Paging Through Life

Book Reviews - Combined image 600x389
By Misha Stone

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg (Simon & Schuster, $25.00)

Food blogger (on the popular site “Orangette”) and the author of the memoir My Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg returns with another winsome story about love, family and food. This time, she describes what she and her husband, Brandon, underwent so he could pursue his dream of opening a pizza restaurant. The author follows Brandon across America, on his quest for the perfect pizza, with a mixture of ambivalence and disbelief. But when “Delancey” becomes a reality, the decision begins to hit home. They are responsible for their staff, their customers and each other as Brandon’s dream takes on concrete dimensions. Wizenberg shares recipes as she reveals the challenges and joys of entering into business — and life — with your sleeves rolled up.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin, $17.00)

In the 1930s, the world stage didn’t think much of the Northwest United States. And no one expected a rowing team of young men from logging, fishing and farming families in Washington to make it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Brown recreates a time in American history when sheer strength of will and determination placed nine young men at the center stage of world history. At the heart of this fine work of nonfiction is Joe Rantz, a boy abandoned by his family and left to learn to survive on his own by the age of 10. The story of Joe’s hardscrabble existence in Spokane and his years on the University of Washington’s rowing team in Seattle paints a portrait of an individual of great character and personal strength, traits he learned despite the odds. Interspersed within the stories of the team and sport itself is the darker tale of the rise to power of the Nazi party, especially the ways in which Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda Goebbels carefully used the Olympic Games as a smokescreen for their campaign of terror and destruction. It’s a stirring, engrossing work about sports, politics, and the extraordinary spirit of the young men who put everything on the line for Olympic gold.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Scribner, $26.00)

The author of The Red Tent returns with a personal story passed down through two generations. Addie Baum, born in 1900 in Boston to Jewish parents who had recently emigrated from Russia, tells the story of the next 85 years of her life to her granddaughter, Ava, in her own voice. In short chapters that reveal her family life and her early experiences with school and romance, Addie breathes life into early 20th century America with a sweet nostalgia for times past. She describes the young women of her time forging new lives for themselves, breaking with the old world, and embracing all their new country had to offer. Addie goes into journalism and learns the ropes there under the tutelage of a tough, older woman. After encountering a cad or two, Addie meets her fella, Aaron, a man dedicated to fighting for child labor laws. Boston’s charm and grit shine through in Addie’s ingrained accent, and she shares her daily joys and the losses along the way.

About The Author

Misha grew up in Washington State, attended Marlboro College in Vermont and received her master’s in library and information science from the University of Washington. Misha is a readers’ advisory librarian for the Seattle Public Library and loves talking with readers in her day-to-day work and in book groups. Misha also writes for Booklist magazine’s Book Group Buzz blog.