Saturday, June 19, 2010

An irresistible book

I love reading book review magazines like Bookmarks, Booklist, and if I'm feeling especially erudite, Kirkus.  If you want to know a secret, though, lean in:  I also read People Magazine's book reviews.  Shhh...don't tell anyone.  It doesn't offer the same level of respectability that Kirkus does.  After all, if you read about a book because you happen to be trying to figure out Kim Kardashian's bikini secrets, is that really something you want to share at a dinner party?  And yet, they do have really good book reviews.

In fact, it was because I was reading their book reviews that I learned about The Irresistible Henry House, a new book by Lisa Grunwald.  It is the story of Henry Gaines, formerly known as Henry House, who started life as a "practice baby" at a university's "practice house."  Apparently, it used to be a common practice for home economics students to learn the craft of motherhood with babies who were loaned or leased from orphanages until they were toddlers.  The book came about because Grunwald wondered what emotional difficulties could have arisen from babies being passed around during a critical time of brain development and forming attachments. 

Grunwald never becomes didactic, and simply presents the story of a man who doesn't quite know how to truly open himself to others.  Set against the backdrop of the Walt Disney Studios and the psychedelic 1960s, Henry's journey is entertaining and richly described. 

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