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400 reads: What workers on the front line are reading

See the full issue of the May 400 Life magazine here.

The year 2020 has presented our county, country, and world with circumstances we were not expecting. Local residents have demonstrated a resiliency and perseverance that exemplify the true merits of our community. Many of us have been relegated to our homes, but there are those that work on the front lines, providing essential services and support. I reached out to five of my friends who continue to meet the needs of our community. Each of these accomplished women selected one book to share and we hope that these recommendations will bring you some escape and enjoyment as we continue to live our lives through this historical period.  -By Becky Cahill

Nicole Jones, communication and branding director, Browns Bridge Church

My book recommendation is Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. It is a charming novel about a recently widowed Evvie, who lives in Maine and keeps to herself after her husband passes away unexpectedly. One of her best friends, Andy, worries about her

evvie drake starts over
grieving and invites his childhood friend, Dean, a former major-league pitcher struggling with a case of the “yips” to come and live in the apartment behind Evvie’s house. The development of this storyline made this book an enjoyable read for me. The characters are easy to love and there is a hint of romance but it’s the realistic kind, with imperfect people navigating their own heartaches and perceptions of themselves. It’s a warm story about friendship and finding love in unexpected ways. You only read a good book for the first time once and Evvie Drake Starts Over is a great book I never wanted to put down. 

Brittani Ramirez, executive director at Camden Academy, a private preschool in Cumming

My favorite book just so happens to be a children’s book, which should come to no surprise considering my profession. It’s called Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. The book is about the love a mom has for her child no matter how old they get. It begins with the mom

love you forever
caring for her newborn son. Every night she enters his room while he is sleeping and sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” She continues to sneak into his room all the way into adulthood singing the same song. One day, she is old and can no longer go into his room to sing this song. The story ends with him sneaking into his mother’s room, wrapping her old frail body up into his arms, and singing, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.” I love this book because it pulls at the heart strings, and it depicts the love between a mother and child perfectly. 

Deputy First Class Terri Wright works for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is one of my all-time favorite books. In what seems to be the perfect marriage, a woman is actually held prisoner by her dashing husband. The main character, Grace, thought her life would revolve around the care of her younger sister,

behind closed doors
Millie, who has Down syndrome. She didn’t expect to be swept off her feet by Jack Angel, a charming man who spoils Millie as much as he seems to love Grace. After a whirlwind courtship, Grace and Jack get married, though the wedding doesn’t go smoothly, with Millie tumbling down the stairs hours before the ceremony and breaking her leg. It isn’t until the couple is away on their honeymoon that the first signs of something wrong in the relationship start to show. When Millie is planning to come live with the couple, Grace schemes a way to escape Jack’s clutches and save Millie from the same fate. You won’t be able to put this book down to see how it ends! 

Lindsey Abreu, Clinical RN Ortho/Neuro Surgery, Northeast Georgia Medical Center

Prey by Michael Crichton is a cautionary novel about advancements in nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence. In Prey, an experiment has gone wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles escapes from a lab and is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. Initially programmed as imagining technology for military use, the scientists give the nanoparticles a bacterial agent to

provide them the ability to work together towards a set goal. It becomes more intelligent and begins to learn from experience. The nanoparticles swiftly become a predator and become more deadly with every hour. The scientists must fight for survival and come up with a plan to eliminate the swarm. I have always been fascinated with science and technological advancements. This book catches your attention and keeps you eager to turn each page. This book is thrilling but also educational. Learning through fiction is an engaging way to pick up knowledge. The action and mystery of Prey, as well as the entertainment of the story, makes this one of my favorite books.

Anna Cathryn Mauro, Delta Airlines Operations and Command Center

Published posthumously, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer details true crime author Michelle McNarma’s journey to discover the identity of the Golden State Killer. The book is meticulous in the best way; Michelle

I'll be gone in the dark
provides detailed maps, victim statements, and interviews with former and current investigators. As a corporate security professional, it was fascinating to compare law enforcement investigation tactics from the beginning of the killer’s crime spree to present day. I was also drawn in by Michelle’s vulnerability, as she doesn’t shy away from how the case impacted her own psyche (she notes “there is a scream permanently lodged in my throat”). A thoughtful, compelling work, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark represents the future of true crime writing.

Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and tracks her favorites (and those that aren’t even close) on her blog at Becky is the host of ‘Read It or Leave It!’ a weekly reading podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.