It’s, “Lend Me Your Ears” time…

Listening helps us listen better…  Listening is how we learn of the events happening inimages-2.jpg our world.  Listening is how we transmit value systems within the unique cultures from which we originate.  Listening is how we learn of new places and resources in the world.  Listening is how we entertain one another as day and night become our history.  This issue of Bookisshh listens in on two unique tales: one for Middle and/or Young Adult Readers and the other for us grownups which can include twenty and thirty-somethings too.  So dive in and give consideration to, “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy and “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

At the end of the day, stories connect us, not politics.  And there’s so many stories out there waiting to be told.  It’s just a matter of who’s out there listening.                               –Jose Antonio Vargas


The Apothecary by Maile Meloy  

272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png Five Pens

The secrets of the world are within the world and the world’s survival is too.  “The Apothecary” teaches tweens and teens that there are secrets in plants, minerals, and all of earth’s elements which sustain and destroy us.  Who understands and protects these secrets and counter secrets are crucial to our survival…The Apothecary knows…

Maile Meloy is the Madeline L’Engle of her era!  L’Engle, author of the “A Wrinkle In Time” quintet published her work during the explosion of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Rejection of Einstein’s theories abounded and L’Engle, who saw the magic, decided that when adults can’t comprehend, write it for children.  That’s just what L’Engle did and what Meloy does and hopefully Meloy will be favorited too.

“The Apothecary” is a series which explores the scientific thinking apothecaries and alchemists employ in their understanding and manipulation of the natural world for purposes of healing and sustaining all that we know.  This book begins in the 1950s during the atomic race between countries.  Nods to McCarthyism are made as young Janie and her parents relocate from California to England to avoid being accused of being Communists.  During her time in England Janie meets the Apothecary and his son Benjamin Burrows.  This friendship evolves as they discover their fated purpose: to rescue the kidnapped Apothecary and uncover military secrets.

Filled with facts and fleshed out accents ranging from all over the United Kingdom to China and Russia, “The Apothecary” kept both me and my 9 year old son entertained so much so that after listening to it we are actually reading it.  That is, when we can wrestle it away from my 12 year old daughter…  There are two additional books in this series and the next one  leads readers to the Vietnam war, during which all sorts of chemical, political and social mistakes were made and younger readers can consider them in the context of fiction.  Give this series serious consideration!


“The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png272670107550cbe0ceba88e0cd1b08d9.png  Four Pens

Each generation born in America sheds a little responsibility from the one that precedes it.  First generation is always the “Hard Work Generation.”  Following is “Hopes and Dreams”, “Fruit Bearers” and then comes “The Entitled.” There are more but this is where “The Nest” by Cythia D’Aprix Sweeney begins and so too do I.

I’m glad I listened to this book instead of reading it because I needed the distance from the work to fully maintain the huge cast of characters.  The reader/storyteller does a nice job of giving different voices to each one of the Plum siblings who have lived their entire entitled lives waiting to inherit their share of the family nest.

No Trust or Prenup is iron clad and there is always a potential snag hidden for a fine-toothed attorney to discover and when s/he does the whole fortune is unburdened.  D’Aprix Sweeney assembles a fine cast of characters effected by the unburdening of their family estate.

Leo, the eldest sibling and maverick is responsible for the failure of financial gain.  A chronic substance abuser and promiscuous rot, drives under the influence with a cocktail waitress in his care, crashes causing her to lose her foot and his family fortune in a Personal Injury suit.  What’s left will go to his soon-to-be ex who is being paid off to be quiet regarding his downfall.  The rest of the Plum family includes, a spinster author sister who suffers from writer’s block, a married gay antique shop owner brother who lets money dribble through his fingers, and a married sister in denial of her economic circumstances who lives beyond her skis.

During 40th birthday of their youngest sibling, Melody, the Plum siblings are to receive remaining financial compensation for their losses from brother Leo.  Disappointed, their vision crumbles and what emerges is love, support and renewed relationships.

“The Nest” is a great opportunity for us to read, consider and reflect how we are raising our children and what the outcome might look like if they progress as entitled stewards of their era.  Our children couldn’t wait for me to finish listening to this story because of the asides they were often confronted with.  Lucky for me the pace sort of dragged, unlucky for them.

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