IN A ROCKET MADE OF ICE by Gail Gutradt is non-fiction about the HIV children of Wat Opot, in rural Cambodia. It’s a community started by a former Vietnam medic that is discovered by the author, whose life was transformed by the encounter with stigmatized children who deserve to grow up in a place like this, without judgment, (and instead with love.) This is the kind of book the world needs to hear now, instead of war chronicles detailing battles (often, as in Africa, with children bearing the automatic weapons.) While nations wave their flags and rattle their sabers, it’s the children who can remind us that we are all universally innocent before we start playing our violent ego games. Narrator Lorna Raver (interviewed at this site) told me, “While the author protests that she is not primarily a writer or a journalist, I thought she did a lovely, obviously heartfelt, job telling the story of Wat Opot. My admiration goes out to Wayne Matthysse and Gail Gutradt!” And this from Wayne at the Wat Opot community: "Gail brought our everyday life into stories people want to read about. Her honesty and openness about her experience here is impressive. Although Wat Opot today is not the same place she writes about, the disease still rears it's ugly head occasionally in one of our small children and we are reminded of those days."
Also check out THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION by Darcie Chan, about a widow who starts over in a small town in Vermont with her young daughters. who later become estranged and move away. After their mother’s death, they are then brought back to the town to hunt for a hidden key to a safe deposit box left by their mother with their inheritance inside. (Kinda like various clues to hidden money that made news recently.) Amy Rubinate narrates, and told me this about the novel and the previous The Mill River Recluse: “I thought both books were beautifully written, with a kind of timeless grace. I like to imagine several generations all enjoying them together; they're books my mom and grandmother and I would have shared. Hope you love them as much as I do! This is the kind of series where you might want to read both books. The first book adds a lot of depth and history to the second one.”
Also new is Haruki Murakami’s COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI, read by Bruce Locke. Murakami is Japan’s greatest writer, author of many bestsellers described as “enigmatic and astonishing.” And THE SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING by Mira Jacob concerns an East Indian woman coming to live in New Mexico and Seattle in order to confront her family’s painful past. Not without humor, it is read with surprising deftness by the author, which is not always the case! And Preston & Child are back with THE LOST ISLAND (once interviewed for this site), a Gideon Crew novel about a page stolen from the mysterious illuminated manuscript “The Book of Kells” which leads a sick Crew to a Caribbean island that promises many answers to cryptic riddles. The novel is more quickly paced (at least chapter-wise) than some of the duo’s previous creations, perhaps taking cues from James Patterson? Reader this time is David W. Collins, a sound designer for games and TV commercials (much like Paul Heitsch.) Also noteworthy for any alpha males reading this, SNIPER’S HONOR by Stephen Hunter inserts his ace rifleman Swagger into a plan to blow a Russian advance a-la the “Dirty Dozen,” with lots of guns and grenades used in a terrorist plot to which Swagger can direct his skills. Nice tie between present day and WW2, if you’re into combat strategy and the technical aspects of ballistics.