What Am I Reading – Chapter Twenty-One

Hi Everybody!

It’s been awhile since the last chapter, but I hope everyone is having a great October! For me, it’s been good, but a little stressful due to wedding planning. I’m tying the knot in less than 3 weeks. Luckily, I’ve been reading Dalva by Jim Harrison, The Marxist Revolution: How Chico, Harpo, Groucho, and Zeppo Changed the Way We Laugh by Eddie Tafoya, and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway to help me relax

And now, I get to add two new titles, so let’s get started!

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman is about a socially awkward, fussy busybody woman who has more imagination, bigger aspirations, and a warmer heart than anybody realizes. When she leaves her cheating husband, Britt-Marie finds herself in the town of Borg – a place where everything is closed except for a few places and a road. She becomes the caretaker of the soon-to-be-demolished recreation center. Eventually, she gets to know the various characters in the town like the citizens, miscreants, drunks, and layabouts. Surprisingly, she’s given the task to lead the pretty untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In a town full of misfits, will Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?

For those who have read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, one may recognize Britt-Marie as the naggy woman who loves order and routine in the apartment building Elsa lives in. While the events of Britt-Marie Was Here occur after the ones from the former, the latter is more of a stand alone novel than a sequel.

Even though Backman provided a backstory for Britt-Marie in My Grandmother, he dives even deeper in Britt-Marie Was Here. Granted, to an outsider, Britt-Marie is still a nag-bag, but she slowly becomes more open, flexible, and independent as she continues to live in Borg. Britt-Marie even reveals more of her life with how invisible she felt by her parents after her sister died; how ungratefully she was treated by her ex-husband, especially how he never put his shirts in the washer; and how much denial she was in when the affairs were going on. Although there’s not a whole lot of story, Britt-Marie is such a compelling character that I’m willing to look through that.

Despite the sadness, Backman still infuses humor to the situation. When Britt-Marie first arrives at the recreation center, she gets hit on the head with a soccer ball (uh, I mean football). Talk about first impressions, eh?

Joan Walker narrates a Fredrik Backman audiobook once again. She brings an austere, but vulnerable vibe to Britt-Marie. Her foreign characters have vague, but appropriate accents. The volume issue that I mentioned in my review of My Grandmother is not as prevalent, but Walker has a tendency to voice the teens as younger than they should be. This is a disappointment, for she voiced Elsa – the 7-year-old in My Grandmother – perfectly. We’ll see if she improves, but it’s a good story so far.

And now, let’s pass it over to the second and final book of this latest installment…

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a Newbery Award winning book that tells the story of Josh and Jordan (aka JD) Bell – twin 13-year-olds who love playing basketball – in verse. The twins must come to terms with growing up on and off the court. This is especially true when they realize that breaking the rules comes at a price.

As a Children’s Librarian, one of the tasks that I have to do every year is host Battle of the Books for 5th graders. The Crossover was one of the titles that we picked for 2022, and it’s pretty easy to see why. It’s full of fun and honesty. I was hooked on the first page. Josh and JD act like real brothers. They play basketball, but they have their differences. Josh, who goes by the nickname Filthy McNasty on the court, loves his dreads, English, and language. He is a good dunker too. JD has a bald head, and he loves to place bets. He’s also good at free throws. I also love the supporting characters like their dad. He is a former basketball player who loves jazz, especially Horace Silver. I imagined him being played by Tommy Davidson if there ever was a movie adaptation. I can’t wait to read it more!

We have now come to the end of the twenty-first chapter of “What Am I Reading?”

Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. Also feel free to email me here for any review suggestions, ideas, or new titles!

Published by emilyblakowski

I work at two public libraries in southeast Michigan, and I facilitate a book club for one of them. I also hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Theatre from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI; a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration also from Wayne. In my downtime, I love hanging out with friends, listening to music (like classic rock and K-pop), and watching shows like "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!

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