Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
In her noteworthy debut, Lee filters through a lively postfeminist perspective a tale of first-generation immigrants stuck between stodgy parents and the hip new world. Lee's heroine, 22-year-old Casey Han, graduates magna cum laude in economics from Princeton with a taste for expensive clothes and an "enviable golf handicap," but hasn't found a "real" job yet, so her father kicks her out of his house. She heads to her white boyfriend's apartment only to find him in bed with two sorority girls. Next stop: running up her credit card at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Casey's luck turns after a chance encounter with Ella Shim, an old acquaintance. Ella gives Casey a place to stay, while Ella's fiancé gets Casey a "low pay, high abuse" job at his investment firm and Ella's cousin Unu becomes Casey's new romance. Lee creates a large canvas, following Casey as she shifts between jobs, careers, friends, mentors and lovers; Ella and Ted as they hit a blazingly rocky patch; and Casey's mother, Leah, as she belatedly discovers her own talents and desires. Though a first-novel timidity sometimes weakens the narrative, Lee's take on contemporary intergenerational cultural friction is wide-ranging, sympathetic and well worth reading.
Black Pain by Terrie Williams
Black Power masks Black Pain, says Williams, a social worker and founder of a successful public relations firm. Back when black was beautiful, we felt comfortable in our dark skin and 'nappy' hair. Decades later, that sense of pride has morphed into bling that hides the pain of poverty and racism. The result has been depression expressed through violence, addiction, suicide as well as obesity and hypertension. The stoicism blacks are taught in order to not appear weak in the eyes of other black people only leads to denial and isolation. Williams argues persuasively that blacks are not alone. She begins with her own tribulations with depression. From there, she examines how depression is expressed by black men, women and children, and shares the stories of scores of others: rich, poor, successful, incarcerated. This liberal insertion of case reports coupled with a plethora of block quotes can bog down the text. However, Williams is dedicated to convincing her fellow African-Americans that assistance is readily available, whether through counseling, medicine or self-help There is no need for you to suffer alone or in silence. Help is out there.
Martha Ann is twelve years old when Papa finally saves enough money to purchase her freedom from slavery. In 1830, the family leaves east Tennessee to begin a new life in Liberia. On market days, Martha Ann watches the British navy patrolling the Liberian coast to stop slave catchers from kidnapping her family and friends and forcing them back into slavery. Martha Ann decides to thank Queen Victoria in person for sending the navy. But first, she must determine how to make the 3,500-mile voyage to England, find a suitable gift for the Queen, and withstand the ridicule of family and friends who learn of her impossible dream. Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria is the true story of Martha Ann Ricks, an ex-slave who spent fifty years saving spare coins to fulfill her dream of meeting the Queen of England.
The first two titles are followed by PW reviews from amazon, The third a summary from amazon. What new books did you get this week? And lets just pretend this was posted on Sunday.