Fall Book Reviews: 1 of 3

We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us.—Natalie Goldberg

WICKED TAKES THE WITNESS STAND: A Tale of Murder and Twisted Deceit in Northern Michigan by Mardi Jo Link

If you love true crime whodunits, there’s no one better writing the story than Mardi Jo Link. (And, sidebar, she is as lovely as she is talented.) In 1986, the frozen body of a small-time drug dealer was found in the back of his pickup truck in Gaylord, Michigan. This discovery leads to the conviction of five innocent men because of “bungled forensics,” a vindictive prosecuting attorney and a psycho star witness. Dear reader, you will want to scream ‘Wait! What?’ reading about the rush to justice from the police to attorneys to judges and the community of Gaylord itself. In the end, I was left wondering what happened to all these broken lives and if justice was ever served to the people who were directly involved. Was it a drug overdose? And what about all that meat left in the truck?

Favorite line(s): It had been exactly a year and a half since Jerry Tobias died. In that time, Laurie Moore had faced three different charges (Open Murder, Second-Degree Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter), five different judges (three of which had recused themselves for personal reasons), one change of venue, a pathologist deemed incompetent, witnesses who admitted to drug use and drug dealing, four jurors who wanted to recant their verdict, an attorney who withdrew after receiving a death threat, a secret eyewitness, and four new suspects about to be prosecuted for the very same crime.


Coming in at around 170 pages, this slim book is big on story. A 50 something photographer married to an 80 something former war correspondent has been sequestered in an Econo Lodge in Central Florida with other jurors for three weeks while they hear the case against a sister accused of murdering her younger brother (but really was it the twin sister and her boyfriend who did it?). C-2 (how we know this juror) begins an affair with another juror, F-17. While hearing the gruesome details of the case by day, they carry on an affair by night. C-2 wants “one last dalliance before she gets too old.” The story is one of whodunit, but more importantly, looks at love in a marriage with age and illness front and center. Refreshing in so many ways.

Favorite line(s): The noise is coming from the woods, insects rubbing one body part against another. The indifferent ceaseless rubbing speaks of life eternal, the insects that will be there long after she and Graham have gone their separate ways, after the motel has gone bankrupt, and the woods have taken over, after her husband has died, and her own vision has narrowed and she can’t remember where to put her hands and feet, and her photographs are long forgotten.

NANAVILLE by Anna Quindlen

{Disclaimer: I wrote this review a few weeks before my grandson was born. He’s here! He’s everything!}Yes, I’m about to become a Nana. The idea of my baby having a baby feels surreal. But here we go! A friend gifted me Quindlen’s latest about her journey and the lessons learned when she became a grandmother in 2016. I read Quindlen's column, Living Out Loud, religiously as a young mother myself. And I remember her later column in Newsweek proclaiming Barack Obama, the future of the Democratic party before anyone had ever heard of our 44th President. She is an astute observer and an engaging writer. In “Nanaville” her essays on becoming a grandmother at 64 are filled with advice, like “Be warned: Those who make their opinions sound like the Ten Commandments see their grandchildren only on major holidays and in photographs.” People are living longer, so naturally, there are more grandparents in the United States than ever before. And while many grandparents today are raising their children’s children for a variety of reasons, none usually good, a few of us are privileged to be involved as secondary support. Although her dos and don’ts in “Nanaville” are not revelatory, her missive on the changing role of grandparenting makes me even more excited to watch “the progression of existence” in the eyes of my grandson.

Favorite line(s): Jorge Luis Borges said, ‘When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.’ When mothers die they leave children, and when nanas die, they leave grandchildren and perhaps a trace memory of being coddled, kissed, attended to, and loved, of being chased across the lawn or rocked in the middle of the night or taken seriously. In Nanaville there is always in the back of my mind the understanding that I am building a memory out of spare parts and that, someday, that memory will be all that’s left of me.