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The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen

The BrothersThis book tells the story of the Tsarnaev Brothers and the treatment of Muslim-Americans following the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Gessen is a meticulous researcher who takes the time to provide the reader with the whole picture. The author gives a succinct history of the mistreatment of Muslims, Chechens in particular, in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation while simultaneously telling the story of the Tsarnaev Family. Gessen interviewed members of the the Chechen-American community, friends of the brothers, and scholars of terrorism to provide a comprehensive narrative of the events leading up to the bombing and its aftermath. We are left with a disheartening picture of the current treatment of immigrants and Muslims in America and two young men who traumatized thousands with an act of violence.

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The end of EveThe End of Eve: A Memoir by Ariel Gore

The end of Eve

In this story the author recounts her life following her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. Mother and daughter have had a challenging relationship and the author strives to “Behave in a way that you’re going to be proud of.” as her mother navigates her illness. This is a challenging and brave book in part because the author discusses in intimate detail the trauma her family experienced in the past and how that impacts her current relationship with her mother and her partner. Although the tone can be a bit harsh at times, I appreciate the effort the author made to honor her mother in the best way she knew how. In difficult times, we all do the best way can, and this is the story of family working to do just that.

Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson

Vegan Without BordersI love this cookbook! These recipes have really helpful categories: Low or No Oil, Quick & Easy, Gluten Free, and Soy Free (options). Being vegan with a soy allergy, it can be quite hard to find new recipes and the time to prepare them, but this book has a ton of hearty and satisfying dishes and the categories help me know whether it’ll work for me right off. Plus the majority of the ingredients are easy to find and the recipes are clear and concise. My favorite recipes: Cucumber and White Bean Ceviche, Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup, Black Bean and Butternut Tortilla Bake, whoa! If you’re looking for some new healthy meal ideas for your family, this is a great place to start your search.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Being MortalA few weeks ago my Father asked me to read this book, and I’m so glad he did. This is a very brave book, both because the subject matter of frailty and mortality is very challenging in and of itself and because the author delves into his familial experience and professional work to write a personal work on how we navigate the end stages of life. While there are some minor points I may disagree with, for the most part I would say I learned a lot and was given some helpful tools to use with my family in the future. This book is for any family looking to better understand the aging process and for those of preparing for the future for ourselves or for our loves ones.

That Part Was True by Debroah McKinlay

That Part Was TrueOn the surface, it seemed like this book would be all saccharine romance. What I found instead were complex relationships, a moving story, and redeeming characters. What cinched this book for me was Eve, an intriguing and believable character struggling with debilitating anxiety. Also, I have to commend the author on side-stepping the predictable romance and making Jack, a highly unlikable character for most of the book, modestly endearing. Jack and Eve are navigating middle age, still striving to be their best selves and figuring out how do so apart from spouses or parents who had defined them for so long. It is rare to see characters exploring the developmental stage of middle age and the insecurities that so often come with it, but infrequently acknowledged.

Driving the King by Ravi Howard

Driving the KingThe dialogue of the characters is spot on and their restrained love and respect is tangible. This is a well researched book with a significant number of intersections of prominent historical figures that in another authors hands would feel contrived. I only wish that I was better educated on the history of the civil rights movement, as I would have been able to enjoy the story more if I knew more about the historical personalities described. While there is a beautiful romance woven throughout, I read this book as an ode to our elders, as a love story based in struggle, activism, and community. Ultimately this book is about making a life for yourself despite any hardships met along the way and remembering where you came from.

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander SoderbergThis is the first in a projected trilogy.  The novel takes a macro look at international crime; it has Spanish drug runners, German gangsters, Russian hit men and Swedish cops, but it also puts these international headlines into a micro view.  It follows the life of widowed nurse, Sophie Brinkmann.  Recently, between working at a Stockholm hospital and being a mother to her 15-year-old son, Sophie has become involved with one of her patients, Hector Guzman.  Hector is more than a Spanish publisher; he’s also the head of major crime syndicate.  This relationship brings Sophie into the attention of some rather unscrupulous police detectives.  A thrilling novel that looks international crime and violence and how that impacts those living through it.