to skip some stories because I was so triggered by the emotional abuse the writers endured trying to get their physician to acknowledge and treat their physical symptoms. The fussy, offensive, and wrong opinions of patriarchal doctors, who seem kind of disgustedly fascinated by the transition from mother to grandmother, is something that irks me greatly. In my opinion we can feel as proud of menopause as we are of motherhood. Women of the 14th Moon showed me that I will be as fascinated by everyone's menopause story, as I was as a 27-year-old first-time mother reading birth stories. Our natural curiosity of our sister's struggles and learning experiences is something that we can feed with books like this, which shun the taboo of talking about menopause in the open and make it more comfortable for all women."