“Many books have rested on my bedside table since March 2020, ranging from poetry, western anthology, WWII settings and one amusing one called ‘Ella Minnow Pea.’

“My favorite and most intriguing title is ‘Schooled In Silence’ by D.J. Howard, a northern Maine author and retired teacher. As a retired teacher myself, the title interested me and then its reading became an obsession, and other household projects just had to wait as I needed to read just what happened.

“(The story is) set in the 1800s, with its gritty culture, horses/wagons, wood-burning stoves for warmth and cooking, stagecoaches with rough muddy trails for travel. Buildings were rustic; alcohol was prevalent. Some men lacked even basic manners or respect for women.

“Based in the remote rugged country, a young school teacher is stalked by a sadistic older man who vows to attack her young students if she talked or ‘told’ anyone. Deceiving otherwise decent people, this character was persistently sinister to any female he could bully stealthily and threaten to silence.

” ‘Say something,’ the author advises. Interesting to think about even with our present-day laws and so-called protection for children. The young ones are removed from their own homes while predators stay in their places. Each innocent young child comes to believe he/she has done something wrong.

“D.J. has portrayed the 1800s backcountry authentically: good and bad, loving and hating, rough and tender, hopeful and hopeless. I plan to read it again – when I catch up on other work!” — PEG COOLONG


What are you reading?

Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table right now. In a few sentences, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it as the pandemic – and its ripple effects – recede (at least we hope so). Was it a need to escape, a need to dig deeper? Something else? Send your pick to [email protected], and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.