What I've been reading
Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr
This is a short book, but it packs such an emotional punch. As children, Jennifer and Cameron are picked on and ignored and bullied by their peers; but they have each other. A traumatic event ends up separating the two for a while, but years later they are brought together again. They must confront their shared history, the different paths they've taken, and figure out where to go from there. It's beautiful and heartbreaking; a look at love in an untraditional way. Zarr is so good at creating characters and stories that just burrow right inside of you.
Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani
Set in the mountains of Virginia in 1978, Big Stone Gap is the story of Ave Maria Mulligan. Ave Maria is content in her life, a life full of work and friends and community involvement. Until one day she receives some news that shakes her whole world and causes her to question everything about herself. This isn't a fast-paced story, but it doesn't drag either. There's a sense of simplicity and unhurriedness. I enjoyed the sense of place that the author created. And while normally I don't like "life-crisis" type of stories, Triginani managed to create a story free from the melodrama I often associate with that kind of book. Plus, the book was about more than just Ave Maria's crisis, it was about the town and the mountains and the people who lived there. It's about family and love and frienship.