Books to Read After Running

Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

This is a sweet and funny novel about Mika, a Japanese-American woman who reunites with her adopted daughter after 16 years. The adoption story is complicated and sad, weighing heavily on Mika’s life which has stagnated.  She and her daughter quickly form a close bond that long-held secrets threaten. This is a poignant story about family, motherhood, and acceptance.

The Poet’s House by Jean Thompson

A writer’s novel, this coming-of-age story follows the troubled young life of Carla who finds work as a sort of caretaker at the home of an obscure poet. There, she meets a quirky group of artists and writers who bring her along to a writer’s conference in northern California full of intriguing drama.

Acceptance: A Memoir by Emi Nietfeld

A searing memoir about how a foster child who spent years in and out of psychiatric hospitals fought her way to Harvard University. This is not a typical memoir about resilience and overcoming adversity. In fact, it is an indictment against the idea that individualism and grit are the way out of a crisis, mental illness, or a path to the American dream. Although Nietfeld was completely driven to attend an ivy league college and brilliantly used her story to achieve that goal, the memoir exposes huge failures in the system she managed to survive.

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Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

One of the best books I have read in quite a while. The story is told from two different artists point of view. Anna Dale, in 1940, won a national competition to paint a mural in the post office of Edenton, NC. She weaves her story, filled with excitement and horror. Morgan Christopher, an art student wrongly imprisoned for a crime she didn't commit is freed from jail, but with a caveat. She must restore Anna's mural in 3 months’ time, so it is ready for the opening of an art gallery in Edenton where it will be the centerpiece. As the story jumps back and forth between 1940 and the present we are enthralled with its details and with its coincidences. A must read. *****

The Maid by Nita Prose

Was excited to read this debut novel by book editor Nita Prose (interesting, if it's a pen name!) as it was on The NY Times bestseller list. It didn't disappoint. Once you get used to the narrator's (Molly the Maid) style (she struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others, while talking very formally) it flows very well. Molly's 'Gran' has just passed away and left her very lonely. She is a hard worker at the Regency Grand Hotel and befriends the doorman Mr. Preston as well as Rodney, the bartender. But Rodney, among others, uses Molly's gullibility against her as he uses her for his own personal gain. When rich Mr. Black is found dead in his hotel suite by Molly, (murdered, perhaps?) the police suspect Molly because to them she acts very strangely. Ms. Prose weaves a web of deceit in her story and at the Regency Grand into which our Molly must somehow figure a way out. Well done, Nita Prose. *****

Shattered (Michael Bennett #14) by James Patterson

The continuing saga of NYPD Detective Michael Bennett. Fresh from his honeymoon in Ireland with the lovely Mary Catherine (who stepmothers his 10 adopted kids!), Bennett flees to DC to investigate the disappearance of his former partner (and lover?) FBI agent Emily Parker. Given the cold shoulder by most members of the DC police and by the FBI, Michael is taken under the wings of hot shot FBI agent Bobby Patel, who is currently Emily's partner. The case becomes confusing with connections to powerful DC politicians: US Senators, Supreme Court members and even a disgruntled local terrorist group. Everyone wants Michael off the case, including the NYPD Police Commissioner. But Bennett decides to stay the course to see what he can see. He owes it to Emily and even has Mary Catherine's approval! But Bennett stirs up a hornet's nest of trouble and races the clock to solve the now murder of Parker before he is lassoed back to N.Y.C. ****

              Mark with son Dylan and his wife Sasha


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