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america’s book review
MORE CAKE anyone? anyone?
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anna Quindlen celebrates the rewards of a full life
A Dog’s Journey Bruce Cameron finds joy with man’s best friend
Mother’s Day Memories of the stickiest, sweetest job of all
Our Top Picks FICTION pg 19 In One Person NONFICTION pg 23 Midnight in Peking BOOK CLUBS pg 7 State of Wonder WHODUNIT pg 6 Prague Fatale AUDIO pg 8 The Fear Index CHILDREN’S pg 29 Precious Bones
paperback picks penguin.com
All for You
Beguiling the Beauty
Coming Up Roses
Stephen de Piaget has been leading a double life: respectable professor by day, knight-in-training during holidays and summer terms. When Peaches goes missing, Stephen knows he’s the only one who can rescue her from medieval peril.
When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von SeidlitzHardenberg on a transatlantic liner, he is fascinated. She’s exactly what he’s been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage. And then she disappears without a trace…
The bestselling author of the Comanche trilogy sets this highly-charged romance in the Oregon territory. Widow Kate Blakely knew nothing of love, and when she met her new neighbor, Zachariah McGovern, all she saw was danger. But Zach saw much more…if only he could rescue Kate from her past.
Liza finds herself in need of protection— and Officer Dare Barron appoints himself as the man for the job. And while the sizzling attraction between Dare and Liza draws them together, the past that Dare and Brian, Liza’s brother, share threatens to keep the two apart forever.
9780425246962 • $7.99
9780451236548 • $7.99
9780515150650 • $7.99
9780425247907 • $7.99
Undead and Undermined
Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper is blind to the sick and inconceivable motives feeding a particularly vicious serial killer. What Alex follows is a dangerous path that takes her far beyond the scope of her investigation, and directly into the path of a frightening and inescapable truth.
With the help of some familiar friends, Ysolde sets into motion an elaborate plan that will have repercussions throughout the mortal and immortal worlds. But when a member of her family is held hostage, no one is safe from the fire of her rage.
9780451413154 • $9.99
9780451236531 • $7.99
Vampire queen Betsy Taylor has awoken in a Chicago morgue, naked as a corpse. Her last memory is reconciling with her husband, Eric Sinclair, after a timetraveling field trip to hell (literally) with her sister, Laura. Now, she’s Jane Doe #291, wrapped in plastic with a toe tag. Betsy can’t help but wonder, what in hell happened?
Nothing is more precious than White Cargo. In drug-soaked Colombia, a father searches for his daughter among men who would lay down their lives for the pleasures of white women and white powder. The bestselling author of Deep Lie delves deep into the jungle for a top-notch tale of drugs, danger, and rescue.
9780515150919 • $7.99
9780451236555 • $9.99
The New York Times bestselling author gives herself— and her generation—a kick in the X, by facing her greatest challenge to date: acting her age. The author of Bitter Is the New Black is finally ready to put away childish things (except her Barbie Styling Head, of course) and embrace the investment-making, mortgage-carrying, life insurance-having adult she’s become. From getting a mammogram to volunteering at a halfway house, she tackles the grown-up activities she’s resisted for years, and with each rite of passage she completes, she’ll uncover a valuable—and probably humiliating—life lesson that will ease her path to full-fledged, if reluctant, adult. NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY 9780451233172 • $25.95
A Penguin Group (USA) Company)
may 2012 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m
12 nell freudenberger An in-flight conversation sparks a story of unconventional marriage
Discover the freedom of aging gracefully (with the help of a little Botox) in Quindlen’s candid new collection of essays, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.
16 charles duhigg
Cover photo © Joyce Ravid
A breakthrough bestseller rethinks habits
16 w. bruce cameron Meet the author of A Dog’s Journey
reviews 19 Fiction
17 graduation Five new books to help you ease into the real world
18 mother’s day The joy and messiness of motherhood
In One Person by John Irving The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller; Home by Toni Morrison; Dirt by David Vann; The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones; Ada’s Rules by Alice Randall; Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton; The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani; Trapeze by Simon Mawer also reviewed:
23 NonFiction top pick:
20 SADIE JONES Secrets in the pre-WWI English countryside
28 kristin cashore The magical third installment in the Seven Kingdoms series
Midnight in Peking by Paul French A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez; The Outsourced Self by Arlie Russell Hochschild; Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel; Birdseye by Mark Kurlansky; God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet; After Camelot by J. Randy Taraborrelli; Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson; Straphanger by Taras Grescoe; Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin also reviewed:
29 Children’s top pick:
31 Amy Bates
Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf; A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle; Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage; One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein; Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick; The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi also reviewed:
Meet the illustrator of Minette’s Feast
04 Book Fortunes 05 Author enablers 06 whodunit 07 book clubs 08 Well read 08 AUDIO 10 romance 11 Lifestyles 11 COOKING advertisING
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a m e r i c a’ s b o o k r e v i e w
Michael A. Zibart
Lynn L. Green
Elizabeth Grace Herbert
BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.
Cat D. Acree
Angela J. Bowman
BookPage is editorially independent and never accepts payment for editorial coverage.
Our crystal ball predicts your next great read Reader name: Julie Hometown: Cleveland, OH Favorite genres: fiction, fantasy, humor, stories with a school setting Favorite authors: Patrick Rothfuss, A. Manette Ansay, Dorothy Parker Favorite books: The Name of the Wind, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, The Secret History, The Kingdom of Childhood Who doesn’t love a good school setting? A staff favorite is Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, which earned
Book FortuneS by eliza borné
a spot on our Best Books of 2010 list. Skippy, a student at a prep school in Dublin, does die in the opening pages. The rest of this joyful, sad and witty story explores how it happened and what it means. If you like Patrick Rothfuss, we recommend Guy Gavriel Kay and especially Ysabel, a contemporary fantasy about a 15-year-old boy who befriends an American exchange student—and confronts ancient powers—on a family trip to France. Finally, fans of The Secret History will love The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, a page-turner about two Ivy League seniors who unravel the dangerous secrets of an ancient text. Reader name: Mary Hometown: Conneaut, OH Favorite genres: historical fiction, books with ghosts, time travel Favorite authors: Susanna Kearsley, Karen White, Brunonia Barry Favorite books: Mariana, The House on Tradd Street, The Lace Reader
One of our favorite ghost stories from recent years is Audrey Niffenegger’s atmospheric Her Fearful Symmetry, about two mirror-image twins who encounter the ghost of their late aunt when they move into her apartment near Highgate Cemetery. Fans of The Lace Reader will enjoy The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, a beautiful novel that moves back and forth from the Salem witch trials to modern day. This magical novel made it onto our Readers’ Choice: Best Books of 2009 list. Discover it now in paperback! Reader name: Sandy Hometown: Sandpoint, ID Favorite genres: fantasy, teen issues, vampire books, romance Favorite authors: Alex Flinn, Ben Mikaelsen, Terry Trueman, Ellen Hopkins, Gary Paulsen In her note to BookPage, Sandy shared that she is a librarian at an alternative high school and would
like some recommendations for her students. That we can do! For an amusing spin on the vampire theme, check out Fat Vampire by Adam Rex, which tells the story of a 15-year-old vampire who must spend eternity as a nerd with a weight problem. More serious is Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, about a teen girl whose life is torn apart after Hurricane Katrina. This unflinching portrayal of teen drug use is powerful and ultimately hopeful. A fantastic adventure story for teens is Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, which presents an alternative history of World War I, complete with talking lizards and genetically modified monsters. For a chance at your own book fortune, email email@example.com with your name, hometown and your favorite genre(s), author(s) and book(s). Visit bookpage.com/newsletters to sign up for Book of the Day, our daily book recommendation e-newsletter.
From the bestselling author of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
comes a heart-wrenching story about family, commitment and regrets.
A beloved daughter. A devastating choice. And now there’s no going back. “Chamberlain’s keen grasp of regret and grief makes for a surprisingly thoughtful and compelling tale.” —Publishers Weekly
Pick up your copy on sale April 24
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12-03-12 2:15 PM
author enablers by kathi kamen goldmark & Sam Barry
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
ANNE TYLER “Anne Tyler has no peer. Her books just keep getting better and better.” —Anita Shreve
Tips for self-publishing Dear Author Enablers, I’ve had a lot of success with my self-published book that teaches kids how to be safe from predators while also learning how to be better readers. My book, Let’s B Safe, is the foundation of an entire school district’s child safety and literacy program and has received the DOVE Foundation’s Family Seal. Let’s B Safe could help so many more children if only more people knew about it. Are there any nationally syndicated book reviewers who review self-published books? Brenda Zofrea, M.A.Ed. Bradenton, FL Self-published authors continue to face a high hurdle when it comes to getting their books reviewed. Many book review editors, daunted by the sheer quantity of submissions, have to draw a line somewhere, and as a result, self-published books are rarely considered. We suggest you stop worrying about the state of reviewing and concentrate your efforts on garnering publicity for your work anywhere you can. Focus on reaching out to teachers and school administrators, parent organizations, childsafety advocates, mental health professionals, pediatricians and any written, broadcast or online media that have demonstrated an interest in preventing child abuse. One last tip: Always keep a case of books on hand. You never know when you might run into someone who can help you get the word out.
MORE ON FAN FICTION
In our October 2011 column, Parul Kharod expressed concern about her 13-year-old daughter’s participation in online fan fiction forums. In our answer we said this sounded like a wholesome hobby for a budding writer. Fan fiction writer Jessie Mannisto of Northville, Michigan, offers a different perspective: “While fanfic can help a young writer develop skills, parents should consider two things:
READ She is “like a modern Jane Austen” —USA Today
“Exquisitely romantic” —Entertainment Weekly
“First, one hugely popular fanfic genre is ‘slash,’ featuring male sexual relationships. Fanfiction can be a great way for GLBT as well as straight youth to explore their sexuality; most slash, however, is by straight adult women. . . . My fanfic-writing friends gave me a pretty skewed view of the world when I was a teen; I wish my parents had known what was out there and helped me make sense of it. “Second, if your daughter is interested in original writing, you can only go so far using someone else’s characters. I suggest CritiqueCircle .com as a great place for original writers to get feedback and support.” Thanks, Jessie, for sharing your feedback. Others have told us that a good deal of fan fiction contains romantic and sexual content, both gay and straight, which parents may wish to discuss with their children. We’d love to hear from others about their experience with fan fiction and online writing groups.
Craft of Writing Spotlight Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise and director of the creative writing program at Florida International University, answers a few more of our writing questions: How do you keep from forgetting the great ideas you have in the middle of the night? If you can forget it, you probably should forget it. When is it time to stop researching and start writing? When you start to feel depressed. What is your favorite writing tip for aspiring authors? To understand that the only real reward in writing comes from yourself, at the end of a good day of work or when you finally put a period on a piece. Email your questions about writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and hometown.
GREAT CHERYL STRAYED “Original and heartbreaking”—NPR ““Spectacular…Gripping… A breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival… A literary and human triumph triumph” —New York Times Book Review
BOOKS TONI MORRISON A deeply moving novel about one man’s desperate search for himself in a world disfigured by war. “Rich…Powerful…Staggering” —Kirkus Reviews
“Deeply moving” —Booklist, starred review
THIS LORETTA LYNN A timeless, beautiful book that collects her lyrics and in her own words tells the stories that inspired her most popular songs. A book that will move you—sometimes to laughter and sometimes to tears— with the stories that have inspired these celebrated songs.
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Whodunit by Bruce Tierney
A corpse in the Venetian canals The redoubtable Commissario Guido Brunetti returns for his 21st adventure in Donna Leon’s latest novel, Beastly Things (Atlantic Monthly, $25, 288 pages, ISBN 9780802120236). This time around, Brunetti looks into the murder of a man found thrice stabbed, his features dreadfully battered by the strong tides of the Venetian canals. Only two clues present themselves: The victim is wearing one expensive shoe, of a brand that can only be found in a few exclusive shops, and he is disfigured by a rare metabolic disorder that has rendered his neck and torso grossly outsized. The investigation will lead Brunetti to a
Jesus of Nazareth. The plot thickens when a facial reconstruction of the skeleton is discovered to bear an uncanny resemblance to the image on the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Brockton, an avowed skeptic, finds himself drawn into the case as each successive test seems to point more compellingly toward authenticity. And then the murders begin. . . . The Inquisitor’s Key employs twin narrative arcs, one set in medieval Avignon and populated by renowned artists, benighted villagers and avaricious popes. The second is set in the modern-day version of the city, where archaeologists hover on the brink of rewriting Christian history. Religion and science collide, with results both thought-provoking and eminently plausible as the book races toward its unexpected (and highly original!) resolution.
slaughterhouse, the graphic depiction of which will likely leave readers contemplating vegetarianism. And somewhere, amid all the blood and guts, a murderer lurks. Brunetti is, as always, a canny commentator on Italian culture. About venal local politicians, he makes the tongue-incheek observation that “In the presence of a trough, it is difficult not to oink.” Leon has created a sympathetic character in Brunetti and a strong supporting cast. However, it is in the poignant closing scene—at a funeral you will not soon forget, attended by all manner of creatures great and small—where Leon’s singular talents truly shine.
SPYING FOR THE RUSSIANS
A HOLY PUZZLE As The Inquisitor’s Key (Morrow, $25.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780061806797) opens, forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton is summoned to Avignon, France, where his assistant is helping with the excavation of an anteroom beneath the Palace of the Popes. Her team has made an epic discovery: a stone box inscribed with the claim that it holds the bones of
In 2007, I wrote that David Downing’s debut, Zoo Station, “will have readers clamoring for a sequel.” Sequels, each named for a Berlin train station, have indeed transpired; the latest in the series, Lehrter Station (Soho, $25, 304 pages, ISBN 9781616950743), finds AngloAmerican journalist/author/spy John Russell re-conscripted by the Russians to infiltrate the German Communist Party in postwar Berlin. He can scarcely refuse, as it was Russian intervention that secured the release of his son Paul from custody, and it is closemouthed Russian complicity that safeguards Russell from treason charges by the Allies. Still, Russell is none too happy with the turn of events that propels him once more into the world of espionage. Basically, Russell is a good guy doing his best to maintain integrity in the midst of chaos at every turn. Staying one step ahead of the enemy—whomever that may be—is taking its toll. Downing’s deft weaving of fiction and real-life WWII history is second to none. One caveat:
Downing makes many references to events chronicled in earlier books; I recommend reading the series in order for the sake of continuity.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY The “locked room” mystery has been a genre standby since at least the days of Edgar Allan Poe (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) and Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone). But rarely has it been done as cleverly and atmospherically as in Philip Kerr’s latest Bernie Gunther wartime novel, Prague Fatale. The victim is a young adjutant on the staff of reallife Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, dubbed by Hitler as “the man with the iron heart.” Gunther, a Berlin cop, is conveniently on-hand at Heydrich’s country house in Prague at the time of the murder, which appears to have transpired in a room with doors and windows bolted from the inside. The cast of suspects reads like a “Who’s Who” of Nazidom, and Gunther is faced with the delicate assignment of interviewing powerful men who could consign him to oblivion. And whatever else one might call Bernie Gunther, “delicate” is not on the approved list of adjectives. Prague Fatale is classic Philip Kerr, a first-person noir detective story worthy of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler in every regard, seamlessly transplanted to war-era Europe. Every time I finish another Gunther novel, I think, “This is as good as it gets.” Then inevitably, the next one comes along and is even better!
