Whether or not you want to have children is a decisive topic. No Kidding by writer Vero Cazot, with art & colors by Madeline Martin, tackles this serious subject with humor and gravitas. Martin and Cazot examine what it means to be childless and how difficult it can be to find supportive people when you are childless, whether it be your choice or not. In addition to a section at the end of the book dedicated to people fighting for a woman’s right to choose, the author also intersperses random history nuggets throughout their book.
No Kiddingis a modern feminist graphic novel that tackles a woman’s right to choose by highlighting the lives of two women. Jane is a 35 year old woman who doesn’t want to be a mother. She has been with her partner for eight years and thought that he felt the same way. All of a sudden, he is having doubts, leading the two to do some major soul-searching. Lucy was just accepted to the school of her dreams. Her current plans do not involve having a child, but she became pregnant. She knows that she wants to terminate the pregnancy, but finding help, getting an appointment, and even finding supportive people to talk to proves to be incredibly hard.
Jane isn’t afraid to speak her opinions to everyone around her. As she speaks her truth, she fights against pushback at every single turn. Jane refuses to bow down to the societal and political pressures to have children and demands that her opinions be heard on all levels. When she meets Lucy, the two bond over their mutual decisions to be childfree. No Kidding is the story of women who don’t want to do what society expects them to do. I appreciated that the author respected all viewpoints presented within the book, but also that she pushed hard to present how being childfree needs to be more accepted in society. Cazot presents her point of view with humor and sarcasm. She also loads her story full of examples of women making choices for their own bodies, whether it be having children or being childfree.
Please enjoy this guest blog by Jeff Collins, Library Director:
Even now, after her passing last summer at age 85, beloved children’s librarian Rochelle A. Murray is helping Davenport kids fall in love with reading.
“Miss Rochelle,” as she was known to generations of children, bequeathed to the Library a generous gift, which will help kids discover the fun of reading for many years to come.
Rochelle was a longtime children’s librarian, and although she had long since retired by the time I began my tenure as director, I have seen her touch throughout the Library and in the community. Now, her legacy will be indelibly marked, as Davenport Public Library embarks on an audacious $1.08 million-dollar private-donor funded project to bring vibrant new activities to the children’s areas at all three of our libraries: | Main | Fairmount | Eastern.
Davenport Public Library will add interactives, kiosks, wall panels, and more to our children’s areas in the coming year, helping kids to develop the early literacy skills so vital to their success in school and life. These vivid new spaces will allow children to engage in fun, multi-sensory activities that support early literacy and include letters and words, gears, magnetic pieces, song lyrics, varying textures, and other elements that are perfect for hands-on play. And of course, we will incorporate plenty of cozy nooks where children and their parents/caregivers can read books together!
Educational Learning Spaces
These enhanced spaces are educational and based on Every Child Ready to Read®, a research-based series of practices developed by the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children. Designed to help kids develop essential literacy skills and get on the right path to school readiness and student success, this program is based on two core concepts: 1) Reading begins at birth; and 2) Parents are a child’s first and best teacher. Every Child Ready to Read® focuses on emergent and early literacy development in the five practices of talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Public libraries provide opportunities for young children and their parents/caregivers to develop these skills in safe, non-commercial environments, with free access for everyone in the community. Davenport Public Library already utilizes Every Child Ready to Read® practices in our early literacy programming, including storytimes, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, parent education workshops, and supporting materials to help parents/caregivers prepare children for reading.
Access to these free, educational spots, gives everyone living in Davenport a strong start in early literacy to ensure that they are ready for kindergarten and beyond. Each newly designed children’s area will reflect the theme of nature, with each library branch featuring aspects of its local ecosystem:
| Main will feature a water/riparian habitat due to its proximity to the Mississippi River.
| Fairmount will feature woodlands/wetlands due to the Duck Creek watershed.
| Eastern will feature a prairie theme as it is situated at Prairie Heights Park.
Help us reach our goal!
So, while we are deeply saddened by the loss of Rochelle Murray, it is with enormous gratitude that we honor her legacy by embarking on this mission to bring opportunities to play and learn at the Library.
We welcome the participation of all citizens in this campaign. As of March 31, 2023, this project is 58% funded, but we still need $450,000 to bring it to success. Gifts of all sizes are welcome. Anyone interested in making a gift can do so online, or gifts can be mailed to FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library (321 Main Street, Davenport, IA 52801). Please designate your gift as for “Children’s Areas”. Donations of $5,000 or more will receive mention on a plaque at each library.
We need everyone in our community to help. Please join us in making early literacy a reality for Davenport children!
Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author who writes poetry and novels for young adult and middle-grade readers. Reynolds’ books are also multiple award winners. My latest read, As Brave as You, was a Kirkus Award Finalist, Schneider Family Book Award Winner, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.
As Brave as Youis the story of a multigenerational family and their ideas of love and bravery across those generations. Genie and his big brother, Ernie, are spending the summer with her grandparents all the way in Virginia. Their parents are driving them from Brooklyn all the way down to the country in Virginia. Genie has never done anything like this before, so he’s both excited and nervous. When the family finally arrives in Virginia, Genie is surprised. His grandpa is blind! Grandpop can’t see, but he covers it so well, especially by wearing a pair of cool Ray-Bans.
Being an ever-curious kid, Genie has so many questions for Grandpop so he just starts asking whatever pops into his head. The more Genie learns, the more he thinks that Grandpop is the bravest person he knows. The only flaw: Grandpop NEVER leaves the house. Grandpop finally allows Genie to go into his secret room: a place filled to the brim with songbirds and plants. It’s a wonderful room that looks like the outside has been pulled inside. Genie starts to think if Grandpop is actually as brave as he presents.
Genie deals with complicated thoughts around bravery the closer it gets to Ernie’s fourteenth birthday. Grandpop has a tradition for all the men who turn fourteen: in order to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks this is incredibly cool, but Ernie isn’t really interested at all. That also throws Genie’s idea of bravery into freefall. Is being a man really about proving something? Or is it about being responsible for your own decisions?
This book is also available in the following format:
A deeply evidence-based look at the real experiences of those who choose not to have children, 2019’s Childfree by Choice is an honest and empowering look at the many ways of creating lives of meaning and fulfillment.
A childfree woman herself, Dr. Blackstone has always been interested in the way childfree people live in a world that doesn’t really support them. In this book, she pulls together years of research – her own and that of others – to dive deep into what it really means to be childfree. She addresses the numerous myths and threats childfree people face (“You’ll regret it!” “You’re selfish!” “You hate kids!”, etc.) and debunks them all with her own experience alongside verifiable facts drawn from numerous research studies.
What I really liked about this book – aside from her hardcore commitment to evidence and citations supporting her every claim – was the way she carefully explained the difference between what our culture might say, where those assumptions come from, and what is actually true. It’s easy to accept common wisdom at face value, but it’s far more interesting to understand the issue in a nuanced way. Perhaps more importantly, Blackstone maintains an honest, calm and reasonable tone throughout and never comes across condescending or defensive. She never claims that either choice is better or worse, but only states the facts: some people have kids, some people don’t, and either way is a good way to live, as long as it works for you.
If you want to learn about an invisible population, feel empowered to create your own future, or have your eyes opened to the many wonderful ways to make a family, you might be interested in Childfree by Choice.
Coping with grief is hard and never-ending. As a librarian, I am constantly on the lookout for books that discuss the topic of grief in a new way. Enter author and illustrator Tyler Feder. She has written Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir, what Feder describes as ‘sad but also silly and weird, just like loss’. Feder’s illustrations are soft, gentle, and simple which serve as the perfect accompaniment to her heartbreaking subject matter. This book is part cancer memoir telling the story of Feder’s mom’s death and part reflection on her motherless life. Feder gives readers a glimpse into a devastating time into her life, while also being humorous. She makes note several times throughout that this memoir is for the people who are struggling with loss who just want someone to understand and get what they are going through.
Tyler Feder loves her mom Rhonda. That has never been in doubt. As the oldest daughter, Tyler made Rhonda a mom and shared a special bond with her. No one loved more in Tyler’s life than her mom, all be it a bit blunt but full of joy. It’s hard to distill such a large personality to a single memoir, but Tyler pays devoted homage to her by weaving poignant yet piercing details throughout.
When Tyler was 19 years old, her mom died of cancer. This memoir covers everything from her first oncology appointment to the different stages of cancer to the funeral. Feder then goes a step further to show her family sitting shiva and how they adjust to the new afterward without their mother and wife in the ten years after. The art in this book is gorgeous and seeing Tyler show her love and heartbreak through her work tore at my heart as I read this book. This graphic memoir also felt like a self-help book as reading Tyler’s journey somewhat mirrored my own travels through grief. You see Feder’s grief fresh after her mother’s death as well as how she is working through it ten years later. Highly recommend this graphic memoir to anyone who is looking for a new read.
