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NEW Authors Soar
First novels from promising debut authors
MATTHEW QUICK From ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ to riveting teen fiction r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
THE GHOST BRIDE A haunting trip down the aisle FIRST-DAY FEARS Books to calm the back-to-school jitters
paperback picks PENGUIN.COM
Calculated in Death
The Death Relic
When someone steals the files out of Marta’s office, Eve must immerse herself in her billionaire husband Roarke’s world of big business to figure out who’s cruel and callous enough to hire a hit on an innocent woman. And as the killer’s violent streak begins to escalate, Eve knows she has to draw him out, even if it means using herself as bait...
As a bodyguard, Cole’s the best. As a lover, he’s even better. But there’s more than Assistant D.A. Erin’s safety at stake. And Cole must forgive the sins of his past and prove to himself—and to Erin—that he’s capable of the love and the forever she so desperately needs.
Her friends, neighbors, and clients know Hannah Smith as a resourceful woman with a keen sense of justice. Her methods can be unorthodox, and those on the receiving end of them often wind up very unhappy—and sometimes very violent. When a girl goes missing, and Hannah is asked to find her, that is exactly what happens...
When Maria Pelati’s research team disappears in Mexico, she calls Jonathon Payne and David Jones to find the missing archaeologists. They soon realize that Maria’s research may hold the key to solving one of the darkest mysteries of the New World. But their quest to learn the truth about the Death Relic may end up costing them their lives.
9780425250730 • $7.99
9780425259726 • $7.99
9780425261293 • $9.99
9780425264676 • $9.99
A Tap on the Window
As Sam and Remi Fargo follow a trail through Europe, it leads them not to one tomb, but five. The Fargos also find themselves pitted against a thieving group of treasure hunters, a cunning Russian businessman, and a ruthless Hungarian who claims direct descent from Attila himself— and will stop at nothing to achieve his destiny...
When Mac and Annie finally meet in person, the attraction between them is instantaneous. But Annie isn’t ready to lay her heart on the line, and neither is Mac. Fortunately, no one in Shelter Bay is about to let a perfect match escape the magic of true love...
Together, McKinney and Odin must slow a drone army long enough for the world to recognize its destructive power. But as enigmatic forces press the advantage, and death rains down from above, it may already be too late to save mankind from destruction.
Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal Weaver has decided to expose those secrets one by one.
9780425265079 • $9.99
9780451240002 • $7.99
9780451417701 • $9.99
9780451414182 • $25.95 • HARDCOVER
A brand-new adventure in the “sheer fun”* and “charming”** Pink Carnation series— filled with hidden treasures and a devilishly handsome English colonel. Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed at an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates. Because she served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance. Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls… *New York Times Bestselling Author Christina Dodd **Kirkus Reviews
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company
9780451414724 • $15
August 2013 B o o k Pa g e . c o m
13 Yangsze Choo A proposal from beyond the grave
A recap of the very best debut novels of 2013—so far!
16 David Gilbert The tumult of fathers and sons
Cover illustration © iStock.com/Bellott
17 Sophie Hannah Meet the author of Kind of Cruel
18 education How to fix our schools
19 Parenting Guides for the mamas and the papas
20 spotlight: short stories Four new collections of short fiction
22 Peter Gethers A vet finds love in Ask Bob
28 Matthew Quick A teen looks for a silver lining
31 Back to school Picture books for first-day jitters
31 Paul Schmid Meet the author-illustrator of Oliver and His Alligator
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty Babayaga by Toby Barlow Ask Bob by Peter Gethers The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker Brewster by Mark Slouka The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon The Rathbones by Janice Clark The Fields by Kevin Maher
A mother’s unspeakable crime… A killer’s secret untold…
The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti
Ecstatic Nation by Brenda Wineapple Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson The End of the Suburbs by Leigh Gallagher Manson by Jeff Guinn The Wet and the Dry by Lawrence Osborne Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield
29 CHILDREN’S top pick:
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Lifestyles The Author Enabler Well Read Whodunit Romance Cooking Book Clubs Audio
Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein Prisoner 88 by Leah Pileggi The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan Brother, Brother by Clay Carmichael Starglass by Phoebe North OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
August is debut novel month! Visit BookPage.com for more on fantastic first fiction.
a m e r i c a’ s b o o k r e v i e w PUBLISHER
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04 04 05 06 08 09 11 12
The Instant New York Times Bestseller!
THE author enabler
by joanna brichetto
by Sam Barry
HOMEMADE PAPER FINERY In Sweet Paper Crafts (Chronicle, $19.95, 136 pages, ISBN 9781452116808), Mollie Greene demonstrates how simple it can be to turn every last scrap of your waste paper into a treasure trove of unusual things that are delightful to make and will enrich your home. Clear instructions and large photographs emphasize Greene’s crucial principle of sweetening—the alchemical process whereby already-used, otherwise useless piles of paper are transformed into crafty wonders. My favorite photo in the book shows the metamorphosis of pages from a road atlas index into a star clus-
ter garland, festively festooning a window. There are more pragmatic projects to undertake as well, like place settings for a dinner party, a mobile to hang over your baby’s crib, a picture frame and a flowering chandelier. With Sweet Paper Crafts, you can make these items yourself with any paper at hand (or, alternatively, with the more ambitious resources listed in the back of the book), always with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of fun.
r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
A Modern Twist
For those of us who squandered much of our youth (and white clothing) on tie-dyeing, the fact that the hippie-beloved fad has now become a hot 21st-century phenomenon is one of those mystifying quirks of fashion. Shabd Simon-Alexander’s new book about it is serious—and comprehensive. Want to find out how to set up your optimum work area for tie-dyeing? Necessary materials, the orderly steps for different processes of dyeing and the thrilling patterns that result—from the most basic to the most artistically complex—are all here, in Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It (Potter Craft, $22.99, 160 pages, ISBN 9780307965738). The book itself is a visual feast. One particular spread looks more like it could be out of the catalog of a joint exhibition of Rothko and Pollock than a page out
of a how-to manual on tie-dyeing. There’s a fascinating, illustrated guide to color mixing that puts Damien Hirst to shame. Whether you’re working with shirts or slacks, socks or scarves, Simon-Alexander gives you all the practical information and helpful guidance you need to enhance and expand your wardrobe with a gallery of abstract wonders. C’mon. You know you’re dyeing to.
Top Pick in Lifestyles “To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand / And eternity in an hour.” These are Romantic poet William Blake’s instructions for how best to take in and appreciate the beauty shining all around us. Blake might have been astonished at the literal application of his poetic principles in Janit Calvo’s Gardening in Miniature. Calvo provides guidance for creating dozens of tiny landscape designs, including furniture and accessories that lend each diminutive scenario its unique and complete verisimilitude. And of course, there are instructions for growing and caring for the wondrous living plants themselves, in all their bonsai-like glory. The objective is always one and the same in each design: to “Create Your Own Tiny Living World” (the book’s subtitle)—a task that should not be undertaken lightly, for it requires certain investments of time, energy and money. With infectious cunning, the author lays out how we might invent Lilliputian versions of our own lives, so that we might imagine inhabiting this or that little Eden of our own devising, lovely and perfect little places where all the things we love best in the world could be bound—perhaps even literally—in a nutshell.
GARDENING IN MINIATURE By Janit Calvo
Timber Press $19.95, 256 pages ISBN 9781604693720
Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors
Striking a Balance Dear Author Enabler, I have a great outline for a love story but need to structure it to move along with conflict and interest on each page. I broke it down by time and reveries into chapters but need a push to liven it up. It’s a real-life love affair still in the works, and real life is becoming animated as it all proceeds. It seems to be writing itself, but when I step away to focus on moving it along, doing so stops the action. Can you comment on emotional love stories and how to develop a flow for an engrossing story? Rich Cerbo Hackensack, New Jersey Different readers seek different rewards in fiction, which is why we see such great diversity in novels and short stories. Some people are frustrated if there isn’t immediate action on the first two pages of a book, while others are happy to read hundreds of pages of achingly beautiful, emotional setup or highly detailed character studies before anything substantive happens in terms of the plot. It sounds like you, as the author, fall into the first category. You want more action. You seem to believe that you have a good love story but that there needs to be another engine besides the love interest to bring your novel to life, to make it a more compelling story—and therefore more salable. I believe all fiction benefits from a good, strong plot, but there is no simple trick for creating one. Telling a good story is a skill, and every writer has to work at it. If you’re stuck, a writing group, a trusted confidante or a writer’s conference can help. Find someone you believe is a skilled writer and ask if he or she is willing to read your work and offer feedback. (You should offer to do the same in return.) Push yourself to develop the plot of your book, and then ask your trusted reader(s) to give you an honest critique. Keep at it until you’re satisfied with the results. One other suggestion—go to your local bookstore or library and ask for some recommendations of love stories with interesting plots. Reading
well-written examples of the kind of work you want to produce can offer inspiration for your own writing.
Using Movie Quotes Dear Author Enabler, I want to write a short story about an actor who has passed away and wish to use some of his movie quotes. Can I freely do this? Or should I write around it and imply or paraphrase the quotes? It would seem more effective to use the direct lines that would honor this former actor. Jeff Petrill Davison, Michigan Quoting dialogue from a movie in the way you describe probably falls into the category of “fair use.” In layman’s terms, fair use is an aspect of copyright law that provides common-sense guidelines for using other people’s copyrighted material in a limited way. There are no hard and fast rules defining fair use, though, resulting in many lawsuits. In the case of your short story, make sure you give proper credit to the source of your quotation; don’t use too much material; and don’t write anything that could possibly damage the reputation of the work you’re quoting. If you’re wondering what constitutes “too much” material, I would suggest that quoting a line or two is fine. If, on the other hand, you are quoting entire scenes, this raises the question of whether you are profiting from someone else’s work, which is not fair use. For more information about fair use, visit www.copyright.gov.
A Little Plug I invite you to take a look at the interactive eBook Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All, by Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., Mitch Albom, James McBride, Ridley Pearson, Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Roger McGuinn and yours truly. It is available for all devices wherever eBooks are sold and is dedicated to the great Author Enabler, my late wife Kathi Kamen Goldmark. Send your questions about writing and publishing to email@example.com.
by robert Weibezahl
BEHIND THE SCENES OF A LITERARY UPSTART Amid all the highbrow literary strivings, however, it is the more earthy drama at FSG that drives Hothouse and broadens its appeal. As Kachka tells it, Roger Straus rarely met a female underling he didn’t wish to bed, and he set a tone of sexual laissez faire that permeated the company and ended more than one marriage, though not Straus’ own enduring one. When his only son, Roger III, was getting divorced and having an affair with another FSG employee, the disapproving elder Straus told him that marriage was about family, and sex and love could be sought outside it. The whole scenario makes “Mad Men” seem practically chaste. The behind-the-scenes stories of Straus’ celebrated machinations to keep FSG free and maintain its prestige are no less fascinating for the window they provide into the ways publishing has changed over time. Competing with the much deeper pockets of its corporate-owned competitors, FSG needed wiles to survive, and Straus had those in spades. He was reluctant to compromise in a deal, and afterward always reinvented history to paint himself the victor. Beneath the flash and ego, though, Kachka shows Straus to be genuine in his love for the company, the books it produced and especially the authors it published. “Not only was it greater than the sum of its sales, it punched higher above its weight than any other publisher,” Kachka says of FSG, which he rightly likens to The New Yorker as a cultural bellwether. Hothouse is an essential history of publishing’s little engine that could.
hope in a time of turmoil and about the transcendent and transformative power of friendship.
1955 Mississippi A newspaper ad Two courageous women One extraordinary little girl
The simple gestures—water when you’re faint, blankets when you’re cold, a hand when you’re falling—tell of friendships so strong they could withstand anything, even long-held secrets....
HOthouse By Boris Kachka
Simon & Schuster $28, 448 pages ISBN 9781451691894 eBook available
On sale July 30!
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There’s no denying that book publishing has weathered some blows in these first years of the new millennium, what with the closing of many brick-and-mortar stores, the rise of eBooks and the sagging economy in general. A more vibrant, hopeful era in the book trade is depicted in Boris Kachka’s Hothouse, the story of the eccentric, scrappy publishing house Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Started after the Second World War by Guggenheim heir Roger Straus Jr., FSG was able to hold onto its independence for decades, as other publishers were acquired by corporations, consolidated and homogenized. Straus’ fiefdom did more than survive—it thrived, with an extraordinary share of Nobel laureates and other literary giants on its list. Despite the house’s apt reputation for tightfistedness when it came to both author advances and employee salaries, many remained fiercely loyal to FSG, staying put even when more money was in the offing elsewhere. As Kachka makes clear, the reasons for this unlikely success were two very different men: publisher Straus and editor Robert Giroux. Flamboyant and daring, Straus exuded a confidence instilled by his privileged upbringing. The selfeffacing Giroux, son of a factory foreman, was the antithesis of the showman Straus, but no less daring in his quiet way. It would be Giroux’s literary tastes that would shape the FSG list, while Straus’ keen business sense consistently kept the company afloat against all odds. At its famously low-rent headquarters on Union Square, where rabbit-warren offices and linoleum tile floors were a stark contrast to the posher digs of its uptown rivals, FSG launched and/or nurtured the careers of such writers as Susan Sontag, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elizabeth Bishop, Tom Wolfe, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth—the roster is seemingly endless—and in the process turned out some of the most enduring books of the era. The editors whom Straus and Giroux handpicked and brought on board, including Henry Robbins, Michael di Capua, Pat Strachan and Jonathan Galassi (who is still at the helm), comprise a veritable who’s-who of American publishing in the latter half of the 20th century.
A remarkable tale about finding K
columns “Thrilling… willkeepyou guessinguntil thevery lastpage.” —VicToria Thompson, nationalbestsellingauthor ofMurder in Chelsea
THRALL A Scotland Yard Mystery
CLEELAND r e a d m o r e at b o o k pa g e . c o m
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.— America’s Independent Publisher
Begin reading at kensingtonbooks.com • annecleeland.com
by Bruce Tierney
A SERIAL KILLER CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF Arne Dahl’s latest thriller, Bad Blood (Pantheon, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780375425363), is sure to resonate with literary critics, as the lead victim in the book is—wait for it—a literary critic. Systematically tortured in a janitor’s closet in Newark International Airport, he dies horribly. With his penultimate fleeting thought, “he realizes that nothing he has read or written has meant anything. He might as well have done absolutely anything else.” His murderer, a known U.S. serial killer long on the lam, audaciously escapes, taking the dead man’s seat aboard a flight to Sweden. Stockholm police superintendent JanOlov Hultin, tasked with intercepting the perpetrator, summarizes the situation to the Intercrime team quite succinctly: “If we fail, Sweden has imported its first real American serial killer. Let’s avoid that.” It goes without saying that Hultin’s unit could not avoid that, and detectives Paul Hjelm and Kerstin Holm find themselves one step behind a truly extraordinary psychopath. “Thriller” is the perfect descriptor for the second installment in Dahl’s Intercrime series, which crackles with pent-up energy on every page. My bet is that it will resonate with the reading public every bit as much as it will with lit-crits.
ONE-MAN MISSION An intelligent new mystery featuring a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives on the trail of modern-day London’s most elusive, yet brilliant murderer— a truly thrilling and riveting read.
It takes but two short pages for the first twist to be revealed in Mark Billingham’s latest Tom Thorne mystery, The Dying Hours (Atlantic Monthly, $25, 400 pages, ISBN 9780802121486), and a very good twist it is. This time out, Thorne believes he is hot on the heels of a serial killer. The common factor seems to be that the murders, if indeed they are murders, have been staged to look like suicides. Thorne is pursuing the case more or less solo, as he cannot seem to persuade the Murder Squad that the deaths are anything other than they appear. It doesn’t help that Thorne has been persona non grata around the department since his unorthodox handling of a deadly hostage situation in 2012’s The Demands.
Nonetheless, he keeps digging until he identifies the clue that has been nagging him since early on in the investigation. Thorne is an exceptionally well-drawn character, ably supported by a cast of complex colleagues and truly disagreeable villains, although at times you will have some question as to which is which. The Dying Hours is a fine addition to what is already one of the best crafted police procedural series in contemporary fiction.
