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Like Trees, Walking by Ravi Howard


Like Trees, Walking by Ravi Howard is the author’s first novel, expanded from a prize-winning short story he wrote while in college. Set in Mobile, Alabama, the novel is a fictional exploration of the repercussions of a real crime — the lynching of a 19-year-old African American teenager, Michael Donald, in 1981 — and the lack of effort by law enforcement officials to bring the guilty white men — members of the Ku Klux Klan — to justice.The narrator, Roy, is the younger of two brothers. In 1981, he’s in his last year of high school, preparing to go off to New Orleans for college the following year and trying to figure out how to tell his father that he doesn’t want to take over the family’s funeral home business, when his older brother, Paul, finds the dead body of his friend Michael hanging from a tree. Michael Donald was chosen at random and lynched on a street where known Klansmen lived. The whole African-American community is affected and mourns with Michael’s family. The last lynching in Mobile had been over sixty years before, a horrifying crime that belonged in the past, but here it had happened — in 1981 — to one of their own. Paul becomes obsessed by the fact that the known criminals go about freely while Michael is dead and buried. Roy looks on helplessly, wrestling with his lack of faith and his responsibility to his family and the larger community.
A finalist for the 2008 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Like Trees, Walking is a short novel, quiet and reflective, that should start showing up on high school and college summer reading lists.
Check the Old Colony Library Network for availability of Like Trees, Walking.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman


If you liked Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (and a lot of people did, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize judges), you may like another book of loosely connected stories, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. This is the first novel by the author, who is also a journalist. What links all the stories and characters is an English-language newspaper in Rome; the stories span the decades of the newspaper’s rise and fall.
Like Olive Kitteridge, The Imperfectionists isn’t a feel-good book, although there are funny parts. Journalism, like librarianship, is changing rapidly with the rise of the Internet and digital media. The Imperfectionists is a glimpse into the career of journalism as it used to be. A sense of loss and regret pervades many of the stories, but, most of the time. it’s human nature to recover and adapt.
Read The Washington Post‘s review of The Imperfectionists.
Check the Old Colony Library Network for The Imperfectionists.

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