The Sweetheart, by Angelina Mirabella

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The Sweetheart is a riotous coming-of-age novel set in the outrageous world of professional wrestling in the 1950s.

Plain, shy, lonely Leonie Putzkammer is headed for a lifetime of waiting tables and cooking dinner for her widower father when she meets a wrestling promoter in her diner. With the promise of fame dangling before her, she sets out for Otherside, Florida and Joe Pospisil’s School for Lady Grapplers, where she learns to wrestle and, more importantly, to perform. Renamed Gwen Davies and teamed with Screaming Mimi Hollander, Leonie tours the country and finds fame, friendship, and first love. But in the brutal world of professional wrestling, fame is fleeting and identity is tenuous: torn between her family, her boyfriend, her friend Mimi, and her ambition, Leonie can’t have it all—so she’ll have to decide what she really wants.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradal

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Do you have a voracious appetite for food and literature? If so, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a novel about a girl with an exceptional palate who rises to culinary celebrity, just might be your cup of tea. Told from the varying viewpoints of those in and around her orbit, you learn about Eva Thorvold, the child prodigy of a chef and a sommelier. Born with an exceptional palate, Eva is a loner that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere but the kitchen. Each chapter is named after, and features a recipe for, a dish that features some significance to Eva’s life. From the absurd to the sublime there’s something for everyone in this quirky, heartfelt novel that simultaneously glorifies and pokes fun at our foodie culture.  

"My Mother was Nuts" by Penny Marshall

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Comedian/director Marshall writes very openly on her life experiences growing up in the Bronx, getting pregnant and married young in New Mexico, her marriage to Rob Reiner, friendship with Carrie Fisher, and relationship with Art Garfunkel.   Marshall revisits tough subjects like abortion, drugs, lack of mothering skills, and her now fading health. Great stories abound of her time spent on TV shows, movies, and her career as a movie director.  Marshall's humor is how she gets through the difficult stuff and lives with a simple motto: “try hard, help your friends, don't get too crazy, and have fun.”

All Souls: A Family Story From Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald

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In this devastatingly honest memoir Michael MacDonald, one in a family of ten, recounts his experience growing up in Southie which is one of South Boston’s public housing projects.  Described by all the residents as “the best place in the world”, McDonald has the courage to pull back this veil and tell the emotional and powerful true story.  MacDonald explores the busing riots of the 1970s, Southie’s “no snitch” culture, the loss of four of his own siblings, and the exploits of Whitey Bulgar (the town’s top gangster and father figure).  Through all of this pain and loss McDonald is still able to point out areas of hope and the strong sense of community that is still alive in Southie today.  

Romantic Outlaws: the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley never knew each other.  Mary W. died giving birth to her daughter Mary Shelley.  Yet both women similarly defied convention, both became famous writers; both fell in love with brilliant but impossible authors; both were single mothers and had children out of wedlock; both broke out of the rigid conventions of their era and lived in exile; and both played important roles in the Romantic era during which they lived.

Gordon’s book examines each in alternating chapters of the two women's lives.  This might sound confusing to the reader but it is not.  She presents the facts of each woman's life in a fascinating way that feels as if this biography is a novelization.  Highly readable, highly recommended.

Family Picture Book Selection: You Were the First

You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan, celebrates all of the stages of the firstborn baby in a family.  There may be other children in the family later, but there is always a first one to teach the parents how to be parents.  This will make parents and children of all family sizes smile and remember all of the good first times they each experienced. A beautiful mixture of words and illustrations for all ages. 


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