EXPAT ENIGMA If you think that Alec Blume is an unusual name for a cop in Italy, you wouldn’t be alone. Blume is the
token American on the Rome police force. He works in a very American, “my way” manner—to the ongoing chagrin of his superiors, who would have had him sacked or demoted long since, were it not for his prodigious crime-solving skills. The Memory Key (Bloomsbury, $26, 320 pages, ISBN 9781620401118), Conor Fitzgerald’s fourth installment in the popular Alec Blume series, sees our hero recruited off the books to look into the murder of a young woman who was a recent witness to a shooting. That shooting was an attempt on the life of a one-time terrorist, convicted for her role in a 1980 railway station bombing, who now lies in a hospital bed and claims no memory of anything that happened after 1979. If it’s an act, it’s a good one, and to his surprise, Blume finds himself accepting her at face value. The investigation will have to be pursued quietly, but given Blume’s tenacity and his disdain for authority, it will surely be pursued relentlessly. Top-notch fare, as usual, leaving the reader itching for Blume’s next appearance.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY David Gordon’s Mystery Girl starts with failed novelist Sam Korn-
berg’s wife saying those ominous words, “We have to talk.” This is never a good sign—as Kornberg points out, it’s never, “I’m horny, but let’s hurry because there is pizza on the way.” And this time it’s the worst news: She’s leaving him. She can no longer tolerate his lackadaisical approach to his series of dead-end jobs and the desk drawers full of his unfinished manuscripts. But Kornberg’s wife has it wrong, at least according to him: “I wasn’t lazy. . . . I’ve slaved away desperately my whole life. What I am is a failure.” And then, just as he is poised to hit rock bottom, he happens upon an email with the subject line, “Private Detective Requires Assistance.” His soon-to-be employer is Solar Lonsky, a morbidly obese, house-bound private eye (no doubt a nod to Rex Stout’s armchair sleuth Nero Wolfe), who wants Kornberg to track a woman named Mona Naught. Kornberg does his part as a postmodern, wisecracking sidekick à la Archie Goodwin, albeit with a dash of Woody Allen-esque neurosis thrown in for good measure. Together they tackle the strange case of the Mystery Girl, who, incidentally, turns up dead early on, under suitably mysterious circumstances. We have here a love story (two, actually), a dark comedy and some darn fine suspense, as well. David Gordon is an astute observer of the Los Angeles scene, a natural storyteller and an all-around funny guy. Mystery Girl deserves to be at the top of your reading list.
Mystery Girl By David Gordon
New Harvest $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780544028586 Audio, eBook available
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Enter for a chance to win! One (1) Grand Prize of a $250.00 American Express gift card and a library of back to school books published by DK (Total Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of Grand Prize = $450.00). Ten (10) Runner-up prizes of a copy of Knowledge Encyclopedia, published by DK (ARV of each prize = $29.99). No purchase necessary. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, ages 18 and older. Entries must be received no later than August 31, 2013, 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time. Winners will be selected on or about September 6, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. Go to www.bookpage.com and click on the DK Back to School Sweepstakes banner for complete details and Official Rules. LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick and Knob configurations and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. © 2013 The LEGO Group. Produced by DK Publishing under license from the LEGO Group.
From New York Times Bestselling Author
romance b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way
STEAMY Summer lovin’ The aristocratic men of the Inferno Club face their greatest challenge yet… marriage… Notorious Lord Trevor Montgomery has fearlessly met danger head-on… but now he will rediscover how to be a hero… for the right lady…
Gaelen Foley is
Susan Andersen delivers a story filled with new friendships, family ties and sexy fun in Some Like It Hot (HQN, $7.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780373777761). Heroine Harper Summerville is busy with her temporary job as summer activities coordinator at The Brothers Inn in Razor Bay, Washington, but she still finds time to drool over the gorgeous yet reserved deputy sheriff, Max Bradshaw. Though Harper knows she’ll be moving on at summer’s end—she’s a rolling stone, just like her father—she decides to bring Max out of his shell. Former Marine Max has never been a social animal, but beautiful and exotic Harper is bringing out another kind of animal in him. While he knows she’s only
“always fabulous!” —JULIA QUINN
www.GaelenFoley.com New York Times Bestselling Author around for the short term, he can’t help but dream of a white-picketfence future with Harper. As Harper finds friends in town and Max opens up to new relationships, love binds these two together. But can two opposites find their way to a forever? Hot summer days and likable characters with combustible chemistry guarantee a lively, fiery read.
Debuts the Clan Sinclair series about true love in the Scottish Highlands
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If she dances with the devil…she will face wicked temptation…
“Karen Ranney writes with power, passion, and dramatic flair.” —STEPHANIE LAURENS
Win free prizes, get exclusive content, and more — scan with a QR App now! Or text AVON to READIT (732348)
Visit us on Facebook and Twitter Also available as eBooks. Check out AvonImpulse.com for exciting digital-first publications.
Scandals and lies bring two hearts together in Grace Burrowes’ emotional and playful historical romance, Once Upon a Tartan (Sourcebooks, $7.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9781402268694). To escape Victorian London, where gossips whisper about her broken engagement, Hester Daniels visits her Scottish relatives. After Hester takes over the care of her step-niece, Fiona, for the summer, the sojourn is livened by the unexpected visit of Tiberius Flynn, Earl of Spathfoy and the brother of Fiona’s late father. Tye claims he’s there to get to know his niece, but as he comes to love the little girl, he also can’t fight his attraction for the desirable woman caring for her. Hester is tempted, too. Though she feels ashamed of
how and why she ended her betrothal, she begins to think that she can trust Tye with her heart and body. But when she learns his true intention, the betrayal cuts deep, causing Hester to once again question her romantic judgment. Torn by duty to his family and the tender feelings he has for Hester and Fiona, Tye’s happy ending appears out of reach. Layered characters, scorching love scenes and a compelling storyline make this read a winner.
Top pick in romance A missing persons expert and a top-notch security consultant reignite their teenage romance in Jami Alden’s Guilty as Sin. Fourteen years ago, Kate Beckett’s brother was kidnapped and murdered while she was making out with Tommy Ibarra instead of watching over her sibling. Plagued by grief and guilt and estranged from her family, Kate works to find others in trouble. Her latest case takes her back to her hometown, where she runs into Tommy. Though their youthful attraction once again revs to life, Tommy can’t forget how her powerful father messed with his life as retaliation for his relationship with Kate. Still, there’s a young girl to be found, and as Tommy and Kate work together, they discover clues that lead them to take a second look at her brother’s murder. The perpetrator committed suicide years ago . . . or do they have that all wrong? Kate and Tommy must relearn trust and let go of their guilt in order to find the answers and find happiness together. A shivery, sensual and sensational read.
Guilty as Sin By Jami Alden
Forever $8, 464 pages ISBN 9781455520527 eBook available
cooking b y s y b i l P RATT
New York Times Bestselling Author
A LOVE OF LÉGUMES Clotilde Dusoulier, award-winning blogger and author of Chocolate and Zucchini, is a “resolutely vegetable-oriented cook.” Though more flexitarian than vegetarian, she devotes her new opus, The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, $22.50, 224 pages, ISBN 9780307984821), to a variety of vegetarian meals with a French accent and that sought-after Gallic je ne sais quoi. This is not French haute cuisine with the animal protein removed; rather, Clotilde draws on seasonal dishes from the regional repertoire that incorporate local bounty, plus inspiration from interesting restaurant meals she’s enjoyed and her own delicious innovations. Aiming to juxtapose
her header notes charmingly personal, and her thorough instructions chatty and fun. She’s scattered the text with her own fanciful drawings and a few hand-lettered recipes, Asparagus Pie and cake-like scones for Strawberry Shortcake among them. The full-color photographs, all taken by Yvette’s husband Oof Verschuren, are irresistibly luscious. If you can look at the photos of Watercress Soup with Parmesan Flan, Sea Bass Fillet with Crouton Crust or Summer Pudding bursting with berries without rushing into the kitchen to start cooking, you’ve got far more self-control than I do.
