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Book reviews: Bookstore offers suggestions from bestseller list

“Commonwealth,” by Ann Patchett

Blended families have become more prominent in our culture. Regardless of its cause, either death or divorce, it can take a toll on all involved: step-parents, custodial parents, step-siblings, all attempting to redefine the concept of “family.”

“Commonwealth” is a novel about two families whose fates are set into motion one afternoon in the 1960s at a Los Angeles christening party. Patchett cleverly positions the six step-siblings at the center of this domestic drama, revealing secrets and tragedies through the span of five decades. Ironically, as this character-driven story explores the relationships between members of a complicated blended family, there is some hope to be found. I loved this book. It gave me food for thought.



— Virgie DeNucci, bookseller at Off The Beaten Path

“Into the Water,” by Paula Hawkins



Danielle Abbott, single mother of precocious 15-year-old Lena, is found dead at the bottom of the river. This river seems to have been the demise of many troublesome women, starting all the way back to 1679 with Libby, a girl who had an affair with a married man, was deemed a witch and promptly drowned by the townspeople of Beckford.

Does Danielle’s research into these women and the history of the river and drowning pool have anything to do with her death? Lena and her Aunt Jules are left in the wake of this sudden death to figure out what happened. Jules has to face the many demons of Beckford and the river she vowed never to return to. Looking for a fast read, steeped in the mysteries surrounding a river and all that lies beneath the surface? This book is for you and fans of books like “Girl on the Train,” “Gone Girl” and “The Widow.”

— Kimberly Brack, bookseller at Off The Beaten Path

“Lilac Girls,” by Martha Hall Kelly

This book, based on real characters and events during World War II, is uplifting, wretched and well-written. It’s based on the life of Caroline Ferriday, who had been a Broadway actress and became a liaison to the French consulate before the war had reached the United States. The war started in earnest in Poland by 1939, and we’re given a fictionalized, though realistic, look at the enormity of the horrors that became realities for young girls and women in Poland. We’re given a look at Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women. Mutilations were performed in the name of medical research on many of the girls, which left many lame and deformed. Those horrors were performed by a female doctor who was trying to prove she was as competent a surgeon as a man.

— Katie Davidson, bookseller at Off The Beaten Path.

These books are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path.


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