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Library Happenings – Staff names top picks for 2014 (Dec. 24, 2014 issue)

The library will be closed for Christmas on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 24 and 25, but we will be open our normal business hours on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 26 and 27. We will close at 4 on Wednesday, Dec. 31, and remain closed on Thursday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years.
Staff Picks for 2014
This year has produced a bountiful crop of fine fiction. In the spirit of yearend retrospectives and top ten lists, I asked each staff member to choose which book published during this year she liked best. Our 2014 recommendations will be revealed in this column and the next.
Kristy chose “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner. Juggling is amusing when an entertainer does it under the big top, but it is not always enjoyable when we have to do it in our daily lives. When Allison Weiss finds herself juggling a distant husband, a difficult child, aging parents and a demanding job, she adds another ball to help her cope with the unrelenting stress: prescription painkillers.
Before long all those balls come tumbling down. Allison’s journey toward redemption leads her through rehab, a place that is as foreign to her as Reykjavik. Kristy notes that even though this book may be darker than others by this popular author, it still is fun.
For Connie and me, the hands-down winner was “Long Man” by Amy Greene. When I was asked to present the program at a hobo-themed Get Acquainted Club meeting, I gave a “book talk” about “Long Man.” Since Amos, one of the main characters, is a hobo, it suited the occasion. But it’s the drama of its plot that makes a novel an ideal candidate for a book talk. “Long Man” has drama in spades.
It is 1936 and the river the Cherokee called “Long Man” has been dammed. Behind the mammoth concrete structure, the reservoir is filling faster than expected because of the unusually stormy summer. Trees are losing their hold on the sodden earth and crashing in the wind. The small East Tennessee town of Yuneetah will soon be inundated, sacrificed by the federal government for electricity, jobs and flood control.
Almost all of the people in the valley have left, but Annie Clyde Dodson holds out until the last moment. She wants her three-year-old daughter Gracie to inherit the land; her husband James prefers a more secure future in Michigan.
As the rains fall and the waters creep toward the family farm, Gracie disappears. Annie Clyde is certain that Amos took her, and she is determined to recover her child – whether dead or alive – before she leaves Yuneetah.