Forever Boy by Kate Swenson

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Kate grew up always knowing that she wanted to be a mother, so she was filled with joy with the birth of her son Cooper.

But as she relates, something was wrong. He did not sleep, he screamed on and on and did not make the baby achievement milestones like other babies did.

Her book tells her journey on trying to get a diagnosis, finding schooling to help him, trying to balance work, marriage and motherhood all the while having unconditional love for her son.

She went through the stages of grief, knowing Cooper would never drive a car, marry, or even live independently. She gradually came to acceptance and decided to share her insights with other parents that are adapting to live with autism.

This is a sad, but inspiring book. It gave me a glimpse of how parents with special needs children live their lives.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly. Five stars.

Available through the Bridges Library System

I Begin with Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau by Julie Dunlap & Megan Elizabeth Baratta

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

I found this biography of Henry David Thoreau to be absolutely phenomenal.

Organized as a journey through the 4 seasons, beginning with spring and concluding with winter, this book is assembled as a pseudo-sketchbook, saturated with illustrations, handwritten notes, and historical ephemera.

The biographical information is segmented into easily digestible paragraphs flowing alongside nature facts, observations, and soft drawings, mirroring the way in which Thoreau’s life was deeply intertwined with the natural world.

A treasure for enthusiasts of nature, art, and writing.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel by Kati Marton

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Angela Merkel grew up in East Germany during the Cold War. Her father was a Lutheran minister, her mother a teacher who was forbidden to teach English. Her grandparents in West Germany sent care packages to her family.

Due to her academic excellence, she was allowed to attend a university and became a research physicist. During that time one of her classmates was hired by the Stasi, the German secret police, to spy on her activities. Then everything changed when the Berlin Wall came down.

She pursued a career in politics, being mentored by Helmut Kohl, the chancellor of the reunited Germany. Within 15 years she rose to the top, using her intellect, her morals, and her scientific reasoning to become the unofficial leader of Europe. She out maneuvered Putin and Trump, worked with Obama and Macron, handled the COVID pandemic with scientific strength and created social policies that included accepting thousands of refugees.

The title of the book really sums it up – she had a remarkable odyssey. I recommend the book wholeheartedly.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I loved the Disney Hayley Mills movies when I was growing up. Nothing better than Pollyanna, The Parent Trap (the original!), Moonspinners and That Darn Cat!

Hayley gives the background information on how she was selected by Walt Disney and what he was like. She had many wonderful co-stars and she mentions them favorably. She also did stage work and lists a lot of British actors that I have never heard of, that however, dragged the book down a bit.

She had the typical growing up insecurities; growing up in front of a camera was difficult. She attended Hollywood studio school while filming, child actor Kevin Corcoran (aka Moochie) enlightened her with the facts of life during her time there. Otherwise, her parents kept her very sheltered, and when she was not filming she attended a British boarding school and later a Swiss finishing school. She received her juvenile Oscar award via the mail, she was not allowed to attend the Hollywood ceremony.

She married a much older man when she was twenty. At twenty one she petitioned to get her movie earnings released to her, but due to poor financial advice she lost it all.

I enjoyed the insight into the 1960s actress’s life, it was a fun, fluff read.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (921 MILLS)

The Boys: A Memoir by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Ronny Beckenholdt? Famous child actor in the 1960s?
Does Ronny Howard ring a bell?

This is just one tidbit about the acting family that the brothers share – their father changed his name from Harold Beckenholdt to Rance Howard, and forever after the family surname became Howard.

Ron and Clint tell the story of their parents growing up in Kansas and Oklahoma and yearning to become successful actors. Ron’s mom suffered a tragic injury, gave up acting and then devoted herself to raising her children. Rance struggled to get his “breakout” role that would propel him to stardom, while his two sons became successful child actors under his guidance.

Ron and Clint take turns giving their recollections of their times on the Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben, Happy Days and various parts in movies. Their father was their acting coach and guardian on the sets and picked up parts for himself along the way, but never achieved his leading man goal.

