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The Week in Review: 09.14.2018

September 14, 2018


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

Jacqueline Woodson has another winner in HARBOR ME, the story of six students with learning differences who are put in an experimental classroom.  Once a week, they go to ARTT (A Room to Talk) to talk about anything they want without an adult intervening.  They have much to talk about – like immigration, racism, and justice.  The story is told from Haley’s point of view.  She brings a recorder into the room so they remember their stories.  Even though there are a lot of issues, Woodson pulls it all off with terrific writing and genuine characters  – she “gets” kids and never writes down to them.  This book is powerful, thought provoking, and great for generating discussion.  The audio version is narrated by a full cast including the author and her daughter Toshi and it was magnificent.  Be sure to listen to the discussion between Woodson and her son Jackson-Leroi – it’s terrific as well.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


Shane Bauer went undercover as a corrections officer at Winn Correctional Center for four months in order to write an article for Mother Jones magazine and shares his experience and the history of privately run prisons in the US in AMERICAN PRISON: A REPORTER’S UNDERCOVER JOURNEY INTO THE BUSINESS OF PUNISHMENT.  Bauer made application and received offers from several prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America and ultimately accepted the job at Winn because Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world and Winn is the oldest privately run medium-security prison in the US.  What he found was eye-opening and shocking – at least to me.  Since privately run prisons exist to make a profit, many corners are cut and they are often understaffed.  A Department of Justice report found they are more violent than public prisons, don’t provide the same services, and don’t save the taxpayers money.  Many of them closed after Bauer went undercover but are beginning to flourish again as Immigrant Detention Centers.  The history of privately run prisons is fascinating and disturbing.

I found AMERICAN PRISON to be well written and well researched.  (There are footnotes throughout the book and extensive notes in the back.)  I also found the information in it appalling and troublesome.  I certainly don’t have all the answers but feel sure we can do better than this.  If you’re interested in social issues, current events, or justice, you won’t want to miss this book.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Press.)


I’m a big fan of Megan Abbott‘s writing so I was excited to pick up GIVE ME YOUR HAND and it did not disappoint.  It’s the story of Kit Owens.  When Kit was in high school, Diane moved to town and the two became friends.  Diane motivated Kit to work harder and dream of the prestigious Severin scholarship.  When Diane reveals a secret their friendship is irreparably damaged and Kit is happy to move onto a different college than Diane.  Several years later, Kit finds herself competing with Diane for a research position and the past comes crashing back in this story of drive and ambition.  As usual, Abbott has woven a gripping story around some fantastic characters.  There were a few twists that surprised me and made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in the same situation.  If you love psychological thrillers, you won’t want to miss this one!


IMAGINE by Juan Felipe Herrera is a poem about Herrera’s life growing up as the child of migrant farm workers and eventually becoming Poet Laureate of the US.  He tells of growing up in the fields and moving to a city and going to school for the first time, not knowing how to read or speak in English.  He worked hard and found he loved words and began writing poetry.  Since he was able to do all that, he challenges readers to “imagine what you could do.”

With lovely illustrations by Lauren Castillo, this book is sure to inspire early readers.  Even though this is a picture book, I suggest it for early elementary school students.  (Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • Carl’s birthday was Monday and we celebrated with a family dinner on Sunday.
  • We’re expecting weather from Hurricane Florence this weekend but, as long as we don’t lose power, I think we’ll be fine.  *knock on wood*
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 16,250 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    September 14, 2018 6:38 am

    Hope you stay safe from Florence. I too loved Harbor Me and Give Me Your Hand. I know I could learn a lot from the prison book.

  2. September 14, 2018 6:56 am

    American Prison sounds like an eye-opening book. All of your books look great! Sending good thoughts re Florence.

  3. Diane permalink
    September 14, 2018 7:45 am

    I liked Woodson’s previous book and wasn’t aware of her new one. I think the Megan Abbott book sounds good so glad to read u enjoyed it. Glad u r far enough away from the hurricane- just awful. Take care!

  4. September 14, 2018 7:51 am

    Great books this week! American Prison is already on my list and I’m glad to hear Harbor Me is a winner, too. Will be thinking of you during the storm…

  5. Sarah's Book Shelves permalink
    September 14, 2018 7:56 am

    Glad you liked Give Me Your Hand…she’s quickly become a go-to author for me! Especially for lighter reads!

  6. Patty permalink
    September 14, 2018 8:03 am

    You read some really intense books! There isn’t much to watch on TV lately but I am hooked on Acorn TV and this detective series called Vera. It takes my mind away from things…which is good. I am wondering what Carl’s favorite birthday dinner might be and was there cake?

  7. September 14, 2018 8:34 am

    Good luck with Florence – stay safe! I loved the Abbott book 🙂 I’ve jotted down the titles of the other ones you read – they sound soooo good!!

  8. September 14, 2018 8:56 am

    First of all, hoping Florence doesn’t affect you guys or anyone as much as expected. Thinking of the whole area. Secondly, I like Megan Abbott’s books too. Looking forward to reading this new one. The prison book sounds very good and troubling.

  9. September 14, 2018 9:17 am

    I’m on the waiting list at the library for two of those! And yes, knocking on wood for you!

  10. September 14, 2018 9:20 am

    Saw BlacKkKlansman. Had an ending that left us all speechless.

  11. September 14, 2018 11:24 am

    Ooh, good luck staying clear of Florence! I love the look of the Megan Abbott book, and I can’t believe I haven’t read any of her work. I added Give Me Your Hand to my list.

    Happy birthday to Carl…and enjoy your week.

  12. September 14, 2018 12:04 pm

    I’m so glad to see that Jacqueline Woodson has a new book out. I love everything she does. I’ve been thinking about you with Florence coming your way. Stay safe.

  13. September 14, 2018 2:28 pm

    Happy Birthday Carl!

  14. Literary Feline permalink
    September 14, 2018 3:26 pm

    Harbor Me sounds really good. I am glad you liked the book. Both Imagine and American Prison sound like must reads. I hope Florence doesn’t impact you much at all. Happy Birthday to Carl! I celebrated my birthday this past week too. Stay safe, Kathy. Have a great weekend.

  15. September 14, 2018 3:49 pm

    Woodson is a fantastic writer and the Imagine book sounds fantastic. Happy Birthday, Carl.

  16. September 14, 2018 4:15 pm

    I really hope you dont have flooding there Kathy or lose power. I will cross my fingers. The Woodson novel and Give Me Your Hand sound good. I’m on the wait list for the audio of the latter book so I will check it out, thanks!

  17. September 14, 2018 5:18 pm

    Harbor Me sounds excellent! Happy birthday to your hubby! Thanks for sharing your week, Kathy.

  18. September 14, 2018 7:17 pm

    I hope you are safe, dry, and have power! Your books this week look great, especially Harbor Me.

  19. September 15, 2018 10:30 am

    I have the audio of Harbor Me and plan on listening to it as soon as I finish The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King.

  20. September 16, 2018 9:33 pm

    Woodson came to a bookstore near me. I really wanted to go, but it just didn’t work in my schedule. I loved Brown Girl Dreaming and would like to read her newest. The Imagine book looks neat too! Hope you are surviving the storms/rains!

  21. September 17, 2018 4:19 pm

    It sounds like I need to read American Prison, but I’ll have to find a time when I’m not already overwhelmed with worry about the way our country is headed.

  22. September 17, 2018 10:46 pm

    Wow, you had a great reading week. I especially want to read Harbor Me. I’m definitely going to check out the audiobook of that one. Thanks for the review!

  23. bookingmama permalink
    September 22, 2018 10:43 am

    You had a great reading week! HARBOR ME sounds powerful!

  24. October 2, 2018 9:33 am

    American Prison looks like a must read,

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