Island girl mystery, animal advocates, coming of age…

This week at the Gilpin Library

by Larry Grieco, Librarian

There is a new book in the library by a young writer named Edwidge Danticat, who has written a number of previous books and whose novel, Brother, I’m Dying, won a National Book Critics Circle Award, and whose other books have each garnered either nominations or wins for a number of other American literary awards. Her new novel is Claire of the Sea Light and tells the story of a young girl on the island of Haiti. Claire’s mother died giving birth to her, and when Claire reaches her seventh birthday, her poor fisherman father has had to make the sad decision to give her to a local shopkeeper who lost a child of her own, to insure a better life for Claire. Sometime that day Claire disappears and is nowhere to be found. The entire town looks for her and “painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed” among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire and to her parents. The New York Times Book Review:“Danticat’s calm clarity of vision takes on the resonance of folk art. Extraordinarily ambitious…Extraordinarily successful.”

A new novel by Neil Abramson is about “animals, mortality, and the power of love.” Helena, a veterinarian who had “mercifully escorted thousands of animals to the other side,” now is dead herself. She finds that it is not easy to move on, so she haunts the life she left behind. David, her attorney husband, “struggles with grief and the demands of caring for her houseful of damaged and beloved animals.” The last project Helena was working on involved a chimpanzee named Cindy, who “may unlock the mystery of communication and consciousness,” but to reach that goal the experimentation will take Cindy’s life. David becomes embroiled in a courtroom drama to save the chimpanzee’s life. The novel is called Unsaid, and it has been lavished with praise by animal advocates everywhere. “Unsaid will really make you think about the relationship between people and animals. I was not able to put it down, and I read parts of it twice.” (Temple Grandin)

Award winning novelist Megan Abbott gives us a new novel about young girls coming of age. In Dare Me, we have the inner workings and politics associated with a high school cheerleading squad. While seniors Beth and Addy have been “ruling the roost” for a long time, a new coach takes over who changes the power structure. New Coach Colette French has the charisma to draw Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life, with Beth not willing to relinquish her assumed power over the group. Beth “wages a vicious campaign to regain her position as ‘top girl’ – both with the team and with Addy herself.” In the midst of it all, a tragic suicide suddenly focuses a police investigation on the coach and her squad, and Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death, but it leads her to “the boundary between loyalty and love,” which can be “dangerous terrain.”

We’re zooming in on the fourth film in our current series. The film is Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and it tells the story of lonely widow Emmi Jurowski who meets Arab worker Ali in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, surprising themselves and everyone around them. Fassbinder “expertly uses the emotional power of the melodrama to reflect the ethnic tensions within German society.” In German with English subtitles. Our favorite film critic, Walter Chaw, will be on hand to introduce the film and lead discussion afterwards.  Join us at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, for this extraordinary Gilpin County movie experience. Admission, popcorn, cookies, water and ideas are all free, compliments of the Friends of the Library.

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