Archive for the ‘Baltimore’ Category

SevenStoriesUpWhile there is a necessity for realistic fiction and fantasy in young adult literature, whether it be middle grade or high school, there is also a tremendous need, in my opinion, for readable fiction that doesn’t delve into issues or take you on unimaginable flights of fantasy. While Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder has a touch of fantasy (time travel), it is the heartwarming story of two young girls.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve been Facebook friends with Laurel Snyder for a while, but I don’t know how I got there…probably through some other author Facebook friend. We’ve never met, but I did see her at the Kids Author Carnival at the Jefferson Market Library where she played Pictionary with a group of middle grade kids. She was lively and animated and, based on that alone, I bought Seven Stories Up. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

It is 1987 and twelve year old Annie and her mother, Ruby, who live in Atlanta drive to Baltimore because Annie’s grandmother, Molly, is dying. Molly lives in the old hotel that her parents owned, way up on the 7th floor. Molly and Ruby have not gotten along for quite a while.

It’s late and while Ruby is in with her mother, Annie gets ready for bed. Under her pillow she finds an old sleeping mask, the elastic all stretched out and the beads falling off. She puts it on and, magic, she wakes up in her grandmother’s bed in 1937, when Molly herself was twelve.

Now we all know that when a time traveller interacts with a past time, it changes the present. But that’s not the main part of this story. The story is about two 12 year old girls becoming friends, living life and leaving an everlasting impact on each other. It’s about someone from the 1980s learning what the ’30s were actually like, while leaving a 1930s girl with a little taste of the future.

Annie and Molly are charming characters and they act like true 12 year olds…they get into mischief. Snyder’s portrayal of 1930s Baltimore is startling in many respects. She brought to mind things I hadn’t thought about and will certainly provide food for thought for readers.

So, if you want to sit back and smile while reading, Seven Stories Up might just be the means to do that.


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AfterImGoneIn 1959 Felix married Bambi. In 1976 he disappears, avoiding a jail sentence. In 1986, Julie, Felix’s girlfriend prior to his disappearance, disappears as well. In 2001 her body was found not far from Felix and Bambi’s home. The question is: Who killed her? The answer is supplied by Laura Lippman in After I’m Gone.

Inspired by an actual incident in which a Baltimore gambler disappeared leaving a wife, three children and a girlfriend, Lippman puts her own spin on this.

After I’m Gone is not so much a mystery as it is a character study. It probes into the life of Roberto ‘Sandy’ Sanchez, a retired cop and widower who, on a consulting basis, handles cold cases. It describes Bambi and her relationship with her three daughters, one of whom is too young to really remember her father before his disappearance. It studies the relationship between Bambi and Bert Gelman, Felix’s friend and attorney, and with Lorraine, Gelman’s wife. It explores a family’s take on Judaism.

There’s not a lot of action in After I’m Gone, nor police procedural, nor following clues. It is more a family history and a well written one at that. I don’t remember reading any Laura Lippman, known for her Tess Monaghan series, but I’d definitely add her to my reading list.


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