November/December Local Authors
Book review and local author recommendations
Sing For Me: Historical novel blends jazz, romance and segregation
Set in Depression-era Chicago, Wheaton native Karen Schreck’s debut novel is winning raves from critics. And no wonder. Sing For Me is a page-turning and well-researched historical romance — and who doesn’t love one of those? Its central character, “good girl” Rose Sorensen, has a beautiful voice and sings regularly at her family’s Baptist church. She is a dutiful daughter and loving older sister to Sophy, who has cerebral palsy. The family, like many others during this period, faces the brutal economic reality of joblessness and struggle.
And yet, Rose has a joyful passion. She respects her family and their faith, but she can’t help it — when she thinks no one is listening, Rose belts out popular songs from the radio, especially those of Mahalia Jackson. When cousin Rob maneuvers her — sort of kidnaps her, in the most supportive kind of way — into stopping by a South Side jazz club, Rose is hooked on the dreamy, nighttime energy there, the cutting edge jazz, and the desegregated atmosphere of acceptance and the simple joys of music.
Still, she is deeply conflicted as she visits the club and begins to sing with a band. And she is startled to realize she’s attracted to Theo, an African-American jazz pianist. Her family desperately needs the money she earns singing, but it is a deep and dividing secret she feels she must keep. At the same time, she struggles to maintain her faith and the approval of her parents in a mostly segregated society.
Schreck’s love of Chicago during this evocative era of history, her research into the joys and intricacies of jazz, and her creation of magnetic characters make this a must read.
Another recommended read:
• Wynne’s War by Aaron Gwyn. Elijah Russell is a third-generation Army Ranger, but at the beginning of this tale, he is an average corporal about to do an astounding thing. He is in the middle of a gun skirmish with the enemy when a lost horse wanders down a small road into the middle of a battlefield. Raised by his horse-training grandparents in Oklahoma, Elijah is a superb horseman and thus feels compelled to venture out into the haze of battle to lead the horse to safety. Foolish, brave and life-changing, his heroism is captured perchance by a CNN film crew, and is soon splashed across the American consciousness. Touted as the best combat novel since Tim O’Brien’s The Things They
Carried, it was actually recommended to me by two different women who both raved about it.
Sandy Koropp is co-owner of Prairie Path Books (www.prairiepathbooks.com) which hosts book-related performances, author signings and creative gatherings.
BUCKET LIST LIVING FOR MOMS
by Laura Krupicka of Naperville $9. Moms put their children before themselves without hesitation, often putting their own wants and needs on the back burner. This book helps moms get back on track by creating a bucket list to reconnect with old desires and discover new ones. It allows mothers to understand who they are and who they want to be.
DANGER BY DESIGN
by Helen Macie Osterman of Homer Glen $16. Net Petrone recently moved into a retirement complex where she learns that the previous owner of her apartment, as well as other widows, altered their wills and left everything to a suspicious society led by Brother Rupert. Soon after, the widows die of “natural causes.” Net decides to attend a meeting of the society to uncover the truth, but in doing so, she has put herself in danger.
by Lisa Doyle of Hinsdale Amanda Keane had a pretty good life until a failed romance leaves her alone and pregnant. She also loses her job, her apartment is robbed, and she’s forced to spend her life savings on a C-section. Desperate to provide for her daughter, she takes a job as a wet nurse to the offspring of Chicago’s elite, where she must live at their mercy and find the strength to push forward.
THE RIGHT KIND OF PRIDE
by Christopher Cudworth of Batavia $18. The author takes the reader through the eight years of cancer survivorship spent with his late wife, Linda, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 46. The blog posts featured in the book not only chronicle the couple’s daily lives, but the challenges they faced and the peace, faith and acceptance needed during their journey.Edit Module