This book is also available in the following format:
Have you joined the Virtual Book Club yet? On Wednesday, September 16th at 2pm, Virtual Book Club will be discussing The Institute by Stephen King. This program meets virtually every week to discuss a book using GoTo Meeting. Information about how to join is listed at the end of this post.
Curious what The Instituteis about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.
In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents, telekinesis and telepathy, who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, like the roach motel, Kalisha says. ‘You check in, but you don’t check out.’ In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don|t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute. As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Gilly MacMillan released her first book, What She Knew, in 2015. I have been a fan of her books as she writes thrilling psychological suspense. I read a lot of books in this genre, so I know that although many people write thrillers, it takes a lot for them to succeed in crafting a story where readers do not guess the ending. MacMillan’s 2018 release I Know You Know ended with a twist that I didn’t see coming.
I Know You Knowis the story of the murders of Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby that happened twenty years ago. The city of Bristol was rocked by the murders of those two young boys whose bodies were dumped and subsequently discovered near a dog racing track in town. Police believed that they found the man responsible and successfully convicted him, but years later, residents around town still have questions that have never been answered.
Cody Swift was best friends with young Charlie and Scott all those years ago. He isn’t satisfied with the conclusion that the police came to and decided to head back to his hometown of Bristol to seek out the truth himself. Cody is planning to record his findings and release them on his new podcast, Time to Tell.
At present at a construction site near where the boys were discovered twenty years ago, human remains have been found. DI John Fletcher, one of the police who found the boys, is left to wonder if the remains found have any connection to what happened to the boys.
Charlie’s mother Jessica Page is not thrilled that Cody is back in town poking through old wounds. The remains just found are also bringing the police back to her door. Jessie has secrets that she would like to stay hidden, but Cody seems determined to shed light all over her past. Jessie isn’t the broken woman that she was all those years ago. She is now married with a 16-year-old daughter and has no desire to relive that trauma from so long ago.
This novel transitions back and forth between both investigations: the original about the boys and the new one focusing on the recently discovered remains along with the possible connection to the boys. While I enjoyed the back and forth between the two as well as the addition of the podcast format, I did have trouble differentiating between the past and the present while listening to the audiobook. The print version highlights the parts about the old case, but that did not translate to the audio, and as a result it was sometimes difficult to tell when something happened. I adjusted to this issue and was able to finish the book, but be aware if you decide to give this a listen!
This book is also available in the following formats:
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo tells the story of multiple generations of one family. The two people at the head of the family have been deeply in love for over forty years and aren’t afraid to show affection. Their four daughters may grow weary of their constant love, but this novel highlights each person’s connections to the other and how old rivalries may have the power to shatter the carefully built lives they have all built over the years.
Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson met and fell in love in the 1970s. Growing their marriage and their family, the two don’t have any idea the paths that their lives will travel down. In present day 2016, Marilyn and David have four daughters who couldn’t be more different than each other: Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace.
Told through a series of flashbacks that eventually line up with the present, readers are privy to the ever-expanding lives of each member of the Sorenson family. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and enjoyed the many characters as they allowed me to form a more three-dimensional, multi-faceted portrait of the family as a whole.
Wendy, the oldest daughter, spent years dealing with body issues, was widowed young, and has found the only way to gain comfort in life is through increasing amounts of alcohol and lithe younger men.
Violet is Wendy’s Irish twin. Born less than a year after Wendy, Violet had big dreams of being a lawyer and was able to become one. Soon after though, Violet switched gears to being a stay-at-home mom and circumstances converge to bring her self-doubt, family issues, and anxiety to all time highs as her biggest secret comes back to haunt her.
Liza, the third daughter, has finally become a tenured professor. If only her boyfriend would get help for his depression and leave the apartment, Liza’s life would be infinitely better. When Liza discovers that she’s pregnant, she is forced to confront whether or not she and her boyfriend actually work together anymore.
Grace is forever the baby. Born nine years after Liza, Grace is struggling to find her place. After an innocent lie gets bigger and bigger, she finds herself having to settle down and live in the lie even though it’s eating her up inside.
The arrival of teenage Jonah Bendt into the Sorensons’ lives upsets the delicate balance the family has been living for years. This novel follows the first year after Jonah shows up, as well as flashing back to many other years and life-changing events that helped form them into the people they are today. Marked by the highest highs and the lowest lows, the Sorensons’ pasts are forever tied together even if they want to be separate.
