"Twisted Tree" by Kent Meyers
"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
"Sweeping up Glass" by Carolyn Wall
Synopsis (from the publisher-Poisoned Pen Press): 1938: Olivia and her grandson, Will’m, run Harker’s Grocery and live in the cold-water kitchen behind the store. Money is scarce; business is bad. Out back, Pap is buried near the outhouse, and Olivia’s crazy mother Ida is living in a tar paper shack. For 30 years, Olivia has loved Wing Harris, who plays a mean trumpet and owns the Kentuckian Hotel. For decades, they’ve shared only howdies at Ruse’s Cafe. This may be the coldest winter on record in Kentucky, but that doesn’t keep the elusive Hunt Club from tracking silver-faced wolves on Olivia’s strip of mountain. It falls to her and Will’m to figure out why as the hunters turn their sights on them, too. One frozen night, Will’m’s mother comes back for him. Then some terrible secrets explode among the Rowe Street community. Now there’s blood on Olivia’s hands, and nothing is as she thought it was. Olivia is responsible for the very people who betrayed her. While she searches for answers that might save them all, the day comes when Olivia must shatter the shackles that bind her and her community.
Celeste is perfectly happy in her sweatpants and hoodies. She knows she is "round", rounder than her best friend, and certainly rounder than her perfect sized cousins Kirsten and Kathleen. Kathleen is getting married and asks Celeste to be a junior bridesmaid. The dress is hideous, it doesn't fit correctly and is a reminder of why she is happiest in sweats and hoodies. Her meddling aunt (the mother of the beautiful cousins) secretly enters her in a Miss Husky Peach Pageant for "larger sized girls" the prize is a $5000.00 scholarship. The 8th grade heroine is horrified and terrified of what her tormentors will say when they find out.
She hatches a plan of her own. Deciding that if she loses enough weight she would no longer be eligible for the contest. This notion gives her the motivation she needs to skip her favorite snacks and get out and exercise. She has to face the prospect of losing her best friend to the very group of girls that taunted her. Along the way she becomes comfortable with who she is and finds her own individuality. This debut novel told in first person by Celeste shares a good view of middle school, friendship, family and of finding ones own place among it all.
(personal note: This book at first can appear to be fluff because on the surface life gets better as she loses the weight. The message could be one of those with a cloudy happy ending: informing the reader that with some determination you too can be like a model. But the fact of the matter is that she never goes overboard with an obsession to be "perfect" I think it is important to point out that she ends up at a healthier weight and that there are some important issues raised about body image and health as well as relationships among families and friends. Her family may seem to be all about the looks but they really are in her corner wanting her to be healthy and happy. I will admit that I did get annoyed with some of the aspects of this book but all in all it is one that I will be recommending to my customers.