Prague Fatale By Philip Kerr
Putnam $26.95, 416 pages ISBN 9780399159022 eBook available
book clubs by julie hale
New paperback releases for reading groups
COLONIAL PIONEERS Caleb’s Crossing (Penguin, $16, 336 pages, ISBN 9780143121077) is another expertly wrought work of historical fiction from Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks. Set in the 1600s on Martha’s Vineyard, the novel is based on the true story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. The book’s narrator, Bethia Mayfield, is the daughter of a Calvinist preacher. Smart and curious, Bethia is thirsty for a good education—the kind that only boys get. When she meets a Wampanoag Indian named Caleb who shares her love of learning,
the two strike up a secret friendship. Bethia’s father—eager to help the Wampanoag people—recognizes Caleb’s intellectual potential and steers him toward Harvard. The story of Caleb’s remarkable journey from the wilderness to the classroom is nothing less than epic thanks to Brooks’ skillful use of detail, dialogue and dramatic incident. Readers who enjoyed her best-selling novels Year of Wonders and March will relish this mesmerizing mix of fact and fiction.
Chad Harbach’s home run of a debut, The Art of Fielding (Back Bay, $14.99, 544 pages, ISBN 9780316126670), is a compelling tale about the culture of sports—and so much more. Baseball whiz Henry Skrimshander has hopes of making it to the big leagues. At Westish College, the school he attends in Michigan, he’s the star of the baseball team. But when Henry makes an error during a game, injuring his teammate, Owen, he begins having difficulties on the field, and his future suddenly looks less than bright.
Meanwhile, Owen, who is also Henry’s roommate— and gay—engages in a risky affair, while Guert Affenlight, president of the college and a resigned bachelor, falls deeply in love. Harbach deftly fleshes out multiple storylines while focusing on Henry’s plight, as he struggles to get back in the game. This compassionate, beautifully conceived novel earned Harbach well-deserved critical acclaim. It’s a book that fans of literary fiction—and baseball—will savor.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Ann Patchett, the best-selling author of the acclaimed Bel Canto and four other novels, returns with a darkly fascinating story about the nature of scientific inquiry. In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh is tasked with finding out what happened to her co-worker, Anders Eckman, who died in the Amazon jungle after joining a research team. Contending with snakes, heat and mosquitoes, Marina connects with the field team, which is led by Annick Swenson, an ambitious gynecologist researching a tribe whose females have remarkable childbearing abilities. Annick was once Marina’s mentor, and encountering her brings back a past Marina is trying hard to escape. Giving readers access to the recondite world of drug research while exploring the impulses that motivate us all, Patchett has crafted an intriguing novel, filled with complex issues that will generate lively book club discussion.
State of Wonder By Ann Patchett
Harper Perennial $15.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062049810
FRESH READS FOR SPRING
NEW IN PAPERBACK NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR “The mystery is undeniably compelling, but it is the characters’ everyday lives and longings that make Lippman’s novel so knowing.” — O Magazine
A SOUTHERN COMING-OF-AGE TALE When Ruth returns home for the summer after her freshman year at college, a near tragedy pushes her to take a good look at the woman she wants to become.
A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE A tale of two suitcases, three cities, four people, and one big mix-up…
INSPIRED BY SHAKESPEARE’S OTHELLO “An astonishing work of imaginative empathy, buttressed by deep research and enriched by lively storytelling.” — Geraldine Brooks
EXCELLENT FOR BOOK CLUBS An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
by robert Weibezahl
by sukey howard
the final word from an admired american woman Anne Morrow Lindbergh enjoys a unique place in American letters, known equally for her elegant writing and for the man she married. Being the wife of a pioneering aviator provided her with some of her best material, as she took to the air and traveled the world with Charles Lindbergh, but also some of her greatest heartbreak, including the kidnapping and murder of their infant son and, later, her husband’s long absences and controversial politics. In her lifetime she routinely appeared on “Most Admired Women” lists; her 1955 book, Gift from the Sea, has never been out of print. Through everything, she gracefully juggled the desire to maintain her privacy with the reality of public life. In the early 1970s, when she was in her 60s, Lindbergh began publishing her diaries and letters, and subsequently issued five volumes that began when she was 16 and took readers through the Second World War. The last volume was published in 1980, and although she lived to 95, dying in 2001, Lindbergh never published her postwar papers. Now, her children and literary heirs have righted that wrong with Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947-1986. Edited by her daughter, writer Reeve Lindbergh, who also supplies an informative introduction, this final volume covers a far broader span than the previous books. These are years when Lindbergh, by design, led a more insular life, largely staying at home with her five children while Charles continued to travel. Those children, we come to see, were her raison d’être—“I think the relationship of mother and child is the most perfect,” she writes in a 1949 entry—although, admittedly, the family wealth afforded her the luxury of spending a fair amount of time alone, thinking and writing. She clearly loved Charles, even as their marriage failed to fulfill the fairytale promise with which it began. She endured long periods without him (and it would come to light
THE HEART’S COMPASS
after both their deaths that he had a second common-law family, including children, in Europe). Reeve Lindbergh dryly suggests that, for her mother, it was as hard to live without the taciturn, unyielding Charles as it was to live with him. Lindbergh was a contemplative writer, and there are many instances in these diaries and letters in which she lays bare her emotions. She wrestles with the decision to have an abortion, which was both illegal and not something of which she entirely approved. Traveling to postwar Berlin, she is shocked by the degradation the populace endures (and from the same trip she writes amusingly about being forced to share a train compartment with a young Frenchman). She returns often to the subject of grief, taking from C.S. Lewis the idea that grief is not a place, but a process, a journey—an apt metaphor for a writer who once surveyed swaths of the world from her husband’s plane. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, like her husband, was a great chronicler of her own life. Her daughter reports that she often made two carbon copies of letters—one to keep and one for the archives. Such preservation certainly signals her awareness of her place in history, and indicates that these letters and diaries were always intended to be shared with the world. It underscores, too, the private-vs.-public conundrum that defined this eloquent writer’s life and work.
Against Wind and Tide By Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Pantheon $27.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780307378880 eBook available
Tin Win loses his mother when he’s six and his eyesight when he’s 10, but then finds Mi Mi, a beautiful girl who can’t walk. She becomes his eyes and he becomes her feet. Together they find joy and solace and their unique love grows to mythic heights. Jan-Philipp Sendker sets this lovely, haunting tale of loss and love in Kalaw, a hill town in Burma, just before WWII. Its very title, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Blackstone Audio, $29.95, 9.5 hours, ISBN 9781455124169), hints at the exotic emotional landscape you’re about to enter, and Cassandra Campbell’s gently nuanced reading brings it
to life. We hear their story as it is told to Tin Win’s daughter, a young American lawyer trying to find her Burmese father who disappeared from his accomplished New York life four years before. As she sits in a teahouse in Kalaw, U Ba, an older man who says he’s been waiting for her, peels back the layers of time and opens her ears to her father’s heartbeat.
SINS OF THE FATHER Richard North Patterson’s latest, Fall from Grace (Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.99, 9.5 hours, ISBN 9781442344372), admirably read by Dennis Boutsikaris, explores how families both hurt and protect each other, all wrapped in an insistently compelling whodunit. Ben Blaine, a famous writer adored by his public for his courage, charisma and muscular prose, and abhorred by those closest to him for his womanizing and cruel, domineering behavior, is dead, found beneath his favorite Martha’s Vineyard promontory. Did he jump or was he pushed? That’s what the police and everyone else, including his youngest son, Adam, back on the Vineyard after a 10-year
estrangement from his father, wants to know. To his surprise, Adam’s been named executor of the will—a will that disinherits his mother, brother and uncle and leaves everything to Ben’s last lover, a gorgeous, enigmatic actress half his age. Each of the disinherited, and maybe Ben’s lover, has a motive, and Adam has the devastating duty to uphold the will, while doing his utmost to safeguard the family he loves.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO Someone (or something) is messing with hedge fund wizard Alexander Hoffman’s brilliant brain and he’s beginning to feel twinges of fear. But fear is what Alex has programmed the constantly evolving algorithm in his computer program, VIXAL-4, to calculate and act on. And VIXAL-4 has made his hedge fund so successful that his elite clientele is about to invest another billion dollars. We only get Alex for one day, May 6, 2010 (market buffs will remember that momentous “flash crash”), in Robert Harris’ new thriller, The Fear Index. But that’s more than enough to make our own fear index climb, as we move from the wee hours of the morning, when a scruffy intruder bypasses the super-security of Alex’s Geneva mansion, through a whirlwind of mayhem, financial and physical, and Alex’s growing realization that he’s no longer in control, to the blistering end. The Fear Index is fastpaced, fascinating, expertly narrated by Christian Rodska and enhanced by an understandable explanation of how hedge funds actually work.
The Fear Index By Robert Harris
Random House Audio $40, 10 hours ISBN 9780449008737
Random House Audiobooks Great listens for summer travel!
Win Free Audiobooks! Whether youâ€™re on the beach or in traffic on your way there, Random House Audio has the audiobooks to make long summer drives a breeze. Enter to win a collection of the audiobooks featured here or your own selection (a $200 value). Five winners will be selected at random. For complete rules and entry details visit www.BookPage.com.
HARPERCOLLINS HarperCollins.com • AvonRomance.com Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance
When a snuff film is discovered on a cell phone belonging to the governor of Washington State’s grandson—a boy with a troubled background who swears he doesn’t know the victim—the governor turns to an old friend, J. P. Beaumont, for help. 9780061731327, $9.99
Under a Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands
Christian Notte has well known the power of finding a life mate. But he never imagined he’d let himself fall in love—until he meets the oh-so-mortal Carolyn Conner. How will he convince this oncebitten mortal to trust him with her heart … and her forever? Look for The Lady is a Vamp also by Lynsay Sands, coming in August. 9780062100207, $7.99
Kiss of Pride
columns Lynn Kurland writes a romantic and charming near-fairytale in All for You (Jove, $7.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780515150650). Peaches Alexander is primed for her happily ever after. An invitation to a house party hosted by a handsome duke may be her Cinderella moment—until she realizes that a fellow guest is none other than Stephen de Piaget, a scholar of medieval studies . . . and her nemesis. A stumble upon a time portal sends Peaches hundreds of years into the past, though, and it’s Stephen who comes to her rescue. Now looking at him with new eyes, Peaches reassesses her feelings as he finally sets out to woo her. But the
Is he really a Viking with a vampire’s bite? An angel with the body of a thunder god? A lone wolf with love on his mind? Alexandra Kelly, his prey, thinks Vikar Sigurdsson is either flat-out crazy or he’s trying to maneuver her into his bed—which is hardly where a professional reporter should conduct an interview, tempting as that prospect might be.
by Cathy Maxwell They call him Lord Lyon, proud, determined— and cursed. He is in need of a bride, but if he falls in love, he dies. Enter beautiful Thea Martin—a duke’s headstrong, errant daughter and society’s most brilliant matchmaker. Years ago, she and Lyon were inseparable. Now she is charged with finding Lyon’s bride— a woman he cannot love for a man Thea could love too well. 9780062070227, $7.99
A Time for Patriots by Dale Brown
The Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol is led by retired Air Force Lieutenant-General Patrick McLanahan and his son, Bradley. But when the homegrown terrorists detonate a dirty bomb in Reno and Bradley is caught in a perilous double-cross, Patrick McLanahan will have to fight to discover where his friends’ true loyalties lie. 9780061990007, $9.99
The Fireman Who Loved Me
by Jennifer Bernard
Melissa McGuire and Harry Brody couldn’t be more different, though they do have one thing in common: they’re both convinced they’re perfectly wrong for each other. Melissa’s grandmother wins her a date with Brody at a Bachelor auction and sparks fly. Look for Hot for Fireman also by Jennifer Bernard, coming in June. 9780062088963, $5.99
All available as eBooks Visit LibraryLoveFest.com for more great reading
b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way
Time after time
by Sandra Hill
course of love never runs smooth. Peaches considers her station beneath that of the titled Brit, and it will take another adventure through time to prove they’re destined to be life partners. Delightful characters and a “kisses-only” sensuality make this a romance for everyone.
HEARTS AT WAR Mary Balogh captures the exquisite yearning of unexpected love in The Proposal (Delacorte, $26, 320 pages, ISBN 9780385343329). Hugo Emes, raised in a middle-class household, is titled, thanks to heroism during the Napoleonic Wars. Now Lord Trentham, he travels to Cornwall for a reunion with the “Survivors’ Club,” a group of friends who are healing from war wounds. This is to be an interlude before Hugo turns to seeking a wife—but fate steps in when he sees a woman twist her ankle, and he’s obliged to carry her back to his friends. Widowed Lady Gwendoline Muir is embarrassed by the circumstances that will keep them sharing a household for a week, but she’s also fascinated by the large and forthright—yet
sometimes gentle— Hugo. He’s equally attracted to her, though Gwendoline, an aristocrat, is not marriage material. Not only does she profess a disinterest in matrimony, but Hugo is looking for someone with a middle-class upbringing similar to his own. But hearts are not so pragmatic, and these two forge an emotional intimacy. Still, class issues stand in their way, and it’s a sweet (and sometimes lusty) journey to true love.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE In her 200th novel, The Witness, Nora Roberts delivers a deft combination of suspense and romance— and one unique heroine. At 16, sheltered genius Elizabeth Fitch goes out for a night on the town— and witnesses brutal mob murders. Twelve years later, she is a reclusive security expert with a new identity, hunkered down in a small mountain town. It’s a contented life—until police chief Brooks Gleason gets curious about the appealing but wary woman, known now as Abigail Lowery. Though Abigail tries to rebuff him, the chief is patient, and eventually she begins to respond. When she has a run-in with a petty thug with political connections, Abigail’s secrets might come to light— but she won’t run again. With the man she’s come to love at her side, Abigail develops a dangerous plan that just might secure their future. A tech-savvy, kick-ass heroine and a hero who embodies the word: This is Roberts at her best.
The Witness By Nora Roberts
Putnam $27.95, 496 pages ISBN 9780399159121 eBook available
by joanna brichetto
b y s y b i l P RATT
SCIENCE HAS THE ANSWERS
SAVORING THE SEASONS
Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Reveal Lab-Tested Secrets to Surfing, Dating, Dieting, Gambling, Growing Man-Eating Plants, and More! (Three Rivers, $14, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307886132) by Garth Sundem is science made hands-on, practical and flat-out fun to read. After interviewing the researchiest researchers in psychology, mathematics, network theory, technology, economics, physics and so on, Sundem distilled their collective wisdom into bite-sized chunks of genius. Here are some particulars: how to throw a punch, make people laugh, win the lottery, get your spouse to do more housework, succeed at speed
Food writer and recipe developer Ian Knauer spends his weekdays in New York’s asphalt jungle, but on weekends he’s at the family farm in rural Pennsylvania, the place he loves most, working in the garden and turning its abundance into fabulous meals. The Farm (HMH, $30, 256 pages, ISBN 9780547516912), his debut cookbook, follows the seasons, featuring vegetables at their peak in recipes that riff on classics and promise to “get the best food to the table in the least amount of time.” Ian adds baby arugula to Spaghetti Carbonara for its peppery freshness; his Spring Pork Stew, with its early veggies, transforms
dating, stop buying stuff you don’t need, avoid Facebook fail and get a job. Sundem’s own expertise makes him a worthy guide. His work “at the intersection of science, math, humor and geek culture” already includes Geek Logik, The Geeks’ Guide to World Domination and Brain Candy. “Life is messy,” he says, but “starting to pick it apart with science shows you just how brilliant and wild and interconnected and fascinating it is.”
A CLEAN SWEEP
Brooks Palmer made the world tidier with his first book, Clutter Busting, but the question of why we clutter in the first place became so urgent, he’s back with Clutter Busting Your Life (New World Library, $14.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9781608680795). It “delves more deeply into the nature of our relationships . . . and how clutter intrudes, distorts, and diminishes these connections.” The book begins with questions and exercises that help spotlight our own relationships to clutter, then details basic clutter-busting techniques. Palmer
recommends starting with one small area at a time: just one drawer, your computer bookmarks, the car or your Facebook friends list. From there, he moves to people: present and past relationships, co-workers, anyone with whom we connect. To think about relationships as tangible things can help us sort and clear emotional clutter, “cut the crap” and keep only what is of real value.
TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES Just Ride by Grant Petersen is full of “unconventional wisdom” aimed to make your next bike ride more fun, even “fantastic.” The author rails against professional racing’s profound influence upon recreational riders: We tend to “wear the same clothes, pedal in the same shoes, ride the same bikes as racers do,” and have the same goals—speed and mileage. He proposes a far more attractive alternative: “unracing,” or just biking for enjoyment, like kids do. Petersen explains how to achieve that mindset in short chapters organized into themes: riding, suiting up, safety, health and fitness, accessories, upkeep, technicalities and “velosophy”: bike philosophy. One nugget of advice is to imagine yourself as a potential “predator” when on a bike, which means you must “be saintlike on the bike path” to avoid causing harm. Other chapter titles give a clue to general tone: “Your helmet’s not a bonnet and other tips on how to wear it,” “Fenders, not muddy stripes up your butt” and “Your bike is a toy, have fun with it.”
Just Ride By Grant Petersen Workman $13.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780761155584
the original Navarin d’Agneau into an all-new dinner delight; Grilled Caesar Salad with Yogurt Dressing offers an extra-summery take on a favorite; and Rabbit in CiderMustard Sauce, followed by a Fresh Ginger-Apple Tarte Tatin, would be ideal for a festive dinner on a frosty fall evening. As fine a writer as he is a cook, Ian has included essays and header notes that will be your goad and guide to making the most of nature’s year-round bounty.
THE PERFECT WEDDING GIFT Here comes the bride, here comes the groom and here comes the wedding gift that will keep the happy couple happily fed. The Newlywed Cookbook (Chronicle, $35, 304 pages, ISBN 9780811876834) is a beautiful package—elegantly designed, large format, heavy coated stock and chock-a-block with gorgeous full-color photos—and a lovely way to encourage culinary togetherness. Sarah Copeland, a food expert and newlywed herself, has made sure that, aside from having a pretty face, this is a real, down-to-earth, easyto-use, reassuring cooking com-
panion that just-marrieds can rely on for everything from stocking the pantry and getting the best at the market, whether it’s meat, fish or veggies, to making brunch and lunch, super suppers and classic cozy meals, romantic dinners for two and fabulous feasts for friends and family.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS “Mom” cookbooks, or “solvingthe-everyday-need-to-feed-thefamily” cookbooks, seem to be accumulating as fast as the mommy blogs that usually engender them. And, from the pile I’ve pored over recently, Katie Workman’s The Mom 100 Cookbook is the star. Katie’s oomph, attitude and culinary savvy translate into 100 doable, dilemmasolving, delicious recipes that moms (and even dads) can depend on for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bake sales, potlucks, easy entertaining and coping with that scourge of the table, the fussy eater. In true Workman style, every recipe comes with added extras: make-ahead advice; cooking tips on prep and ingredients; Katie’s special yellow Post-its offering her hard-won wisdom; ideas for “What kids can do” to help as you cook; notes on vegetarian variations; and “Fork in the Road,” her smart scheme for setting aside part of a dish before adding bolder flavorings, thus allowing picky palates to eat alongside the more adventurous without extra work for you-knowwho. The full-color photos throughout are as fabulous and inviting as the recipes. Katie really proves that “mother knows best.”
The Mom 100 Cookbook By Katie Workman Workman $16.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780761166030
Drawing a novel from a seatmate’s story
he writer Edmund White once told Nell Freudenberger it takes maybe 15 or 20 years to write about an experience. “So in terms of writing about marriage, I’m definitely jumping the gun,” says Freudenberger, laughing, during a call to her home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Freudenberger, author of The Dissident, a highly praised debut novel, and Lucky Girls, a collection of stories, was engaged but not yet married to architect Paul Logan when she began ruminating about the narrative that would eventually become her thoroughly captivating second novel, The Newlyweds. “I was just thinking the other day that I will have had two children in the course of writing this book,” says Freudenberger, who was just days away from the birth of her second child when she spoke with BookPage and just weeks away from the publication of her new novel. “It’s a little discouraging how much longer the gestation of a book is than the gestation of a human. Of course there’s a lot more that you do afterwards with children. With a book, once you’re finished with it, you pretty much let it go.” Freudenberger is about to let go of The Newlyweds, which explores the life of a middle-class Muslim woman from Bangladesh who meets an American electrical engineer on an international online dating site, then travels to Rochester, New York, to marry him. The seed of the novel, Freudenberger says, was a conversation on
By Nell Freudenberger
Random House, $25.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780307268846, audio, eBook available
an airplane. Freudenberger was on her way to Rochester to help her father, screenwriter Daniel Freudenberger, clean out the house of her grandmother, who had recently died after living there for more than 40 years. She took a seat next to Farah Deeba, who was returning from New York City to Rochester with her fiancé. The two struck up a conversation about their grandmothers, among other things. “I was curious about her, just because I’ve spent a lot of time in South Asia, and I assumed, wrongly, that she was Indian,” Freudenberger says. “And then I was interested that a middle-class Muslim woman would choose to meet somebody online and get married, because it’s a really unconventional choice. The prohibition about marrying outside the faith is even stronger for women than for men.” Freudenberger and Deeba remained in close contact after the flight. “Farah loves to tell stories and I love to listen to them,” the author says. By the time Deeba invited her to visit her grandmother’s village in Bangladesh, Freudenberger had already asked for and received permission to use her experiences as the basis for a novel. “I always start with the germ of something real, usually a secondhand story about somebody that I don’t know. This gives you a structure that you then make unrecognizable in the end. But this process was different. This was five years of conversations—not interviews, conversations. A lot of times the book seemed to be moving along a parallel track; the things that happened in the book weren’t the things Farah was telling me about, but without her stories, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine the place the way I did. Farah gave me an enormous gift: telling me the stories and allowing me to make them into something different.”
The central character of The Newlyweds, Amina, shares a few of the events of Deeba’s early life—her formal education ended at 13, but studying on her own she managed to pass her O levels and become fluent in English. The events of Amina’s later life, however, are Freudenberger’s invention—Amina’s struggle to find her bearings as an immigrant in Rochester, the ups and downs of the marriage, her husband’s hidden past and the temptation she feels to abandon her American marriage when she returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents back to Rochester. “As I wrote the book, I was more and more aware of how much Amina is my own creation and is not Farah. The person I “Farah was making, gave me an in spite of her life looking enormous so different gift: telling me the stories from mine, has many simiand allowing larities to me. me to make I’m much less brave than this them into character, but something certainly her different.” weaknesses, like her drive to succeed maybe without enough forethought, wanting to get a gold star from the teacher, are something I share. . . . There’s always some part of fiction that’s confessing or writing about yourself. It’s a way, I think, of tricking yourself into being honest.” The drive to be honest is equally apparent in Freudenberger’s crystalline prose, despite the fact that she feels largely unconscious of her sentences during composition. “When I’m writing, I’m inside somebody’s head, trying to see a situation as someone else would, so I’m not really thinking about the sentences. I think of sentences in terms of rhythm and balance and sound, but
© DAVID JACOBS
by Alden Mudge
that’s a part of writing that’s almost athletic. It’s something that feels like exercise, like habit—in a good way. That’s why you do it every day. Otherwise, you get creaky.” Freudenberger certainly did not get creaky while working on The Newlyweds. “I took so many wrong turns that needed to be scrapped,” she says. “I would always think of my father, who is a screenwriter. He would have a big bulletin board with Post-it notes pinned up with all the different scenes. The project was incredibly well organized before he started. For whatever reason I don’t think fiction works like that. I need to write a thousand drafts.” Freudenberger adds, “I remember the day I sat down at my computer and wrote the first few pages in Amina’s voice, and I knew then that I could write the book. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the book, but I felt as long as I stayed inside the characters, as long as the characters felt right, I could have faith that what happened to them would resolve itself.” But the book also had to garner Deeba’s approval. “Having Farah read the novel was definitely a precondition for publishing the book. I was the most nervous when she was reading it. I was so afraid she wouldn’t like it or that it wouldn’t seem true to her.” Deeba seems to have liked the results of Freudenberger’s work on The Newlyweds—and the rest of her readers will, too.
New York Times Bestselling Author
Experience real life, true love and lots of laughs in this hilarious new novel.
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“Kristan Higgins is a rising superstar, thanks to whippet-fast, funny dialogue and sweet plots with a deliciously tart edge.” —USA TODAY on MY ONE AND ONLY
The FREEDOM OF A FEW GRAY HAIRS
nna Quindlen has taken on a lot of hot topics as an editorial writer, first at the New York Times and later at Newsweek: war, politics, abortion, religion. And she has tackled some of the most pressing issues of our time in her best-selling novels: domestic violence, feminism, terminal illness. But never has she been more introspective and candid than in her new collection of essays on growing older.
In the sublime Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Quindlen, 59, clearly is embracing middle age (with just the tiniest bit of help from the dermatologist). From facing an empty nest at home to facing wrinkles in the mirror, she writes incisively about her life now and what she owes to the generations of women who came before her. One of her columns at the Times was called “Life in the 30s,” in which she wrote about being a working mom with three young children. Her new effort could easily be subtitled “Life in the 50s.” “The title of this book says it all. I find this a really satisfying and ultimately joyful time of my life,” Quindlen says by phone from her brownstone in New York City. But let’s not get too crazy with the “I love middle age” talk—Quindlen is quick to admit she’s not above what she calls her “annual pilgrimage to the Fountain of Botox” to erase the worry lines between her eyes. “I never colored my hair. I haven’t had any surgery,” she says. “But I guess more than anything else I want to look like I feel and by that
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
By Anna Quindlen
Random House, $26, 208 pages ISBN 9781400069347, audio, eBook available
I don’t mean young, I mean happy. Just for the record, I love Botox. I do it once a year and I have no qualms about it.” In one of the most thought-provoking essays in the book, “Mirror, Mirror,” Quindlen delves into our society’s cult of youth and its disproportionate impact on women. “We don’t really have any idea of how we ought to look anymore, just how we’re told we ought to want to look,” she writes. “Women were once permitted a mourning period for their youthful faces; it was called middle age. Now we don’t even have that. Instead we have the science of embalming disguised as grooming. A lot of plastic surgery is like spray tan. It doesn’t look like a real tan at all. It looks like a tan in an alternate universe in which everyone is orange. It’s a universe in which it seems no one has gray hair, except for me.” It’s the kind of funny and sharp writing for which Quindlen is known and loved. She isn’t afraid to go below the surface, though. In another essay, Quindlen admits to an uneasy relationship with moderation, which culminated with her quitting drinking when her youngest child was a baby. That she considers herself a recovering alcoholic is a somewhat startling revelation for someone who has put so much of her personal life in print. “It was a really big chunk that I was not sharing with readers who have gotten used to knowing things about me,” Quindlen admits, adding that it was something she needed to make sure her family was comfortable about sharing. “It is one of the few things I could share with readers that might be helpful. To the extent that people think of recovering alcoholics as deeply flawed, I wanted to communicate that there are many
who are just fine.” She said no major event led her to stop drinking (for the record, her last drink was a Heineken). “It’s just in any face-off with alcohol, I lost,” she says. Quitting drinking was just one of the ways that motherhood changed Quindlen, and in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, she does a lot of thinking about the challenges of modern moth“The title of erhood. “Compared this book says to some of it all. I find the mothers I this a really see today, we satisfying and were remarkultimately ably relaxed,” joyful time of she says. “I do have to say, my life.” in defense of young mothers today, we were kind of the test batch—first pancakes on the griddle. We all thought we were going to combine motherhood and work, and did it in a seat-of-the-pants way. We were relaxed to the extent that we didn’t know what we were doing. Suddenly, there’s a right way to find a nanny and there’s a right way to stimulate infants. Here’s how I believe you stimulate infants—you have another child and you lay the baby on the floor and have them watch him! Suddenly we’ve made motherhood a job that’s so overwhelming, it astonishes me that anyone could do it. When women
© Maria Krovatin
Interview by Amy Scribner
score freedom, they somehow have to pay for it, and right now that is being an über-mom. Not only is this not good for women, it’s not good for kids either. This ‘helicopter mom’ [trend] cripples them.” In her book, Quindlen pays tribute to the more laid-back parenting style of her own mother (who died of ovarian cancer when Quindlen was 19) and ponders how it influenced her child-rearing. “I’m keenly aware of maybe something my mother knew, too, which is that a lot of the raw material was there already,” Quindlen says. “For example, my kids are really smart and pretty confident, and a lot of that was already built in. Could I have encouraged that or tamped that down? Probably. But some of what being a good mom meant for me was to get out of the way. Given how naturally inclined I am to micromanage everything, I’d give myself about a B-plus.” These days, she and husband Gerry Krovatin, an attorney she met in college, have an empty nest (mostly—their three children all live “within, like, a few subway stops”). But Quindlen says not too much has changed. “We live in a house in New York
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY From
New Paperb ac k for Childre n
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t all began with Precious Ramotswe, who starts a detective agency and devotes herself to solving mysteries and helping people with the problems in their lives. Along the way, Precious is joined by Grace Makutsi (97 percent on her secretarial exams) and Precious’s mechanic husband. After ten years we’re very grateful to all the wonderful fans of the series. And for those of you who have never read THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY series “now’s the time!” (Booklist)
Photo © Chris Watt Illustrations © Iain McIntosh
which nominally is occupied only by Gerry and me,” she says. “However, all three bedrooms are maintained as shrines. Once you do it with one of them you have to do it with all of them. All three of our children live elsewhere in their own places, but it is not uncommon for them to drop in for dinner or for me to come home from errands and find a cereal bowl with an inch of milk in it.” The kids may have grown and graduated, but Quindlen follows the same writing schedule she had back when she was juggling motherhood and a career. “I still write during school hours,” she says with a laugh. “I’m really a creature of habit. I’m still always a little shocked I don’t have kids to pick up.” Another habit she can’t—and likely won’t—break is New York. She attended Barnard College, and never left. “My metabolism and the metabolism of New York City are the same,” she says. “It’s like what they say about the amount of salt in the ocean being the same as amniotic fluid. What drives New York City is the same thing that drives me. The car culture . . . something inside me just shuts down. I grew up in the suburbs, but this is my natural habitat.” Perhaps the biggest shift for this creature of habit was giving up her role as a leading opinion writer. After two columns at the Times (and one Pulitzer) and nine years writing the popular column “The Last Word” for Newsweek, Quindlen says it was time to hand that role to a new generation. “I feel that columnists need to leave while they’re sharp. I felt I still was, but it was time,” she explains. “You need a much younger woman to do this. We need more of those younger voices out there. The pundit class in America today is very white and very male and very gray. I want to know what younger people are thinking and talking about.” Gracious as this may seem, don’t count Quindlen out yet. With this provocative, moving new book, Quindlen proves she may be at the midpoint of life, but she’s at the top of her game.
