Pop Culture Princess

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Friday, April 12, 2019

When it comes to One Book,One New York this year, it's ladies first

It's near the end of National Library Week but one big literary party that will still be going on for the rest of April in my neck of the woods is the vote for One Book,One New York.

This year, the five nominated titles(which my fellow NY folk can vote online for) have the good fortune to be an all-female forum of fabulous authors. One of these books happens to be a personal favorite of mine and my top choice for readers all across the country:

Free Food for Millionaires was Min Jin Lee's debut novel,setting the stage for her future bookish glory with the acclaimed Pacinko. Here, our leading lady is Casey Han, a young woman and Princton graduate who feels adrift in her life and uncertain of what her future should be.

Being kicked out of her family home and catching her current boyfriend cheating on her, Casey camps out at a pricey hotel that threatens to put a sizable dent in her credit card. Thanks to renewing an old friendship, she gets an entry level Wall Street job that seems to put her on a better and more focused path. However, her taste for the finer things in life could be her eternal weak spot.

The story highlights other characters such as Casey's friend Ella, who has relationship troubles of her own and Leah, Casey's mother who is just learning to discover her own self worth. The whole book has a modern day Edith Wharton vibe to it, creating a vivid canvas that portrays class distinctions, the clash of generations and family love. While it's not directly connected to Pacinko, FFFM is a recipe for good reading that pairs up nicely with it's later literary companion :

Another wonderful book up for consideration here is Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Returning back home, twenty years after she left the old neighborhood upon the death of her father, eldest daughter August relives those early days in the 1970s when she and what was left of her family moved from Tennessee to New York.

Adjusting to the ins and outs of Brooklyn, August bonds with three other girls-Sylvia,Gigi and Angela-all of whom share the same burden of missing mothers in their lives and dealing with the ever growing attentions of men. While her friends found it hard to avoid certain pitfalls, August did what she had to in order to escape yet still troubled at the price that had to be paid for that way out.

Known best for her children's literature, Woodson showed that her creative landscape had many more peaks and valleys than some expected and her novel was properly honored as one of the best of 2016. It's become a celebrated look at life and love that should have a long shelf life indeed:

The most recently published of this group is Fatima Farheen Mirza's debut novel, A Place For Us, which is also the debut publication of actress Sarah Jessica Parker's new literary imprint in 2018.

While the story is set in California, one of the main plot threads has a West Side Story theme as secret lovers unexpectedly reunite at a wedding. Amar has returned to attend his sister's wedding, having run away from home in his high school years due in part to a forbidden romance with Amira, whose family had a higher social standing than his.

The sudden death of Amira's brother in a car accident only complicated things further and Amar felt that he had no other choice but to leave everyone behind. When he and Amira see each other again after so much time apart, both the good and bad of their mutual past promises to overflow and engulf the future of both of their families.

APFU has been praised for it's lyrical writing and the emotional levels that Amar and Amira,along with their circle of friends and family, have had to deal with from forces outside and within. Despite the West Coast setting, this tale of modern love holds the hope of a fresh start in life and one of the best things about New York is that it's the home of fresh starts:

This quintet is rounded out by Nicholasa Mohr's Nilda, a coming of age tale set in the Bronx during World War II and Just Kids, singer Patti Smith's memoir about her early career days in NYC during the 1970s.

All of these books should make for engaging reads(I know one of them definitely is!) and will be widely available at bookstores and libraries in the New York area for anyone to find.

The winner will be announced on May 3 and even if you're nowhere near New York, this is a great list of female focused books that should expand your literary horizons as well as provide food for thought perfect for any reading group get together on your spring/summer schedule:

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