Recommended Reading: Crooked Heart

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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans — Ten-year-old Noel Bostock is an odd boy, smart, a reader, independent. He lives with his godmother until she goes senile and then dies. Left bereft, Noel is evacuated with other London children at the start of the Blitz, when Vee takes him in on impulse. Vee lives hand-to-mouth, always with some small scam going, always on the point of eviction; she has a shiftless son and a doddering mother. Together, Noel and Vee are an odd couple, but Noel begins to help Vee improve her scams and their relationship deepens as the bombing of London gets under way.

This is a sweet and charming book about how people need each other, quiet for the most part, and often humorous, which is a take on the Blitz I’ve not yet seen. (I particularly enjoyed Vee’s mother’s letters to the prime minister and the scenes in the crowded shelters during the air raids.) I’m not sure how well it will stick, but I found it a light-hearted and quick read, and an antidote for all the horrifying WWII books I’ve been getting burned out on.

Recommended Reading: Daughter of Fortune

Recommended this week: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Set against the backdrop of the mad rush to California in search of gold, Allende reveals history through the eyes of the people who lived it but don’t usually get to tell the story: women and non-whites. She creates a diverse and three-dimensional world that feels both real and different from the stories we usually get to hear. Eliza’s journey of self-discovery absolutely swept me away.