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Air Date: Oct. 8, 2023
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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz.
Today's reading recommendations take place in faraway lands – small town Ireland and mythical Greece.
First, we’re going to hear from Kat, a librarian from the Edmonds Library, for a taste of historical fiction.
“Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan is set in the not-too-distant past, 1985. A time that many would argue was a simpler time. But were things really better?
The story takes place in a small town in Ireland. Bill Furlong, a devoted hard-working, church-going husband and father of five young daughters, discovers a secret in his humble town that shocks him into facing an uncomfortable truth. Not only does he struggle with what he discovers but it also jogs uncomfortable memories of his own childhood as he pulls at the strings of how his young mother was able to raise him as a single woman. The luck and misfortune that he experienced reminds him of how he can help shape the future for another less fortunate.
The characters and the town were all flawed, but also beautifully crafted by Keegan. Based on the Magdalen laundries, asylums run by Roman Catholic institutions for most of the 20th century, Keegan reveals the power the church held over a community of people who are just scraping by.
Keegan’s writing has that rare quality of expressing so much in just a few words. The story is set around Christmas time, and you can almost feel the cold air creeping under the door jam, her writing is that masterful.
Thanks, Kat! This sounds like an atmospheric read, perfect for the coming winter days.
Next, let’s hear from Jordyn, librarian at the Lake Stevens Library, for a retelling of a mythical tale.
You may have heard stories of the Trojan War, but you’ve never heard them like this. “Wrath Goddess Sing” by Maya Deane takes readers on a journey of epic proportions through 12th century BCE Mediterranean, touched by war and the Greek gods themselves.
Deeply embedded in historical fact and myth, “Wrath Goddess Sing” retells “The Iliad” from the perspective of Achilles as a trans woman. When Odysseus arrives on the island where she’s taking refuge, Achilles prepares to die rather than be forced to return home and fight as a man.
A gift from her divine mother Athena allows Achilles to remain her true self and face her prophesized destiny: win the war for Greece and bring the stolen Helen of Troy home. But Helen is much more than the damsel-in-distress she’s made out to be, and Achilles finds herself against forces more ancient and powerful than she could have imagined.
This book is as beautiful as it is brutal, and expertly juggles its vast scope with realistic characters. I love how Deane can take you from contemplating the horrors of war to a tender moment between sisters and make both feel just as real and important.
Full of ancient magic, meddling gods, monumental battles, and globe-spanning adventures, “Wrath Goddess Sing” is an unforgettable epic that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
Thanks Jordyn! Changing the perspective to a trans woman is a compelling interpretation, and welcome representation.
Our recommendations this week are: “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan and "Wrath Goddess Sing” by Maya Deane.
Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations – interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.
Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.
Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER.
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