Special Collections

Sundial Book Club

Description: Welcome to the WLRN Sundial Book Club! This group will focus on the stories and the characters that are uniquely South Florida. Whether you're a regular 91.3 FM listener or if you just need a vacation to a sunnier place, join this #bookclub


Showing 1 through 18 of 18 results
 
 

Swamplandia!

by Karen Russell

A triumphant debut novel and follow-up to Karen Russell's universally acclaimed short story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline-think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades-and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness. Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!'s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine. Selected as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists, Karen Russell is an irrepressible new voice in contemporary fiction.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2021

Month: February

The Orchid Thief

by Susan Orlean

In Susan Orlean's mesmerizing true story of beauty and obsession is John Laroche, a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native Amer-ican activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious. New Yorker writer Susan Orlean followed Laroche through swamps and into the eccentric world of Florida's orchid collectors, a subculture of aristocrats, fanatics, and smugglers whose obsession with plants is all-consuming. Along the way, Orlean learned the history of orchid collecting, discovered an odd pattern of plant crimes in Florida, and spent time with Laroche's partners, a tribe of Seminole Indians who are still at war with the United States. There is something fascinating or funny or truly bizarre on every page of The Orchid Thief: the story of how the head of a famous Seminole chief came to be displayed in the front window of a local pharmacy; or how seven hundred iguanas were smuggled into Florida; or the case of the only known extraterrestrial plant crime. Ultimately, however, Susan Orlean's book is about passion itself, and the amazing lengths to which people will go to gratify it. That passion is captured with singular vision in The Orchid Thief, a once-in-a-lifetime story by one of our most original journalists.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2021

Month: January

The Last Train to Key West

by Chanel Cleeton

One of Bustle&’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020   &“The perfect riveting summer read!&”—BookBub   &“Cleeton's beach reads are often lit by the sun of places like Florida and Cuba, and her latest doesn't disappoint.&”—OprahMag.comIn 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.   For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler&’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person&’s paradise can be another&’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.   After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez&’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can&’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.   Elizabeth Preston's trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.   Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women&’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: September

Black Widow

by Leslie Gray Streeter

With her signature warmth, hilarity, and tendency to overshare, Leslie Gray Streeter gives us real talk about love, loss, grief, and healing in your own way that "will make you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page" (James Patterson).Leslie Gray Streeter is not cut out for widowhood. She's not ready for hushed rooms and pitying looks. She is not ready to stand graveside, dabbing her eyes in a classy black hat. If she had her way she'd wear her favorite curve-hugging leopard print dress to Scott's funeral; he loved her in that dress! But, here she is, having lost her soulmate to a sudden heart attack, totally unsure of how to navigate her new widow lifestyle. ("New widow lifestyle." Sounds like something you'd find products for on daytime TV, like comfy track suits and compression socks. Wait, is a widow even allowed to make jokes?) Looking at widowhood through the prism of race, mixed marriage, and aging, Black Widow redefines the stages of grief, from coffin shopping to day-drinking, to being a grown-ass woman crying for your mommy, to breaking up and making up with God, to facing the fact that life goes on even after the death of the person you were supposed to live it with. While she stumbles toward an uncertain future as a single mother raising a baby with her own widowed mother (plot twist!), Leslie looks back on her love story with Scott, recounting their journey through racism, religious differences, and persistent confusion about what kugel is. Will she find the strength to finish the most important thing that she and Scott started? Tender, true, and endearingly hilarious, Black Widow is a story about the power of love, and how the only guide book for recovery is the one you write yourself.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: August

Black Miami in the Twentieth Century

by Marvin Dunn

The first book devoted to the history of African Americans in south Florida and their pivotal role in the growth and development of Miami, Black Miami in the Twentieth Century traces their triumphs, drudgery, horrors, and courage during the first 100 years of the city's history. Firsthand accounts and over 130 photographs, many of them never published before, bring to life the proud heritage of Miami's black community.Beginning with the legendary presence of black pirates on Biscayne Bay, Marvin Dunn sketches the streams of migration by which blacks came to account for nearly half the city’s voters at the turn of the century. From the birth of a new neighborhood known as "Colored Town," Dunn traces the blossoming of black businesses, churches, civic groups, and fraternal societies that made up the black community. He recounts the heyday of "Little Broadway" along Second Avenue, with photos and individual recollections that capture the richness and vitality of black Miami's golden age between the wars.A substantial portion of the book is devoted to the Miami civil rights movement, and Dunn traces the evolution of Colored Town to Overtown and the subsequent growth of Liberty City. He profiles voting rights, housing and school desegregation, and civil disturbances like the McDuffie and Lozano incidents, and analyzes the issues and leadership that molded an increasingly diverse community through decades of strife and violence. In concluding chapters, he assesses the current position of the community--its socioeconomic status, education issues, residential patterns, and business development--and considers the effect of recent waves of immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean.Dunn combines exhaustive research in regional media and archives with personal interviews of pioneer citizens and longtime residents in a work that documents as never before the life of one of the most important black communities in the United States.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: July

Ordinary Girls

by Jaquira Díaz

In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity.

From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be. Reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz&’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: March

Cat Tale

by Craig Pittman

It wasn’t so long ago when a lot of people thought the Florida panther was extinct. They were very nearly right. That the panther still exists at all is a miracle—the result of a desperate experiment that led to the most remarkable comeback in the history of the Endangered Species Act. And no one has told the whole story—until now.

With novelistic detail and an eye for the absurd, Craig Pittman recounts the extraordinary story of the people who brought the panther back from the brink of extinction, the ones who nearly pushed the species over the edge, and the cats that were caught in the middle. This being Florida, there’s more than a little weirdness, too.

An engrossing narrative of wry humor, sharp writing and exhaustive reportage, Cat Tale shows what it takes to bring one species back and what unexpected costs such a decision brings.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: February

Mothers of Sparta

by Dawn Davies

“Mothers of Sparta offers exquisite writing and storytelling craft. Davies, it seems, can bring to life just about anything with her writing.”—The Associated PressAn Indie Next List Pick for FebruaryLiterary Hub: 15 Books You Should Read This JanuaryIf you’re looking for a parenting book, this is not it. This is not a treatise on how to be a mother.This is a book about a young girl who moves to a new town every couple of years; a misfit teenager who finds solace in a local music scene; an adrift twenty-something who drops out of college to pursue her dream of making cheesecake on a stick a successful business franchise (ah, the ideals of youth). Alone in a new city, she summons her inner strength as she holds the hand of a dying stranger. Davies is a woman who finds humor in difficult pregnancies and post-partum depression (after reading “Pie” you might never eat Thanksgiving dessert the same way). She is a divorcee who unexpectedly finds second love. She is a happily married suburban wife who nevertheless makes a mental list of all the men she would have slept with. And she is a parent who finds herself tested in ways she could never imagine. In stories that cut to the quick, Davies explores passion, loss, illness, pain, and joy, told from her singular, gimlet-eyed, hilarious perspective.Mothers of Sparta is not a blow-by-blow of Davies’ life but rather an examination of the exquisite and often painful moments of a life, the moments we look back on and say, That one, that one mattered. Straddling the fence between humor and, well…not humor, Davies has written a book about what it’s like to try to carve a place for oneself in the world, no matter how unyielding the rock can be.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2020

Month: January

Everything Inside

by Edwidge Danticat

Named a Highly Anticipated Book of Summer 2019 by Lit Hub, Esquire, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, BuzzFeed, TIME, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, and BookRiot

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Brother, I'm Dying, a collection of vividly imagined stories about community, family, and love.Rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

In these eight powerful, emotionally absorbing stories, a romance unexpectedly sparks between two wounded friends; a marriage ends for what seem like noble reasons, but with irreparable consequences; a young woman holds on to an impossible dream even as she fights for her survival; two lovers reunite after unimaginable tragedy, both for their country and in their lives; a baby's christening brings three generations of a family to a precarious dance between old and new; a man falls to his death in slow motion, reliving the defining moments of the life he is about to lose.

This is the indelible work of a keen observer of the human heart--a master at her best.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2019

Month: November

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right.

P>Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Date Added: 03/04/2021


Year: 2019

Month: October

Mostly Dead Things

by Kristen Arnett

One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables.

Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the failing business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles. Her mother starts sneaking into the shop to make aggressively lewd art with the taxidermied animals. Her brother Milo withdraws, struggling to function. And Brynn, Milo’s wife—and the only person Jessa’s ever been in love with—walks out without a word.

As Jessa seeks out less-than-legal ways of generating income, her mother’s art escalates—picture a figure of her dead husband and a stuffed buffalo in an uncomfortably sexual pose—and the Mortons reach a tipping point. For the first time, Jessa has no choice but to learn who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them.

Kristen Arnett’s debut novel is a darkly funny, heart-wrenching, and eccentric look at loss and love.

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2019

Month: August

Miami Blues

by Charles Willeford

After a brutal day investigating a quadruple homicide, Detective Hoke Moseley settles into his room at the un-illustrious El Dorado Hotel and nurses a glass of brandy. With his guard down, he doesn't think twice when he hears a knock on the door. The next day, he finds himself in the hospital, badly bruised and with his jaw wired shut. He thinks back over ten years of cases wondering who would want to beat him into unconsciousness, steal his gun and badge, and most importantly, make off with his prized dentures. But the pieces never quite add up to revenge, and the few clues he has keep connecting to a dimwitted hooker, and her ex-con boyfriend and the bizarre murder of a Hare Krishna pimp. Chronically depressed, constantly strapped for money, always willing to bend the rules a bit, Hoke Moseley is hardly what you think of as the perfect cop, but he is one of the the greatest detective creations of all time.

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2019

Month: June

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

by T Kira Madden

Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden's raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.

As a child, Madden lived a life of extravagance, from her exclusive private school to her equestrian trophies and designer shoe-brand name. But under the surface was a wild instability. The only child of parents continually battling drug and alcohol addictions, Madden confronted her environment alone. Facing a culture of assault and objectification, she found lifelines in the desperately loving friendships of fatherless girls.

With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai'i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It's a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2019

Month: April

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston

Janie is an independent African American woman who grows up with a grandmother who is determined to keep her from the sexual and racial violence of her own past.

Janie's first marriage is filled with hard labor, so she runs off with Joe, a handsome and wealthy storekeeper.

Joe becomes mayor of the all-black town of Eatonville, Florida, but Janie is still unfulfilled by her new relationship.

After Joe's death, she lives with another man who brings passion into her world, if not stability.

Soon tragedy strikes and Janie learns to face it head-on with optimism and strength.

[This text is listed as an example that meets Common Core Standards in English language arts in grades 11-12 at http://www.corestandards.org.]

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2019

Month: March

Jesus Boy

by Preston L. Allen

"Allen has created a consummate tragicomedy of African Americanfamily secrets and sorrows, and of faith under duress and wide open to interpretation. Perfect timing andcrackling dialogue, as well as heartrending pain balanced by uproarious predicaments, make for a shout-hallelujah tale of transgression and grace, a gospel of lusty and everlasting love."--Booklist"Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu-the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict's daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."--The New York Times Book Review, on All or NothingInto an austere community of Christian believers at the Church of Our Blessed Redeemer Who Walked Upon the Waters come the star-crossed African American Romeo and Juliet. In the world of Jesus Boy, Romeo is sixteen-year-old Elwyn Parker, a devout and sincere piano prodigy who learns too late that the saintly girl he has had a crush on all his life is inexplicably pregnant and soon to be wed. Juliet is the beautiful widow, Sister Morrisohn, age forty-two, who, in the pain and confused emotions of her grieving, ends up in Elwyn's arms.Despite the problems posed by their age difference and the strict prohibitions of their strong religious beliefs, Elwyn and Sister Morrisohn's love is true, and as it grows among the ascetics, abstainers, and holy ghost rollers of their church, it exposes with wit, poignancy, and insight the dark secrets and ancient crimes of the pious. In Jesus Boy, Elwyn learns through tragedy and epiphany that the holy are no different from the rest of us.

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2019

Month: January

Southernmost

by Silas House

“A novel for our time, a courageous and necessary book.” —Jennifer Haigh, author of Heat and Light In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love. In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew—and risks losing everything: his wife, locked into her religious prejudices; his congregation, which shuns Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance; and his young son, Justin, caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle. With no way out but ahead, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to find his brother, Luke, whom he’d turned against years ago after Luke came out. And it is there, at the southernmost point of the country, that Asher and Justin discover a new way of thinking about the world, and a new way of understanding love.Southernmost is a tender and affecting book, a meditation on love and its consequences.

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2018

Month: November

The Veins of the Ocean

by Patricia Engel

In this “profound, daring” tale of loss and faith, a woman haunted by tragedy begins to find healing in the waters—and love—that surround her (San Francisco Chronicle). Reina Castillo’s beloved brother has been sentenced to death for an unthinkable crime that shocked the community—and Reina secretly blames herself. Devastated and grieving, Reina moves to a quiet enclave in the Florida Keys seeking anonymity and a new start, and meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Inspired by Nesto’s love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her, as well as its role in her family’s troubled history. Against a vibrant coastal backdrop that ranges from Miami to Cartagena, Colombia, author Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured souls finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world—and in one another. “This is a writer who understands that exile can be as much an emotional state as a geographical one, that the agony of leaving tugs against the agony of being left behind. . . . To immerse oneself in Engel’s prose is to surrender to a seductive embrace, a hypnotic beauty that mingles submersion with submission.” —TheNew York Times Book Review

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2018

Month: October

Make Your Home Among Strangers

by Jennine Capó Crucet

When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet's older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live.

Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet's entire family, especially her mother.

Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it's the new story of what it means to be American today.

Date Added: 09/03/2019


Year: 2018

Month: September


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