Welcome to — heart of the Gold Country— where family, community and love matter most.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
SUNNY SUMMER DISHES Cookbooks don’t usually have sequels, but luckily, Yvette van Boven’s acclaimed Home Made Winter has a sunny, smiling soulmate. Home Made Summer (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35, 256 pages, ISBN 9781617690150) takes estivation seriously but joyfully. Her plan is to offer recipes gathered in Amsterdam, Paris and Provence that “look after themselves,” don’t take too much effort, and celebrate summer and the inherently fabulous flavors of so many fresh fruits and vegetables. Yvette’s attitude, like her recipes, is lighthearted and friendly,
Indian Cooking Unfolded By Raghavan Iyer
Workman $19.95, 340 pages ISBN 9780761165217 eBook available
Available now! Coming October 29.
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flavors, textures and colors, Clotilde moves through the seasons, selecting ingredients at their best and featuring them in simple but sophisticated preparations. Right now, as August simmers along, you might be tempted to start a meal with Eggplant and Black Olive Caviar, followed by a rosy red Corsican Bell Pepper Stew, served hot or cold, and end with a Peach, Almond and Cardamom Clafoutis. As you cook through the year, you’ll find equally appealing plant-based recipes that highlight the best that Mère Nature has to offer.
When Raghavan Iyer arrived in 1980s Minnesota, what he truly needed was the book he would write 30 years later. To placate his Indian palate, he had to learn to create the complexity of Indian flavors by using ingredients he could find in a Midwestern supermarket. He did just that, and Indian Cooking Unfolded is the wonderfully accessible result. In 100 recipes using 10 ingredients or fewer, divided into eight chapters, Iyer presents his unique system for learning to cook Indian food. This is your own master class; each chapter is a course on a course (starters, sides, sweets, etc.) with a specific technique that’s explained (or “unfolded”) in a special foldout with full-color, full-fun, step-by-step photos. The recipes are arranged in order of difficulty, and ochre “extra credit” panels serve up more info on ingredients, substitutions and leftover logic. A “Basics Unfolded” section starts you off, and maharajah-worthy menus for great Indian meals wrap it up.
B ooks that entertain, inspire, excite, inform, and remind us why
we love to read and talk about books.
“A graceful, affecting
testament to a mother and a life well lived.” —Entertainment Weekly, Grade A
One of those books that makes you happy for literature.” —Junot Díaz, The Wall Street Journal
“An outstanding achievement…
and an essential read.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A deeply moving story
of survival and enduring love.” —USA Today
“Provides all the pleasures…
“A gorgeous, wise, funny, sprawling novel.”
A literary and human triumph.” —The New York Times Book Review
—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine and The Engagements
AVA I L A B L E I N P A P E R B A C K A N D E B O O K
elegant prose, subtle wit, and… an element of surprise.” —The Washington Post
thoroughly modern…. Close nails the yearning, confusion, fear and bravado that characterize contemporary young adulthood.” —People
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book clubs by julie hale
New paperback releases for reading groups
LIFE’S TWISTS AND TURNS Alice Munro continues to demonstrate her mastery of the shortstory form in Dear Life: Stories (Vintage, $15.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780307743725), another collection of probing, compassionate, beautifully crafted narratives. Many of the book’s 14 pieces take place in rural Ontario, where the author grew up. All of them exhibit the quiet power and luminous prose that are Munro’s trademarks. In the World War II-era “Train,” a soldier jumps from the train that’s carrying him home, an act that sends his life in an unexpected direction. “Amundsen” features a cold-hearted doctor who romances a young teacher and then rejects her—a textbook
case of seduction and abandonment that leaves a permanent mark on the woman. The book includes four closely linked pieces that are somewhat autobiographical, giving readers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s past. Munro, who recently turned 82, is still at the top of her game. As this deeply satisfying collection shows, she’s an expert when it comes to laying bare human motives and emotions. J.K. Rowling scores again with The Casual Vacancy (Back Bay, $18, 512 pages, ISBN 9780316228589), her first book aimed at adult readers. Set in a fictional parish called Pagford, the novel examines the manners and morals of the town’s inhabitants. The death of kind-hearted Barry Fairbrother results in an open seat on the parish council that becomes a source of conflict in the community. Council leader Howard Mollison hopes to redistrict the Fields, Pagford’s low-income, druginfested sector—an idea Fairbrother opposed prior to his demise. An election for the empty seat is soon slated, with Mollison’s lawyer son,
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Me Before You is a heartbreaking novel that readers won’t soon forget. Raised in a tiny English town, Louisa Clark doesn’t have big plans for the future—until she meets a quadriplegic named Will Traynor. Will, a former playboy, athlete and adrenaline junky, was hit by a motorbike and now spends his days in a wheelchair. Louisa is hired by his mother to look after him and lift his flagging spirits. Despite her patient’s abrasive, slightly mocking nature, Louisa is drawn to Will. The two develop an affection for one another, but their prospects for happiness are darkened by a plan Will is harboring for the future. Louisa’s attempts to rekindle his passion for daily experience cause her to reevaluate her own life, and she finds herself growing in ways she never thought possible. Jojo Moyes, a skillful novelist, eschews sentimentality in this poignant tale. She writes about the couple’s relationship in a style that’s clear and unembellished. This is a singular love story that will resonate with readers and provide excellent material for book group discussions.
Me Before You
A moving debut that intertwines mystery, madness, betrayal, love & literature “I LOVED IT. That book is the perfect beach read… I myself couldn’t put it down til I was done, like it was a big fat pina colada.” —Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author
From the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You “…a tremendously gifted storyteller…” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife
A haunting story about family secrets and how well we really know the people we love “A riveting ride that will start your blood racing from the first line and keep you guessing until the last.” —Kris Neri, author of Revenge for Old Time’s Sake
An inspiring and triumphant coming-of-age story of tenacity and hope “Riveting reading from start to finish… Never once does she flinch from the terrible truths with which she has lived and so courageously reveals here.” —Kirkus Reviews
By Jojo Moyes
Penguin $16, 400 pages ISBN 9780143124542
PERFECT FOR BOOK CLUBS @WilliamMorrowPB
William Morrow Paperbacks
Book Club Girl
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Miles, vying for the position. After controversial postings attributed to Fairbrother’s ghost appear on the council’s website, tensions rise. This compelling book features a broad cast of characters—heroin users, prostitutes, well-to-do parents—and touches upon a number of social issues, including poverty and class conflict. While Rowling has proven time and again that she’s queen of the fantasy genre, she demonstrates here that she’s also a skillful practitioner of modern literary fiction.
New in Paperback
audio by sukey howard
YOU CAN’T BE TOO RICH Aiyah, Alamak! (that’s “OMG” to Singaporeans), Kevin Kwan has let the solid-gold, diamond-encrusted cat out of the Hermès Birkin bag, big time. His fabulous, over-the-top debut novel Crazy Rich Asians (Random House Audio, $50, 14 hours, ISBN 9780804127646), read by Lynn Chen with just the right hint of a Far Eastern accent, is the romp of the season. We’re in Singapore in the super-secretive, super-snobby palatial inner sanctums of the super-rich, where families have intermarried for generations. Into this conniving society of splendor-soaked, coutureclad billionaires, where designer names pour down like the monsoon, walks Rachel Chu, a lovely, smart, 30-something Chinese-American professor from New York. She’s been invited to attend the “wedding of the
century” by Nicky, her handsome, charming Singaporean boyfriend, who somehow neglected to tell her about his lineage-obsessed family, its staggering wealth and his position as heir apparent. Rachel’s OK as a girlfriend, but as the family realizes that Nicky might marry her, all the stops are pulled out to stop him. Super fun from beginning to end.
