I have just finished reading How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, for my Book Club (WWB's official in-store book club--its been a lot of fun, contact me to join) and it ranks as one of my favorite fiction picks in a while. New Yorker Daisy exiles herself to stay with estranged cousins, actually she's never met them, in the English countryside. Four precocious cousins and their mother live in a sprawling, charming old house, embedded in the lush natural landscape. Her Aunt Penn is busy in the city with some hazy government work and the 5 of them make due at home without any adult supervision, filling their days with farmwork, picnics and reading. Idyllic, until the war begins.
I was blown away by this story. I love that Rosoff had decided to set the events during an imagined war, one that feeds on confusion and seems to be a historical pastiche of conflicts during the last century. Rosoff is a master storyteller, an impeccable writer, and dammit, she made me weep (I won't tell you at which part but if you fnd me in the store, ask me and I will say as much as I can before excusing myself, hardly contained, for the washroom). But seriously, a novel like this proves the resonance of literature and its importance for the human heart.
And no less resonant-y, The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams, just arrived in stock. I read an ARC a few months back and I couldn't wait to see this one in print:
"'If I was going to kill the Prophet,' I say, not even keeping my voice low, 'I'd do it in Africa'"
So begins the story of Kyra, a 13 year old girl living with her father and his three wives in a fundamentalist mormon compound in Utah. Kyra remembers when the current Prophet's father was their leader, when she could stil read Dr. Seuss, but that was before the book burnings. The current Prophet is a piece of work, forcing the young girls to intermarry into their immediate family, men 50+ their seniors. And then there are the disappearing babies.
Kyra is betrothed to her father's brother, the Prophet's right-hand man. Her only escape is to sneak away every week to visit the bookmobile that parks just outside the compound. She contemplates books, the ambiguity of freedom, the nature of evil, and about Joshua, the boy she truly loves. Pick it up.