The Book Jam Blog
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The Book Jam is back from our annual "gone reading" break. And as has become our tradition, we are starting up again with reviews of two books we read over our break - one pick for each Lisa. As much as we have in common -- and we do - we are Lisas, moms, working women, book lovers, Vermonters, 50-somethings, married to Navy vets - and as much as we often love the same books - we are often struck by completely different books - as we were today. One of us picked a novel set in the American West in the early 1900s by best-selling novelist Jess Walter. The other Lisa chose a Graphic YA novel written and illustrated by many (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury & Nate Powell). Both though are about dreams, change, and bravery. And, thus - we are the Book Jam; and, we are back. Happy autumn and happy reading!
The Cold Millions by Jess Walter (2020). Meet two very different brothers Gig and Rye Dolan, both living in Spokane, Washington in 1909. This book takes us on a journey with them throughout a tumultuous year of hard work, falling in love, participating in protests, serving jail sentences, and finding themselves unexpectedly involved in fighting unfair labor practices. Along the way, the reader vicariously experiences a rapidly changing city and a growing Pacific Northwest while also meeting private detectives, double agents, an opera singer, corrupt timber magnates, inspirational labor rights activists, and the people who love all of these characters. This book helped me to learn about an important era of history that made a fundamental difference in the labor law that exists today. It also reinforced my admiration for Mr. Walter as a versatile and talented writer (readers may remember him as the author of the very popular Beautiful Ruins which was published in 2009). Cold Millions is a rollicking, funny, deadly serious, smart, and important read and probably - no definitely!- one of my favorite books of 2020/2021. Highly recommended. ~Lisa Cadow
Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury & Nate Powell (2021). This sequel to the National Book Award winning March trilogy takes up after the March on Selma. Through centering Congressmen Lewis's personal set backs as he tries to lead SNCC after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, this graphic book reminds us that progress is definitely not linear, identity groups are complicated, and that change is typically resisted by people in power. The illustrations by L. Fury with award winning Nate Powell from the March trilogy, capture both on their own and then with accompanying words, the anger, confusion, hope, and dreams of the major players and the country at large during this period portrayed in Run. As the New York Times Review reminded me, "Black Americans have never been a monolith, despite frequent efforts to portray us as such. Lewis offers a fair-minded account of how his turn-the-other-cheek philosophy clashed with the frustrations of the movement back then. At age 26, he found himself broke, jobless and no longer its chosen one." I highly recommend picking this up, contemplating it from your favorite reading spot, and then sharing it with everyone (adults and young adults both) you know. This is a superb sequel to an amazing trilogy about the brave men and women whose actions and words forced us to be our best selves. ~ Lisa Christie