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Customer Comments

Rachel Coker has commented on (77) products.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Roller Girl

Rachel Coker, May 18, 2015

I first noticed "Roller Girl" on a list of best books for tween girls. As a parent of a tween (and a younger girl who loves graphic novels), I decided to check it out. It's really, really well done. The story focuses on Astrid, a Portland 12-year-old dealing with shifting friendships, a desire for growing independence and other pre-teen challenges. When she decides to attend a roller derby camp without her BFF, she has to find her own way in a new group of people while mastering a new set of skills. Along the way, she dyes her hair blue, fights with her mom and picks out a roller derby name. My daughters and I all read this book in a day. The kids enjoyed the story; I enjoyed having an excuse to talk with them about friends, middle school, boys and more. Thumbs up from all of us!
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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah

Rachel Coker, May 18, 2015

This stellar novel could be Exhibit A in a discussion of how fiction can build empathy and allow readers to explore other perspectives and cultures. I will never know what it’s like to be black in America ��" or to be a non-American black in America, either. But thanks to “Americanah,” I had an opportunity to look at my country through a different lens. The book is more than inter-cultural homework, however. It also stands up as a love story and as a coming-of-age tale with a Nigerian girl at its heart. Highly recommended.
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The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
The Book of Unknown Americans

Rachel Coker, April 18, 2015

"The Book of Unknown Americans" knits together the stories of a diverse group of Hispanic immigrants who live in a Delaware apartment building. Cristina Henriquez's novel shares the big hopes (a better education, a career on Broadway, love) of these immigrants, along with their sorrows large (brain injury) and small (terrible canned food). She also somehow juggles more than a half-dozen first-person narrators without ever losing the reader's attention. This is a love story, a reality check on the American dream and a very good read. Highly recommended.
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Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Paris: The Novel

Rachel Coker, March 19, 2015

"Paris" reminds me of the tasting menu at a fancy restaurant where the chef is operating under the misconception that he can do no wrong. Author Edward Rutherfurd serves up some tasty morsels in this epic novel, but he also delivers some rather self-indulgent and incoherent bits along the way. At this restaurant, it would've been better to get the four-course prix fixe than the 12-course tasting menu. The core of the novel, which follows several families living in Paris over the course of a few centuries, is really well done. Great research, interesting characters, beautiful settings, the works! Unfortunately, the novel is also bloated with pedantic passages in which Rutherfurd wants to show off how much he knows about something. I wish his editor had helped to trim this 800-page banquet into a slimmer, more elegant 500-page feast. I read this book over the course of a couple of weeks in which I was first getting ready to travel to Paris and then actually in the city. But what started off as a fun little project soon came to feel like a burdensome homework assignment.
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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Rachel Coker, February 24, 2015

"The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August" offers a fun, witty, occasionally thought-provoking mashup of time travel and reincarnation. It is written as a memoir of Harry August, a man who is destined to be reborn into the same circumstances over and over. It initially appears that Harry can tinker with the events of his own life but not the broad strokes of world history. The adventure really gains steam as he encounters others like himself. If you enjoyed "The Time Traveler's Wife" or "Life After Life," this novel may appeal to you as well.
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