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A place to discover new authors and books. A Blog by the Librarians of the Northfield Public Library. Get the inside scoop on books and authors. Uncover the best reading for you and your book group.River City Librarian
Updated: 14 min 31 sec ago

New Fiction Titles

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 11:57am
We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas.  2014
Eileen Tumulty was born in Woodside, Queens, and raised by her drinking Irish parents.  She took care of them and eventually went to nursing school, although she originally thought she wanted a higher status job, such as law or politics.  She meets Ed Leary, a research scientist, and marries him.  She encourages him to move up in the world.  She wants a nicer house and nicer things than her parents had.  They live in the house where he grew up, and rent floors to other families.  Ed stays at a community college where he has a lab and is happy.  She pressures Ed to move to a nicer house, but he is reluctant.  They have one son, Connell.  Eileen wants more for him that she had, and is pleased when he is accepted into a competitive high school.
Around the time Connell is beginning high school, it is clear that something is changing with Ed.  He is spending more and more time preparing for his classes, and is repeatedly going over his grading and recording grades.  He finally breaks down and admits he needs Eileen’s help entering his grades.  Eileen finally takes him to a doctor and he is diagnosed with early onset dementia.  He is only 51 years old.  Eileen suspects that he knew he was coming down with this disease.   He tries to keep his job until he is at 30 years, for retirement benefits, but the college eventually calls and says he is unable to perform his job, and must retire.   Eileen then faces having Ed at home while she is at work.  He is able to function for a while, but eventually she hires a Russian immigrant to watch him during the day.  He ends up in the hospital for a while, after hurting himself.  Eventually, Eileen must put him in a nursing home because she is unable to physically move him around and care for him.  The story follows his decline, Eileen’s road to acceptance to her life without Ed, and Connell’s dealing with his father’s illness.
This is a well written novel, and an excellent description of a family caught in the throes of early onset dementia.  The journey of the son, who has a hard time dealing with the illness and loss of his father, finally turns his life around and becomes a teacher.  One of the most touching scenes was when Connell reads a letter that Ed wrote to him before his illness took over, in which he encourages him to remember all that they shared while he was growing up, and not to remember him as diseased.

  The Story Hour by Thrity  Umrigar,  2014
This author always writes good, psychological novels, and this newest novel is not an exception. Maggie is a therapist, and a black woman married to Sudhir, an Indian math professor.  A woman about 30 years old comes to the hospital, after she attempted suicide.  Maggie feels sorry for her and agrees to take her on as a client pro bono.  Lakshmi’s husband owns a grocery store/restaurant.
Maggie realizes that Lakshmi is in a loveless marriage, but she knows that many Indian marriages are arranged.  Maggie allows the boundaries between therapist and patient fall down, and Lakshmi sees Maggie as a friend.  Meanwhile, Maggie has been attracted to a photographer, Peter, who is back at the college for a year.  They become involved, and Maggie struggles with why she is risking her steady, solid marriage for this.

Maggie and Lakshmi’s lives get intertwined when she begins bringing  Maggie and Sudhir Indian food, and he hires her to cook or a party.  Friends also hire her, to both cook and clean.   The boundary between therapist and client are irrevocably crossed when Lakshmi uncovers a secret in Maggie's life, and Maggie cannot accept something Lakshmi reveals in therapy.  Yet, when Maggie's marriage falls apart, Lakshmi is able to help her.    Although the ending is a bit of a stretch,  it was very touching, and demonstrated how all the characters had grown, from knowing and being with each other.   
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