Rivertown Reads

Here’s what staff are reading this summer:

Reporter Rebecca Mariscal 

‘Miracle Creek’ by Angie Kim

This novel follows the aftermath of an explosion at a special treatment center in a small town in Virginia. The chamber treatment was considered a miracle cure, until it exploded and left two people dead. What follows unfolds in a courtroom drama as we try to figure out who’s really at fault. 

What seems to be a clear-cut case becomes increasingly clouded as we learn that everyone involved has secrets and will do what they have to to keep them hidden. 


Reporter Rachel Fergus 

‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell 

Maggie O’Farrell takes the fragments that we know about William Shakespeare’s life and turns them into a masterpiece. “Hamnet” is a novel about Shakespeare’s only son, who died at the age of 11. 

O’Farrell weaves together the story of Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway’s love, the heartbreak of losing a child and the connection between siblings (Hamnet had a twin sister and an older sister) to create a truly one-of-a-kind story.

Cover to cover the novel is mesmerizing but the final scene is perfect; it may be one of the best endings to a book I have read. 

Reporter Hannah Coyle

‘Recollections of My Non-Existence: A Memoir’ by Rebecca Solnit

There is a path to finding oneself and it is rarely linear. Rebecca Solnit, in her memoir, recollects times in her life where she found people that changed her mindset, a desk on which she wrote miraculous works, experiences that nearly broke her and the small studio apartment in San Francisco that truly made her. 

Through all of it, the ups, downs and plateau, she found a pattern of the intersectional nonexistence burdened onto the lives of women, including herself. To overcome, to change and to reflect, she writes about her growth in the ’80s. 

Editor Anne Jacobson

‘Promised Land’ by Barack Obama

We know what happened: Barack Obama became the nation’s first Black president. 

We know the big events while he was in office: The headlines that carried the news are fresh in our memory.

Now we know more about how he got there.

Obama offers his personal perspective on the decisions he made along the way. (Some would call it a biased view, but there can be no other in an autobiography.) One thing that strongly emerges is how five women -- mother and grandmother, wife and two daughters -- influenced those decisions. Perhaps not as strongly as Abigail did husband John Adams’ actions, but time, Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and her husband’s sequel to ‘Promised Land’ might make that clearer. 

The book includes way too many people by name and less about Joe Biden -- Obama’s “last voice in the room” who made that same promise to his vice president, Kamala Harris -- than readers might have liked. Still, we must remember that the book was written before Biden had wrapped up the Democratic nomination and won the presidency.

Politicians rarely seem hard enough on themselves. Former President Barack Obama takes a fairly good stab at humility and owns some of his mistakes. History, as it has for other presidents, will be the judge. In the meantime, Obama reminds us what a gift and what a responsibility it is to be an American.


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