Take This Man: A Memoir
I think I've said this before, but I'm really only interested in memoirs if the writer's life has something that is unequivocally unique from mine. If you're a normal person who went on a journey or something, I'm not super interested because let's be real. I could go on a journey if I felt so inclined to put down my book and get off the couch. At any rate, Brando Skyhorse definitely had a story to tell, one that is thankfully unique from my life. When he was three years old, his father abandoned him and his mother. His mother seized the opportunity to reinvent their lives and told Brando he was son of Paul Skyhorse Johnson, an American Indian activist. However, Paul is in prison, so Brando lives his life with a rotating cast of fathers and his acerbic, verbally abusive mom and sometimes overbearing grandma. It takes thirty years for Brando to untangle the web of lies his mom wove and attempt to find his father, whether biological or the man who was willing to fill that role.
What was really gripping about this story was the extent of Brando's mom deception and the long-lasting effect it had on his life. I was definitely pulled in to his story and his pain.
The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel
Arturo, Alma and their daughter Maribel come from Mexico to America, after Maribel suffers a tragic accident and is left with brain damage. They believe that in the land of opportunity, Maribel can get what she needs. They move into the same apartment complex as the Toro family, a family from Panama. Mayor Toro, the son of the family, falls in love with Maribel at first sight, despite her limitations. Interwoven amongst both families are stories of others who have come to America, seeking prosperity and opportunity. This was a beautiful, rich story that reached in depth to humanize those that we may sometimes overlook.
Natchez Burning: A Novel (Penn Cage)
At almost 800 pages, this book consumed most of my reading time this week. This is the first installment of a trilogy and was definitely captivating. Set in Mississippi and told from the perspective of Penn Cage, a mayor whose father was just accused of murder, the book chronicles race relations and decades old murders in this southern town. Penn's point-of-view is balanced with that of Henry, a journalist set on exposing the horrific crimes of the Golden Eagles, a KKK splinter group who claimed to be behind the assassination of MLK Jr and RFK. With the length of this book, this is not one you sit down and breeze through. There was a lot going on and a lot of plot shifts and points to remember, so it definitely took me awhile to make my way through it, but it was an enjoyable, interesting read.
What are you reading?