Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao is the story of two young girls who are trying to find their place in a world that values men higher than women. Poornima and Savitha are the eldest girls in their respective families in India. Chance leads the girls together where they strike up a once-in-a-lifetime friendship. Poornima’s mother died when she was young, leaving her to fill the mother role to all of her younger siblings long before she was actually ready to fulfill it. Working hard to help her father provide for the family, Poornima quickly realizes that even though her family isn’t dirt poor, they’re still scraping by. To help supplement their income, Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, thus allowing Poornima’s family to bring in more money while also giving Savitha money for hers. Poornima and Savitha begin to turn to each other for comfort. Savitha’s family is more impoverished than Poornima’s, but Savitha quickly shows Poornima how to find joy and beauty in the little day to day parts of life. Savitha’s infectious personality finally allows Poornima to imagine the possibility of a fulfilling life beyond the arranged marriage her father is so desperately looking for her to fill.
Just when Poornima and Savitha have reached a comfortable rhythm, a devastating act of cruelty and violence occurs that destroys their newfound joy. As a result, Savitha is ruined and driven away from their small village. Poornima is wrecked and decides to do everything in her power to find Savitha, so they can live a happy life together. Poornima’s journey takes her away from everything that she is accustomed to and everything that she holds dear. Poornima finds herself searching India’s dark underworld for any sign of Savitha. Willing to do anything to find her, Poornima goes on a journey across India and even ends up traveling to the United States.
This novel alternates between both Poornima and Savitha’s perspectives. They have never lost hope that they will eventually find each other, even when circumstances turn dangerous. Rao tackles many urgent issues facing women across the world: immigration, feminism, human trafficking, and domestic abuse, just to name a few. These issues provide a solid foundation for Rao to explore how friendship and the will to survive can help women work towards a better, more hopeful future.
This book is also available in the following formats:
I’m an anxious flyer. The whole process terrifies me. To keep myself calm, I usually avoid fiction that has anything to do with planes or crashes. Jessica Barry’s novel, Freefall, was a notable exception as from the very beginning, readers know that the main character survived! A novel involving a plane crash with a positive outcome? Yes please!
Freefall by Jessica Barry is a psychological thriller following the lives of Maggie Carpenter and her daughter Allison. Maggie lives in Owl Creek, Maine. At home one day, Maggie isn’t surprised to see a police officer at her front door, given that he’s the husband of one of her best friends. What he has to say, however, shocks her to her core. Allison is dead. She died in a private plane crash in the mountains in Colorado. People keep telling Maggie that Allison’s death was a terrible accident, but she finds that hard to believe. Allison has always been a survivor. Looking for answers, Maggie digs deep into Allison’s life and the situation that led to her death. Maggie lost touch with her daughter over two years ago, but she hopes that Allison’s life hasn’t changed that much since then. Her research pulls up startling revelations that Maggie isn’t prepared to know, but what she finds gives her more hope that Allison is alive. Maggie must do everything she can to find Allison, even if that means looking through every detail of her daughter’s life.
While Maggie learns more about Allison, Allison herself is struggling to survive. She has survived the plane crash and is wounded. Hiking through the mountains, Allison is running from her past. As she fights her way to freedom and struggles to survive in the wilderness, Allison has to come to terms with the mess her life has become. She has lost her perfect fiancé and the luxurious way of life to which she has become accustomed. As she trudges through the forest looking through any signs of civilization, Allison frequently flashes back to previous moments in her life. Engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, Allison thought she had it all. How did she end up with so many dark secrets? How did she end up willing to leave it all behind? How will she survive? What if the people after her get to her mother? Allison must make it back to her mother in time. Hoping against all hope that Maggie is safe, Allison fights to get to Maine no matter the consequences.
This book is told from both Maggie and Allison’s perspectives giving readers a glimpse into how far a mother and daughter are willing to go when the other is in danger. Even though they are separated by distance and their relationship is strained, both Maggie and Allison feel a tug connecting them as each works to protect and keep the other from coming to any harm.
Also I forgot to mention that Maggie is a retired librarian! How cool is that?? Read this book and let me know what you think of it in the comments below.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Hello Challenge Readers and welcome to April! This month we’re going to be reading about a favorite topic of all of ours – Reading! The choices range from books about bookshops and libraries, to brave librarians (is there any other kind of librarian?!) to books within books. There’s no shortage of great titles! Here are a few of mine.
First and foremost, The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Centered on the 1986 fire that destroyed a huge part of the Los Angeles Public Library, Orlean delves into such diverse subjects as architecture, fire fighting, the history of Los Angeles and the presence of libraries in our lives. Beautifully written, it’s a love letter to libraries. (There’s a waiting list so if you haven’t read this, get your name on the list right away even if you don’t read it for the April Reading Challenge!)
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken is a very unusual romance between a small town librarian and a 7 foot tall giant. McCracken’s observations about librarys and librarians is spot on and the platonic love story is poignant and beautifully written.
Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan mixes a magical realism and an epic search for the answer to a hundred year old puzzle. The clues are hidden in books in a mysterious bookstore in San Francisco, patronized by an odd collection of characters. A fun and twisty read. Bonus: the cover glows in the dark! Really! I checked!
Want to read something classic? Try Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Science fiction readers will love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series about a police force that guards anyone from getting into a book and changing it. For something more serious, try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak set in Nazi Germany or Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi about educating girls in Iran. Love graphic novels? Then The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffeneger is a great choice. Prefer something lighter? Try The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett which answers the question, what would happen if Queen Elizabeth became an avid reader? And if you haven’t read it yet now is the perfect time to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which is lovely and fun but with a serious undertone.
As always, there will be displays at each Davenport library location with lots of titles to choose from.
I am planning on reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield which has been on my list for a long time. Although, I’m also considering The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. Or even The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy. Hmmmm. So many good choices. Any recommendations? And what will you be reading in April? Let us know in the comments!
You may already be familiar with the Community Experience Passes that are available at the Davenport Library. These passes give you free access to great local attractions such as the Putnum Museum, the Figge Art Museum and the German American Heritage Center. They are quite popular and we strive to add more experiences to our collection whenever possible. Today we are pleased to announce the addition of our newest Community Experience Pass – the Skip the Line I-74 Bridge Pass!
As you know, crossing the Mighty Mississippi River via the I-74 Bridge can be, shall we say, a bit frustrating these days. Traffic back-up, long lines, major detours – it all adds up to a great deal of waiting and perhaps a bit of colorful language. Yet for many, this is a vital pathway that must be tackled frequently, even daily. That’s where the Skip the Line I-74 Bridge Pass comes in! By-pass all the struggle of getting across the river and arrive at your destination happy and relaxed! It’s a Quad-Citians dream come true!
And they couldn’t be easier to use! Simply present your pass at the Grant Street exit if you are Illinois-bound or, if you’re heading to Iowa, at the 7th Avenue exit. A disgruntled construction worker will approach your car. Show him or her your pass and then use the code “there are no oranges in the canoe”. The seemingly unhappy worker will smile sunnily and reply “the albatross flies at midnight” and wave you toward the secret passage. That’s it! Easy peasy! Of course, if the construction worker seems confused and does not smile, you’ve run into someone that isn’t in on the secret. It’d be best if you abandoned your car and flee.
Community Experiences Passes are restricted to Davenport Library card holders only. They check out for one week and have unlimited use during that time. Passes can also be reserved, but not for a specific day or week. Overdue charges are steep – $30 per day! So enjoy your worry-free travel week, then return the pass promptly!
April Fool! (sadly)