Archive for December, 2019

Patsy, by Nicole Dennis-Benn

December 26, 2019


If you are looking for a light, quick read – this isn’t it. However, it is a moving, authentic, devastating story. Patsy is desperate to escape Jamaica to follow her best friend to America. Living with her own mother who turned away from her (when Patsy was a child) in favor of religion and her own daughter, conceived “accidentally,” Patsy is drowning in depression (a debilitating “darkness”) and resentment. When Cicely – beautiful, light-skinned, and desired – chooses Patsy as her best friend, Patsy gives herself to her, ultimately leading her to blindly arrange a way to leave Jamaica (and her young daughter) with no intention to return.

In this book, no one is really free. Not the rich in Jamaica, not anyone in the U.S., not the fervently religious. The story explores the ideas of home, love, wealth, bias, language, emigration and immigration, and motherhood without ever leading us to conclusions or answers. The tragedies of being a mother – and by extension a woman – are wrenching. These are glimpses of motherhood that we almost never see and maybe don’t want to admit could ever exist – at least in “good” people. These characters all do hurtful and even awful things, but they are also sympathetically human, just like each of us.

This was a difficult book; really, really difficult. It was hard to read and it was impossible to walk away from. It made me reconsider some assumptions and opinions. Being human relating to other humans is also really, really difficult, but, of course, ultimately our most important and worthwhile endeavor.

I first heard about this book on the podcast “The Librarian Is In” by the NY Public Library. Gwen and Frank talk about books in a way that always intrigues me and often introduce me to books I didn’t know about or might not have read otherwise. Here is the episode including Patsy:

Is the book Patsy available right now at the library? Check the catalog (click here) & place a hold if it isn’t on the shelf right now. Patsy is also available as an audiobook on Hoopla.

The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee

December 12, 2019


I loved this. It’s a great historical fiction YA for teens or adults!

Atlanta, GA in 1890 is an exciting, bustling place. But, for 17 year-old Jo Kuan, options are limited because of her Chinese heritage. Living in a secret underground apartment with her adoptive father, Old Gin, Jo has always found comfort in listening in on the family upstairs. That family, owners of a local newspaper, are finding it harder and harder to find readers. Jo’s affinity for the family–a family that does not know her even though she knows them well–leads her to follow through on a bold scheme: to write an anonymous advice column under the pseudonym Miss Sweetie. Miss Sweetie’s column quickly becomes the most-talked-about feature of the paper, and newspaper subscriptions climb quickly and steadily.

Jo must balance her secret life (keeping her location and her true identity completely private); and her public life (a Chinese-American lady’s maid for the wealthiest family in Atlanta). As her two worlds begin to collide, readers are taken on a lively journey that navigates deep family secrets, segregation, racism, and romance. Jo is outspoken, driven, and determined to make her mark in a world that wants her to fade into the shadows.

Stacey Lee deftly manages to turn a serious topic into a wholly enjoyable, often funny, historical fiction piece. Highly, highly recommend!

The Downstairs Girl is available as an audiobook on Hoopla.

Image result for downstairs girl by stacey lee

19 Titles of 2019

December 12, 2019


I’m not a big fan of creating best of lists, because I’m far too literal a person to declare anything “the best of 2019.” That being said, I have read all kinds of really wonderful books published this year. So as we head into the new year, here are 19 of my favorite titles published in 2019.




Kids Books