Sometimes you just need a warm hearted book that will reawaken your faith in human nature, in the goodness of your fellow human beings. Even I, with my obvious taste for the weird and the dark, sometimes need to clean my palate with a book that’s gentle and kindhearted. If you’re in that kind of mood, you’re in luck, because we have some new and charming books available here at the Field, just waiting for you to check them out. One of the things they all have in common, besides a lot of heart and an interest in quirky people, is a main character who’s young and dealing, one way or another, with the oddities of the adult world.
There are times when the title alone gives you a good hint about what kind of book it is. One such book is My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman, the author of the charming international bestseller, A Man Called Ove. Our protagonist, Elsa, is seven years old and not like other little girls. Her best and closest friend is her grandmother, seventy-seven and all out crazed, the kind of old lady who stands on her balcony shooting paintball guns at strangers who come to the house to talk about Jesus. Elsa’s grandmother’s last request is that Elsa bring letters asking for forgiveness from all the people she’d wronged during her life, and in fulfilling this request, Elsa discovers a world of quirky, strange people, the underlying reality of the fairy tales her grandmother told her, and the wonders of her grandmother’s life.
Death is also a spark for the events of The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. The protagonist is Quinn Parker, a musician who’s spent so much time on the road he’s missed out on the life of his strange, Guinness Book of World Records obsessed son. When the 11 year old boy dies, Quinn is filled with guilt and tries to make up for his failure as a father by finishing the requirements of the Boy Scout Merit Badge his son had been working on at the time of his death. This brings Quinn into contact with Ova Vitkus, a 104 year old immigrant woman whom the boy had talked into going for the world’s record as the oldest licensed driver in the world. The more time Quinn spends with Ova, the more he comes to appreciate the son he never knew, and the people his son’s brief life touched.
Father’s Day, by Simon van Booy, is a story of redemption and love, in which a young orphan girl, Harry, is taken to live with her disabled uncle Jason, who’s a felon with a violent past and not a great present. Somehow Harry’s social worker sees more to Jason than most of the world does, and persuades him to become Harry’s legal guardian. The book is told partly in the present, where Harry is an adult woman living in Paris and waiting for her uncle to visit for Father’s Day, and partly through her reminiscences of her past with Uncle Jason. While it sounds like a cliche to have a six year old girl redeeming a distant relative through her love, Van Booy brings a new depth and empathy to all his characters and creates a story that will remain in readers’ hearts.