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RETURN OF THE DEVIL
Listen to the Complete First Chapter! Soundcloud.com/HarperAudio_US/TheSon
To be honest, Revenge Wears Prada (Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.99, 13.5 hours, ISBN 9780743583824), Lauren Weisberger’s sequel to her best-selling, made-into-a-major-motion-picture debut novel, is not quite as delicious as its predecessor. But with Megan Hilty’s right-on reading, it’s a classic guilty-pleasure beach listen, a sandy soap opera with ongoing allure and appeal. Ten years have passed since the events of the first book, and Andrea Sachs, having survived the Prada-wearing devil with only minor episodes of PTSD nightmares, is the editor-in-chief and co-owner, with her former Runway colleague Emily, of a hit, hip bridal magazine. With a suave, sexy new husband—scion of a media empire himself—and a little bit preggers, Andy is on her way to having it all. Yet she isn’t totally hap-
py; there’s a pea under this princess’ pile of luxurious mattresses, and it takes some time for her to find it. We’re back in that world of glamour and fashion, where the devil can still call the shots, everyone is gorgeous and shod in Christian Louboutin, and Andy can do her courageous, standup-for-herself shtick all over again.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO Michael Pollan has become our public foodie intellectual; drop the “foodie” and the title still fits. He’s made us think about food in new ways, about how the food choices we make impact our lives and our planet. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, the latest product of his boundless curiosity about what we eat, is leavened by Pollan’s companionable narration and his superb ability to synthesize huge amounts of information. Though he already had some kitchen skills, Pollan decided to really learn to cook, to master the four key methods of “transforming the raw stuff of nature”: fire, water, air and earth. His midlife culinary crusade, peppered with his encounters with gifted practitioners—a South Carolinian whole-pig-roasting pit master, a renowned bread baker, a cheesemaking nun, dedicated fermentos, a young Chez-Panisse-trained chef schooled in the art of braising— prompts Pollan to delve into the culture and chemistry of cooking, and into its history, philosophy and politics—gender and otherwise. Cooking makes us human and, he suggests, happier and healthier. So, listen and learn. Or, in my poor approximation of a Pollanian maxim: Cook food. As often as possible. Reap the pleasure.
Cooked By Michael Pollan
Penguin Audio $39.95, 13.5 hours ISBN 9781611761436
YANGSZE CHOO By becky ohlsen
Finding a groom in the afterlife
lenty of girls daydream about their future weddings. Usually these dreams include, at minimum, another human being. In that sense, the first marriage proposal in Yangsze Choo’s debut novel, The Ghost Bride, is a little unusual: It comes from someone who’s been dead for months. wanted to write about Asian female ghosts,” she explains by phone from her home in California, where she lives with her husband and two young children. After receiving a degree in social studies from Harvard, Choo worked in various corporate jobs before writing The Ghost Bride and landing an agent for the novel through an unsolicited query letter. She’s been surprised and delighted by the early accolades the book has received. Choo grew up in Malaysia, but her father, a diplomat, was often posted abroad, and she traveled extensively with him. She speaks English in a very proper-sounding British accent. “Everybody and their uncle has some ghost story,” she says of the Malaysian inspiration for her novel. “And I realized the worst ghosts were all women! I thought, why is that?” Choo theorized that the misogyny historically inherent in Asian culture was to blame for the fact that the scariest ghosts were all women: “Maybe this is a subconscious, underlying way it’s showing up—people feel guilty,” she says. Describing a few particularly awful examples— including a “female ghost that’s just a head flying around, trailing placenta”—she adds that the prevalence of female ghosts must have “some sort of root in the sense that women were historically oppressed, and only after death could they seek their revenge.” All of which she’d intended to explore in her thesis. “But,” she says, “I didn’t write it.” Worried that she wouldn’t be taken seriously in academia, she instead submitted a “boring thesis about industrial townships,” and that was that. Some time later, while working on an early novel (one she now calls an “absolute disaster” with a “massively complicated” plot), Choo was doing research in the archives of her local newspaper in Malaysia and came across an offhand mention of the fact that “ghost weddings” were becoming increasingly rare. She was instantly intrigued.
Digging around, she found “many manifestations of this [tradition], weird, weird permutations and local variations.” Research on ghost weddings led her back toward the other ghosts that populate her homeland. “Because my book is set in Malaya, which is kind of a melting pot, there are many different kinds of ghosts there that you wouldn’t get in China,” she says. For example, there’s an Indian ghost that specifically haunts banana trees; people who believe in it studiously avoid them. Malaya’s traditions and stories were brought there from several very different places and gradually mixed together, Choo explains. “It’s all a big mishmash.” One product of those blended traditions in The Ghost Bride is Li Lan’s foil and possible romantic interest, Er Lang, who looks like a man but isn’t precisely human. He keeps his face hidden beneath a bamboo hat, frustrating our curious heroine: “Perhaps there were no features beneath his hat at all, merely a skull with loose ivory teeth or a monstrous lizard with baleful eyes,” she speculates. He turns out to be something entirely unexpected, an irresistible invention of the author drawn from several different myths. Then there’s Amah, Li Lan’s nanny, who worries nonstop about bad luck entering the household. She is typical of a certain kind of rural Chinese person, Choo says, even today. “Many Chinese are extremely superstitious,” she says, adding that the dozens of rules and precautions Amah uses to ward off bad luck probably spring from an urge to control a chaotic world. “I have my own theory about this,” she adds, laughing. “I wonder if the first person who did all this was kind of OCD.” Choo tells a story
about a friend of her father who, for years, wouldn’t use the front door of his house because a fortuneteller had told him it was bad luck. This was inconvenient for him and his family and guests, but there was no ignoring the fortuneteller’s advice; he believed it. Choo says she doesn’t have such superstitions herself, though she was amused to notice recently that Los Angeles is peppered with signs advertising psychics, evidence of the same instinct. Meanwhile, the author is recording the audio version of The Ghost Bride and working on a new novel, “another subplot out of my gigantic mistake.”
The Ghost Bride
By Yangsze Choo
Morrow, $24.99, 368 pages ISBN 9780062227324, eBook available
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Set in the 1890s in Malaysia (or, as it was known then, Malaya), this decadently imagined, elaborately romantic novel delves into the world of the supernatural in colonial Chinese culture, including the tradition of “spirit marriages.” Historically, spirit marriages were a way to appease the ghosts of young people who had died single, so they wouldn’t be lonely in the afterlife. The novel’s heroine, Li Lan, receives an offer of marriage from the wealthy family of Lim Tian Ching, a young man who died suddenly of a fever. It seems the young man carried a torch for Li Lan while he was alive, though she was intended for his cousin (unbeknownst to her). The cousin now stands to inherit the family fortune and get the girl, which drives the petulant ghost of Lim Tian Ching crazy. We know this because the ghostly groom visits Li Lan in her dreams, explaining the situation and making ominous threats. Soon thereafter, Li Lan herself gains access to the realms of the dead, and it’s here that the novel takes a unique and wonderful turn. Ordinarily, an unmarried young woman in a Malaysian port city in the 1890s would not be permitted to wander around unescorted. But due to some unfortunate circumstances (which I won’t give away), Li Lan happens to be more or less invisible, caught between the physical world and the ghost realm. Though distressing for her, this is excellent for the reader, because it gives us a sharply observant and entertaining guide to both the city and the spirit world. We see not only the vast banquet halls and embroidered silk clothing and sumptuous meals of the historic city, but also the afterlife’s terrifying ox-headed demons, floating green spirit lights, unnaturally aged courtesans, silent puppet servants, enormous predatory birds, hungry ghosts and many other wonders. Perhaps unusual for a story so fantastical, the novel began as Choo’s senior thesis at Harvard. “I
first fiction by trisha ping
immigrants and wealthy citizens mingle on teeming streets. About the author: Wecker spent seven years working in the corporate sector before attending Columbia University’s writing program. Read more: Interview from our May issue on BookPage.com.
The other typist By Suzanne Rindell Amy Einhorn, $25.95, ISBN 9780399161469
Your guide to noteworthy debuts of 2013
s there anything more nerve-racking than publishing a first novel? For authors and publishers alike, it’s a nail-biting moment of sink or swim. Here are 10 debuts from the year (so far!) that signal the start of promising careers.
By Tara Conklin
The supremes at earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
Morrow, $25.99, ISBN 9780062207395
By Edward Kelsey Moore
The House Girl For fans of: Tracy Chevalier, Kathryn Stockett, Geraldine Brooks First line: “Mister hit Josephine with the palm of his hand across her left cheek and it was then she knew she would run.” About the book: The stories of a runaway slave and a modern-day lawyer intersect in a quiet, emotional and thought-provoking tale. About the author: Conklin worked as a corporate lawyer before moving to Seattle with her husband and children to write this novel. Read more: Interview from our February issue on BookPage.com.
