Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery
I'm not a true crime reader, but I've been following this case ever since the news broke that a girl ran to a man's door, begged him to call the police, then ran off into the night--followed by an Asian man in a black SUV who told the man he shouldn't have called the police and drive off. The whole thing chilled me. Who was the girl? Where did she go? Who was the man? Was he pursuing her? And then, in the search for the missing girl, the police find the bodies of four women but not the woman who was running away that night.
Of course, as happens in the media, the case was lost when the media moved on the bigger and better things, but I still wondered what happened to those four girls and to the original girl who led the police to the bodies. The girls are, as often happens, marginalized by society, by the police, because they were prostitutes. Ignored at first when they were missing persons and ignored again when it comes time to investigate, there is a lot that's frustrating about this case, but not the book itself. Some of my questions were answered, like who the man in the black car was on the night that Shannon was running frantically through Oak Beach, begging the community to call the police. I learned a lot about the sex trafficking and what a scary world it can be for some women who don't think they have any other options.
Although the crime isn't solved and possibly never will be, the author, the families, the community of Oak Beach (where the women were found) all offer various theories as to what happen to the girls, but what you're left with is something these girls were never given: a memory. A chance to leave a voice in the world, to be known as more than just prostitutes and that, in itself, is pretty powerful. The story is fascinating and does due process to who these women were because they were people--all five of them--before they ended up lost in Long Island.
The Universe Versus Alex Woods
I had some trouble getting into this book at first. I don't think I was entirely sold on the voice being consistent with a boy Alex's age, but as I read on and figured out that he was quirky, older than his years, I was able to buy it and got into the book. Alex has trouble fitting in at school, made even moreso difficult by the fact that he loves to read and doesn't like people. His troubles become worse when, in a freak accident, he's struck on the head with a meteor and becomes prone to epileptic fits. In the midst of this, he forges an unlikely friendship with an older, American war vet, Mr. Peterson, and the two bond over a love of Kurt Vonnegut--whose novels become an underlying theme of this story. In the universe that Alex is up against, there is a great deal of tragedy and life certainly isn't fair, but there's somehow beauty amidst it. This was one of those books that really pulled me in during the last 1/3 of it.
Heft: A Novel
I love novels where groups of people from different walks of life are brought together for a reason. This was one of those novels. It was also beautifully written and grabbed me from the start. Arthur Opp begins the novel by confessing to us that he's very obese. Between five and six hundred pounds. He also hasn't left the house for years. He has a pen pal, a woman named Charlene who was a former student. In his letters to her, he isn't entirely truthful but then Charlene asks him to help with her son and Arthur must be truthful. As the novel unfolds, we switch back and forth between Arthur and Charlene's son, Kel. Every character in this novel is very humanly flawed, which makes them so likable. By the end, I was pulling for every one of them to find happiness and hoping it was there.
What are you reading?