The Shakespeare Manuscript
by Stewart Buettner
What would happen if a new play by Shakespeare was discovered? This is a page-turner for mystery fans and theater buffs, and particularly meaningful for me was that the book was written by my college art history professor. I read it on trains as we traveled up and down the UK this summer. I was so engrossed I had to remind myself to look out the window every now and then to catch the landscape. This was published as an e-book/print on demand title.
Caller Number Nine
by Debbie Duncan
Set in 1967, this middle grade novel harkens back to the author's own experience at age 13, when she repeatedly dialed the local radio station on her pink princess phone. Duncan really did win a trip for two to Hawaii with a D.J. heartthrob. Debbie is in my writers group and I'm thrilled to see how she created a completely new character and introduced many of the issues in the 60s: Vietnam, feminism, and civil rights. Caller Number Nine is recently published as an e-book and I designed the cover and various interior elements. I even wrestled with Smashwords conversion.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
by Kim Edwards
I'm working on my own middle grade with a theme of family secrets, so I was drawn to this title. During a severe winter storm, a doctor must deliver his own twin babies. His wife is heavily sedated. Their son is healthy, but their daughter is born with Down syndrome. The doctor attempts to spare his wife the heartache of caring for a special needs child, and tells her their daughter died at birth. He orders the nurse to place the girl in an institution, however the nurse secretly decides to raise the baby girl as her own in another city. The two families live in stark contrast to each other as years pass. I loved this book and it reinforced my own experience that family secrets have consequences.
Cutting for Stone
by Abraham Verghese
Here's another book with a similar theme. Twin brothers are born of a secret union between an Indian nun and a British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother's death and their father's disappearance, they are bound by an extraordinary connection and both share a fascination with medicine. The story is set in Ethiopia on the brink of revolution. I was also intrigued to learn that the author lives here in Palo Alto. He is both a doctor and accomplished writer, having taken a time out of his medical career to attend the Iowa Writer's Workshop. The writing is beautiful.