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Lynne Oakvik
Library Manager

Demon Coppperhead

By Barbara Kingsolver

This modern retelling of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield is set in present day Appalachia and is a riveting story that grabs your emotions from the very first page. It is not an easy read, as you ride along with the narrator, Demon Copperhead, the child of an unwed, drug-addicted teenage mother, whose biological father died several months before his birth. Barbara Kingsolver knows Appalachia and it shows in the vivid and detailed description of her characters and their lives, blighted by the tragic consequences of the opioid crisis. You'll find yourself rooting for Demon Copperhead as he endures the cascading effects of poverty, crime, poor education, dysfunctional and fragmented family, abuse and bad breaks that are tempered with fleeting moments of humor and tenderness. The road to redemption in this tale is gripping and worthy of the Pulitzer Prize as it reminds us all that there is much work left to do to help those less fortunate and facing similar circumstances in our own communities.


The Trackers

By Charles Frazier

The April book recommendation comes from Our State Magazine's Book Club podcast with Wiley Cash. From the New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Varina, a stunning new novel that paints a vivid portrait of life in the Great Depression. Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he's landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office. A wealthy art lover named John Long and his wife Eve have agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. Rumors and intrigue surround the couple: Eve left behind an itinerant life riding the rails and singing in a western swing band. Long holds shady political aspirations, but was once a WWI sniper and his right hand is a mysterious elder cowboy, a vestige of the violent old west. Val quickly finds himself entranced by their lives. One day, Eve flees home with a valuable painting in tow, and Long recruits Val to hit the road with a mission of tracking her down. Journeying from ramshackle Hoovervilles to San Francisco nightclubs to the swamps of Florida, Val's search for Eve narrows, and he soon turns up secrets that could spark formidable changes for all of them. In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.

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Guests on Earth

By Lee Smith

Our May book recommendation comes from Our State Magazine's Book Club podcast with Wiley Cash. Cash features North Carolina Author Lee Smith and her 2013 novel, Guests on Earth. Review from LibraryThing: Evalina Toussaint, orphaned child of an exotic dancer in New Orleans, is just thirteen when she is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. The year is 1936, and the mental hospital is under the direction of the celebrated psychiatrist Robert S. Carroll whose innovative treatment for nervous disorders and addictions is based upon fresh air, diet, exercise, gardening, art, dance, music, theater, and therapies of the day such as rest cures, freeze wraps, and insulin shock. Talented Evalina is soon taken under the wing of the doctor's wife, a famous concert pianist, and eventually becomes the accompanist for all musical programs at the hospital, including the many dances and theatricals choreographed by longtime patient Zelda Fitzgerald. Evalina's role gives her privileged access to the lives and secrets of other patients and staff swept into a cascading series of events leading up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward on the top floor. She offers a solution for the still-unsolved mystery of that fire, as well as her own ideas about the very thin line between sanity and insanity; her opinion of psychiatric treatment of women and girls who failed to fit into prevailing male ideals; and her insights into the resonance between art and madness. A writer at the high of her craft, Lee Smith has created, through her masterful melding of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart — a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, tragedy and transformation, are luminously intertwined.

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