Another kid book?! Yep. And I’m not even sorry.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The One and Only Ivan tells the true story of Ivan, a gorilla living in a tiny, sad roadside mall. He was raised from a baby by humans who insisted on dressing him as a child, so he’s never really experienced life outside the human realm. When a baby elephant is brought to the zoo, he realizes that he needs to change things.
This is one of the simplest stories I’ve read in a long time, but also one of the most powerful. Ivan muses on such topics as art, imagination, memory and friendship, all in a beautiful, profound way. This would be the perfect read aloud book for the little ones, I think. It’s going on my hypothetical list for my hypothetical future children, that’s for sure.
The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
And now for something completely different…
Look, guys! I’m reading a book written for grown-ups! Oooh. Weird, I know.
I might be a little biased about this book. It’s about a neighborhood in LA that I like quite a bit, and I spent a lot of time just daydreaming about where the characters were. So yeah. Take this review with a grain or five of salt. That being said, The Madonnas of Echo Park is one of the best representations I’ve read of LA. The author constructs a bunch of interlocking stories around Echo Park, the predominately Latino neighborhood of Echo Park that over the past ten years or so has undergone some very intense gentrification. These stories investigate racial relationships, socio-economic conflicts, mother vs. daughter strife and other large themes, while still always keeping an eye on the narrative and characters. Because of such a great attention paid to telling a damn good story, this book never feels preachy or overwrought (like the slightly similar movie Crash. Ugh.) Loved it, and now I’m even more excited to get back to LA!