Staff Picks: June 2013

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife Book Cover

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a World War II story about two Polish zookeepers, Jan and Antonina Zabinski. Each person blessed with special gifts that keep the Warsaw Zoo thriving during times of peace, as well as wartime. As the war changes the lives of many, the zoo is also changed. As the majority of animals are lost to death and greed, Jan and Antonina use the zoo’s losses to save the lives of the Jewish people being persecuted. People are hidden in the zoo’s enclosures, and given names that correspond with the enclosures previous inhabitants. A touching read about the hardships and perseverance one family encountered during WWII.

This Magnificent Desolation

This Magnificent Desolation Book Cover

How do you write a book that is both sad and wonderful? O'Malley has done this in a way that is mesmerizing in plot and almost poetic in his writing style. It takes place in an orphanage in northern Minnesota and details the life of a boy named Duncan who was left there by his mother during the worst blizzard of the century. As the story develops we come to know his mother, a lounge singer in San Francisco, and her boyfriend, a Vietnam vet who works as part of a tunneling crew beneath the bay. Another interesting aspect is Duncan's reliance on a transistor radio that broadcasts the voices of Apollo mission astronauts who never came home. This novel deals with memory, imagination, friendship, and love on many levels.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay Book Cover

This is a book of short stories of the Appalachian region that Rash is known for. Spanning the time of the Civil War until the present day, these are stories of hope, tenderness, fear, and violence, all written with elements of raw truth and emotion.