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Slaven's Recommended Reads

Photo courtesy of Elliot Bay Book Company

Everything ends. In this segment, on Sound Effect, we discuss three books whose stories are propelled by finality. King County Supervising Librarian Amber Slaven highlights the work of three regional authors who, in their own ways, explore the final curtain calls of life. 

  First on her list is Rebecca Brown's memoir, "Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary." This lyrical work of narrative non-fiction follows Brown, a former home care worker, who moves from New Mexico to Seattle to take care of her mother, who is dying of cancer. Brown's poetic and austere portrayal of grief and bereavement is really sparse, but touches on a mother's final act and a daughter coping with loss. 

Credit Photo courtesy of Indie Bound

  Another book exploring the vicissitudes of caring for someone whose terminally ill is Jonathan Evison's, "The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving." Evison, a Bainbridge Island-based author of fiction, introduces readers to a lovable albeit frustrating protagonist who loses everything important in his life – his wife to divorce, his children to a tragic accident. In an attempt to pick up the pieces of his life, Ben takes a class literally called “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” to become a home health worker. His first patient, a paralyzed, perpetually horny, 16 year old named Trev, likely doesn’t have much more life to live. So naturally, a road trip ensues. The book is about finality – Trev’s life and Ben’s path to resurrection, if he can only stay out of his own way. 

Credit Photo courtesy of Third Place Books

  We journey through the stacks over to the Young Adult section to discuss Leslye Walton's, "The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender." While technically a young adult novel, this engaging read is great for adults, too, if you like stories interwoven with elements like magical realism, historical fiction, love, and longing. Ava, a sixteen year old born with a confounding set of wings, lives on a hill in Fremont in the 1940’s. She wants to be a regular teenager, but her mother doesn’t want her to leave the house for fear of what other people will do when they see Ava’s wings. Ghosts literally haunt Ava's stoic and reserved grandmother, who runs a bakery and was once thought to be a witch. The ghosts, and their not so final acts, emerge in flashbacks throughout the book and exist as specters during the present. We'd like to tell you more, but we don't want to spoil it for you...


For bibliophiles who cannot wait for Slaven's next reading recommendation on Sound Effect, head over to King County Library System's BookMatch. BookMatch is a program where real librarians curate personal suggestions for new reading material after soliciting some information about your interests.