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CHARLES DUHIGG By Stephenie Harrison
DON’T BREAK HABITS, CHANGE THEM
It seems like a lot of the time we’re pretty oblivious about why we do the things we do. Why do you think this is? When a habit takes hold, something interesting happens within our brain: Activity moves from the prefrontal cortex (where decisionmaking occurs) to the basal ganglia (one of the oldest parts of the brain, where automatic patterns are stored). In a sense, we stop thinking when we’re in the grip of a habit—and so as a result, it often feels like we’re acting without realizing what is going on. Yet that doesn’t mean that these behaviors are out of our control. Once you understand how to take a habit apart, how to fiddle with its gears, you learn how to design behavioral patterns and take control of these automatic habits. You say there are certain “keystone habits” that, if changed, can change a person’s life. How do you identify these habits? Keystone habits influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend and communicate. They start a process that, over time, transforms everything. Identifying keystone habits, however, is tricky. Most keystone habits create daily victories—what are known within psychology as the “science of small wins.” So look for those patterns that give you numerous, small senses of victory: places where momentum can start to build.
The Power of Habit By Charles Duhigg
Random House $28, 400 pages ISBN 9781400069286 Audio, eBook available
n his breakthrough bestseller, The Power of Habit, New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg uses science to pull back the curtain on some of our most mystifying behaviors—and reveals how we can change them.
You cite evidence that the brains of people who suffer from purportedly uncontrollable habits (e.g., gambling or alcoholism) differ from those who don’t. To what extent do you think behavior can change the brain? The brain is incredibly plastic—it is constantly changing as we expose ourselves to different stimuli and engage in different behaviors. One of the things that we’ve learned from laboratory experiments is that no habit is destiny. Every behavioral pattern can be changed. No matter how old someone is, or how ingrained the behavior, it can be shifted once they start analyzing the cues and rewards. Once we start behaving differently, our brains start to shift. Companies have used insight into the ways habits work to exploit target markets. Is awareness enough, or are there other techniques shoppers can use in order to make sure they’re only buying what they need/want? Awareness is a great defense— but so is appreciating the usefulness of companies understanding our habits. From one perspective, it might be an invasion of privacy. From another, it’s helping me get the coupons I need at just the right time. Indeed, when I was reporting on Target’s use of habit studies to predict which customers were pregnant, my wife and I were expecting our second child. Lo and behold, we started receiving coupons for diapers and formula and a crib. And I was overjoyed: I really needed a crib!
meet W. BRUCE CAMERON
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
would you describe it? Q: How
did you get in touch with your inner dog to write Q: How A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey?
Q: W hat’s the one quality dogs have that people need more of?
Q: W hat’s one simple rule for being a good dog owner?
Q: W hat’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?
Q: W hat achievement are you proudest of?
Q: W ords to live by?
A DOG’s JOURNEY W. Bruce Cameron was a newspaper columnist and unpublished novelist in 2001 when his first book, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, became a surprise hit. His new novel, A DOG’S JOURNEY (Forge, $24.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780765330536), is a sequel to the 2010 bestseller A Dog’s Purpose. Cameron and his family (including rescue dog Tucker, shown above) live in Southern California.
Graduation by Linda M. Castellitto
What to do after the tassels are turned
h, graduation. So much excitement, so much to think about! Whether the grad in your life is concerned with a job hunt, finances or big dreams, these five books offer guidance and humor for those dipping a toe in the real-world waters.
STRAIGHT TALK When Charles Wheelan gave a commencement-weekend speech at his alma mater, Dartmouth, in 2011, he vowed to avoid platitudes and instead offer honest, useful advice—collected here, in 10½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said (Norton, $15.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9780393074314). Rather than reminding students that “commencement means beginning,” he shared things he wishes he’d heard at his own college graduation, like “Some of your worst days lie ahead” and “Your time in fraternity basements was well spent.” No need for alarm, though—Wheelan isn’t advocating a gloomy outlook or postgraduation visits to the local Delta Tau Whatever. Rather, he’s letting graduates know that there will be “grinding self-doubt and failure” along with joy and success, and the camaraderie you build during
college is invaluable. He’s right, of course, and his other exhortations are similarly witty and wise. Slyly humorous illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Peter Steiner add to the fun.
FLY HIGH Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has been a household name since he executed an emergency airplane landing on the Hudson River in 2009. His memoir, Highest Duty, was a bestseller; now, he’s back with Making a Difference (Morrow, $26.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780061924705), a book about other people’s outstanding achievements. His subjects— standouts in government, education, business and more—have all faced adversity, and their responses to difficult, even horrible, situations showed character and solidified leadership. For example, when Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was called to duty after Hurricane Katrina, he was tapped to replace the head of FEMA after just one week. When Allen explained to his team what needed to be done, their relief was palpable; someone was finally offering priorities and support. “This was a leadership moment for which Allen . . . had been preparing for his whole life,” writes Sullenberger. That theme resonates in the book, as does the importance of caring for those who work for you. Aspiring leaders will find plenty to emulate.
LIVING THE DREAM
Six years ago, while commiserating over post-college angst, four young men decided to amp up the bucketlist concept: They’d strike out and achieve their dreams— no matter how
quirky or impossible-seeming— while helping others do the same. What began as a tour in a Winne bago turned into much more: an MTV reality show; more than 80 life-list items accomplished; and the publication of What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? (Artisan, $19.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9781579654764). For the book, the four guys—known collectively as The Buried Life— asked artists to illustrate the kooky and poignant dreams of their fans. The collages alternate with heartfelt essays by the guys, and other inspiring achievers. There are also photos of the gang with a variety of people, including President Obama (#95); a newborn (#74); and security guards trying to stop them from streaking in a stadium (#50). Not only is this collection interesting, but its colorful pages could serve as inexpensive artwork for a first apartment.
FINANCIAL FINESSE Personal finance expert Jack Otter believes that with emotions in check and information in hand, money matters can be managed well and with confidence. In Worth It . . . Not Worth It? (Business Plus, $19.99, 144 pages, ISBN 9781455508440), he empowers the new generation to make good decisions about spending, noting, “Most money decisions seem complicated only because someone has a financial interest in confusing you.” Otter, executive editor of CBSMoneyWatch.com, addresses “either/or” propositions regarding credit cards, loans, travel, real estate, investing and more; the “Getting Started” section is aimed at students/recent graduates/firstjob-holders (e.g., Live with Mom and Dad vs. Go Solo in Squalor). The book’s eye-catching graphics and spare, pithy text make a complete read-through painless, even for the finance-shy. This guide will be a valuable, much-used resource for long-term planning, daily decisions and whatever crops up in between.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK In Getting from College to Career (HarperBusiness, $16.99, 326 pages, ISBN 9780062069276), an updated guide to, oh, everything graduates need to do before even thinking about job interviews, Lindsey Pollak offers tips, commiseration and humor. After all, while she may be a LinkedIn spokesperson and bestselling author, she wasn’t always a media star. When it was time to find her first job, she was stumped. Then, she called internship contacts, bought a suit, made lists—and landed an offer. A multi-pronged approach succeeded, but, “The challenge is that you never know which combination will ultimately work, so you have to try them all.” Pollak’s voice is friendly yet authoritative, and her advice is detailed but not overwhelming. This is a truly useful guide that will make resume-writing and job-interviewing a whole lot easier. Now go get ’em!
A heart-warming tale of loss, acceptance, family, and love NOW IN PAPERBA CK!
NEW IN HARDCOVER
Porch Lights Coming June 12
Mother’s day By Amy Scribner
EXPERIENCES ONLY A MOTHER COULD LOVE
otherhood wreaks havoc on your body, your brain cells and your wallet— and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’ve chosen five new releases that embrace the stickiest, messiest, sweetest, most exhausting job of all. Pick one up as a present for Mom or as a gift for yourself.
A GRAND ADVENTURE Anyone who read Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott’s seminal book on the trials and tribulations of motherhood, will be flabbergasted to learn that her infant son, Sam, is now a 19-year-old father. Although the pregnancy was a surprise, Lamott welcomes her new grandson, Jax, with her hallmark humor and faith (and a healthy dash of neurosis) in Some Assembly Required (Riverhead, $26.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9781594488412). She writes candidly of her mixed feelings about the baby’s mother, a lovely but headstrong young woman who keeps Lamott firmly at arm’s length when it comes to raising Jax. Still, the two women forge a deep, if sometimes fragile, bond as they set about the messy business of building an extended family. Insightful, poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, Some Assembly Required is Lamott at her very best.
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY The subtitle of Making Babies (Norton, $24.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9780393078282), Anne Enright’s marvelously irreverent look at having children later in life, is “Stumbling into Motherhood,” and that is just what the Irish writer did when she and her husband had their first child after 18 years of marriage. Is there anything better than a book that doesn’t romanticize
pregnancy? When Enright recalls her pregnancy as a time in which she “sat and surfed the Net like some terrible turnip, gagging and leaning back in my chair,” I laughed in agreement. I kept laughing throughout the whole book, including the section called “How to Get Trolleyed While Breastfeeding.” (“Trolleyed” being a very Irish way of saying “drunk.”) That’s not to say some of that laughter wasn’t through a few tears. Never has the bittersweet impact of motherhood been summed up more poignantly than by Enright. “This is what motherhood has done to me,” she writes. “I cannot watch violent films (I used to quite like violent films), I can’t even watch ones where the violence is ironical (I used to love irony). I cry at all funerals. I look with yearning at the airport road. I am complacent to the point of neglect about my body. I shop where the fat girls shop (it is a different place). For months I do not shop at all.” Making Babies is a must-read for anyone who’s ever experienced the joys of motherhood—and ’fessed up to its agonies.
TO THE TOP I was bracing to be slightly annoyed by the ambitious mother and her overachieving mountain-climbing daughter in Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure
(Broadway, $14, 256 pages, ISBN 9780307952073). But Patricia Ellis Herr is no tiger mom, pushing her daughter Alex to the brink. She is simply a mom who recognized her daughter’s boundless energy and helped her harness it. The duo climbs nearly 50 New England peaks during their yearand-a-half adventure, an amazing accomplishment given that Alex was only five years old when they started. The quest is not without its harrowing moments, such as when Herr forgets to put windproof gloves on Alex and they have to turn back 200 yards from summiting for fear of frostbite. Add to this the fact that Herr’s husband—Alex’s father—lost both his legs to frostbite in a mountain-climbing accident at age 17. But Up is marked more by the sweet, small moments the motherand-daughter team experience while climbing, as when Alex asks her mother why a boy told her she can’t be good at math because she’s a girl. Herr’s account is really half hiking reference manual and half meditation on how to instill independence and confidence at a young age—an odd and oddly compelling combination.
TREASURING THE UNEXPECTED As soon as the doctor laid the baby in her arms, Kelle Hampton knew her daughter had Down syndrome. “I will never forget my
daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over . . . she locked eyes with mine and stared . . . bore holes into my soul. Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected, but oh please love me.” Hampton is best known for her acclaimed blog, Enjoying the Small Things. In Bloom (Morrow, $24.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780062045034), a searing and brave portrait of her baby’s first year, Hampton opens up about her fears and jubilation, and what she calls “the throbbing pain of losing what I had expected.” She recounts the late nights doing Internet research on what to expect as Nella grew up, and the triumph of their first walk for Down syndrome awareness. Filled with personal photos from the delivery room through Nella’s first birthday, Bloom gives a whole new meaning to the term “open book.”
SONG OF MYSELF My Story, My Song (Upper Room, $18, 144 pages, ISBN 9780835811071) is the slim but lyrical memoir of Lucimarian Roberts, the mother of “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts. The elder Roberts, who has become known to GMA viewers through her daughter’s occasional references and a couple of appearances on the program, reveals a delightfully upbeat voice at the age of 87. In the book, co-written with Missy Buchanan, she recalls her racially charged childhood in 1920s Akron, Ohio, her years at historically black Howard University and her experiences as the wife of a career Air Force officer and the mother of four. Primarily, though, My Story, My Song focuses on Roberts’ Christian faith and the gospel music that has been a constant companion throughout her life. “I sing because the music of the church speaks my soul language,” she writes. “I sing because these songs are tightly woven into the texture of who I am. Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts. Child of God.” Brief reflections from daughter Robin are sprinkled throughout, small but beautiful gems in a truly sparkling book.
reviews In One Person
Making the personal universal Review by Matthew Jackson
The title of John Irving’s latest novel is a declaration of its ambition. In One Person is an attempt to capture the harrowing personal journey of a single man as he finds his own sexual, emotional and even literary identity—and to capture it in a way that matters to every single person who picks up the novel. In that way, In One Person had to become a book not just about a single human being, but about every human being. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but as this novel unfolds with all the grace and power we’ve come to expect from John Irving, it’s clear that he’s done it. At the heart of the novel is Billy, Irving’s narrator, a successful novelist reflecting on his life in old age. He begins his tale with the story of his fascination with the local librarian, an attraction that sparks both a sexual and literary awakening. From there we follow him through his By John Irving high school and college years, on to his early successes and even into the Simon & Schuster, $28, 448 pages early years of the AIDS crisis, when Billy—who is bisexual—watches his ISBN 9781451664126, audio, eBook available friends succumb to the disease. Billy’s tale is an emotionally wrenching one, and Irving portrays it unflinchingly. He hones in on the most vital parts of his protagonist, drawing them out with vivid, bittersweet prose. In One Person never falls into the trap of becoming a preachy, issues-based novel. The issues are there, but the focus is on Billy, and on the fascinating and often confusing life he leads. That’s where the heart of the novel is, and Irving never strays. In One Person is among the most challenging, dense novels Irving has ever produced, but readers willing to take the journey will find immense rewards. It’s a staggeringly ambitious work, and its success reaffirms Irving’s place among our greatest working novelists.
