Author: Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Ugly: A Memoir” by Robert Hoge

“Ugly: A Memoir” by Robert Hoge c.2016, Viking $16.99 / higher in Canada 200 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER You already have a name. Your parents gave it to you when you were born. It might’ve meant something special to them, it might’ve been a name they liked, or something that sounded beautiful. Whatever the situation was, you have a name that’s served you just fine but, as in the new book “Ugly” by Robert Hoge, your classmates often use a different one. Usually, when a baby enters the world, there is a great celebration of its birth but for Australian Robert Hoge, there was silence. He was born with a “massive bulge” from his forehead to the place where his nose should’ve been and his eyes were on either side of his head. His legs were both “mangled” and misshapen. His mother, expecting her fifth child, instead “got a little monster,” Hoge says. A week after his birth, when his mother went to see him for the first time, Hoge says she “did not care about her son.” His parents planned on giving him up but they first decided to discuss the matter with Hoge’s siblings, who insisted their parents fetch the baby – and so, just over a month after his birth, Hoge went home with his family. It didn’t take long for them to realize...

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“The Motion of Puppets” by Keith Donohue

“The Motion of Puppets” by Keith Donohue c.2016, Picador $26.00 / $37.00 Canada 263 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Lately, there are days when you don’t move so well. Sports injuries old or new, creaky bones, long night, short night, slept wrong, it can happen at anytime and any age. But, unlike in the new book “The Motion of Puppets” by Keith Donoghue, your life is still yours, no strings attached. The toy store was almost never open. Time and again, Kay and Theo walked past it, charmed, and tried the door but there was never anyone there. They probably couldn’t have afforded anything anyhow; the income from a cirque acrobat (her) and a transcriptionist (him) wasn’t enough for frivolous purchases but browsing could’ve been fun. It might’ve also been a nice distraction from the stresses of being newlyweds in a temporary home. They’d moved to Quebec from Vermont for the sake of work, but neither was happy: Theo was often flustered by his beautiful wife, and Kay was bored – which was perhaps why she impulsively agreed to attend an after-hours party with the cirque’s manager, a notorious womanizer. But Kay loved her husband and could never enjoy a dalliance, so she left the party alone. Walking home, her imagination overcame her and she was sure she was being followed; when she saw a light in the...

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“The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue

“The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue c.2016, Little, Brown $27.00 304 pages c.2016, HarperCollins $32.99 Canada 304 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER The truth was bent a little bit. Okay, so it was actually mangled. Warped beyond anything that might remotely be real. Wrapped up in a colossal “liar-liar-pants-on-fire” conflagration. The truth was nowhere near the lie you told to save face, to save feelings, or as in the new novel “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue, to save a life. Lib Wright was so angry, she could hardly breathe. Yes, she was told that she would be handsomely paid and put up – which was true – but she was also told that her skills as a nurse were essential, which was a lie. All those years of working in a field hospital in the Crimean War, all the time spent learning from the great Miss Nightingale, all the hours spent on patient care, and these Irish villagers were telling her that her assignment was to be little more than jailer. Anna O’Donnell, they said, was eleven years old and hadn’t had a bite of food for four months. She consumed water by the spoonful, which was to say sparingly, and skeptics had come ‘round. To prove that the child’s feat was a miracle of God, a committee had hired Lib and an elderly nun to watch the girl’s...

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“Playing Dead” by Elizabeth Greenwood

“Playing Dead” by Elizabeth Greenwood c.2016, Simon & Schuster $26.00 / $35.00 Canada 247 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Your wallet is genuine, original faux-leather from faux-Venezuela. It matches the pleather jacket you love so much and your favorite fake-silk shirt, which you like to wear when you drive the car you bought and can barely afford, but that looks great for appearances. Life is sometimes all about pretending but, in “Playing Dead” by Elizabeth Greenwood, faking your demise isn’t quite as easy. Loaded down with student loans in the six-figures, former teacher Elizabeth Greenwood was desperate: that kind of debt terrified her, and she began to toy with an idea that many consider. Rather than let the owed-money scare her half to death, maybe she could just fake her death instead. But faking a death is so drastic, on expert told her, and it leads to more problems. Instead, just disappear, which is “a very different act…” Faking is fraud; disappearing is easier, often legal, and you can still keep in contact with loved ones (though it won’t erase the debt). Disappearing doesn’t even have to be expensive, the expert said; in fact, the poorer you are, the better. Money, he believes, is one of the main reasons people disappear; the other is violence. Love is an “outlier.” “Faking your death almost never works,” said another expert....

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“I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows

“I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows c.2016, Henry Holt $26.00 / $37.00 Canada 272 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Rain, rain, go away. That never worked, did it?  You could chant those four words all you want, trying to keep your picnic, reunion, or party from being ruined, but the sky opened up and there you were. Rain, rain, go away – unless, as in the new novel “I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows, that’s the kind of storm you really need. Another day of hundred-degree weather. That was Annie Bell’s second thought, as she eased herself out of bed, off the sweat-soaked sheet and, away from her sleeping husband, Samuel. It would be a hundred-degrees again today, just like it had been for weeks. Her first thought had been of the baby she’d lost ten years before. Annie often wondered what Eleanor would be like, and it confounded her that Samuel never thought about their second-born. Then again, a lot about Samuel confounded her. And then there was Birdie. Annie’s worried about her first child. At fifteen, Birdie seemed to be on the edge of all kinds of possibilities, and none at all. Birdie thought she was in love with Cy Mack, and Annie knew that Birdie dreamed of life in a city but Cy Mack was never going to take her away from the Oklahoma panhandle, that was for sure....

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