By Angie Georgeff
Good news: The harvest has begun! We recently received a large shipment of books aimed at children, teens and adults. Since it was impossible to choose only one book to highlight from all that bounty, I chose three.
Emma Donoghue’s “Akin” introduces us to Noah Selvaggio. Approaching his 80th birthday and recently retired, the former professor decides to visit his native hometown of Nice. Noah had been separated from his mother during World War II when he was sent to live with his father in America and his mother stayed behind in France to care for her father. He hopes to learn more about his mother’s family and the role she may have played in rescuing children from the Nazis.
His plans are jeopardized when he learns that he is the only available relative of his nephew’s 11-year-old son, Michael. With his father dead and his mother in prison, Michael has nothing in common with Noah except a portion of his DNA. However, unwilling either to give up the trip or to abandon Michael, Noah takes him along to the French Riviera. There the two use photographs that had belonged to Noah’s mother to piece together the puzzle of the life she led in Vichy France.
In William Kent Krueger’s “This Tender Land,” Odysseus “Odie” O’Banion reminisces about his childhood during the Great Depression. Consigned to the brutal Lincoln Indian Training School after their father is murdered, 8-year-old Odie and his older brother Albert endure four years of inadequate provisions and harsh treatment before they escape the institution along with a Sioux teenager and a precocious little girl. The four friends begin their travels in a canoe with St. Louis as their destination, but their journey proves to be just as convoluted as that of Odie’s namesake Odysseus and the characters they encounter just as strange and varied.
“This Tender Land” is being compared to Delia Owens’s “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and it has quickly landed on the bestseller lists. Although it was published with an adult audience in mind, it may have crossover appeal to some teenagers. Similarly, Dahlia Adler’s anthology “His Hideous Heart” was published with a teen audience in mind but may have crossover appeal to adults, especially those who enjoy the macabre.
In “His Hideous Heart,” 13 young adult authors reimagine some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most beloved tales of horror and mystery in order to make them more accessible to a new generation. Oct. 7 will mark the 170th anniversary of Poe’s death, and late October is always a good time to curl up with one of his tales, so the timing of this release is perfect.