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Staff Selections - Alison

Alison —Reference Librarian

What I enjoy—Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Cookbooks, books with multiple narrators and books with multiple time periods

Just Finished—Memoir–I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi

This is a memoir in essays. I selected it because Ikpi was scheduled as the lunch speaker at a conference I attended last week. I may not have read it otherwise, but I’m glad I did. The essays describe the author’s experience living with Bipolar II Disorder, both before and after her diagnosis. The essays do more than explain to the reader what Bipolar II is and how Ikpi dealt with it; they bring you into her head and capture her emotions.  I was particularly struck by the essay “This is What Happens,” which is a timeline from 11:30 a.m. to the next day at 8:30 a.m., during which she flies home, spends the night in her apartment, then leaves for another trip. She desperately needs to sleep but can’t, and I could feel her struggle with insomnia. Ikpi performed with Def Poetry Jam, and her background as a poet is evident in her writing. It is not a story in verse, but it has poetic qualities. This book is available as a downloadable audio book through Overdrive and in print through the consortium. I read the print version, but I imagine it would be an impactful listening experience.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Currently Reading—Fiction—The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

This is the story of a family dealing with a variety of issues, both past and present. It is narrated by three sisters—Althea, Viola, and Lillian—with occasional letters from Proctor, Althea’s husband. Much of this story is driven by family dynamics. Althea and her siblings lost their mother when they were young and their father was often away, leaving Althea as the de facto parent for quite a few years. When Althea and Proctor are convicted of a crime and sent to jail, Lillian, the youngest sister, cares for their teenage girls, at least temporarily. Althea has a strained relationship with her daughter, Kim, and refuses to allow her daughters to visit her in prison. Meanwhile, most members of the community shun the girls because of the crimes of their parents. Lillian and Viola are trying to make the best decisions for the girls while dealing with their own issues. They are tested by Kim, who has been acting out in school and takes her misbehavior further. The reader knows that the ending cannot be truly happy with the parents of two teenage girls in prison.  The happy ending may come if the characters come to terms with their history and their choices. The book is available in large print at the Pollard library, in regular print through the consortium, and as an eBook and downloadable audio book through Overdrive.

Currently Reading—Fiction—Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

I selected this book because it received excellent reviews and is bound to be on many of the year-end best books lists. It is on the longlist for both the 2019 Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.  While the novel is titled Lost Children Archive, the children are secondary to the story. (I’m about 1/2 way through.) The book is about a family of four, which includes an unnamed narrator, her husband, “the boy” (husband’s son), and “the girl” (narrator’s daughter). They are driving from New York to Arizona primarily for the husband’s new project. The narrator chronicles the road trip as well as the state of her family. The narrator and her husband met while working together on a previous project, fell in love, and got married. Now that the project is completed, they are drifting apart, and the narrator expects the relationship to end.  She plans to document the children at the border for her own project. She also promised a friend that she would search for her daughters who had been detained but are now missing. This book is available in regular and large print at the Pollard Library and as an eBook through Overdrive.