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Chapter 27 - Baltimore Blues

Like many people who live in North Myrtle Beach, Dave and I are transplants. We grew up just 13 miles northeast of Baltimore City. In the 1970's through even the early 2000's Baltimore was Charm City to us. While in the 1960's I would go downtown to many of the large (and now defunct) department stores at Christmas time with my mom, it wasn't until the late 70's that development of the previously

industrialized Inner Harbor area took place. The building of the Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, and other attractions made the Inner Harbor a fun place to visit. The two large indoor pavilions in that area were filled with food vendors and retail spaces. Now these buildings are more than 90% vacant.

In 1992 the Camden Yards Sports Complex was built as home for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. It now also houses M&T Bank Stadium built in 1998 for the Ravens, Baltimore's NFL team. These stadiums added to the charm of the great city.

We only go back to Baltimore occasionally now as we do have family and friends still in the area. It is sad to see the once vibrant downtown area nearly vacant although there are plans being developed for another Inner Harbor renovation. Now when I want to get my Baltimore fix in I read books which feature the city. As Dave says, it is easier and more relaxing than spending 9 hours driving on I95!

Here are some books featuring Baltimore that I've enjoyed.

My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) by Toby Devens - Dr. Gwyneth Berke, a 50 something divorcee living in Baltimore is just trying to get her life together after finding her husband of 25 years in the closet kissing their interior decorator, Brad. Her two single friends are helping her with her new life plan which may be just what she needs (or not). This is a funny, light read about the value of truth and friendship.

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman - Laura Lippman used to be a reporter for the News American (a newspaper that is now lost in the annals of time) and The Baltimore Sun. She started writing the Tess Monaghan mystery series with her first book, Baltimore Blues. What the Dead Know is a standalone about two girls kidnapped from a local mall and never found. Twenty years later, a woman involved in an accident, says she was one of the girls and the investigation reopens.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau - Mary Jane is a 14 year old growing up in the Roland Park area of Baltimore in 1975. She gets a summer job as a nanny for the young daughter of a local doctor - a respectable job in a respectable house, her mother says. All looks fine but Mary Jane finds that all is a literal and figurative mess inside. Add to this that a famous rock star and his movie star wife will be living in the house for the summer. The summer of 1975 might be the best and worst year of Mary Jane's young life!

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine - Dr. Kate English has it all - a large fortune, gorgeous husband, loving daughter, a great career and the house of her dreams. This is all about to end. Her mother is found dead one night, murdered in her own home. Kate then receives a message that she might be next. This is a cleverly constructed mystery by the authors of The Last Mrs. Parrish.

French Braid by Anne Tyler (or really any book by Anne Tyler) - Anne Tyler writes about Baltimore as only someone who lives in Baltimore can. She didn't grow up in the city but moved there about 1967 and certainly considers it her hometown. In her latest novel, French Braid, Tyler has captured an odd yet functional in their own dysfunctional way, Baltimore family. As with many of her novels French Braid touches on themes of female independence, family discord, and second chances.

Do you enjoy reading books about your hometown? Please let me know what they are.


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