Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner (softcover, new copy, mint condition)
The heart of this third-person narrative is Becky, an overweight but thoroughly appealing chef at a chic bistro. Married to an adoring doctor and living in a cozy row house, the warm, nurturing Becky ... she rushes to help another woman who collapses into sudden, crushing labor pains after a prenatal yoga class ... The woman whom Becky helps is Ayinde, the gorgeous wife of an NBA superstar. Picturesquely if improbably, she, Becky and another expectant mom, perky blonde Kelly (who was also at the fateful yoga class and lent a helping hand) become fast friends. Eventually, Lia, a beautiful young actress who has left Hollywood for her hometown of Philadelphia in the wake of a tragedy, joins the group. For much of the story, Weiner, a wonderful natural writer and storyteller, renders her characters and their messy, sometimes wrenching lives in details that resonate as the real deal. In the end, alas, she slips in a soapy Hollywood ending. Still, this is a rich portrayal of new motherhood and a fun ride. Weiner's readers will root for her to trust ever more her ability to float between comedy and pathos, leaving the shallows for true and surprising depths.Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan (hardcover, mostly new copy, book jacket has a little shelf rash, excellent condition)
Tan delivers another highly entertaining novel, this one narrated from beyond the grave. San Francisco socialite and art-world doyenne Bibi Chen has planned the vacation of a lifetime along the notorious Burma Road for 12 of her dearest friends. Violently murdered days before takeoff, she's reduced to watching her friends bumble through their travels from the remove of the spirit world. Making the best of it, the 11 friends who aren't hung over depart their Myanmar resort on Christmas morning to boat across a misty lake—and vanish. The tourists find themselves trapped in jungle-covered mountains, held by a refugee tribe that believes Rupert, the group's surly teenager, is the reincarnation of their god Younger White Brother, come to save them from the unstable, militaristic Myanmar government. Tan's travelers, who range from a neurotic hypochondriac to the debonair, self-involved host of a show called The Fido Files, fight and flirt among themselves. While ensemble casting precludes the intimacy that characterizes Tan's mother-daughter stories, the book branches out with a broad plot and dynamic digressions. It's based on a true story, and Tan seems to be having fun with it, indulging in the wry, witty voice of Bibi while still exploring her signature questions of fate, connection, identity and family.I'll confess that I didn't really like this book that much (don't ask how we got two), but I'm sure there is an Amy Tan fan out there who will.
Comment here and tell me which book you would like to receive. You must include an email address or some other contact information (like a website where I can leave a comment), or I will delete the entry. Contest closes in two weeks, on January 26, at 7 pm (ish) California time. Two winners (one for each book) will be chosen at random. Contest is only open to those with US or Canadian addresses. (Sorry! But I am paying for shipping, and that's what I can afford.)