Laurie’s Pick: Homegoing

It is a librarians eternal task to answer the question, “What should I read next?” The librarians here at Y.P.L. are attempting to answer that question with our Staff Picks series. Each entry will include a different recommendation from a staff member.

Today’s Staff Pick is brought to you by Laurie Hogue, our Assistant Director!

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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I’m recommending this book because…

Homegoing is a debut novel by Yaa Gyasi that left me wanting more. This novel is a multi-generational tale that takes the reader through the harrowing existence of two half-sisters who were born in Ghana in the 18th century through eight generations, leading to present day.

The introductory characters are Effia and Esi, whose paths do not cross and they are completely unaware of one another. as they live in different villages. The lives of the sisters end up very different, setting a trajectory for the many generations to come.

“What I know now, my son: Evil begets evil. It grows. It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your own home. I’m sorry you have suffered. I’m sorry for the way your suffering casts a shadow over your life, over the woman you have yet to marry, the children you have yet to have.” – Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

The reader is not at all sheltered from the horrors endured, this is a story full of heartache and unimaginable circumstance, strength and endurance; it is beautifully written and has rich and developed characters despite the manageable size. Although I felt completely emotionally spent when it was through, this story and the characters have stuck with me, and probably always will.


 

Interested in reading Homegoing?

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Monica’s Pick: The Rules of Magic

It is a librarians eternal task to answer the question, “What should I read next?” The librarians here at Y.P.L. are attempting to answer that question with our Staff Picks series. Each entry will include a different recommendation from a staff member.

Today’s Staff Pick is brought to you by me, Monica Thomas, Y.P.L. Technology Coordinator!

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The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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I’m recommending this book because…

Honesty time: I had no idea that one of my favorite movies, Practical Magic, was based on a book. When the news dropped that a prequel to Practical Magic was being released, I knew I had two books to add to my list!

I read Practical Magic first, and I enjoyed it, but it was a little forgettable. You definitely don’t need to read Practical Magic to enjoy and understand The Rules of Magic. (But if you’re like me, you probably will anyway.) The Aunts, who were one of the best parts about the movie, are barely in the first book, and not at all the eccentric, fun characters I remembered and adored.

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Aunt Jet and Aunt Frances mixing up some midnight margaritas in Practical Magic (1998), a scene tragically not found in the book!

To my delight, The Rules of Magic is all about Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet (for most of the book, just Frances and Jet) as they grow up in 1960s New York City, developing their powers. The story is beautiful, tragic, and remarkably human. Yes, they’re witches, but The Rules of Magic is about so much more than curses, herbs, and superstition. At its heart, it’s a story of family, relationships, and the heartache that shapes us into who we are.

“I’m fated to lose everyone I ever love,” April said. “I already know that.”
“Of course you are,” Jet responded in her calm, measured tone. “That’s what it means to be alive.”
― Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic

The story spans several decades against the backdrop of real events like the Stonewall riots and the Vietnam War, and ends where Practical Magic begins. By the time I closed the back cover, I felt like I really knew these characters, like I had been through a lot with them. It was one of those books I was sad to finish, because even though I followed these characters from adolescence to old age, I just didn’t want it to end!

I adore the Frances and Jet I got to know in this book more than their Practical Magic movie versions, because they are real, fleshed-out women instead of just the eccentric, powerful aunts of Sally and Gillian. It’s a book I will revisit many more times over the years.

(Although, the midnight margarita scene will always be headcanon. I can’t help it.)


 

Interested in reading The Rules of Magic? Click one of the options below:

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