Theme-based reading recommendations; unknown aspects of American history, water ecosystems, and houseboats.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Before We Were Yours accomplishes something I relish while reading for pleasure – it taught me something. The story is about a Tenessee baby stealing ring, Depression-era shantyboat culture, and institutional mistreatment of children.
For me, the most intriguing storyline follows a riverboat family from the ‘before’ time. Descriptions of nature knowledge gained while living on the Mississippi River are lush and sensory. It reminded me of the next book on this list.
The heartbreak, terror, and powerlessness suffered by poor birth families taken advantage of while at their most vulnerable and children separated from loving parents, and further – siblings from each other – was worthy of the strong emotions it stirred.
This book strengthened my convictions about the support needed for defenseless populations and about prosecuting those who value money over humanity.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The “Marsh Girl” is an enigma in the backwater settlement closest to Catherine’s (aka Kya) home.
Abandoned by her mother, siblings, and eventually, by her abusive alcoholic father, the youngster navigates on her own through her teen and young adult years. She becomes an avid self-taught naturalist who delves into life the cycles of the animals and plants in her South Carolina marsh environment.
‘Fear of other’ and class bias causes her neglectful community to turn against her when the son of a prominent family is found dead.
Where the Crawdads Sing will delight natural history readers while highlighting the social and emotional damage caused by indifference and loneliness.
Floating Point by Shelley Buck
Shelley Buck’s contemporary memoir gives the reader a viewpoint of life on a houseboat in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Shelley is a dot.com spouse with a high school-aged son attending a financially challenged charter school. While developing her author career, she seeks out a creative housing solution in uber-expensive Silicon Valley. Her journey takes the reader into a fluid dock community, repairs and maintenance unique to houseboats, and waterfront real estate under constant pressure from developers.
Buck’s canine-loving and nature appreciating observations intermingle with poetic narratives and moments of anxiety as she navigates through her soon-to-be empty nest and approaching retirement years.
If your reading mood calls for nature and water and you’ve got emotional reserves to explore traumatic children’s issues, Before We Were Yours and Where Crawdads Sing are great choices. If you want an uplifting family saga fraught with kids, pets, and mechanical challenges, Floating Point should hit the mark.
Best Wishes for Compelling Reading!
For ten more book recommendations from a historical fiction author/ reader, visit World of Mailman.
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