The Year of the Gadfly By Jennifer Miller
HMH $24, 384 pages ISBN 9780547548593 eBook available
Previously known for her narrative nonfiction book Inheriting the Holy Land: An American’s Search for Hope in the Middle East, Jennifer Miller returns with a debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly. A little bit Secret History, a little bit Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Miller’s academic thriller is sure to rank among other classic prep-school novels, such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep. The Year of the Gadfly follows Iris Dupont, a high school sophomore suffering from depression due to the suicide of her closest friend. Dupont
is forced by her parents to leave her former high school and attend the prestigious Mariana Academy. When she is not secretly confiding in the ghost of Edward R. Murrow (her cigarette-smoking, suspenderswearing, reporter mentor), Dupont is trying to distract herself from her loneliness by forcing her way onto the school newspaper’s staff. Dupont gradually learns that Mariana is not quite what its reputation claims. Over the years, a secret society, Prism’s Party, has ruthlessly exposed the misdeeds of students and teachers alike in an underground newspaper, The Devil’s Advocate. Dupont—ever the eager journalist—tries to unmask the members of this secret party by investigating her favorite maniacal teacher, Mr. Kaplan, and his connections to Lily, the former student whose bedroom Dupont now occupies. Miller intelligently unfurls these mysteries by telling the story from three distinct yet intertwined points of view: those of Dupont, Mr. Kaplan
and Lily. The Year of the Gadfly is a riveting story of the highs and lows of adolescence, one that is fit for readers of all ages. —Megan Fishmann
Home By Toni Morrison
Knopf $24, 160 pages ISBN 9780307594167 Audio, eBook available
Toni Morrison has more than 15 literary awards to her name, including both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize. This goes a long way toward explaining why, rather than comparing her to other authors, Morrison is measured against herself. It is understood that a Toni Morrison novel will challenge and humble its readers in terms of
content, language and scope, so the real question when picking up her newest novel is never “Will this be a good book?” but rather, “Will this book be as good as all her others?” When it comes to Home, Morrison’s ninth novel, the short answer is a clear “yes.” This is a very good book that easily takes its place in Morrison’s canon. Although the writing feels somewhat stripped down, the story itself is ambitious and vital, belying the small size of the book itself. Home is largely the story of Frank Money, who left behind both the safety and the shackles of smalltown Lotus, Georgia, by enlisting to fight in Korea, vowing never to return. Alas, the horrors of war leave Frank shell-shocked and bruised, a shadow of his former self. With whiskey and the comfort of a woman named Lily, Frank manages to keep his misery at bay, but these things offer temporary relief. It is only when he receives word that his little sister Cee is dying, having suffered at the hands of a eugenicsobsessed doctor, that Frank finally musters up the courage to return to the place he once called home, where his true healing can begin. In many ways, Home touches on themes and ideas that have formed the backbone of Morrison’s previous works, namely the search for identity and community as framed in the historic context of the black American experience. Life is rarely kind to Frank, Cee and Lily, yet Home is still an immensely compassionate narrative that speaks to the unrelenting resilience of the human spirit. Morrison’s characters are frequently bloodied and bruised, but they are never fully broken. If there is one thing Morrison has mastered in her 40 years of writing books, it’s how to pack a punch so hard your lungs crumple. Excruciating in the moment, the next breath you take is all the sweeter for it. It’s these juxtapositions of sadness and joy, despair and hope, darkness and light, that ultimately make Home such a visceral read. —Stephenie Harrison
Dirt By David Vann
Harper $25.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780062121035 eBook available
Caribou Island author David Vann continues to explore flaws and potential, character tested and revealed, in his latest work, Dirt. The novel, which begins as tense yet funny, ends in nothing short of tragedy—a heartbreaking descent born of wrong choices. In 1985, 22-year-old Galen lives on a secluded walnut farm in northern California with his mother. The father is missing—Galen never knew him—and Galen has become a figurative husband. They live off a fortune, the extent of which Galen does not know, their days shaped by visits to his dementia-suffering grandmother and drop-ins by his caustic aunt and teenage cousin Jennifer, for whom Galen guiltily pines. The aunt and cousin want the family money, and the relationships are contentious. His mother disclaims her own father’s violent past and the whole clan’s abusive present, while Galen, a New Ager, longs both to embrace the world and to push it away. These simmering resentments and needs boil over during a trip to the family cabin in the mountains. Ironies abound, and Vann’s sentences and paragraphs are perfectly constructed, drawing you through the text even when everything is standing still. Galen’s life changes over the course of just a few very long days, and the details of these days, the sensitivity to Galen’s every waking moment, are exquisite. This is the kind of book where one stretches out reading the last 40, 30, 10 pages—in this case out of dread, but also love. Vann’s characterization is complex. Galen is a childish man, weak, full of misplaced strength and endurance wasted on a fruitless quest. From the start, his behavior is strange—but he is charming in his craziness. He is becoming something, delayed; and
FICTION in his innocence, he has no idea that he could become something terrible. The change is compelling: Even if other readers don’t sympathize with Galen, they will be drawn into his head and these claustrophobic circumstances to see what happens. This experience is prolonged to the very last page, graceful paragraph, stunning word. Then it reverberates. Vann’s book is art, and not to be missed. —Sheri Bodoh
The Uninvited Guests By Sadie Jones
Harper $24.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780062116505 Audio, eBook available
There is an air of faded gentility hovering around Sterne, the old manor house at the heart of Sadie Jones’ third novel, The Uninvited Guests. But don’t be fooled: The house and its inhabitants harbor dark secrets that are slowly revealed over the course of this quirky story. Well known for her previous works, especially the award-winning The Outcast, Jones goes down an unexpected road with The Uninvited Guests, featuring elements drawn from ghost stories and period comedies, though her humor is more bitter than sweet. The events in The Uninvited Guests take place over a single day in the isolated and crumbling Sterne. Charlotte Torrington Swift lives there with her second husband, Edward; two adult children from a previous marriage, Emerald and Clovis; and one younger and oft-ignored daughter, Imogen. The family is at risk of losing the house, and as the novel opens, Edward is leaving to borrow money from a “dreaded industrialist” so he can keep the family on the estate. It is also Emerald’s 21st birthday, and just as guests are arriving to celebrate, a train derailment occurs nearby. Sterne becomes a way station for the displaced passengers, one of whom seems to know a good
sadie jones B y L a u r e n B u ff e r d
What lies beneath
decaying English country house holds menace and mystery in The Uninvited Guests, the remarkable third novel from Sadie Jones.
This is a departure from your previous work, especially the supernatural element. What made you want to explore that? It wasn’t a conscious “departure,” but the original idea can’t be controlled. I should have loved to write an important modern state of the nation book, but I was given this to do instead! I dreamed the house, Sterne—this beautiful eccentric red-brick manor—and then, in imagining who lived in it and what the voice of the story would be, I discovered that there was a supernatural element, and also comedy. Your last two novels were so specific about time and place. The Uninvited Guests is set more generally, in the pre-World War I English countryside. But the ambiguity felt deliberate. Yes, it was. The action never leaves Sterne, and I used theatre to heighten the sense of unreality so that the reader might know they were heading off somewhere unpredictable. I was trying to create a magical realm akin to the transforming woods of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a time and place where anything might happen. It was a tricky piece of acrobatics, and it requires the reader’s trust and willingness to jump in with the book and revel a little. What research did you do? There was very little research compared to Small Wars, which was necessarily rigorous. I wandered the Internet, went to the National Gallery and looked at John Singer Sargent’s paintings of Edwardian socialites and read a 1920s edition of Mrs Beeton’s household management. There were wonderful descriptions of how to apply poultices to boils and what to do with a twice-boiled calf’s head that informed the more grotesque elements of the novel. The Edwardian era is a very entertaining mix of the recognizably modern and abso-
lutely not, their delight in gelatin being a good example. Right now stories set in England around WWI are very hot (all my friends have “Downton Abbey” fever!). Why do you think people are so interested in that time period? I suppose it’s the zeitgeist, isn’t it? I had no notion, beginning work in 2009, that there would be a wave of fin de siècle drama or literature—or a vogue for literary ghost stories for that matter. I simply needed a time we perceive as beautiful and romantic and yet trembles on the brink of the unknown. Western civilization was at a peak, both culturally and scientifically; to me that generation sits like white icing on the dark slag heap of the century before it, looking blindly toward the new century, the mass suicide of the Great War. My little book doesn’t even begin to cover it. You earned a lot of acclaim for your previous novels. How do you think that kind of success prepares a writer for whatever comes next? The benefits of having a tremendously successful first novel far outstrip any perceived drawbacks. The success of The Outcast gave me a career. I feel now that if I do good work it will be read and have a fighting chance to stand out. It sounds a simple thing, but it is as much as any writer can hope for. What other eras would you like to explore? I would very much like to write a modern novel—I just haven’t found one yet.
FICTION deal about the family—Charlotte in particular. His presence brings out the worst in all concerned. Despite the charming opening scene and lyrical language, The Uninvited Guests is filled with a kind of prickly menace and biting wit. The house is remote and decaying; Charlotte is self-centered and neglectful; and the stranded passengers are injured, odorous and distressed. Every character harbors a secret. The class divide between the residents of Sterne and the hapless but encroaching passengers is sharply drawn. The ambiguity of the place and time— somewhere in England, sometime at the beginning of the 20th century— adds to the air of menace that drifts in from the beginning and builds to a horrible crescendo in a scene with echoes of the war to come, which will irrevocably change the lives of these young people. The macabre plot and acerbic tone of the novel harken back to fiction by
earlier British writers such as Saki, Ivy Compton Burnett and Sylvia Townsend Warner. But Jones looks to Edwardian England with a modern sensibility, and she is more likely to slyly subvert than to wax nostalgic. In this way, The Uninvited Guests is the anti-“Downton Abbey,” and Jones’ readers are all the luckier for it. — L a u r e n B u ff e r d
Ada’s Rules By Alice Randall
Bloomsbury $24, 352 pages ISBN 9781608198276 eBook available
When Alice Randall’s latest novel opens, Ada Howard weighs more than 200 pounds and, frankly, she
likes her “big fatness.” So does her husband of 25-plus years, the overly generous pastor of their church. But Ada knows that being big and fat just isn’t healthy, and with her college reunion coming up, she wants to look good. Especially for the boy who got away, Matt Mason. Randall, whose controversial debut The Wind Done Gone was a slave’s take on Gone With the Wind, has no trouble plunging into touchy topics. In Ada’s Rules, she takes on weight loss and the politics of fat with rollicking humor, compassion and a touch of sadness. Ada is the youngest child of a blues musician and his wife. Her elderly parents are fading, and part of Ada’s determination to get healthy is because her three older sisters died too young from obesity-related issues. Then there are her adult twin daughters. They’re also sort of big. Maybe they should all start “healthing” together?
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But Ada starts to worry as the pounds begin to melt away. Will Preach still find her desirable? Will he even notice? Ada’s Rules gives readers the pleasure of spending some time with a real person. So many women are facing struggles like Ada’s, and many of the laughs will come from recognition as well as humor. The novel, with its chapter headings straight out of weight loss books— it’s almost something of a novel/ diet book hybrid—is also suspenseful. What’s going to happen when Ada reaches her ideal weight? Will she reach her ideal weight? We know she’s not going to have an affair with Matt Mason. Or will she? It’s a delight to read about someone so fully human. In Ada Howard, Randall has pulled off the tough trick of creating a truly relatable, deliciously complicated character. —Arlene McKaniC
reviews Afterwards By Rosamund Lupton
Crown $25, 400 pages ISBN 9780307716545 eBook available
Grace and Mike Covey are living a charmed life in contemporary London—she’s a part-time journalist for a local paper, and he’s a soughtafter BBC filmmaker. Their son Adam is enrolled at the posh Sidley House Preparatory School; their daughter Jenny, 17, is working there as a temporary teaching assistant after failing her A-levels, and trying to decide whether to attempt them again. On Adam’s eighth birthday—also Sports Day for the elementary students—a fire breaks out on the school’s second floor, quickly engulfing the old building. Grace, a volunteer mom that day, realizes Jenny is still inside on the upper floor, and rushes into the building to try and save her. When the ambulance arrives, they are both whisked off to the ICU—Jenny badly burned, with serious damage to her heart, and Grace in a coma. Using a unique literary device, author Rosamund Lupton allows these two main characters to escape their unconscious bodies—to move around and communicate with each other, though no loved ones or medical staff see anything but their severely damaged physical selves,
Killing the Secret by Donna Welch Jones Deadly Niche Press • $14.95 ISBN 9780937660980 Somebody is killing the women who played on a high school basketball team 20 years ago!
