KSL.com Book Club: 3 books we read in October

KSL.com Book Club: 3 books we read in October

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's hard to believe we've been through 10 months of 2020 when time has felt anything but regular this year.

One minute it feels like it's still March or April, while another minute it feels like this year has been the equivalent of seven years. The ups and downs of 2020 (mostly downs) have many of us tired and dazed, but at least we can still count on books for knowledge, escape and comfort.

Welcome back to the KSL.com Book Club. It's a book club with a twist where some of the KSL.com team members read a different book and then recap our picks at the end of each month.

This month's KSL.com Book Club features book picks from social media manager Yvette Cruz, news director Whitney Evans and copy editor Jordan Ormond. If you think of a book one of us might like based on our book choices and reviews, feel free to let us know!

Yvette's pick: "The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez

After Maribel Rivera suffers a traumatic brain injury in her hometown in Mexico, her family moves to Delaware to enroll her in a special school in hopes that it will help with her recovery. At their new home, the Riveras meet the Toros and their son, Mayor, who ends up developing a friendship with Maribel, which turns into something more. As Maribel and Mayor's relationship grows, their parents grapple with their place in the United States as immigrants.

While a large portion of this book focuses on Maribel and Mayor's young love story, I was more captivated by the perspective of the parents, and a few other characters, as they struggled to adjust to a new country and customs.

The book weaves in multiple different voices ranging from Maribel's mother to Mayor to several of their neighbors who are immigrants from different parts of Latin America. At first, I wondered if this was too many voices, but I ended up really liking the various stories and perspectives on an issue that isn't monolithic.

There were a few qualms I had with this book, but overall I found it moving and thought-provoking.

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Who would like this book? Anyone who likes multiple voices in a book or wants to learn about immigration from different perspectives.

My next read: I'm open to recommendations!

Whitney's pick: "Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

I'd heard about this book and knew people who had loved it, so I was excited when this finally became available on my Overdrive app. This novel follows Cora and her journey to freedom as an escaped slave pursued by a dogged slavecatcher. It imagines the Underground Railroad as an actual rail system used to transport escaped slaves to their freedom.

Cora grows up on a plantation knowing her mom ran away and left her behind. As a result, she learns to fend for herself, and ultimately hatches an escape plan with another slave, Ceasar. They also end up with a surprise escapee, Lovey. The plantation owner puts up three gallows once he realizes Cora, Ceasar and Lovey have escaped as a foreboding warning of what will happen if they are caught and returned.

A slavecatcher named Ridgeway makes it his mission to pursue and catch Cora, in part because Cora's mother was the one slave he was unable to recover. Cora lives for a time in South Carolina, in a community that seems idyllic on its face, but turns out to have more sinister roots. She uses the railroad to make her way to North Carolina, where she hides in the attic of an abolitionist, in quarters where she is unable to stand, and then moves on to a farm in Indiana, all the while facing challenges to her freedom and fearing Ridgeway's pursuit.

It was a powerful read. This book won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017, so that should say a thing or two about its quality. Whitehead is a vivid writer who confronts some hard past realities through the lens of fiction.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Who would like this book? I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Colson Whitehead, who enjoys historical fiction, and/or who wants to think critically about tough issues from our country's past.

My next read: My next read is a reread of a book I picked up a few years back called "Change or Die," about what cultures, companies and people need in order to make meaningful and lasting changes.

Jordan's pick: "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo

"The Tale of Despereaux" is a beautiful story about the importance of being who you are and doing the things you dream of doing, despite what others tell you. Readers will also see how kindness and compassion can be powerful forces for good, and can even get you through some sticky situations.

Despereaux Tilling is a small mouse who lives in a large castle. Everyone around him tells him he must be and do things a certain way — the way all mice do. But all Despereaux wants is to be a knight in shining armor for his Princess Pea, the human princess who lives in the castle.

The other main characters in the story — Roscuro the rat and a serving girl named Miggery Sow — also dream of things others tell them they cannot do or have. But the way they try to get what they want is far different than the way sweet, kind Despereaux does.

Their stories culminate in a dangerous situation deep down in the castle's dungeon. How will they get through it? You'll have to read the book to find out.

This is a fun little chapter book that will keep young readers entertained. But, it also provides parents with an avenue for deeper discussion with their children about dreams, goals, attitude, behavior and consequences, in a way children can easily understand.

Genre: Children's Fiction

Who would like this book? Children 9-12, fans of children's fiction.

My next read: I think I'm heading back to non-fiction with a book called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain.

Which book are you most interested in?
"The Book of Unknown Americans"
"Underground Railroad"
"The Tale of Despereaux"

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Yvette Cruz is the social media manager for KSL.com. She oversees the social media strategy for the local news outlet and seeks different ways to inform Utah audiences through various platforms. Yvette is also the editor of the lifestyle section. Prior to joining KSL.com she worked as an assignment desk editor for the local Univision station in Chicago.


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