GhostMan By Roger Hobbs
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Knopf, $24.95, ISBN 9780307959966
For fans of: Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Dan Brown First line: “Hector Moreno and Jerome Ribbons sat in the car on the ground level of the Atlantic Regency Hotel Casino parking garage, sucking up crystal meth with a rolled-up five spot, a lighter and a crinkled length of tin foil.” About the book: This thrilling heist novel is full of nonstop action and includes incredible detail on everything from casino operations to armored cars—as well as an unforgettable, amoral antihero. About the author: Just 24 years old, Hobbs finished the novel while still attending Reed College in Portland. Read more: Interview from our February issue on BookPage.com.
Knopf, $24.95, ISBN 9780307959928
For fans of: Maeve Binchy, Terry McMillan, Fannie Flagg First line: “I woke up hot that morning. Came out of a sound sleep with my face tingling and my nightgown stuck to my body.” About the book: The 40-year friendship of three women from the small town of Plainview, Indiana, is celebrated in a big-hearted story that’s full of laughs—and inspired by the “smart, and interesting, and not foolish” women in Moore’s own life. About the author: Moore was an accomplished cellist and college professor when he decided to try writing at the age of 40 (he’s now 52). Read more: Interview from our March issue on BookPage.com.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena By Anthony Marra Hogarth, $26, ISBN 9780770436407
For fans of: Téa Obreht, Adam Johnson, Jonathan Safran Foer
First line: “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” About the book: Set against the backdrop of the Chechen Wars, an exhausted doctor fights to protect a young girl whose father has been taken away by Russian soldiers for a crime he didn’t commit. About the author: Currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Marra holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and has lived in Eastern Europe. Read more: Review from our May issue on BookPage.com.
The Golem and the Jinni By Helene Wecker Harper, $26.99, ISBN 9780062110831
For fans of: Susanna Clarke, Deborah Harkness, Michael Chabon First line: “The Golem’s life began in the hold of a steamship.” About the book: A golem, a jinni and the evil wizard that links them star in Wecker’s imaginative blend of Jewish and Arabic folklore. The supernatural characters are grounded by the novel’s detailed, vibrant setting in 1899 New York City, where
For fans of: Amor Towles, Zoë Heller, M.L. Stedman First line: “They said the typewriter would unsex us.” About the book: Rose, a prim and proper typist working in 1920s Manhattan, forms a friendship with mysterious, fun-loving Odalie that borders on obsession. With Rose as its sly and slightly unreliable narrator, this suspenseful story will keep you guessing. About the author: A former employee of a literary agency, Rindell is finishing up a Ph.D. in modernist literature at Rice University. Read more: Review from our May issue on BookPage.com.
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton By Elizabeth L. Silver Crown, $25, ISBN 9780385347433
For fans of: Lionel Shriver, Gillian Flynn, John Grisham First line: “In this world, you are either good or evil.” About the book: We know from page one that Noa is guilty of murder. Silver’s psychologically acute narrative probes the all-important question of why—and provides a breathtaking answer. About the author: Silver earned her legal knowledge as a judicial clerk and research attorney for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She also has an M.A. in literature. Read more: Review from our June issue on BookPage.com.
The Ghost Bride By Yangsze Choo Morrow, $24.99, ISBN 9780062227324
For fans of: Lisa See, Eowyn Ivey, Jamie Ford, Erin Morgenstern First line: “One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride.” About the book: In 1893 Malaysia, Li Lan finds herself betrothed to a ghost—and in love with another man. Her quest for freedom takes her through the land of the dead. About the author: Choo got a degree in sociology from Harvard before launching her writing career. Read more: Interview on page 13.
The Fields By Kevin Maher
JOHN MILLIKEN THOMPSON
Reagan Arthur, $26, ISBN 9780316223560
For fans of: Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Haigh, Nick Hornby First line: “When Jack died I was real young, younger than I am now, and I said, in a temper, that I would never let it happen again.” About the book: This ambitious coming-of-age story set in 1980s Dublin is told in the memorable voice of Jim Finnegan, the youngest of six in a working-class family. About the author: From Dublin himself, Maher now lives in England and is a film critic for several papers, including the Guardian. Read more: Review on page 24.
The People in the Trees By Hanya Yanagihara Doubleday, $26.95, ISBN 9780385536776
August is debut novel month! Visit BookPage.com for more on fantastic first fiction.
It will remind you why you started reading novels in the first place —to be enchanted, to be carried away from your world and dropped into a world more substantial and incandescent.” —John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote
“A sweeping novel that gets everything right —the details, the panorama—but mainly it allows you to experience the life of another time, about a hundred years ago, in the soul and mind of a young woman whose passions and worries could be your own. In other words, Thompson makes that art form called the novel do the work it is meant to do—thoroughly and beautifully.” —Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train and The Bible Salesman
“The protagonist of [this] beautifully told new novel is a character of such intelligent and curious sensibility I would follow her anywhere. And I did, and so will you as she takes us through some of the most turbulent times in our history while negotiating, with integrity and grace, the brittle demands of family and community.” —Michael Parker, author of The Watery Part of the World
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For fans of: Donna Tartt, Ann Patchett, Barbara Kingsolver First line: “I was born in 1924 near Lindon, Indiana, the sort of small, unremarkable rural town that some twenty years before my birth had begun to duplicate itself, quietly but insistently, across the Midwest.” About the book: Told through the annotated journals of Dr. Norton Perina, this sprawling tale has an old-fashioned feel. Perina has discovered the key to longevity on a remote island—but at what price? About the author: Yanagihara is an editor for Condé Nast Travel— which explains Perina’s fantastic descriptions of island paradise. Read more: Review on page 21.
“It is a book you’ll devour and savor.
david gilbert By alden mudge
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© susie gilbert
MINDING THE FAMILY BUSINESS avid Gilbert seems largely unfazed by the online kerfuffle regarding the title of his terrific second novel & Sons.
“I heard a little about it after the fact,” Gilbert admits during a call to his office on the ground floor of the Greenwich Village apartment where he lives with his wife and their three children, ages 11, 10 and almost 5. The issue is that “&” as an opening character refuses to show up in Internet searches, which could mean that online book buyers will miss a chance to read one of the best novels of the year. But Gilbert was never asked about and never considered changing the title. “I remember walking around New York and seeing these ghostly building signs—‘. . . & sons’—and wondering, who are these sons? The ampersand is essential to the title because it evokes the idea of a family trade, the sense that there is the family business of family and you’re kind of stuck in the business.” In truth, & Sons is less about family per se than it is about fathers and sons: biological fathers and sons and literary father figures and their progeny. A.N. Dyer, the novel’s central character, is an aging, reclusive New York writer whose first novel, Ampersand, was a coming-of-age story about upper-crust prep school boys. An instant bestseller with enduring appeal, the book lofted Dyer into the literary stratosphere. He became a famous writer and, alas, a lousy father—at least to his two older sons, Richard and Jamie, who are in their 40s (like David Gilbert himself) when the novel opens. The disruptive arrival of a third child, Andrew, who is 17 when & Sons begins, gives A.N. Dyer a chance for a paternal do-over. And the death of Dyer’s lifelong friend and butt of his literary oeuvre, Charles Topping, causes him to anxiously bring his alienated tribe back together in Manhattan for one weird week. Add to this the fact that this whole oddly exhilarating tale is unreliably related by Philip Topping, a failed writer who has issues of his own with his recently departed father and with A.N. Dyer & sons, and you get a novel with layers upon layers to contemplate, savor and laugh about. Gilbert, who enjoyed early success in collaborative screenwriting ventures—most notably the Sundance
pick Joshua—thinks of A.N. Dyer as a combination of J.D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon and a “Philip Roth-like character with the WASPy background of John Updike, who takes his life and spins it into fiction, in some cases burning bridges because of that.” The roots of the novel, Gilbert says, lie in an unpublished short story that included a character who was a sort of footman-biographer to a great writer, and in an experience Gilbert had when listening to a talk by his father, former chairman of the investment bank Morgan Stanley. “My dad is this impressive guy, but he’s also kind of unknowable; he is this naturally intimidating figure,” Gilbert remembers. “I was sitting at an event with a really old friend of his who had grown up with him. As he was starting his remarks, she turned to me and said she was always amazed to see my father in these situations because as a teenager he was so incredibly shy and awkward. And I thought, wow, that was never the way I saw my “I think dad. My impreslaughing sions of him have not changed in with a 45 years. But if book is as I had seen him intimate as when he was 17, crying with he would seem a totally different a book.” person. That’s where & Sons started to spin.” In & Sons, Gilbert—who graduated from Middlebury College, then escaped west to the University of Montana to earn an MFA in fiction writing and returned to New York reluctantly, pulled by his need to reconnect with the woman who would be his wife—also pays homage to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The novel’s central character, his sons and their cohorts circumambulate this heady, mostly privileged realm. Most of the novel’s action takes place in vividly described apartments and hotels of the Upper East Side, on the eastern edge of Central Park, and at the lovingly rendered Frick Museum. Sense of place is usually thought of in terms of
Faulkner’s South or Stegner’s West, but, strange as it seems, Gilbert’s & Sons argues for an Upper East Side sense of place. “I have a love-hate relationship with New York and the Upper East Side,” Gilbert says. “My wife and I grew up within 12 blocks of each other. In the 1970s we carried mug money, and we certainly got mugged all the time. Coming back to New York in the 1990s felt like a defeat. But it is my home. I go up to 73rd and Lex, and it’s still the place I think incredibly fondly about. It has changed a lot over the last 30 years. But it’s still a place that makes you bump up against a lot of people you wouldn’t normally bump up against. It puts you in situations that are uncomfortable and new. I loved growing up in New York.” What holds & Sons together sentence by sentence is its sense of humor. Despite its characters’ difficult or persnickety personalities and the psychological pain of the father-son relationships, the novel is frequently laugh-out-loud funny. “I was the youngest child, and my currency was to make my siblings and, particularly, my mother laugh,” Gilbert says. “My mother has this
great laugh. So growing up, my goal was to make her laugh. I’m too much of an introvert to ever be a comedian. But in writing I am always going for the laugh. I think laughing with a book is as intimate as crying with a book. It pierces that private element of reading a book, and it’s magical when it works.” Gilbert’s & Sons has the magic. It will make you laugh. And it will make you think.
