Aberdeen Magazine Book Club
Not sure what book to pick up next? K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library’s Assistant Director Cara Perrion has got you covered. Whether you’re an avid reader or picking up a book for the first time in years, these picks will help readers of all ages find the next adventure to get lost in.

Aberdeen Magazine Book Club

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Vector logo concept of a book club with people reading. Flat style.

Picture1The Last Fire Season

By Manjula Martin

Many of us think of 2020 as the year of extreme change. There was a global pandemic, political strife, and unprecedented air pollution in areas of the United States that never had to adhere to daily warnings for outdoor activities, to name a few. To a prairie flatlander who hadn’t lived in a forested area, 2020 felt like the year that California was on fire. Air quality warnings for South Dakota caused by the smoke brought to us by gusty winds were only a mere glimpse into the level of destruction people were living through in California. We all had questioned why and how this was happening. What do people decide to take when they evacuate their home? How long will they be displaced? These and many other questions are brought to light in Manjula Martin’s memoir The Last Fire Season.

Martin uses her own experience of finding refuge in nature to cope with chronic pain as the backdrop for this history lesson on fire and its integral part of our landscape’s natural cycle of growth and rejuvenation. This smoothly-written memoir details Martin’s struggle with changes in her personal life, health, and her home during the 2020 Pyrocene Wildfire in Sonoma County, California. Filled with well researched information, Martin tries to answer her own questions about why there is no longer a “fire season,” or how could fire be a good thing for nature, and how do we live “with” fire. She gently weaves together her personal triumphs and tragedies with information about wildfires and their ecological and sociological impacts. Readers are kept engaged and curious as Martin takes you along her insightful journey of exploration. A quote from the book, “a damaged body on a damaged planet,” reminds the reader of the central theme of Martin’s book, the constant connection of humans to nature. As you read this honest and at times, humorous memoir, you will not be preached to or made to feel guilty. You will be left with a hopeful outlook for the future and a much greater knowledge of what forests and humans need to thrive.


71Iosrnqwrl. Sl1500Flores and Miss Paula

By Melissa Rivero

Melissa Rivero’s novel Flores and Miss Paula has a little something for everyone. The story focuses on a Peruvian immigrant mother and her millennial daughter. Before you judge, this story has far too many themes to be passed off as just another mother-daughter relationship book. Rivero artfully reveals each character’s feelings and perceptions using alternating chapters. Reading both sides of the issues and events makes you feel compassion and love for these robust characters. Grief is at the heart of this novel, having recently lost Martin, the bridge between them and patriarch of the household.  Both women find it difficult to move forward together. Each character struggles communicating and listening to one another and finds that silence can say more than words. When they are forced to move from their family home, they must confront old memories and family secrets. Flores and Paula must decide what kind of a future they want and reveal their individual hopes and dreams. Rivero tells the story of two women at different life stages, and both are dealing with stereotypes, insecurities, loyalty, loss, and of course, love.

Through their daily routines living in modern day Brooklyn, the reader gets a glimpse into Peruvian culture and traditions and how that impacts Flores and Paula’s life and decisions. This is a character-driven novel focused on family dynamics and the capacity for love and forgiveness. Rivero has created characters that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. //