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Arts & Culture
There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'Crossroads'

Crossroads Book Cover.png

“He had once (only once) asked the higher powers if one of the third floor rooms could be his, or really not so much asked as rationally pointed out the third floor’s suitability for the third child...which he was, and when the answer had come down from on maternal high - no, sweetie...he’d accepted it without protest or renewed entreaty.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that is an excerpt from Jonathan Franzen’s newest novel, Crossroads. The story takes place in the 70’s and revolves around the lives of five of the six members of Pastor Russ Hildebrandt’s family.

Crossroads is the name of the church’s youth group, but it is also where these five people stand in their lives. Father Russ has become tired of his wife, wife Marion is tired of being the obedient little wife, eldest son Clem has lost his focus at college distracted by his first girlfriend, daughter Becky has a defining moment in both her faith and dating life and middle son Perry is about to drop off a drug cliff.

As the book jacket states, “Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettable vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America.” His writing draws you in, vividly depicting his characters so the reader feels he knows them intimately. You see them standing at a crossroad and you can’t wait to read what they will decide to do and how their lives will turn out.

Although it’s hard to put the book down, it’s not easy to read. So many bad choices leading to unhappiness. It’s how we’ve survived our own bad choices that compels us to care about these characters.

If you’re looking for a story with vivid characters, then you must read Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen.