Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrate our Independence and Independents

July is the month that we Americans celebrate our independence and is the perfect time to celebrate our independents, too. Independent businesses that is. Your locally owned, community focused, sales tax paying businesses that contribute so much to making Colorado the wonderful place it is to live and visit. So hats off to all the restaurateurs, retailers and thousands of other independent Colorado companies.

July is also prime vacation time for Coloradans, and what's a vacation without a really great book? And July is hot, so I'll begin with one of the hottest books of the
summer. The Passage, by award winning writer Justin Cronin is a brilliantly imagined world gone very wrong, with civilization crumbling under an unspeakable military experiment gone bad. But there's hope. Cronin penned this tome at the request of his daughter who asked that he wrote a novel about a girl who saves the world. Be ready to enter a different and frightening world and don't make any other plans when you dive into this novel, the first of a planned trilogy.

My next suggestion is yin to Cronin's yang. The heartbreaking, very human story of What Is Left The Daughter by Howard Norman, unfolds in the form of a long letter written by Wyatt Hillyer to the daughter he has not seen in 18 years. Wyatt is orphaned at 17 when his parents both commit suicide by jumping off separate bridges on the same day. He is taken in by his aunt and uncle and becomes an apprentice to his uncle, a sled and tobaggon craftsman. Their adopted daughter Tilda becomes the object of Wyatt's love and obsession, though Tilda is in love with a young German student. The novel is set in the dark days of WWII on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where German U-boats lurk and bombard military and civilian vessels, showing no mercy for innocent passengers thrown into the icy waters. The beauty of What Is Left The Daughter is manifested in Norman's skill at creating a heartbreakingly realistic cast of characters whose flaws and drives and passions lead to all too human tragedy. This moving novel will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst falls somewhere between the first two novels as far as fanciful versus realism is concerned. The title of this entertaining book refers to the title of a manuscript that Octavia Frost, a bestselling novelist, is about to turn in to her publisher when she sees a headline scrolling across Times Square, flashing to the world the news that her long estranged rock star son has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. The novel alternates between the story of Octavia, her son Milo and the family tragedy that ultimately tore them apart and the manuscript that Octavia just finished in which she's rewritten the endings to all of her bestselling books, giving them all happy endings.

And happy reading to you.


(originally posted at

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