Ron gave insight on how his acting experiences drove his desire to pursue directing films for a living. Clint aged out of child roles and dealt with drug addiction, but still managed to pursue a career as a character actor.

This memoir is a story of love and appreciation for Rance and Jean Howard, and how they kept the family grounded with Hollywood glamour all around them. It was a heartwarming read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you grew up with Opie and Richie Cunningham you’ll love it too!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 HOW)

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

With the very first lines (“In the valley of the Red River, / where the soil was as rich / as most folks were poor”) I knew I could trust Stephen Costanza to lead the way through the uplifting story of ragtime legend Scott Joplin.

Throughout the book, he paints Joplin’s rise to the ragtime throne using a patchwork of perfect words and heaps of hues in each image. The sophisticated folk art style expertly reflects how Joplin pieced scraps of music into original compositions – “He’d patch in a riff from a work song, / a thread of gospel here, a string of ring shout there– / sewing together new tunes”.

The large spreads of undulating images and dynamic text make you feel the ragtime rhythm, even though you cannot hear it. A toe-tapping treat.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Crying in the H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Reviewed by Holly (Library Patron)

This book is the personal journey of its author through an extremely difficult time in her life, her mother’s fight and eventual death due to cancer. As such it was often depressing and reveals a lot of details that are not pleasant to read. Throughout the book the author details many memories that were linked to Korean food. I found this to be overbearing as I was not familiar with most of the dishes and their names occupied a large portion of the text. Even so the story describes a very personal reflection of her mother/daughter evolution through her perspective as the daughter. Overall, it was ok.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Yearbook by Seth Rogan

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

What an unexpected delight this was. Actor Seth Rogan tackles the memoir but rather than a chronological retelling, tells tales of his two lives–one growing up in Canada and the other, when he reaches the pinnacle of Hollywood. Rogan’s writing is refreshing and conversational, fun and light. Though he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, it is not presented in an in-your-face manner. A funny read!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 ROG)

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’m a big Wisconsin sports fan (except for the Badgers, but that’s another story!) So this year, when the Bucks had their championship run, I was all in and excited to cheer them on. And then they won and it was fantastic! Then I saw there was a book coming out about Giannis and I knew I had to read it.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP follows the life of Giannis, as a young boy in Greece selling trinkets on the streets to an NBA superstar, and everything in between. The book shows how much he loves his family, the racism he has had to deal with, and his journey to America.

I loved this book so much and I enjoyed learning even more about Giannis. He truly is one of my favorite athletes, and this book just affirmed that fact. My only complaint with the book (which was just due to timing) is that the book was finished/sent to print before the Bucks championship win this summer, so there was no information about the championship and what it meant to Giannis and the city of Milwaukee. But I urge anyone who is a fan of the Bucks, Giannis, or just good athletes in general should read this book right away!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (796.323 ANT)

For Self and Country: for the wounded in Vietnam the journey home took more courage than going to battle by Rick Eilert

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the memoir of the author’s journey back from Vietnam in 1967. It was a powerful story when I first read it in 1983. Reading it again in 2021 it still pulled me in, and also helped me understand why there are homeless, troubled Vietnam veterans to this day.

It was reprinted in 2010, with a note on the cover that said President Reagan was so moved by this book that he invited the author to the White House.

The book starts with Rick’s horrific combat injury and his long flight to Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. He is the oldest soldier on the hospital floor; he is 20 years old.

He endures dozens of surgeries and horrific dressing changes trying to save his legs. He worries that his girlfriend will dump him, the anti-war protests dishearten him, and if he will be a “gimp” forever.

There are light moments too: his blind bunkmate is the floor lookout, he plays chicken with another wheelchair bound patient and re-breaks his leg, and the young soldiers, of course, ogling the Navy nurses and female visitors.

This book was not in the Bridges Library System, Emily the DPL circulation manager found it using the State of Wisconsin (WISCAT) InterLibrary Loan system.

If you watched the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, this book will add another dimension to the time period. I strongly recommend it.