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December Book Look

Local bibliophiles review their recent reads

This Book Look is the first installment of a recurring round-up of book reviews by local readers. To contribute to this feature, contact the Kittanning Library. We would love to share your critiques & recommendations with other readers.


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


By Morgan Breghenti

The Raven Boys is the first book in the series The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. The book is about a girl named Blue Sargent.


Blue has always been told that she will kill her true love. Every year she goes with her mother, a psychic, to make a list of those who will die in the coming year.


On this year’s trip, Blue sees a boy, and he tells her that his name is Gansey. He is a student at Algionby, a school for rich kids. Blue is drawn to Gansey and his friends: Adam, Ronan, and Noah.


Personally, I love the entire Raven Cycle. I first read it a year ago and recently decided to read it again. I love how Maggie Stiefvater writes. Her portrayal of Blue and the Raven Boys depicts individual characteristics that can be seen in things like their clothes and even their cars.


The characters build such intense and unique relationships. These relationships are built on a sense of adventure that is inspired by the properties of ‘ley lines’ (straight lines between important historic markers like Stonehenge) and Glendower, a ‘sleeping’ welsh king.

Another thing I like is the accurate portrayal of the working class and a diverse representation of rich kids. Most of Stiefvater’s characters have inner turmoil about the status of life they were born in to.


All of these differences and even likenesses lead to an engaging read. One of the only downfalls is that there is not very much diversity outside of different economic classes, but it does not affect the main plot.

Morgan Breghenti is an avid reader of YA Books and books with mythical creatures such as faeries. She is most often found reading books, volunteering with Daphne, or keeping up with her favorite environmental activists.


Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout


By Daphne Ruffner

Gloriously, Olive has returned.


Remember how much we liked her in Olive Kitteridge (Pulitzer Prize)? Olive is as quirky as ever. Who carries dressmaker shears in their purse or makes their own clothes?


But, she is lonely after the death of her husband four years ago, and she still doesn’t like her son who is a bit of a jackass.


Enter Jack Kennison, a retired Harvard professor, a recent widower, also lonely. He’s interested in Olive.


Elizabeth Strout always has interesting secondary characters. There is Mrs. Ringrose, the school teacher, who is obsessed with the Pilgrims. Kayley Callagham, a high school student, is tender-hearted and an old soul. Suzanne deals with terrible family secrets and wants to refuse her large inheritance. And, Bernie, the lawyer, deals with issues of faith resulting from his parents’ death in the Holocaust.


This is just a glimpse of the characters of Crosby, Maine. There are more fascinating people but you have to read the book to find out. Most are lonely and sad or afraid. Olive has a way of touching them, mostly she doesn’t realize that.


The story skips around in time, and it isn’t always clear. But, overall it is a span of ten years. Characters reappear. There are some situations the reader may find difficult. We do find Olive and Jim married and having a happy five years together, but occasionally missing their former spouses.


Elizabeth Strout has again interjected subjects that may make you uncomfortable, things you’d rather not think about. In here it’s a sexual reference and too many details of bodily functions gone wrong. It seems unnecessary and pointless unless the point is to shock you.


This is a story of relationships. Some are not as they initially appear. It is a good read.

Daphne Ruffner is an avid reader and lover of good books. She can be found volunteering at the library and perusing patron donations and book sales for gently-used gems. Daphne plans and coordinates the much-anticipated Kittanning Library Book Sales.

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