By David Gilbert
Random House, $27, 448 pages ISBN 9780812993967, eBook available
meet SOPHIE HANNAH
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The author of chilling crime fiction, Sophie Hannah combines the detective story with psychological suspense in a blend that has won her a growing international readership. In her latest thriller, KIND OF CRUEL (Putnam, $26.95, 448 pages, ISBN 9780670785858), she spins a dark and twisted tale of memory, trauma and family obligation. Hannah, who also writes award-winning poetry and short stories, lives with her family in Cambridge, England.
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Education By angela leeper
FINDING WHAT WORKS IN THE CLASSROOM
rom New York to Los Angeles and from the White House’s backyard to classrooms across the country, education is weighing on the minds of many Americans. Four new books tackle some of the key challenges that continue to stir debate. Confronting the effects of standardized testing, racial disparity, child poverty, teacher morale and quality teaching, these books offer no-holds-barred accounts of the state of education.
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NEVER GIVE UP
Rafe Esquith—who has spent 30plus years teaching fifth and sixth graders at Los Angeles’ impoverished Hobart Boulevard Elementary School and is known for transforming his students through Shakespearean performances (as depicted in the documentary film The Hobart Shakespeareans)—returns with his signature wit and wisdom in Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: “No Retreat, No Surrender!” (Viking, $26.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780670014644). Esquith’s focus in his fourth book is more on morale than teaching tips. Dividing the book into sections for new teachers, mid-career teachers and classroom veterans, Esquith keeps it real, indeed, as he begins with his best advice: “You are going to have bad days.” Using humorous and memorable anecdotes from his own time in the classroom, he recognizes the isolation, exhaustion, jealousy, blame and guilt that come with teaching and encourages teachers not to give up. Whether discussing out-of-touch administrators, confrontational parents, apathetic students or the current era of high-
stakes testing, the best-selling author reminds teachers to choose their character over their reputation and find balance in their professional and personal lives. Ever inspirational, Esquith shows educators that the best teaching is a journey, not a race to the top.
ONE SCHOOL’S PROUD PAST Once touted as “The Greatest Negro High School in the World” by the NAACP, Dunbar High School of Washington, D.C., was recently categorized as a failing school. Inspired by her parents (both Dunbar graduates), award-winning journalist Alison Stewart traces the school’s path from prestige to decline in First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School (Chicago Review Press, $26.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9781613740095). Upon its opening, Dunbar became synonymous with academic rigor, graduating such notable alums as Eva Dykes, the first African-American woman to receive a doctoral degree, and Edward Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the Senate, as well as prominent scientists, artists, musicians, playwrights and civil rights activists. Its
faculty included some of the most highly educated black teachers of the era, since Jim Crow laws barred them from working at other institutions. But as the neighborhoods surrounding Dunbar suffered economic and social woes, so, too, did the high school. When the author visited Dunbar, she was staggered to discover the faded glory of a building in disrepair and low-performing students with few dreams of college. Her detailed account of the school’s history firmly situates Dunbar in the broader context of the country’s educational reform and struggle for racial equality. As Dunbar looks to rebuild itself with a new building, new teachers and new students, Stewart sees a hopeful future.
A YEAR ON THE FRONT LINES Formerly a senior vice president in publishing, John Owens traded a comfy office for a classroom in one of New York City’s tough South Bronx neighborhoods because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. Based on an article he wrote for Salon.com, which immediately went viral, Confessions of a Bad Teacher: The Shocking Truth from the Front Lines of American Public Education (Sourcebooks, $13.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781402281006) recounts Owens’ first—and only—year in a high school he calls Latinate. He explains how, within days, he became a victim of his “crazed visionary manager” (aka the principal he refers to as Ms. P.) who set unattainable school-wide goals, terrorized teachers with threats of
“unsatisfactory” rankings and filled folders with hard-working teachers’ presumed misdeeds. Owens uses vignettes from his teaching experience to introduce problems in the American educational system, most notably how teachers are blamed for today’s failing public schools and how the “witch-hunt” for bad teachers is destroying classrooms. He also emphatically addresses how the data-driven school reform movement leaves principals with all the power (even turning some into cheating “Bernie Madoffs of test scores”) and teachers with ineffective evaluations. His concluding lessons are a heartfelt call to action.
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES When the U.S. scored 26th in critical thinking in math, below the average for the developed world, acclaimed journalist Amanda Ripley wondered why some students learned more and others less than their global counterparts. The result is The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way (Simon & Schuster, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9781451654424), in which the author follows three teens in Respect for different parts of the world teachers through a year and higher of high school. expectations She purposely selected Finfor students land, South Koare among rea and Poland, nations that the keys to recently ranked success. much lower among their developed peers but now rank well above the U.S. In Finland, Ripley found teacher preparation programs as selective as those for U.S. medical schools. In Korea, parents acted as coaches to their children, compared to American parents who act more like cheerleaders. While poverty has been cited as a factor in America’s failing schools, Poland, with an even higher poverty rate than the U.S., delayed tracking students until the end of their school careers. Although Ripley observed three different approaches, she also observed commonality and perhaps the key to success: respect for teachers and higher expectations for students. Ripley’s stirring investigation debunks many tenets of current education reform—but are U.S. leaders listening?
parenting By amy scribner
ADVICE FOR GETTING THROUGH TO YOUR KIDS
s anyone who’s ever raised a child will tell you, they don’t come with instructions. Well, that may be true, but this fresh new crop of parenting guides offers stellar advice to help you raise healthy, happy, creative and productive kids.
CREATIVITY FOR LIFE
WHAT DO YOU say? I’ve been dreading certain questions since my first child was born nine years ago, so I was happy to find some guidance for navigating those tricky conversations. Mom, I’m Not a Kid Anymore (The Experiment, $14.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781615190782) by Sue Sanders offers funny and useful advice on how to answer everything from “Do you believe in God?” to “You and Dad do that ?”
Sanders has a teenage daughter, which I’d say is pretty much the only expertise required of someone writing this kind of book. She takes on bullying, materialism and slang (which she calls “the lingua franca of adolescence”) with a firm, positive and loving approach. She unflinchingly examines her own foibles in the service of making a larger point (like the time her daughter, then 4 years old, skipped down the city street shouting, “Mommy loves wine!”). Sanders, who is based in Portland, Oregon, clearly loves parenting and has her eye on the end goal: raising a daughter who will become a productive and independent adult. But not too quickly: “She will soon be pulling away, literally, down the driveway and seeing us and her childhood in the rearview mirror. I know that one day in the not too distant future, I’ll give her the keys and let go. Or maybe not. Our city does have a fine public transportation system, after all.”
