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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing

On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »


Customer Comments

Rachel Coker has commented on (61) products.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young
Fortunately, the Milk

Rachel Coker, October 6, 2014

Such fun! Neil Gaiman gives us a harried father who spins a crazy tale featuring volcanoes, pirates and a time-traveling dinosaur. The ending, believe it or not, may remind you of "The Usual Suspects." This is a wonderful read-aloud book with kids, something beyond a 10-minute picture book but not the same time commitment as "The Secret Garden" and other big classics. We wrapped it up in three nights, and my 7- and 10-year-olds were entirely delighted.
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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
All the Light We Cannot See

Rachel Coker, September 28, 2014

Once this gorgeous book sucked me in, I found the world around me dissolving and felt a frustration that there was still laundry to be done, dinners to be cooked, phone calls to answer. "All the Light We Cannot See" is a World War II book, a work of historical fiction and a coming-of-age story. But it's so much more. It conjures up worlds not often considered, from the despair of a brilliant orphan who barely escapes life as a miner only to be chewed up by the German war machine to the lives of civilians in Saint-Malo, trapped for years under occupation that threatens to squelch their humanity completely. I've read numerous books set during the war, but I've rarely encountered a story told with such beauty and lyricism. The story unfolds with a dramatically nonlinear timeline, which I know some readers will find difficult, but I found that it added a sense of suspense to the book.
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The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg
The Moonlight Palace

Rachel Coker, September 15, 2014

This is a small book, but by no means slight. It's exotic, moving and a bit suspenseful. "The Moonlight Palace" is a coming-of-age story set in 1920s Singapore. Liz Rosenberg's heroine, Agnes, is a descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and one of the few remaining protectors of a once-glamorous palace. Agnes, age 17, is curious, stubborn, daring and naive. She's also entirely likable. You'll enjoy finding out what happens as she flirts with suitors, looks for a job and faces the possibility of losing the only home she has ever known.
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Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
Love and Treasure

Rachel Coker, August 11, 2014

This book could be described in several ways: It's historical fiction. It's a romance novel. It's a Holocaust book. In this case, happily, the book is more than the sum of its parts. It's all of those things, blended together in a satisfying, challenging package. Ayelet Waldman does a phenomenal job taking her reader inside not only the lives but even the minds of a well-meaning Army officer in post-war Austria, a modern-day American Jewish woman contemplating the wreck of her marriage and a rebellious suffragette in 1913 Budapest. The item linking their stories -- a beautiful jeweled locket -- gives Waldman room to explore the famous Hungarian Gold Train and other aspects of WWII history in a surprisingly personal way. Even if you have read widely about the Holocaust, this book has something new to show you. It would be an excellent book club selection.
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Rachel Coker, May 12, 2014

"We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" is complicated, smart and compelling. Its timeline is all mashed up, but the author does so with purpose rather than with irritating flourish. I don't want to say too much about the plot for fear of giving away a key revelation about the book. I will say that if you're interested in scientific research, particularly in psychology, this novel will have added appeal. Note to readers who are looking at this book because they've read Karen Joy Fowler's "Jane Austen Book Club:" This novel operates at another level entirely. It's far more challenging and deep. I enjoyed the earlier book as a fine bit of chick lit, pretty good but by no means life-changing. This book is real literature.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

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