By Megan Lord
Being completely honest – as a mother of two young children, I really don’t get as much time to read as I used to. Because of this, I’m much more selective with what I will read. I get books in the mail, book review requests, recommendations from friends, recommendations from ads, books, books, books! Thrown at me from every direction, how is one to choose which ones to prioritize? The COVER definitely has some strong pull. This is the first thing you see on a book – of course if it’s visually drawing your interest will start to spike.
Once the cover draws me in – it’s the synopsis, the story – what type of story am I going to get into here. Give me a good cover, and then throw in a mother – daughter relationship book, and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker!
Now, I’m sure I’ve referenced before one of my favorite reads being The Memory Thief. It’s just one of those books that will stick with me… I find myself thinking back to it often. It just has that pull, that effect on me. The cover art shows a gold lock with an intricate, flowy design around it on a black backdrop. Because I am so infatuated with the book, the art also sticks with me. This is why when the book Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry found its way into my hands it caught my attention. The cover art reminded me of that of The Memory Thief. This book cover art is a detailed, fancy key on a black backdrop. Then I read the synopsis about this “historical coming-of-age novel about the complex bonds between mothers and daughters”. Of course, I had to give it a go – and I’m pretty glad I did!
Between Before and After is told in a dual narrative which I like. The future (aftermath of the past) perspective is told by teenager Molly (daughter) in 1955 California, and the past perspective is told by Elaine/Lainey (mother) in 1919 New York City. It is very easy to follow the narratives back and forth. The story has multiple layers and very real issues. You really fall in deep with Lainey and feel for both characters hard throughout. Lainey was orphaned post World War 1 at a very young age with her brother Stephen – their story is strong all by itself. But then you bring in Molly’s story, Lainey’s daughter, who wants to find out more about her mother’s past and why she’s so depressed and seemingly withdrawn from reality. Secrets, choices, things you do or hide for the sake of protecting/sheltering your children… this is all unraveled in this book. And then there is more – if you love classic fairy tales, there is an underlying layer beautifully and uniquely retelling the story of Hansel and Gretel. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t want to give too much away (spoilers just aren’t my review style), but you should go ahead and give this book a read if you’re into real feel and historical YA novels.
Now for the kids – COVERS MATTER! You bring a young kid into a bookstore or library and tell them they can pick out a book – you can bet money they’re going to pick out their book based on the cover. So, make it fun. Dr. Suess obviously has done a great job at this – but I’ve noticed with my littles, the louder, the more color, the more likely it is to be grabbed off our bookshelf. They want to see activity on the cover 100%. One of my three-year-old son’s absolute favorite books to grab with a cool cover is Snug House, Bug House! By Susan Schade and Jon Buller – a great example of a kid’s book cover that sparks interest!
**Fun Side Note for YA – I’m writing this from the passenger seat of our truck on a family road-trip, and we’ve technically been in four different States in the past 2.5 hours (KY, TN, MO, AK) – Travel is LIFE – You’ll probably hear more about this trip in the next issue.
A little bit of everything from a scatter-brained, book-loving Mom.
About the Columnist
I am the mother of an adventurous and exhausting but amazing toddler boy that runs my life. I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading mind numbing children’s books over and over again because he has his select favorites… But when I do get time to read (or listen) I love reading and listening to a variety of genres.
I get the most time to indulge in books of my choice during what I like to call “wind-down baths” once a week.
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Article originally Published in the April / May 2021 Issue: Cover Stories.