A COUPLE OF REALLY GOOD READS

Kiss Her Goodbye by Wendy Corsi Staub, the book I read for “K” in my Alphabet Challenge, has something for everyone: a thriller, crime, mystery, family and marriage relationships, family secrets–you name it, it’s in there. This was a paperback written in 2004 that was turned in to my Little Free Library after a neighbor read it. There is both a prologue and an epilogue, features I always appreciate.

It opens with the approaching birthday of Jen Carmody, the fourteen year old who becomes the focus of mysterious speculations, stalkings, and secrets. Stella, for whom Jen babysits and her husband, Kurt (who is a possible suspect at one point) are having marital difficulties. The family secrets mentioned are revealed and explored which involve Jen’s father, Matt, her mother, Kathleen, and Kathleen’s father who is “confused” and in a nursing home. Her best friend, Erin’s mother, Maeve, is a single mom who is interested in each of the aforementioned men. The story begins in August with the disappearance of a young girl in town, and the story runs October through May. Several murders occur, and I challenge you to follow the clues and determine “who dun it.”

The Baker’s Secret, a 2017 novel by Stephen P. Kierman is set in occupied France in the small village of Vergers. The book hooked me from the very first line: “All through those years of war, the bread tasted of humiliation.” It is spoken by the apprentice baker, a young woman named Emmanuelle, known in the village as Emma, who has secretly been adding straw to the flour for the mandatory loaves she bakes for the German Kommandant daily, so she can give the extra loaves to starving villagers. The story covers the period prior to and during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. The description of what Emma sees on Omaha Beach is vivid and heart wrenching. Her horrendous close calls and brutal beatings are told in a way that makes the reader hold his breath or ache all over his body as he reads.

The story appeals to young adults (junior high and up) and adults as well. At the end, the publisher includes an interesting interview with the author and study questions for discussions. It is the perfect selection for a book club.