Friday, December 9, 2011

Read Alike: Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards' character-driven writing style in "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," with themes of unbreakable family bonds, the roller-coaster of emotions she takes her readers on, and the ultimately hopeful ending, is shared by many other popular authors. If you enjoyed "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," you might enjoy books by these authors as well!

Anne Tyler - Like Edwards, Anne Tyler's novels center around family relationships and her characters are usually driven by their roles within their families. Her novels also center on the discovery of or the tension caused by some kind of family secret. Tyler's stories unfold at a leisurely pace, often infused with humor and are character-driven. Tyler's 2001 novel "Back When We Were Grownups," focuses on 53-year-old grandmother, Rebecca Davitch - widowed after only 6 years of marriage - as she reflects on the life she might have had if she hadn't followed her heart to the altar at age 19. In one of Tyler's earlier works, "Breathing Lessons," (1988) readers follow Maggie and Ira Moran as they make the 90-mile drive to Maggie's best-friend's husband's funeral. On the way, they reflect on their lives together and apart in this character-driven, seriocomic journey.

Sue Monk Kidd - Kidd's debut novel, "The Secret Life of Bees" (2000) is set in 1964 and features fourteen-year-old Lily and her motherly servant Rosaleen as they run from Lily's abusive father and the police who battered Rosaleen for defending her new right to vote. Following an inscription of "Tiburon, S.C." found on one Lily's late mother's possessions, she and Rosaleen travel to South Carolina and take shelter with a trio of African-American beekeepers. There, Lily and Rosaleen find a safe haven and Lily begins to uncover the truth about her mother. Themes of friendship, self-discovery and redemption are strong throughout thus novel, which in 2008 was made into a major motion picture. Kidd's 2005 novel "The Mermaid Chair" follows similar themes as as a woman is called back to the island she grew up on to care for her mother who has inexplicably cut off one of her fingers, perhaps in atonement for a secret transgression. While there, she develops a strong attraction to a Benedictine monk and is forced to reexamine her marriage and the choices she has made.

Jane Smiley -Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize winning "A Thousand Acres" (1991) examines the buried secrets that haunt the family of Larry Cook, owner of a 1,000 acre farm in Iowa, and his three daughters as Larry abruptly announces that he is giving up farming, and turning the family farm over to his two oldest daughters. With echoes of "King Lear," Smiley's novel exposes the tension that can exist in families, and the guilt and bitterness that results. Smiley's 2010 novel, "Private Life" has a similarly dark tone, this time set in pre-World War II America, as the wife of a brilliant yet distant scientist is forced to reexamine her life in light of her husband's deepening obsessions.

Elizabeth Strout - Best-selling Elizabeth Strout first novel, "Amy and Isabelle" (1998) explores the complex relationship between mother and daughter in a small New England town during the late 1960s. When 16-year-old Amy falls in love with her math teacher, her mother Isabelle's barely repressed shame and anger over her own past is exposed. Events come to a head when Amy's relationship with her teacher is revealed, and members of Amy's father's family, who Isabelle claimed were dead, suddenly get in touch. This bittersweet, character-driven novel focuses on the interactions between family members, and how the pressures of the larger world affects them. Strout's 2008 "Olive Kitteridge" also takes place in a small town and, in thirteen linked short stories, follows abrasive and vulnerable retired schoolteacher Olive as the world - and the people around her change. Again, Strout looks beneath the surface of ordinary life to expose the sadnesses and the joys of everyday life.

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

Happy reading!

~ Allison, Adult Services

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