FICTION bedridden and mute. When Grace hears Sarah, Mike’s sister and a police detective, tell him that the fire was arson, she begins to connect that horrific act to the hate mail Jenny had received over the last few months—some of which she had neglected to reveal to Mike. In her out-of-body state, Grace follows Sarah as she interviews potential suspects, and soon realizes that Jenny is still the arsonist’s target. In Lupton’s debut, Sister, she wrote of the bond between sisters: one whose death was called a suicide, the other struggling to disprove that charge. In her second family-centered thriller, she explores the fierce love of a mother for her children, while at the same time unraveling a case of attempted murder fueled by jealousy and a history of abuse. With its hint of a Jodi Picoult family saga blended with an eerie Ruth Rendell mystery, Afterwards should appeal to readers of both genres. —Deborah Donovan
The Shoemaker’s wife By Adriana Trigiani Harper $26.99, 480 pages ISBN 9780061257094 Audio, eBook available
Adriana Trigiani’s latest novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, is sure to resonate with those of us lucky enough to have spent our childhoods listening to our grandparents’ magical stories of life in the old country and immigrating to America. Indeed, the gifted storyteller and author of the best-selling Big Stone Gap series spent more than 25 years researching the details of her own grandparents’ relationship and immigration to New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood before writing the book she describes as her “artistic obsession.” Though The Shoemaker’s Wife is an homage to Trigiani’s grandparents, it is not a biography. Instead, it’s a divine work of historical fiction, and of course, a love story. The novel opens in the Italian Alps, where Ciro
Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli are thrown together by fate after enduring heartbreaking family tragedies. An orphan raised by nuns, Ciro finds himself banished from his village through no fault of his own, while Enza is determined to rescue her large family from poverty and grief after the death of her younger sister. Their goals drive them apart despite an immediate attraction. Destiny continues to thwart these star-crossed lovers at every turn, even after they discover they both are living in New York. For Ciro, overcoming his lingering grief for the family he lost means throwing himself into his work as an apprentice to a kind shoemaker. Enza’s life in America has a rather miserable beginning—she spends several years in Hoboken as an indentured servant to a distant relative—but the plucky heroine finally manages to break free of her nemesis, landing a job at the Metropolitan Opera House, where she soon becomes a favorite seamstress of legendary opera singer Enrico Caruso. Above it all hovers the question of whether the time will ever be right for Enza and Ciro to be together, and if their shared dream of returning to their homeland will one day come true. Imbued with both the hardscrabble details of immigrant life on the streets of New York City and the poetic lyricism of Ciro and Enza’s beloved Italian Alps, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a fine Italian meal that one savors long after it is finished. — K a r e n A n n C u ll o t t a
Trapeze By Simon Mawer
Other Press $15.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781590515273 Audio, eBook available
In his new novel, Trapeze, Simon Mawer explores the secret world of British Special Operations Executives (SOE), the agency that recruited citizens to work behind enemy lines during World War II. It was the
women of the French Section who most captured Mawer’s imagination: women from all walks of life who were united simply by their ability to speak perfect French and willingness to risk their lives for their country. Mawer based his lead character Marian on a friend of his parents who was recruited as a Special Op and disappeared behind enemy lines for the duration of the war. Nineteen-year-old Marian Sutro is a native French speaker, having grown up in Geneva as the daughter of a British diplomat and a French mother. She is doing her bit for the war effort, working with codes and ciphers for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, when she is recruited by the bland Mr. Potter for the SOE. Soon she is undergoing commando training in the Scottish Highlands, attending a “school for spies” in New Forest and learning to parachute out of planes. When she lands in occupied France in 1943, it is to join the local resistance network. But there are complications. Marian’s brother is a well-known scientist, and Marian herself was close with French physicist Clement Pelletier— she once harbored a schoolgirl crush on him. Before leaving England, she was approached by an even more secretive organization than the SOE, one that wants her to convince Pelletier to leave France and work with the Allies on plans for an atomic bomb. Though her initial instructions keep her in southwestern France, she realizes she must get to Paris if she is going to reach Pelletier. Even if she finds him, will he want to return to London with her? Trapeze sets a thriller-like pace, and Mawer writes compellingly about the deprivations of wartime France as well as the everyday dangers of occupied Paris. His background as a science teacher gives him a facility with integrating scientific ideas; in Trapeze, he uses concepts drawn from physics as metaphors for Marian’s evolving sense of self. Though very much a story about the intricacies of the spy network, Trapeze is also about a young woman who is called upon to do something extraordinary and is thus forever changed. — L a u r e n B u ff e r D
Midnight in Peking
Murder in a city on the edge review by Anne Bartlett
To take the approach of a pitch for a Hollywood movie: Midnight in Peking is The Black Dahlia meets Inspector Morse, with a little Empire of the Sun thrown in. And it’s all real. But Paul French’s true-crime story is more than just a compelling cold case from late 1930s Beijing (then called Peking by Westerners). It’s a tale of genuine injustice: A killer pretty much in plain sight was never charged because of prejudice, corruption and incompetence. Or so French, a Shanghai-based historian and China expert, believes. French revives the story of the 1937 murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner, the adopted daughter of a retired British consul, E.T.C. Werner, an elderly China scholar with a checkered record and a temper. Pamela, an independent only child, had a troubled history herself and more than one gentleman caller. One chilly winter morning, her horrifically By Paul French mutilated body was found near an eerie ancient watchtower not far Penguin, $26, 272 pages from her home. ISBN 9780143121008, eBook available Suspects abounded in a city in its last days before capture by Japanese invaders. Was the killer her father? Her White Russian refugee boyfriend from school? One of the other men paying court? A Kuomintang “Blue Shirt” enforcer? A criminal from the nearby “Badlands” red light district? Two professional cops—a Chinese colonel and a British inspector—teamed up to try to solve the case. Unsatisfied with their work, Pamela’s father undertook his own investigation. French scours the records and unearths long-forgotten documents to tell us what they learned—and what they missed. It seems clear from his reconstruction that few of those involved had clean hands. The British diplomatic service in particular should be deeply ashamed of its shoddy behavior. Using what he calls the technique of “literary non-fiction,” French weaves an exceptionally detailed, rich tapestry in this gripping story of the people, places and atmosphere of a city on the edge of an abyss.
A Wedding in Haiti By Julia Alvarez
Algonquin $22.95, 304 pages ISBN 9781616201302
Why do we fall in love with people we barely know? In her humorous and poignant memoir of a wedding and an earthquake in the Dominican Republic, novelist Julia Alvarez (How the García Girls Lost Their Accents) attempts to answer this question as she tells the tale of a young worker on her coffee plantation, Piti, and his efforts to make a life by traveling from his home in Haiti to work in the neighboring country. Alvarez’s friendship with Piti begins when, driving past a neigh-
boring farm, she spies him among a group of his friends playing with kites. She snaps a picture of his smiling face and shows him the picture when she returns, and he beams with wonder and gratitude. On subsequent trips from the U.S., Alvarez brings him jeans, a shirt and a bag in which he can carry his belongings as he makes the often dangerous border crossing from Haiti into the Dominican Republic. Piti soon becomes a worker on the Alvarez coffee farm, and Alvarez grows closer and closer to this young man. One evening after supper and a night of singing with Piti and the other workers at her little house, she makes one of those “bighearted promises that you never think you’ll be otherwise called on to keep”: She promises that she’ll be there on Piti’s wedding day. In early August 2009, Alvarez receives a message from Piti informing her that his girlfriend, Eseline,
has had a baby and that the two are getting married on August 20. Recalling her promise, Piti eagerly asks if Alvarez and her husband Bill will be attending the wedding. Reluctant at first, for she is scheduled to attend the Intergenerational Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers the week of the wedding, Alvarez realizes that she cannot break her promise, so she and Bill make arrangements to attend Piti’s wedding. Alvarez’s arduous trip to Eseline’s home reveals the unsettled political and cultural character of Haiti, as various crossings of checkpoints involve bribery and haranguing guards. Once they reach Eseline’s village, the wedding commences and celebrates the new union between the two young people with enchanting singing that the attendees never want to end. A year later, Alvarez and Bill embark on another, more trying and difficult journey, as they return to
Haiti following the disastrous earthquake in search of Piti’s family and friends. Through all the devastation, Alvarez recalls the lesson that her love for Piti and his family have already taught her. Once we have become involved in something, she tenderly and forcefully points out, that relationship transforms us, and we have an obligation to it. —Henry L. Carrigan jr.
The Outsourced Self By Arlie Russell Hochschild
Metropolitan $27, 320 pages ISBN 9780805088892 eBook available
As Americans struggle to survive and prosper in today’s shifting and far-flung economy, they find themselves tugged farther and farther away from the supportive embrace of family and community. Under these conditions, functions that used to be performed personally or “in house,” so to speak—such as finding a mate, bearing and raising children, holding a marriage together and taking care of the elderly—have been “outsourced” to for-profit businesses. This is the landscape Arlie Russell Hochschild explores in a study that takes her from the office of a “love coach” in Southern California to a ritzy gated community near Minneapolis and from the baby mills of India that specialize in “wombs for rent” to sterile nursing homes in Massachusetts. She illustrates the pervasiveness of outsourcing by following the life cycle from courtship to birth to death and personalizes her account by comparing these modern customs with those she witnessed as a child while visiting her grandparents’ farm in Maine. To a degree, this is a chronicle of people with too much money to spend. How else to explain the flourishing of such pricey but nonessential trades as Internet dating services, wedding planners, surrogate mothers, kiddie chauffeurs,
reviews potty trainers, birthday party producers, “nameologists” (who help couples find the “right names” for their babies), parenting evaluation services and “wantologists” (who aid the confused in distinguishing between what they think they want and what they really want)? But Hochschild gives the people who use these services—and those who offer them—their full say, allowing them to explain their actions in their own words. Whether one is convinced by their reasoning is another matter. It is only near the end of the book that Hochschild makes it clear that she views profligate outsourcing as an unfortunate triumph of marketing over common sense and social needs. “It’s become common,” she says, “to hear that the market can do no wrong and the government—at least its civilian parts—can do no right, and to hear little mention of community at all. Curiously, many who press for a greater expansion of the free market, gutting of regulations, cuts in social services, are the same people who call for stronger family values. What’s invisible to them is how much market values distort family values.” In attempting to buy happiness perfectly packaged and off the shelf, Hochschild argues, “What escapes us is the process of getting there—and the appreciation we attach to the small details of it.” —Edward Morris
Are You My Mother? By Alison Bechdel
HMH $22, 304 pages ISBN 9780618982509 eBook available
Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about her mother is not, immediately, a memoir about her mother. Or at any rate, it’s not only that. Bechdel— whose previous book, 2006’s excellent Fun Home, centered on the volatile presence of her closeted gay father and the funeral home where she grew up—here delves deeply
NONFICTION and bravely into her own complicated psyche as well as her mother’s. More than anything, Are You My Mother? is an excavation, digging into Bechdel’s relationship with psychoanalysis and, in particular, with the work of a groundbreaking doctor named Donald Winnicott. As she struggles to come to terms with her mother, Bechdel writes about the emotional and psychic fallout from her first book, the periods of depression that she and her mother and (she discovers) her grandmother all endured, her difficulties in romantic partnerships with other women and, above all, her yearning for some sign of validation or approval from her mother. In other words—though Bechdel is as scathingly funny as ever—this is not exactly light reading. Even structurally, the book is far from straightforward; it is, as her mother notes in the final chapter, “a meta book.” Each chapter begins with a dream Bechdel recalls, the significance of which becomes clear bit by bit as the story moves along. Epiphanies in real life don’t necessarily happen in chronological order, and they don’t here, either; often it’s not until she checks a date in one of her old journals that Bechdel realizes how two events fit together, how they inform her view of herself. In flashbacks and “photocopies,” she recreates therapy sessions, diary entries, her father’s letters to her mother, her own conversations and arguments with lovers, memories of plays her mother acted in when Bechdel was a child and relevant writings by Virginia Woolf and the fascinating Winnicott. These form a pastiche, kind of a psychic map, which might have been confusing for the reader except that Bechdel’s narrative control is so strong. And visually, the book is so consistent and the drawings so clean that the pages never look messy or disorganized, despite the level of detail on each. Though the material she’s working with is incredibly rich and multi layered, both intellectually and emotionally complex, Bechdel makes it easy to follow her journey inward. You’ll be glad you did. —Becky Ohlsen
Birdseye By Mark Kurlansky Doubleday $25.95, 272 pages ISBN 9780385527057 eBook available
Yes, Virginia, there really was a man named Birdseye behind the Birds Eye® frozen food brand. Clarence Birdseye, who was born in Brooklyn at the end of 1886, did not originate the idea of fast-freezing food—he always credited the Inuit for the concept. But as Mark Kurlansky points out in this charming biography, Birdseye “changed our civilization. He created an industry by modernizing the process of food preservation and in so doing nationalized and then internationalized food distribution.” Locavores certainly won’t think that’s such a great legacy. Fresh food is definitely better than frozen, but Kurlansky notes that at the time, many people, especially the urban poor and middle classes, were eating canned food of inferior quality. Before Birdseye began tinkering with food-freezing processes in 1923, attempts to freeze fish, meat and vegetables often turned to rancid mush. As a result, consumers were extremely skeptical about frozen foods. So Birdseye pushed relentlessly for a high-quality product, which he marketed with energetic creativity. Just before the 1929 stock market crash, Birdseye sold his company to what would soon become General Foods for the astonishing sum of $23.5 million. He stayed on with the new company as an executive, and later as a consultant, continuing to invent new products and processes. Birdseye was 37 years old when he began trying to preserve food by freezing it. Before that his life seemed to be an almost random assortment of efforts, beset by failure. He liked to tinker and invent. He liked to hunt and was always interested in food. He was insatiably curious and eager for adventure—
first in the territories of the western U.S. (where he often worked in life-threatening circumstances as a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher) and later in the icedin reaches of Labrador (where he tried and eventually failed to build a fox-farming business). He believed in taking risks; rather than being defeated by failures, he culled from them the lessons he needed to bring his grandest project to fruition. In Kurlansky’s telling, Birdseye was both ahead of and a product of his era. A prodigious inventor/marketer, he rarely recorded anything about his personal thoughts or inner life. He wore a necktie while gardening, for heaven’s sake. But the prolific Kurlansky, whose marvelous bestsellers Salt and Cod demonstrate a knack for discovering the vibrant details that bring a subject to life, manages to correct many of the myths that have accreted to the Birdseye story. And while he does not solve all the mysteries of Clarence Birdseye’s personality, he offers an account of his life and accomplishments that is sympathetic, informative and eye-opening. — Al d e n M u d g e
God’s Hotel By Victoria Sweet
Riverhead $27.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781594488436 eBook available
As the 2010 Affordable Care Act marks its second anniversary this spring, the arguments about so-called Obamacare continue. Our overly complex—some say “broken”—healthcare system might function a lot better if every single American citizen, healthcare professional, politician and legislator would read Victoria Sweet’s insightful, beautifully written and moving book God’s Hotel. When Dr. Sweet—now a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco—came to work at San Francisco’s old-