This book is also available in the following formats:
Making friends as an adult is difficult. Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell talk about the delicate balance between friends and enemies, as well as the different lengths that people are willing to do to in order to make friends in their newest book, That’s What Frenemies Are For. Hidden motives abound for all in this novel that grabs you by your private school, Manhattan socialite education and refuses to let go.
That’s What Frenemies Are For by Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell talks about how easily influence and cache in different groups can change as readers follow the life of a Manhattan socialite who finds the next biggest craze in the form of a peppy spin instructor and an underperforming fitness studio. Her decision to rehabilitate the studio and the instructor in order to impress her friends and get back her social cache proves to turn into more than she can handle.
Julia Summers has it all: two children who love her, an adoring husband with a successful job, an apartment in the city, and a house in the Hamptons. Having finally made it to the top of her friend group, Julia influences almost everything the group does. Nothing happens without her approval or without her knowing about it. As a result, Julia is stunned when she finds others in her friend group suddenly vying for her position of power and cutting her out of decisions. When everyone starts to head to the Hamptons for the summer, Julia’s family is stuck in the city when catastrophe hits their Hamptons’ house.
Stuck in the city for the summer, Julia is desperate to reinvent herself before her friends come back. Looking for the newest fad, Julia finds Flame. Flame is the biggest new elite fitness craze that has the possibility to be even better if they just changed a few things. While going to Flame, Julia takes classes from Tatum, a giggly, energetic instructor who Julia decides to transform in the guise of improving Flame’s profit margin and helping to get the word out about the business.
Julia takes on the task to overhaul Flame and Tatum, but in a sneaky way that she hopes isn’t completely obvious to everyone around her. Things slowly start to spiral out of Julia’s control when she discovers that Tatum isn’t as docile as she initially thought. Julia’s comeback doesn’t go as expected and Tatum starts to take over everything herself.
With Julia’s relationships with her friends in turmoil, Julia turns to her family for comfort. Much to her surprise, her husband’s business goes belly up in a most unexpected way. Left with almost no support system and friends who have completely turned their backs on her, Julia has to rethink everything that she had previously held so dear. What does she really want out of life? What is most important to her? Is her perfect life worth it?
I’m not going to lie: the cover of this book is what caught my eye and convinced me to read it. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers. With so many books in print, the options can be overwhelming though! When it comes to picking out my personal reads, if a cover catches my eye, I’ll read it. It’s yet to let me down so far especially with my latest read by Barbara Delinsky.
Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky is a captivating read that kept my attention from beginning to end. There are multiple important current issues discussed throughout this book that can have implications in everyday life. Social media, internet hacking, identity theft, the press, trauma, and secrets are all major themes that the characters in this novel find themselves battling with. This book cautions against becoming too complacent and making sure that we travel outside our comfort zones.
Mackenzie Cooper thought she had it all: a loving husband, a job she loved, a wonderful family, generous friends, and a daughter she adored. In one moment, it was all taken away. Driving her daughter to a play date, Mackenzie took her eyes off the road for just a moment to check the GPS. That glance away changes her life forever. Having lost everything, including her privacy after the intense media coverage surrounding the accident, Mackenzie runs away. She now lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid. Living in a small house with her cats and dog, Maggie has a new job and new friends. She just wants her new life to stay separate from her old life. That means that she can’t risk revealing too much. Her work as a makeup artist at a luxurious local spa allows Maggie to spend her day helping clients hiding the things on their skin that they wish would disappear. She’s a master at her job.
All Maggie wants with her new life is to stay under the radar and keep her probation officer happy. With less than a year left, she is so close to being completely free. Things are going slightly too well for Maggie though when she realizes that she isn’t the only one in this quiet Vermont town with secrets. A local teenage boy, the only son of one of Maggie’s friends, is thrust into the national spotlight when he is accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, numerous other Twitter accounts, and the local school’s system as well. Maggie has no idea what to do: should she protect herself and pull away or step up to help since she has experience dealing with this type of situation? Either decision will have far-reaching implications for Maggie. As the truth behind this teenager’s actions begin to come to light, Maggie increasingly finds her own newly constructed life unraveling at her feet. She knows that her friend probably just needs to be comforted amongst this sea of chaos, but Maggie truly has to decide how far she is willing to go to help.
This book is also available in the following formats: