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Middleton Public Library
Address: 7425 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562
Phone: 608-831-5564     Email: info@midlibrary.org
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TODAY
DOPESICK: DEALERS, DOCTORS, AND THE DRUG COMPANY THAT ADDICTED AMERICA by BETH MACY. Journalist Macy (Truevine) takes a hard and heartbreaking look at the cradle of the opioid addiction crisis, the Appalachian region of Virginia and nearby states. She places the responsibility for the epidemic squarely on Purdue Frederick, makers of OxyContin, and its sales division, Purdue Pharma, which engaged in near-predatory marketing practices to sell a drug that has wreaked havoc on the lives of 2.6 million Americans who are currently addicted, with more than 100 dying per day from opioid overdoses.In the first of three sections, she addresses “big pharma” in telling detail, outlining how the overprescribing of pain medication in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms created a market demand that was then met by illegal drug peddlers on the streets. Section two follows the spiral of addiction as users of prescription pills no longer able to afford their habit turn to heroin, a cheaper and more lethal solution to feed their fix. In the last section, the author changes the focus to what has become an addiction treatment industry. Macy potently mixes statistics and hard data with tragic stories of individual sufferers, as well as those who love and attempt to treat them. One addict, Tess Henry, was just 26 when she was first interviewed by Macy and, despite multiple attempts at rehab so that she could raise her infant son, she was dead within three years. Macy’s forceful and comprehensive overview makes clear the scale and complexity of America’s opioid crisis (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).
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Thursday July 18
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by CELESTE NG. Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a by-the-books kind of town. Longtime residents know the well-established rules of conduct. Newcomers, such as itinerant artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter, Pearl, must find out for themselves what is acceptable and what is not. Renting an apartment from city-native Elena Richardson should give Mia and Pearl a leg up. Instead, it throws them into the midst of a fraught custody battle concerning a Chinese American baby; engenders fierce rivalries between brothers Moody and Trip Richardson for Pearl’s attention; and casts Mia as the unlikely confidant of the Richardson daughters, popular Lexie and outcast Izzy. There are secrets upon secrets within the families: Mia’s past is hidden from Pearl, just as Pearl conceals her love affair with Trip. Lexie’s abortion must be kept from her family, while only Izzy knows the subterfuge her mother is using to undermine Mia and Pearl’s happiness. Ng’s stunning second novel is a multilayered examination of how identities are forged and maintained, how families are formed and friendships tested, and how the notion of motherhood is far more fluid than bloodlines would suggest (BOOKLIST).
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Thursday August 15
HEAVY: AN AMERICAN MEMOIR by KIESE LAYMON. In this stylish and complex memoir, Laymon, an English professor at the University of Mississippi and novelist (Long Division), presents bittersweet episodes of being a chubby outsider in 1980s Mississippi. He worships his long-suffering, resourceful grandmother, who loves the land her relatives farmed for generations and has resigned herself to the fact of commonplace bigotry. Laymon laces the memoir with clever, ironic observations about secrets, sexual trauma, self-deception, and pure terror related to his family, race, Mississippi, friends, and a country that refuses to love him and his community. He becomes an educator and acknowledges the inadequacies in his own education, noting that his teachers “weren’t being paid right. I knew they were expected to do work they were unprepared to start or finish.” He also writes about living among white people, including a family for whom his grandmother did the laundry: “It ain’t about making white folk feel what you feel,” he quotes his grandmother. “It’s about not feeling what they want you to feel.” His evolution is remarkable, from a “hard-headed” troubled teen to an intellectually curious youth battling a college suspension for a pilfering a library book to finally journeying to New York to become a much-admired professor and accomplished writer. Laymon convincingly conveys that difficult times can be overcome with humor and self-love, as he makes readers confront their own fears and insecurities (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).
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Thursday September 19
VIRGIL WANDER by LEIF ENGER. Virgil Wander , city clerk of Greenstone, a formerly industrious coastal Minnesota town that time forgot, has just survived a crash that sent his Pontiac screaming into snowy Lake Superior. After Virgil's accident, his apartment above the movie theater he owns and operates feels like someone else's home, and everyone he used to know—most of whom he remembers—wants to be sure he heard the rumor that he, in fact, died. In his convalescence, Virgil meets Rune, a Norwegian ostensibly arrived in Greenstone to teach its residents the joys of kite flying as he gathers information about his son, who just happens to be the town's most famously disappeared resident: a minor-league baseball phenom who took a solo flight in a Taylorcraft 10 years ago and never came back. Virgil's narration is a joy: he lost his adjectives in the crash, making for their gleeful insertion each time he remembers one. Enger (So Brave, Young, and Handsome, 2008) populates down-on-its-luck Greenstone with true characters—charming Virgil , his love interest, friends, and not-quite-friends, and even some wily wildlife—and gives them diverting plotlines aplenty, but the focus of his bright and breathing third novel feels mostly like life itself, in all its smallness and bigness, and what it means to live a good one (BOOKLIST).
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Thursday October 17
2019 GO BIG READ : THE POISON SQUAD by DEBORAH BLUM. America’s nauseating industrial food supply of yesteryear sparks political turmoil in this engrossing study of a pure-foods pioneer. Pulitzer-winning science journalist and Undark magazine publisher Blum (The Poisoner’s Handbook) looks back to the end of the 19th century, when unregulated manufacturers routinely added noxious substances to the nation’s foodstuffs: cakes were colored with lead and arsenic; milk was preserved with formaldehyde; brown sugar was padded out with ground-up insects; processed meats contained every variety of flesh and filth. Blum centers the book on Harvey Wiley, crusading head of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry, who fed a “poison squad” of human volunteers common food adulterants like borax to see if they got sick—and they usually did; his reports helped pass the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. Blum’s well-informed narrative—complete with intricate battles between industry lobbyists and a coalition of scientists, food activists, and women’s groups—illuminates the birth of the modern regulatory state and its tangle of reformist zeal, policy dog-fights, and occasional overreach (Wiley wanted to restrict the artificial sweetener saccharin, which nowadays is considered safe, and wasted much time trying to get corn syrup relabeled as glucose). The result is a stomach churner and a page-turner (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).
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