fashioned, “low-tech” Laguna Honda Hospital, it was only for a few months. But she fell in love with the place and its patients, residents of America’s last almshouse, and stayed on for more than 20 years. Laguna Honda, a public institution that cares long term for people with severe and debilitating medical conditions, the chronically ill and the dying, was originally modeled on the medieval European “hotelDieu” that ministered to the sick in the Middle Ages. Its unique layout, consisting of long, open wards, each functioning like a “separate minihospital,” was like nothing Sweet had ever seen. What hospital, she marveled, had an orchard and greenhouse, an aviary and a barnyard? Here, she found she could “practice medicine the way I’d been taught . . . and the way I wanted.” As Sweet begins her practice of “slow medicine,” caring for a diverse population of patients with complicated and often horrible medical problems, she also studies pre-modern medicine, focusing on the work of medieval healer and monastic Hildegard of Bingen. The doctor, according to Hildegard’s doctrine, should be seen more as a gardener than as a mechanic: a healer who takes time to observe the body’s “garden”—with its natural cycles, functions and ability to heal itself. As she began applying this philosophy to her own work, Sweet learned that simply taking the time to talk with and observe a patient could effect profound solutions to terrible mental and physical suffering. Yet God’s Hotel also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the politics and policies of the 21st-century healthcare model and its sometimes cold, clinical approach to providing care while keeping a constant eye on the bottom line. Indeed, the “old” Laguna Honda Hospital now is gone, replaced by a modern, new facility. “It was beautiful, but it wasn’t warm,” writes Sweet, regretting the loss of a place where she had “discovered the hospitality, community and charity that were in the walls and the air”: a place where she could “just sit” with patients and accept “the gift” of God’s Hotel. — Al i s o n H o o d
After Camelot By J. Randy Taraborrelli
Grand Central $29.99, 624 pages ISBN 9780446553902 Audio, eBook available
From Leslie Maitland A TRUE STORY OF WAR, EXILE, AND LOVE RECLAIMED
We Americans have long been privy to the peaks and valleys in the Kennedy family story; we’ve watched them on TV, read about them, listened to their speeches and, at times, been appalled by their actions. The bright promise of JFK’s presidency, and the awful end of a would-be fairytale, have become a part of our collective American consciousness. Still, a comprehensive portrait entailing so many players is a tall order, which may be why J. Randy Taraborrelli considers his 17th book, After Camelot, his most challenging endeavor to date. In After Camelot, Taraborrelli expands on his best-selling Jackie, Ethel, Joan and brings the whole Kennedy clan onstage. They are, he explains, “a family of complex, fascinating, and sometimes troubled personalities,” but despite unspeakable tragedy and loss, the Kennedys as a family “tried to hold on to the sense of hope, promise, and national service that had been so integral to the public personas of their fallen heroes.” That struggle, despite its difficulties, is at the heart of Taraborrelli’s behind-the-scenes tale. In a fascinating chronicle that sweeps across a lengthy and tumultuous time period, from the impact of the inscrutable Kennedy patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, to his children, their spouses and the ensuing generation, Taraborrelli draws on extensive interviews and research to give each persona a distinct voice. We can hear Ted Kennedy inspire his audience when, with what must have been a heavy heart, he announced his withdrawal from the presidential race at the Democratic National Convention in 1980: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause
inning ward-w a e h t s From rk Time New Yo r e , m r r e t fo por ative re investig nt of g accou in p e e a sw cape ily’s es her fam of turmoil e h t m fro pe and rn Euro war-to and imate the int al person deeply nd’s f Maitla story o n’s passio mother ith ance w ate rom olic a Cath man. F re n c h
“A mesmerizing memoir of one family’s shattering experience during World War II. It’s a tale at once heartbreaking and uplifting.” —LINDA FAIRSTEIN , New York Times best-selling author of Silent Mercy
“One of those sweeping, epic, romantic novels that seems tailor-made for the Oscars and a long summer afternoon. Except it’s real! Leslie Maitland has the rare ability to bring history, adventure, and love alive.” —BRUCE FEILER , New York Times best-selling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham
reviews endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” The Kennedy ability to inspire, to find strength at times of intense sorrow or shame, and to uphold each other as a family, is perhaps what we admire most about them, and what makes After Camelot such a pageturning, emotionally riveting saga. —Linda Stankard
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened By Jenny Lawson
Amy Einhorn $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780399159015 Audio, eBook available
NONFICTION was swinging at vultures who were trying to dig him up. If that doesn’t make you laugh, there’s a story about her multiple miscarriages and the subsequent birth of her daughter that’s an absolute howler. No, seriously. Plus: Chupacabras! While the subject matter may be in questionable, or unquestionably bad, taste, this book induced convulsive laughter so hard it qualified as a Pilates workout. And the point of the whole enterprise is to not run from but celebrate those things that make each of us want to hide, since we’ve all got them—though maybe not as many or as freaky as Jenny Lawson’s. That’s why she’s The Bloggess and the rest of us just work here. Pretend this never happened? Not possible, and that’s all the more reason to be glad. —Heather Seggel
Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess to her fans) grew up in a small town in rural Texas with a younger sister and many family pets. In college she met the man she would marry. They moved to the suburbs, had a child and eventually bought a house in a town similar to the one she grew up in. Everyone lived happily ever after. If you squint kind of hard and read between the lines, that’s almost an accurate summary of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. All that’s missing is Lawson’s dad, a taxidermist so enthusiastic about his work he couldn’t be relied on to make sure the animals were dead before tossing them on his children—or wearing them as hand puppets. Then there’s the family’s radon-poisoned well water, which her mother nevertheless bathed the girls in. “My mom was a big proponent of the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ theory, almost to the point where she seemed to be daring the world to kill us,” Lawson writes. This is the kind of book where, once you’ve got the lay of the land, a sentence like “[My neighbor] seemed more concerned this time, possibly because I was belting out Bonnie Tyler and crying while swinging a machete over a partially disturbed grave” makes total sense. It might also make you laugh and cry simultaneously, since the grave held Lawson’s beloved pug and she
Straphanger By Taras Grescoe
Times Books $25, 336 pages ISBN 9780805091731 eBook available
In America, the car has long been associated with freedom: the open road, the ability to come and go as you please. Getting a driver’s license is one of the hallmarks of teenage life, a chance to legally drink from the frothy cup of adult pleasures. Travel writer Taras Grescoe has a less starry-eyed view. In Straphanger, he paints cars as a force of destruction. The lifestyle created by cars—freeways, parking lots and suburbs—has eaten up land and stripped our continent of its character, turning towns and cities into glorified driveways. Cars destroy the environment and lives (each year, worldwide, they kill 1.2 million people), while cutting us off from human interaction by “pav[ing] over so much of what was authentic and vital in our cities.” Life independent of cars exists, and in Straphanger Grescoe travels the world to prove it. He rides sub-
ways in New York, Tokyo and Paris. He hops on Bogotá’s famed bus rapid transit system TransMilenio, a key part of the city’s revitalization, and survives a testy crowd on a Philadelphia bus. These colorful anecdotes amuse us and, more importantly, show us that a city that invests in mass transit also invests in itself. Paris’ urban integrity, the one that inspires dreamers worldwide, would have been destroyed had it not been for its métro. Now that bicycles are the main mode of transportation in Copenhagen, street life thrives. Bike lanes, Grescoe notes, provide a way to grasp the city’s layout that’s absent in New York or London. Plus, you don’t have to go the gym. The statistical and historical nuggets Grescoe unearths lend credence to his grievances against cars. After World War II, public policy favoring the car-friendly suburbs made buying homes there a no-brainer, while America’s freeway program frequently targeted urban ethnic enclaves for development, destroying long-established communities and erecting highways in their place. And Phoenix, a city built around freeways and suburbs, is in free-fall after the real estate market crash. These aren’t the musings of a rail snob or some desk-bound pundit. With Straphanger, Grescoe has fashioned a cogent, spirited callto-arms that is also a practical, insightful handbook for change. By not blindly worshipping one of the icons of individuality, we may save generations from serious trouble. —Pete Croatto
Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down By Rosecrans Baldwin
FSG $26, 304 pages ISBN 9780374146689 eBook available
When Rosecrans Baldwin, author of the critically acclaimed novel You Lost Me There, landed a gig with a French ad agency, his longtime
dream to live in Paris came true. Though his French was iffy—and his wife Rachel’s was nonexistent—they packed up and traded Brooklyn for the third arrondissement. In his funny and candid memoir, Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, Baldwin learns that life in the City of Light isn’t all croissants and berets. Sure, Paris can be beguiling, filled with exquisite food, art and history. But living in France has its drawbacks. It means dealing with endless bureaucracy: Rachel had to provide an application, two photographs, a copy of her passport, a copy of a recent bill, a copy of their lease and a notarized document proving international health insurance to join the neighborhood gym. It also means struggling with the finicky language and enduring notoriously melancholic winters. “Cold in Paris was both a physical and a mental state,” Baldwin writes. “It explained why Parisians wore scarves in June, because winter haunted them.” Still, Baldwin is not immune to the enchantments of Paris. On a return trip to Manhattan for work, he is stricken by its size and noise. “Every cliché ever lodged against New York percolated inside me, and my acquired French radar went bananas,” he writes. “New York smelled fried where Paris smelled baked. It was a totality, an expression of many cities. Paris, on the other hand, was a village. Perhaps I’d become a village person.” Although Paris has a starring role, the book is as much about big life choices—work, family and purpose—as it is about a place. Baldwin just does his navel-gazing in a slightly better setting than most of us. “Was my dream now to rise in French advertising?” he writes. “I didn’t know how long it would last. I didn’t know how long I wanted it to. Every day was an improvisation. I was so tired.” Ultimately, Baldwin and his wife move back to America, but they can’t quite leave the city behind. “Saying goodbye to Paris was something a person did when he knew he was dying,” he writes. “Until then, Paris was forever one day soon.” — Am y S c r i b n e r
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NO FAIRY TALE ENDING FOR THE SEVEN KINGDOMS
ristin Cashore’s Bitterblue is a big book in every sense of the word. It’s the lead book on Penguin Young Reader’s spring list, and it weighs in at nearly 550 pages. Most importantly, though, Bitterblue deals with hefty themes and emotions, which not only leave an impact on readers, but took a toll on the author herself.
This is the third in Cashore’s critically acclaimed Seven Kingdoms series for teens—after the bestsellers Graceling and Fire—and it’s hard for the author to leave this fictional world behind. “It’s actually really sad,” she says by phone from her home near Boston. “I’m having a hard time letting Bitterblue go, and I feel like I really need to, because in order to have any equilibrium whatsoever during a book release, you need to kind of unhook yourself from the book. But I don’t want to let her go, and I feel bad that she doesn’t need me anymore.” It’s no wonder that Cashore has grown fond of her title character. Her novels, although set in a complex, politically charged fantasy realm, are primarily about the characters that inhabit this world. “The books I love are the ones where I can really believe in the characters and get into their stories and their relationships,” she says. Some of her characters—like Katsa (the heroine of Graceling) and the title character of Fire—are “graced” with special gifts. In Katsa’s case, it’s the Grace of killing. In Fire’s case, it’s the ability
By Kristin Cashore
Dial, $26.95, 576 pages ISBN 9780803734739, eBook available
to read minds—a trait Cashore admits was especially difficult to wrap her head around as a writer. Although she is of royal lineage, Bitterblue has no particular Grace, and that’s what made her both a pleasure and a relative ease for Cashore to write. “She doesn’t have these amazing superhuman skills, and consequently I felt like I could relate to her a bit more,” Cashore says. “I’m not saying I’m very like her, but it was just easier to get into her mindset than it was with Katsa or especially with Fire.” Although Bitterblue is not graced with any magical powers, she does have a strong moral center, an unquenchable curiosity and a desire to right injustices. This becomes especially important when she—as a young ruler still counseled by the advisers to her late father, the evil King Leck—begins to look outside the walls of her castle and ask questions about her subjects: the people who still tell tales of Leck’s reign of terror in the pubs each evening, the people who are still suffering from the atrocities Leck committed years before. Often taking personal risks and setting out in disguise in order to escape her sequestered existence, Bitterblue becomes more and more horrified as she learns of the man her father was and of the ruin he left behind. Cashore—who first introduced Leck as a character in Graceling, which is set nine years before Bitterblue—admits that she was taken aback by the dark directions Bitterblue takes. “When I wrote Grace ling,” she says, “Leck was just my villain. I never realized what I was getting myself into. Now I feel like I wrote Graceling and Fire to work myself toward Bitterblue. Gradually I realized that this has to be the book where this girl deals with this
horrible person who, until this book, was actually kind of fun to write. It was not even slightly fun to write the prologue in Bitterblue or any of the sections told from Leck’s point of view. It was very oppressive, and depressing, and upsetting to write.” Leck’s journal entries, in particular, were difficult for Cashore to write and will be difficult for many readers to read; Cashore’s willingness to deal “The books I with atrocilove are the ties head-on, however, is ones where what makes I can really the novel both believe in the powerful and characters relevant to the and get into real world. Bitterblue their stories is a mystery and their of sorts, as relationships.” Bitterblue tries to uncover and then repair both her own personal history and the history of her people. It’s also a reunion, as favorite characters—particularly Katsa and her companion Po—turn up repeatedly, much to readers’ delight. But, as in Cashore’s previous novels, Bitterblue is not a typical fairy tale with a happy ending. When asked about this, Cashore admits, “I had to tell the story how it happened, and I hope people won’t be too disappointed. I don’t love conventional, tidy endings as a reader. This is a story that happened; I wasn’t as in control as people think I might have been.” Readers who are disappointed at where Cashore leaves things at the end of Bitterblue, however, can take heart. According to Cashore, “there’s
© LESLIE FEAGLEY
Interview by Norah Piehl
a very good chance that my readers will be seeing these characters again.” But not in Cashore’s next novel—which she says will not be a fantasy. She feels confident, however, that readers will see more of the Seven Kingdoms fantasy world—and some of their favorite characters—in at least one more book. But what about readers who, like Cashore herself, feel a sense of loss when they finish immersing themselves in Bitterblue’s world? Cashore has plenty of suggestions for fans who are looking for some great novels to tide them over until the next Seven Kingdoms adventure. She recommends Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series, Melina Marchetta’s books (both her fantasy novels and her contemporary stories) and the novels of Diana Wynne Jones, Tamora Pierce and Philip Pullman. Cashore also advises readers to look up the old-fashioned adventure novels of Mary Stewart: “They’re dated now, but a woman always ends up in some romantic part of the world, and there’s mystery and adventure and romance, and they’re just a lot of fun.” Mystery, adventure and romance are also in store for readers of Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms novels, along with a healthy dose of political intrigue, moral complexity and characters that readers will love getting to know.
seeking truth in a FLORIDA swamp Review by Kevin Delecki
Bones has everything she needs to be happy. It’s 1949 and 10-yearold Bones lives on the edge of a Florida swamp with her father Nolay, her mama Honey Girl and an assortment of animals, including her pig, Pearl. Nicknamed “Precious Bones” by her Grandma Spot, she spends her days helping around the house, in school or with her best friend, Little Man. Her world is turned upside down, however, when a Yankee real estate agent goes missing and is eventually found dead. Nolay, who ran the man off his land only a day earlier, becomes the number-one suspect in the murder, and even Bones thinks he might be guilty. Bones and Little Man decide that the only way to save her father from going to jail is to solve the mystery of who really killed the Yankee, before the bumbling Sheriff LeRoy makes things worse. Bones sets out to find the truth, looking for clues, talking to her friend Mr. Speed, who sits outBy Mika Ashley-Hollinger side of the General Store all day, and trying to avoid the terrifying Soap Delacorte, $16.99, 352 pages, Sally, who kidnaps children and turns them into soap, and who may or ISBN 9780385742191, eBook available may not be real. Ages 9 to 12 Written by first-time author Mika Ashley-Hollinger, who grew up in Florida, Precious Bones is a novel filled with adventure and mystery, as well as fascinating glimpses of its distinctive setting. Precious Bones allows readers to see deep into a lifestyle that most people have never experienced, and meet wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) characters completely unique to this story. Readers who step into Bones’ swamp will find it very hard to leave.
It’s Milking Time By Phyllis Alsdurf
Illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher Random House $16.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780375869112 Ages 4 to 8
With the ease of buying milk at the grocery store today, many children now know very little about where milk comes from. Recalling her own delightful memories of growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm, Phyllis Alsdurf lets children vicariously experience the hard yet joyful work in It’s Milking Time. The blend of her poetic text— with “cuds a-chewing, / tails a-swatting, / hooves a-pounding”—and the accompanying paintings in soft, muted colors gives a nostalgic feel to this gentle story. After a young girl leads a parade of Holsteins into the barn, she helps her father feed and prepare them to be hooked up to the milker. As each
one of the alphabet of cows (“Alphie, Bertha, Cassie, Di . . .”) finishes, Dad empties the milk into a pail and carries it to the milking house, where the milk is strained and ends up in a milking can. Finally, it’s stored in a cooler until it can be picked up the next day, taken to the creamery and made into butter and cheese or placed in bottles for stores. When the cows head back to the fields, there’s still more work to do, such as shoveling manure into gutters to be used later as fertilizer and scrubbing the milkers and strainers. Although milking requires neverending diligence, it’s not all drudgery. The girl relishes the responsibility of feeding the cows; petting and giving milk to the calves; and spending time with her father. And in the morning, after her mother skims the cream off the top, there’s fresh milk to drink with her pancakes. Fans of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon, with its quiet father-daughter bond, will adore this equally beautiful and loving book—and learn more about their favorite drink in the process. —Angela Leeper
A Greyhound of a Girl By Roddy Doyle
Amulet $16.95, 208 pages ISBN 9781419701689 eBook available Ages 9 and up
Twelve-year-old Mary O’Hara does not expect to meet the strange, old-fashioned woman walking home from school one day. The woman looks young and talks old. She reminds Mary of her granny, Emer, who is in the hospital. Mary is even more surprised at her mother’s reaction upon hearing the woman’s name: Tansey. As it turns out, Tansey bears more than a faint family resemblance. In fact, she is the ghost of Mary’s greatgrandmother. Tansey was struck down suddenly by flu when her own daughter was a little girl. She never lived to see Emer grow up; she never met her granddaughter or great-
granddaughter. Until now, that is. Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, who writes for both adults and young readers, has crafted a warm, magical portrait of four generations of Dublin women—all of whom take Tansey’s ghost in stride. “Did you live in the pig shed after you died?” Mary’s mother wants to know. “I did not, faith,” says Tansey. “Sure, why would I want to live in the pig shed? Even if I am dead and I can’t smell anything.” But while Doyle’s touch is light, as his heartfelt story unfolds it is clear that Tansey, bound by a fierce maternal love, has one last, important task to accomplish. And if this task requires busting a grandmother out of the hospital on a midnight road trip with a ghost, well, sometimes that’s just the way life is. A Greyhound of a Girl is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for women—and girls—of any age. — DE B ORAH HOP K INSON
Three Times Lucky By Sheila Turnage
Dial $16.99, 324 pages ISBN 9780803736702 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 and up
In the town of Tupelo Landing (pop. 148) on the eastern shore of North Carolina, most residents have small wallets but big hearts—and even bigger mysteries. Perhaps the biggest heart and mystery belong to rising sixth grader Moses “Mo” LoBeau, who, as a baby, was sent downriver by her birth mother during a hurricane. Rescued and raised by the Colonel, after he crashed his car and lost all memory of his previous life, and his wife, Miss Lana, Mo has spent her young life trying to find out the identity of her “Upstream Mother.” But when stingy Mr. Jesse turns up murdered, outsider Detective Joe Starr arrives in town and the Colonel goes missing, Mo has more important problems to worry about.
children’s books In between serving up daily specials at Miss Lana’s café, she enlists her friend, Dale, to help her solve Mr. Jesse’s murder. And when Starr’s investigation leads to Dale as a prime suspect, Miss Lana is kidnapped and a rumor surfaces involving the Colonel and a missing suitcase full of money, Mo’s detective skills become a matter of life or death. Readers will find many things to love about this charming debut novel, in which both the perils and rewards of small-town life shine through. Mo’s “soldier” relationship with the befuddled Colonel is both playful and endearing. She may never find her birth mother, but she realizes that she has all the family she’ll ever need. With quirky, lovable characters, spot-on dialogue and twists upon twists, this mystery takes on the best elements of Southern storytelling. Children will be at least three times lucky to read it. —Angela Leeper
One for the Murphys By Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Nancy Paulsen Books $16.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780399256158 eBook available Ages 10 and up
Be careful who you get close to— you never know how long they’ll be around. That seems to be the new mantra for Carley Connors. Placed in foster care after a domestic abuse incident, the 12-yearold goes to live with the Murphys in Connecticut—in a picture-perfect home complete with three active boys and two caring, attentive foster parents. But while the scenario might seem ideal, the Murphys aren’t anything like what Carley is used to. Their happy suburban existence is a far cry from her life with her single mother in Las Vegas. And Carley just doesn’t seem to fit in— nor, at first, does she want to. Bright, perceptive Carley remains guarded, both at school and at home—trying to fly under the radar to avoid too much scrutiny or
criticism. But the warmth of foster mother Julie Murphy chips away at that wall, and by the time her stint in foster care is over, Carley is torn. Her future with her biological mother isn’t exactly clear, but meeting the Murphys has given Carley a better sense of who she is and what a caring family is all about, no matter where she finds it. In One for the Murphys, Lynda Mullaly Hunt convincingly portrays the personality of a questioning tween as she interacts with those around her. This is a life-affirming middle grade novel—perfect for those struggling with similar issues of fitting in or standing out. — SHARON VER B ETEN
hall at night? What secret projects might Mr. Beasley, with his interests in mechanical invention and medicine, be hiding in the house? Did that figure she caught a glimpse of just now truly have . . . wings? As Lena explores the mysteries of Zephyr House and ponders what connections they might have to her own questions, a town marshal is equally eager for this knowledge for purposes of his own. The Peculiars combines a teenage girl’s search for her identity with a setting that merges the genres of fantasy, gothic and steampunk. A light romance, a bit of adventure and the author’s inclusion of historical notes complete this delightful offering. — J i ll R a t z a n
The Peculiars By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Amulet $16.95, 368 pages ISBN 9781419701788 eBook available Ages 12 and up
Code Name Verity By Elizabeth Wein
Hyperion $16.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781423152194 Audio available Ages 14 and up
Lena’s hands have a third knuckle and her feet are too long. Her grandmother thinks she’s inherited these traits from her absent goblin father, one of the Peculiars relegated to half-citizenship in a mythical land reminiscent of late-19th-century England. Shortly after her 18th birthday, Lena leaves home on a quest to find her father and learn the truth about her heritage. Her destination is Scree, a land of mining communities populated by opportunists, criminals and—if rumor is correct—Peculiars. Traveling on a Victorian passenger train, she meets Jimson Quiggley, a young man on his way to the seaport town of Knob Knoster to take a job curating the magnificent library at Zephyr House, a mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. Beasley. When circumstances force Lena to stop for a time in Knob Knoster, Jimson helps her find work and lodging at Zephyr House as well. The mansion and its occupants intrigue the curious Lena. What was that whistle she heard in the
Dystopia, fantasy and science fiction crowd the YA shelves these days, but Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein’s astonishing new World War II novel, is a reminder of the power historical fiction can have in the hands of an accomplished author. Set in Great Britain and occupied France both before and during the war, Code Name Verity is a complex story of friendship and courage. As the novel opens, “Verity” has been captured by the Gestapo behind enemy lines. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was,” she begins. We soon learn that she has made a deal with her captor to write down every last detail she knows. As she pens her story, he will return her clothes, piece by piece. In exchange, he will get wireless codes, details about airfields in Great Britain and Verity’s own story. And what a story it is: Writing on whatever paper is given to her, Verity tells the story of her friendship with
Maddie Brodatt, who, as a female pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary, brought Verity to France. As in the tale of Scheherazade, Verity’s captor appreciates her rich storytelling, but in the end he does not hold the power to determine her fate. In the second part of the book, Maddie takes up the suspenseful tale, while the action builds to an unforgettable encounter between the two friends. Elizabeth Wein is a pilot herself, and her passion for flying and the details of piloting and caring for a small plane add depth and authenticity to this complex, thoroughly researched novel. She also includes a historical note and a bibliography. As we have learned with books like The Hunger Games, “YA” and “middle grade” may be convenient labels, but they don’t limit the audience for good books. Yes, we can call Code Name Verity a young adult book. But this sophisticated and compelling novel is likely to find a home on the shelves of teens and adults alike. —Deborah Hopkinson
Never Fall Down By Patricia McCormick
Balzer & Bray $17.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780061730931 eBook available Ages 14 and up
Books about genocide usually prompt images of the Holocaust, but in Never Fall Down, National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick highlights another equally horrific but lesser-known mass killing during the Khmer Rouge’s overthrow of Cambodia in 1975. Based on actual events experienced by Arn ChornPond, a human rights activist, with additional details supplemented by the author’s meticulous research, this fictionalized account is told from Arn’s perspective. His haunting voice—“You not living. And you not dead. You living dead.”—immediately drives the momentum of this page-turner. Eleven-year-old Arn suddenly
reviews goes from skipping school to sell ice cream in order to raise money for his caregiver aunt and numerous siblings, to walking a long road with hundreds of thousands of his fellow Cambodians. Separated from the rest of his family, he is taken to a Khmer Rouge camp, where everyone is given the same black pajamas, told that it’s now Year Zero and to forget all past knowledge, and made to grow rice around the clock. For four years, he nearly starves to death and witnesses murder after murder. Arn learns quickly to never fall down or display weakness, to hide his emotions and to remain invisible. After showing an aptitude for music, he is forced in just days to learn to play the khim, similar to the dulcimer, and the Khmer Rouge’s propaganda songs, which are broadcast throughout the camp to drown out the sounds of Cambodians being slaughtered. Both music and his own resilience save him from the now infamous killing fields. It is this resourcefulness that leads Arn to finally flee the Khmer Rouge, spending months alone in the jungle, until, just barely alive, he reaches a refugee camp in Thailand. That one teen could survive so much cruelty is nearly inconceivable if not for the fact that Arn’s tale is true. McCormick brings his story vividly to life in a book that readers won’t be able to put down. —Angela Leeper
The Drowned Cities By Paolo Bacigalupi Little, Brown $17.99, 448 pages ISBN 9780316056243 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up
Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut YA novel (and Printz Award winner) Ship Breaker imagined a future America dependent on scavengers for survival after global warming and peak oil have irrevocably altered the landscape. The Drowned Cities is not a sequel per se, but a “companion”
volume packed with new thrills and provocations. After 10 years, China has given up trying to negotiate peace among the warring factions in the United States, pulled up stakes and gone home. The remaining Americans are engrossed in infighting and the recruitment of children to serve as soldiers: a sure ticket to a brutal and short life, but for many kids the only choice available. Refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to escape this fate, until they find a bioengineered, halfhuman fighting creature named Tool who was wounded and left to die. Mahlia sees an opportunity to save Tool and “make him into her loyal fighting dog.” But Tool has fought for so long he’s begun to see the futility of battle, and may shift his loyalty at any time. When a crisis strikes, Mahlia must decide between Tool, who may be her ticket to safety, and Mouse, who once risked his own life to save hers. The Drowned Cities is an adventure story, a thriller and a sharply drawn fable about the state of the world today. It succeeds handily on all three fronts. Bioengineered man-dog border guards may not be with us today, but child soldiers, sadly, are, and they become harder to ignore when they’re here at home. Bacigalupi does a masterful job of letting the action propel the plot and the scenery tell the larger story. The White House is never identified by name but described so we can recognize it, despite the fact that half of it has been shelled to smithereens. K Street in Washington, D.C., is now the K Canal, winding through the ruins of a once-great city. The perception of foreign aid by those receiving it is captured here as well: “Mahlia could imagine all those Chinese people in their far-off country donating to the war victims of the Drowned Cities. . . . All of them rich enough to meddle where they didn’t belong.” The Drowned Cities is dark, and the violence is unrelenting, but Bacigalupi allows for a hopeful conclusion—possibly the riskiest move in this entirely cutting-edge novel. —Heather Seggel
MINETTE’S FEAST Amy Bates has illustrated more than 50 books for children. She loves designing, drawing and empathizing with her characters, which include dogs, cats, hamsters, children, presidents, revolutionaries and chefs. Her latest book is MINETTE’S FEAST: THE DELICIOUS STORY OF JULIA CHILD AND HER CAT (Abrams, $16.95, 40 pages, ISBN 9781419701771), written by Susanna Reich. Bates worked on the book while living in Japan. Most of the time she lives with her family in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
WOOLLY-HEADED Dear Editor, Can you explain the term dyed-inthe-wool? R. T. Ludlow, Vermont Someone described as dyed-inthe-wool has very strong beliefs that are unlikely to change. The term goes back to the 1550s and comes, not surprisingly, from the process of dyeing wool. There are two times when yarn may be dyed: before it is spun, and after. Spinners and weavers know that yarn that is dyed after it is spun will never hold the dye as well as yarn made from pre-dyed wool. This is because spinning compresses the wool and sometimes the dye cannot get to the center of the yarn. If a yarn or fabric is dyed-in-thewool, that means the fiber was dyed before it was spun or woven and the colors will not fade as easily. This connotation of “deep and lasting” moved into the general vocabulary, and soon dyed-in-the-wool also be-
came associated with being steady, uncompromising and thorough.
SHRINK-WRAPPED Dear Editor, Why are psychiatrists called shrinks? P. P. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Shrink is a shortened version of headshrinker, a slang term for “psychiatrist” that appears to have originated as Hollywood jargon in the 1940s. Various theories have arisen as to its original meaning. Here are a few: The word is meant to suggest “shrinking or deflating delusions of grandeur” or shrinking problems in a patient’s “worry-bloated” head; the word, like the similarly used witch doctor, implies that a psychiatrist is a practitioner with powers beyond our understanding; or it refers to the way psychiatrists figuratively get inside one’s head. (Without going into the gory details, we can tell you that the actual practice of headshrinking does involve
some cutting into the skull.) That headshrinker acquired this new sense in the mid-’40s is unsurprising when you realize that headshrinking, as practiced by the Jivaro people of the Amazon, was in the news at the time, a minor obsession that spawned movies such as 1954’s “Jivaro.” It was during the mid-’50s that headshrinker gained prominence, at first more on the West Coast than the East. The Jivaro gave up headshrinking some decades ago, so there hasn’t been much concern about literal headshrinkers for quite some time. That may be part of the reason why, by the 1960s, headshrinker was casually shortened to shrink.
SOURDOUGH STATE Dear Editor, I was in Alaska recently, and I saw the word sourdough used in phrases such as sourdough wit and sourdough spunk. Can you explain what sourdough means in this context? F. M. West Hartford, Connecticut
IT ’ S H IP T O B E S Q U A R E W I TH C R OS S W OR DS F R OM
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TR Y ON E!
According to one version, an Alaskan sourdough is someone who is sour on Alaska but doesn’t have the dough to go somewhere else. The truth is more prosaic. Sourdough came to denote a veteran inhabitant or an old-time prospector of Alaska or northwestern Canada many years ago. During the Yukon gold rush of the late 19th century, sourdough bread was a staple in the prospectors’ camps, and the prospectors themselves became known as sourdoughs. Eventually, anyone who had spent a significant amount of time in Alaska or northwestern Canada could be called a sourdough. Longtime Alaskan residents naturally tend to feel that sourdoughs have certain qualities, such as wit and spunk, that are lacking in cheechakos—that is, newcomers to Alaska or the Yukon. (Cheechako is a word in Chinook Jargon that literally means “newcomer.”)
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