Back Creek by Leslie Goetsch:
From Amazon: Product DescriptionIt s the summer of 1975. Eighteen-year-old Grace Barnett knows she should be preparing to leave for college in September. But a strange Memorial Day boating accident on the creek near her Virginia home she s the only witness to the apparent suicide kicks off a series of events that will define her family's future as well as her emerging view of life. On the very day of the victim's funeral, Grace s older sister, Lillian, absent from the family for the past five years, suddenly reappears. Unfortunately, it is also the day Grace's mother chooses to quietly walk out on her family, leaving Grace to act as the mediator between her prodigal sister and her badly wounded father. As the summer wears on, Grace finds herself thinking less about college and more about how to mend the rifts in her family. She turns to her neighbor, Cal, a recently returned Vietnam vet, to help sort through her problems. After weathering her sister s unexpected return and pregnancy, her father's budding alcoholism, and Cal's war-induced neurosis, Grace decides to set off to rural North Carolina with the intention of bringing her mother back home. On her return, without her mother, a rare but powerful hurricane is pummeling Back Creek, endangering herself and everyone (and everything) she loves. From this stormy and event-filled summer, Grace emerges a changed young woman. She discovers that, by relating and thinking through the life stories of those around her, she can begin to understand herself more fully. And having come to realize the healing power of telling her own tale, she learns that she's finally ready to leave the comfort of the creek at least long enough to begin her studies at the University of Virginia. Grace's story, like the Romantic novels she s obsessed with, is layered, full of symbolism, and rife with issues for discussion, making it a near-perfect coming-of-age story for high school students.
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
From Amazon.com: Her family’s cottage on the coast of Maine is haunted, and that suits Lilly Constable just fine. Returning to Edgewater after the death of her beloved husband, Cam, Lilly takes comfort in carrying on detailed conversations with the spirit that she feels pervades the site of so much joy, and yet so much tragedy, in her life. Revisiting the happy times of her marriage and their unconventional courtship also propels Lilly further down memory lane, however, forcing her to recall the years spent living in isolation with her widowed father after her mother’s death from breast cancer, and the summer she turned 11 and her first love, Jon, died in a tragic boating accident. As Lilly works through her grief for her husband, mother, and old friend, she uncovers startling revelations about the very people she thought she knew best. With a powerhouse ending dazzling in its stealth and ambiguity, master storyteller Siddons delivers a dramatically evocative tale that magically summons a bygone time of innocence and intrigue. --Carol Haggas
From Amazon.com: From Booklist*Starred Review* On the animal kingdom’s 10-point scale of adorable critters, golden retriever puppies regularly come in on top, while aging gray elephants rarely make it onto the list. But when it comes to lovability, Hannah, the sole elephant at Seattle’s dilapidated Max L. Biedelman Zoo, is off the charts. Rescued as a baby by the zoo’s founder while on safari in Africa, Hannah has been cared for by Samson Brown for her 41-year captivity. Theirs is an empathetic, symbiotic relationship as Samson transfers all the love deflected by the death of his only child into caring for this slightly needy, somewhat neurotic, but always affectionate creature. But Samson is aging and his health is failing, and the zoo needs a plan. Enter Neva Wilson, an energetic young zookeeper whose creative ideas for Hannah’s well-being immediately put her afoul of Harriet Saul, the zoo’s petty, tyrannical administrator. To save Hannah’s life, Samson and Neva scheme to transfer her to an elephant sanctuary, though their plan comes with great personal risk. Irresistibly touching, delectably uplifting, Hammond’s understated yet gargantuan tale of devotion and commitment poignantly proves that love does indeed come in all shapes and sizes. --Carol HaggasWhat was in YOUR mailbox last week?