Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

I have a confession. I do not normally read graphic novels. I have a second confession to make. I read a graphic novel… and it’s seriously great! For fans of beautiful art, coming of age stories and female empowerment, read Pashmina! History students, first and second generation Americans, travelers, dreamers, read Pashmina! If you don’t fit any of the above categories… read Pashmina! Nidhi Chanani’s debut novel is a sweet story of a teenager named Priyanka who finds a magical pashmina scarf that connects her to her Indian heritage in fantastic ways. As Priyanka discovers who she is by learning where she came from, she learns of the legacy left to her by the women of her family- a legacy of faith, education, progress and strength. The artwork is compelling as it draws you into Priyanka’s reality and into the colorful fantasy of the world of the pashmina. Pashmina is a thoughtful, heartfelt story that will speak to anyone who has tried to define their identity and chart a path forward amidst the tangled web of legacy and family secrets. 

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library

Miss E by Brian Herberger

Fans of Across the Universe and The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E Frankweiler are encouraged to read the story of Bets and her mysterious friend “Miss E”. History, mystery, conspiracy and fun are woven together into this delicious tale that, I must admit, I consumed in one sitting! Elizabeth aka “Bets” is a teenage girl in 1967. She is a new girl, an army brat and a young adult about to embark on a series of changes in her life. When given an assignment to identify important figures of American history, Bets notices an incredible likeness between a defiant spunky aviatrix and her town’s very own Miss E. As Bets uncovers the truth about Miss E, she also begins to uncover the truth about her own place in history as Bets is introduced to the tensions surrounding the Vietnam War. Herberger encourages a message of social justice and free-thinking, but the book is heavily biased in favor of the anti-war stance without ever exploring the other viewpoints. This contradiction detracts from his advocacy of freedom, but nevertheless, remains a thought-provoking, spirited look at a time when dissension was greatly frowned upon. The story of Bets and Miss E is sure to inspire and intrigue readers of coming-of-age stories and historical fiction.

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library 

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo is a well-researched presentation of the special bond shared by the Van Gogh brothers. Inspired by their letters, Heiligman recreates Vincent and Theo’s lives from birth to death by using their very own words and sentiments. At just about 400 pages, this book is a bit slow to start. The shorter, almost fragment- like sentences scattering the early pages make for an interesting read that builds anticipation, but borders on driving the reader crazy by wishing that something would happen! However, if the reader hangs on, they are in for quite a treat. Vincent and Theo’s brotherly love transcends time and speaks to the heart of every reader that has wished for a soul mate. Through good times (and bad), Vincent and Theo were there for each other. Their heartaches, hardships and artistic genius are captivating. Reading like a soap opera, it engages the reader with the melodrama and yet educates the reader on the “other side” of the lives of these important figures. It is recommended that you read this book with Google Images nearby so that you can see the many paintings described. This book is perfect for readers who like art, history and truly touching, truly real stories. 

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library