Book Buzz Episode 25 – When We Were Young & Black Sheep

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Air date: Nov. 26, 2023

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When We Were Young

Black Sheep

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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 are two books that examine how delicate relationships can be.

First, we’re going to hear from Ruth, librarian at the Mountlake Terrace Library, for a humorous tale of friendship. Over to you, Ruth.


Hello. So if you like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, A Man Called Ove, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, then this adult fiction title is for you. When We Were Young by Richard Roper, is very funny, very British, and it manages to be poignant, heartwarming, and even surprising.

Meet Theo, who is about to turn 30, is living in his parents’ shed, and being told gently but firmly that he is being evicted. On the same day, his estranged friend Joel, his one true buddy from high school, shows up to ask a favor.

The reader knows that something terrible happened when they were 16 that destroyed their friendship. Nevertheless, Joel is asking Theo to keep a promise they made when they were young, to walk the Thames path, a 186-mile trail that follows the length of the river Thames. Because Joel has a bribe that Theo can’t resist, the two set out on the walk, and things start to go awry from the get-go.

I loved the book because these two Brits who are so terrible at communicating kind of have the truth knocked loose bit by bit as they encounter odd situations and eccentric characters.

The writing is hysterical, and the characters are lovable. When We Were Young is compassionate, kind and forgiving. And the ending is deeply satisfying.


Thanks, Ruth. This sounds like a heart-warming story, perfect for brightening these dark winter days.

Next, we’ll hear from Lois, librarian at the Snohomish Library, for a story of family secrets. Take it away, Lois.


Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison is a compelling horror novel that I couldn't put down. I enjoyed the twists and turns as we learn about the main character’s family and the cult-like church she grew up in.

Vesper’s mom is a horror film star and has always treated her very coldly. When Vesper turned 18, she left her religious family for New York City and never turned back. Seven years later, she receives a wedding invitation from her cousin and best friend Rosie.  Even though Vesper is not looking forward to returning to the toxic environment she escaped, something inside her tells her she needs to attend the wedding.

Upon returning home, Vesper confronts a shocking family secret, forcing her to navigate her own identity in this eerie tale of familial bonds and self-discovery.

While this book is dark, there are funny, light-hearted moments that provide an interesting contrast. As a horror reader, I also enjoyed the gorier moments, which were artfully done. The main character has a lot of spunk and I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire book.

Similar to Harrison’s prior works, Black Sheep is centered around a strong female character with a brilliant narrative that balances heart, humor, and horror.


Thanks, Lois! Harrison’s first novel The Return was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award so I’ll be sure to add Black Sheep to my to-be-read list.

Our recommendations this week are: When We Were Young by Richard Roper and Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison.

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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