Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Judging Covers with The Family, ninth edition

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Judging Covers

No fanfare. Let’s jump right in. 

Book #1: American Youth by Paul Lamarcheamerican youth

The husband says:  Lonely kids with nothing to do but hang out outside.

The child says: A kid who lives in a not very popular city and he’s sitting somewhere with no friends and very lonely. Also he’s got a gun it looks like.

Goodreads says: American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by a terrible moral dilemma following a firearms accident in his home. This tragedy earns him the admiration of a sinister gang of boys at his school and a girl associated with them. Set in a town riven by social and ideological tensions in an old rural culture in conflict with newcomers. This is a classic portrait of a young man struggling with the idea of identity and responsibility in an America ill at ease with itself.

Book #2: The Never Open Desert Diner by James AndersonNever-Open-Desert Diner3

The husband says: It made me think this–it’s a story about a group of UFO enthusiasts that meet nightly at a diner to talk about what they saw and their experiences. 

The child says: I think it’s about a bunch of explorers like Lewis and Clark who go to a mountainy kind of place and over the top of those mountains is nothing but empty plain open grass except for this one diner and they go inside to rest and see if there’s any food and while they’re in there, something happens and it locks them up and they can’t get out. 

Goodreads says: Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-traveled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben’s visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner that hasn’t opened in years.

Ben’s routine is turned upside down when he stumbles across a beautiful woman named Claire playing a cello in an abandoned housing development. He can tell that she’s fleeing something in her past — a dark secret that pushed her to the end of the earth — but despite his better judgment he is inexorably drawn to her.

As Ben and Claire fall in love, specters from her past begin to resurface, with serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Dangerous men come looking for her, and as they turn Route 117 upside down in their search, the long-buried secrets of those who’ve laid claim to this desert come to light, bringing Ben and the other locals into deadly conflict with Claire’s pursuers. Ultimately, the answers they all seek are connected to the desert’s greatest mystery — what really happened all those years ago at the never-open desert diner?

Book #3: The Two-Family House by Linda Cohen Loigmantwo-family house

The husband says: By the looks of it, it occurs in a city where two families couldn’t afford to have their own place so they decide to move in together and all the shenanigans that occur.

The child says: I think it is about two families who are living in the city and choose to live in an old-timey but nice home and there’s a door that connects the two apartments and one day something happens and the door locks and they can’t get it open and how they’re able to survive without the door opening. 

Goodreads says: Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

Book #4: Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansmacame to the city

The husband says: It’s about some people who are coming from a no-nothing place to the city because they want to live their dream of having their name in lights doing something, probably involving jazz hands. 

The child says: I think this about a family who comes from a completely random place that’s really tiny in the whole US and they go to the city to visit and see what a bigger place with more of a name than their home. They see all the cool stuff there and they try to figure out if they can move there or not so they can be more in the spotlight than the shadows. 

Goodreads says: December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.

Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.

I also have a few other books on my nightstand both finished and unfinished but I figured 4 was a good number. 

How do you guys think they did figuring out the plots? 

resized signature 2

Series Navigation<< Judging Covers with The Family, eighth editionJudging Covers with The Family: It’s Back >>


  1. Kristin

    The Two-Family House looks kinda good.

  2. Kelli

    Number 3 was my favorite answer by both husband and child. Your husband’s made me laugh and I’ve decided your child has the imagination of a writer!
    Kelli recently posted…Things I Don’t UnderstandMy Profile

  3. Rebecca Jo

    “probably involving jazz hands” – i chuckled at that one.

    I really want to check out that diner book – that sounds to interesting!
    Rebecca Jo recently posted…Fast Food lunches for a 21 Day Fix vegetarian on the goMy Profile

  4. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    LOFuckingL probably involving jazz hands. Indeed. Indeed.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Friday Fatassery on a Tuesday: Baked Cinnamon Sugar DonutsMy Profile

  5. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I love how your daughter keeps thinking people are getting locked into places! She has such a great imagination. Book #2 – the diner one – sounds intriguing. Here’s hoping it lived up to its description.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…7 Things I Loving Right NowMy Profile

  6. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    So I have The Never Open Desert Diner on my TBR list, and I think that it’s so funny how their ideas about what the book was about differed so much from the synopsis! The cover really doesn’t show what the book is about at all!
    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders recently posted…The Weekend With A Change In ColorMy Profile

  7. Gwen

    The child’s response to American Youth was kinda spooky how close it seemed. I love these!
    Gwen recently posted…Showin’ My Books – May ’16My Profile

  8. Nadine

    Ummmm is E going to grow up and be a writer?? Her thoughts are always so detailed! It cracked me up that they both said lonely boy in the first one. Why We Came to the City sounds interesting.
    Nadine recently posted…Weekend ShenanigansMy Profile

  9. Mackenzie

    I like the description offered by your spouse on “The Two-Family House” about how he thinks it is about people not being able to afford to live separately and decide to live together. That’s what I would have thought too!
    Mackenzie recently posted…Books, Minimalism, and What Constitutes ValueMy Profile

  10. Erin

    Regardless what the books are about, husband wins this go-round with these two comments: “shenanigans that occur” and “probably involving jazz hands”.

    I told you on another site (goodreads maybe?) that American Youth has been on my shelf, possibly for a couple of years, and I’ve pulled it to potentially read in the Read My Books challenge. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
    Erin recently posted…Aussie Author Challenge: Book 8My Profile

  11. kristen

    i love all of these descriptions, but the kid’s are my favourite. she is so smart and has such a fabulous imagination!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge