The Death of the Life of the Great Lakes: What a great book! The title is inviting, and the text thoroughly satisfies. Coming from New York State, I have always loved my river and my St. Lawrence Seaway, so I was really heartbroken to learn the Seaway was a disappointment. All that promise, and then they didn’t make it wide enough. But then it turned out that we don’t want those huge ocean- going ships dumping ocean ballast in our fresh water lakes! Shock upon shock. The author tells about all the disasters our precious lakes have suffered: lampreys, mussels, Asian carp, and toxic algae.

The world has been excited about our Great Lakes since they were thought to be the route to China. There is a statue of Nicolet where he thought he had landed in Asia. Nothing in Europe is comparable. There were so many wrecks that some have never been found. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water is in the Great Lakes but we don’t treasure them as we should. Some planners even want to steal their water to move it elsewhere to deserts.

Even George Washington wanted to enable the Lakes to reach the sea, and New York Governor DeWitt Clinton finally built the famous Erie Canal.

But the lamprey came from the ocean through the canal to destroy the wonderful lake trout fishery. A graduate student figured out how to kill it at last but it was too late to save the trout. The next monster was the river herring alewife. They proceeded to litter the shore with a die-off, and Howard Tanner thought of a rescue. But they overdid it, and then the worst of all, the mussels from all the ballast water. Shells coated buoys and beaches. They had no predator , and the scariest news is that the EPA isn’t working hard enough.

Thank goodness the government has enough money and enough smart people to solve this really avoidable problem to save our precious Great Lakes.


In Educated, by Tara Westover, she is a Mormon, home schooled because her family doesn’t believe in anything governmental, taxes, immunizations, schools. Her mother isn’t too bad except for being browbeaten by her father. He has a junkyard full of machines that regularly injure her brothers and finally her and himself.

There is no desire or money for college but Tara finally decides she needs to go. She practices for the ACT and scores 28, impressing professors. She works in a grocery store to earn money for school, but of course it is never enough so luckily someone tells her about scholarships. She is wonderfully smart but ignorant and regularly asks embarrassing questions like what was the Holocaust.

Luckily not all her colleagues are mean answering her. She goes to Oxford on a scholarship and then back to Harvard.

The family gets rich because the mother creates popular potions that people pay exorbitantly for. Tara finally decides that her father is crazy. Studying psychology, she learns all the terms that may apply to him, bipolar, schizophrenic, etc. Her brothers weren’t marvelous, one used to argue with her and beat her for fun, and the others were not helpful. Her mother decides not to see her anymore if she refuses to see her father. She had some boyfriends, but didn’t stay with anyone.

Not an inspiring book, called depressing by some readers.

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue , by Julie Murphy, is the Young Adult choice this month. She is blue because her sister dies Ramona’s hair blue.

Ramona is a high school senior who waits table at a little restaurant, too busy to have friends or any social life. Her father works very hard, and her mother is absent, working at a casino. Her sister has a boyfriend who has apparently made her pregnant. She wants to have the baby, so Ramona guesses that she has no future but helping her sister with the diapers.

Ramona has one good friend, a black boy that she has known since childhood who has been away but is now back. His grandmother is marvelous and encourages the friendship.

A wonderful interlude is that the friends all decide to sneak into a private pool for a swim in the dark. When they get seen but not caught, Freddie, the black boy, gives Ramona a lesson in race relations,. As old as she is, she is naïve. If they had been caught and if the guard had used his gun,

Freddie would be dead and no one would have been shocked but Ramona.

A tornado damages the trailer park but does not destroy their trailer.

The wonder now is about Ramona’s future. Will her sister’s boyfriend shape up and be a responsible father and can Ramona find enough money for community college?