April Book Picks

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Our Tomato book reviewers have three suggestions for you. One is an inspiring little book about growing old purposely. And the two novels include a page turner that sheds light on morality and justice and the other one will take you back to the 1970s and the challenges of being a single working mother.

 A Powerful Little Book about Growing Old Purposely

When we were young, we were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up”? The answer typically emphasized a profession or an occupation.  Now that we are adults and have lived the “what”, a new, but related question emerges that we ask ourselves, “Who do I want to be when I grow old”?

Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Old, by Richard J. Leider & David A. Shapiro, is a small (130 pp), but powerful book about how to grow old purposely, meaningfully, even re-imagining ourselves as we age.  Framed as a long conversation between two old friends, this book reframes aging as a liberating experience; one that frees us to become the authentic person we were always meant to be.  No longer constrained on outward focused plans, goals, how much money we make or social status, success in later life is measured internally, not externally.  It’s about growing our inner life rather than our outward success.  It’s defining a new story, a new model of ourselves.

Richard, with a background in Psychology and David with a background in Philosophy, lead us to developing a sense of purpose through perspectives from inspiring people, real world practices and provocative questions such as, “How do I stop living a default life?”, “Am I having a late life crisis?”, “How can I grow whole as I grow old?”, and many more which stimulate reflection, thought, and positive steps toward personal growth.

I found this book easily readable, thought provoking and inspirational.  Most importantly, it embodies the spirit of The Three Tomatoes, which is to live our lives the best way possible no matter our age.  I recommend this book to read and keep handy on a nightstand to re-read parts as needed for hope, encouragement and guidance. Get the book.

~Ellen Seymour, Hershey, Pennsylvania, retired caterer, avid gardener and cook

A Marvelous Page-Turner Shedding Light on Morality And Justice

In his new book, All the Broken Places, author John Boyne revisits characters from his best-seller The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, returning to Bruno’s older sister Gretel 20 years later, imagining what might have become of her. The book examines how culpable a young Gretel might be, given the historical events unfolding around her in Nazi Germany, and whether she can ever cleanse herself of the crimes committed by the people she loved. As the story of Gretel’s last 20 years emerges, we see a life consumed by guilt, complicity, and grief, as well as by love and ties that bind. Did this young woman know what human monsters were doing and deliberately look away? Does family loyalty trump crimes against humanity?

All The Broken Places moves back and forth in time between Gretel’s girlhood in Germany to present-day London as a woman whose life has been haunted by the past. Told in the voices of her 12-year-old youth escaping from Germany and of her 91-year-old self, living comfortably in the exclusive Mayfair district of London, there are harrowing accounts of the grim post-war years she spent in Paris with her mother and allusions to her father who was a high-ranking Nazi. She journeys from Paris to Australia to London, seeking to define who she is with and without respect to her family history.

Gretel’s sense of justice for the weak and helpless is awakened by a new family that moves into her building. She befriends the young boy, Henry, who loves to read and often sits in the garden of their apartments, where she joins him. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that his father is abusive to both his wife and Henry. For Gretel, it is a call to action, “I had witnessed too much suffering in my life and done nothing to help.  I had to intervene.”

Her courage and bravery have devastating consequences, as she confronts the evil and finds the way to atone for having been partly responsible for the deaths of many people.

This is a marvelous book, a page-turner of the first degree, examining a fascinating premise and shedding light on a human dilemma of morality and justice. Get the book.

~ Joan Pagano, owner of Joan Pagano Fitness, NYC

A Beautifully Written, Thought-Provoking, Empathic Novel

Sarah McCraw Crow’s novel, The Wrong Kind of Woman, begins in 1970 with Virginia Desmarais being a happily married wife.  Her husband is a professor at a college for men in rural New Hampshire.  They have a thirteen-year-old daughter.   Virginia’s husband suddenly dies of an aneurysm.  She and her daughter, Rebecca watch him collapse on their front lawn while hanging the Christmas lights.  Virginia has devoted her life to supporting her husband’s career as a college professor while raising their daughter.  She is now facing life on her own, with no job or income.  She quickly realizes she will need to find a job to support her and her daughter.

Virginia becomes reacquainted with four women that were on the faculty with her husband at the college.  The four women have been friends for many years but they welcome Virginia into their social world.  Virginia’s husband had prejudices against all four of these women.  Now that she is getting to know them herself, she realizes they have a lot to teach her about  working women in the early 1970’s at Claredon College.  At the same time Rebecca is having difficulty accepting life without her father and how her mother is giving her less attention.

Tensions in both the town and at the college begin to rise when protests for change are building around the country.  I was fascinated by Sarah McCraw Crows details of the era-the women’s liberation movement, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.  She made it all feel real again, like it was happening again now.

I love how Virginias character shows how society has certain expectations on women, their growth and ambition.  Women can still relate to these same issues fifty years later.  We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go in women’s equality.

The Wrong Kind of Woman is a debt by Sarah McCraw Crow.  It is beautifully written, thought-provoking and an empathic novel.  I loved this book so much. I highly recommend it.  It was a five star for me.  I am already looking forward to Sarah’s next novel. Get the book.

~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents who have children with drug addictions.


The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf
If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

Book Review

The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

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