REAP THE REWARDS It’s hard to beat advice from the director of the Yale Parenting Center. In The Everyday Parenting Toolkit (HMH, $25, 208 pages, ISBN 9780547985541), Alan E. Kazdin starts with the premise that “you have to know what behaviors you would like, and when you want them. . . . That also gets you out of the habit of just noticing what you don’t want, and unwittingly reinforcing it with your exasperated attention.” Kazdin’s method begins with the use of “antecedents,” a fancy word for anything that prompts a specific behavior. It could be verbal
instructions, a note on the refrigerator door or the demonstration of a certain skill, such as using a fork. When the antecedent brings about the behavior you want, give your child positive reinforcement. Eventually, when the desired behavior appears regularly, you can fade out your use of the antecedent. Lest you get the impression that Kazdin equates parenting with training a puppy, rest assured that he does not suggest using biscuits as rewards. He clearly relishes his work and is intrigued and excited by child and family dynamics, using real examples from his work with families at Yale to demonstrate his advice. This toolkit is jam-packed with solid advice any parent can use.
cultural exchange Effective parenting knows no nationality, according to Christine Gross-Loh, who, in Parenting Without Borders (Avery, $26, 320 pages, ISBN 9781583334553), shares what we can learn from families worldwide. Gross-Loh knows whereof she writes—she and her husband moved to Japan when their sons were 5 and 3, and they subsequently had two daughters while living there. They quickly found that what they had assumed were universal traits of good parents were, in fact,
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Julia Cameron has sold millions of copies of The Artist’s Way, her seminal book on how to find and embrace your creativity. In The Artist’s Way for Parents (Tarcher, $26.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780399163722), Cameron helps parents unleash their children’s creativity and sense of wonder. The beauty of Cameron’s advice is that she offers very specific, undaunting exercises for the, shall we say, less artistically inclined among us. For example, she suggests spending an entire evening with no screens: no iPads, no TV, no movies. That’s it. Don’t force watercolors and canvases on your child. Just spend time together and see what happens. “This may cause a great deal of resistance and anxiety, but if you can power through, the connection you will ultimately make with yourself and your family members will be deeper for it,” she says. There is definitely a spiritual bent to Cameron’s work—readers of her memoirs know she is a Christian. But hers is a gentle, ecumenical approach, and she is never off-putting. Rather, her interest is in supporting calm, loving environments where children are free to explore and express themselves.
cultural. Japanese moms were more lax about sweets, television and behavior, and yet, Gross-Loh found, their children were just as mature and well-adjusted as hers. Intrigued, Gross-Loh dove into researching parenting practices around the world, and culled the most interesting and surprising examples of how parents are succeeding. For instance, despite the stereotype of rigid and robotic Japanese schools, recess is actually as much a part of their curriculum as math and reading. Kids go outside as frequently as every hour. She visits one of some 700 “forest kindergartens” in Germany, where preschool children spend hours outdoors singing, building, playing and—horror of horrors for American parents—whittling with knives, which they have been taught to use safely. She also examines schools in other parts of the world that promote healthy eating, in contrast to our tater tot and pizza-heavy Christine cafeteria fare. “In Korea, a Gross-Loh child at school explores would be served what good spicy chicken, noodles, soup, parenting seasoned looks like vegetables, and in cultures persimmon,” she writes. all over the Gross-Loh world. finds schools in America that have begun emulating the fresher and veggie-heavy meals of foreign countries, concluding, “We can help our kids be ‘good at eating’ just as we’d teach them any other life skill, so that they can share in a world of food as love, as nurturance, and health.” Gross-Loh offers an inspiring argument that we can all learn a lot from each other when it comes to the toughest job there is.
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By cat acree
Sharp BURSTS OF FICTION
n the art of the short story, every word is a nerve ending. In these four new collections of stories, words are put to their best use.
CALL TO ARMS
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A foreign war buzzes constantly in the minds of the male characters in Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s first collection, Brief Encounters with the Enemy (Dial, $25, 240 pages, ISBN 9780812993585). Each of these young men is in a desperate place, working a dead-end job and trying to shake his stagnancy. By enlisting, they hope to align themselves with society’s central focus, to be the tip of the knife, but just as the weather in these stories is always out of season (it’s hot when it should be cold, cold when it should be hot), these expectations are never met. In the crucial, climactic “A Brief Encounter with the Enemy,” a young soldier finds his deployment to be as pointless as the jobs back home. His restlessness becomes so unbearable that he kills a man, just for something to do. War offers the illusion of choice and action, but ultimately leaves the boys without the sense of purpose they so desperately desire. And just when it seems that an entire generation is hopeless, the collection wraps with “Victory,” the story of a janitor who discovers happiness in the smallest, most harmless of rebellions. Sayrafiezadeh first burst onto the literary scene with his 2009 memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free. Accelerating through the curve with characters who are colossally misguided and still likable—reminiscent of Junot Díaz’s Yunior—this is an astounding first collection.
THEY LOOK LIKE ANTS In Bobcat and Other Stories (Algonquin, $14.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781616201739), North Carolina writer Rebecca Lee expertly navigates the lives of characters—often academics—who are deeply and wonderfully flawed. Perception and desire—the kind of pure, single-minded desire Rilke wrote of—drive them, and they only gain control over their lives when given the opportunity to judge the lives of
others. In these moments, Lee slows her pace to wade in the beauty and tragedy of it all, producing stories that are by turns languorous and unsettled. In the subtly executed “Bobcat,” a hostess warily surveys her dinner party—wondering if one woman knows her husband is cheating on her, or if the guest who claims she was attacked by a bobcat is lying—yet never sees what is actually going on. In the bizarre “Slatland,” a creepy professor teaches a young girl how to exit her body—literally stare down upon herself—and this otherworldly trick morphs from a defensive tool to one that leaves her powerless. Through these stories, the reader becomes a hunter, stalking the most dangerous sides of ourselves—often revealing something good underneath it all.
NEW MYTHOLOGY The stories in Aimee Bender’s latest collection, The Color Master (Doubleday, $25.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9780385534895), are linked through a pervading sense of the writer’s experimentation. As with the works of Gabriel García Márquez, they render the phrase “fairy tale” forgettable: Bender approaches her strange tales with restrained, self-aware observation and looks upon her characters with as much wonder as the reader. In the arresting “Mending Tigers,” two sisters travel to Malaysia, where tigers with great lacerations down their backs appear from the jungle and lie at the feet of women trained to sew them back together. In “The Color Master,” a protégé is tasked with making a dress the color of the
moon. And in “The Red Ribbon,” a woman indulges in a prostitution fantasy with her husband, and afterward begins to imagine commodifying all elements of her life. The wallop packed by each story begs for each one to be consumed individually, but though Bender’s natural prose makes for easy reading, these are not bite-sized tales. They are undeniably filling, with a wealth of imagination that transforms each one into a compact novel.
HOME IS NOWHERE In the mind of Ethan Rutherford, there’s something ludicrous and sparkling to our existence. In his debut story collection, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories (Ecco, $13.99, 240 pages, ISBN 9780062203830), he reveals it has always been this way by exploring moments of isolation, loss and homesickness. In “The Peripatetic Coffin,” young Confederates volunteer to man the submarine Hunley, fully aware that it is a doomed mission from the start. “The Saint Ana,” the story of a Russian ship locked in an Arctic sheet of ice, opens with a man shouting, “Who’s peeing on me?” And seemingly out of the blue comes “John, for Christmas,” the story of a couple dreading the return of their son, which unfolds with all the restraint of Raymond Carver. Tempered by Rutherford’s humor in the face of unavoidable tragedy, these imaginative stories are vital, present and alive. Rutherford— who is also a guitarist for the band Pennyroyal—hasn’t landed on the exact story he wants to tell, as demonstrated by the fact that these tales jump from sleepaway camp legends to whaling expeditions. It would be no surprise if elements from these stories worked their way into a larger work—so pay close attention and hope for a novel both great and hilarious.
The People in the Trees
Debut novel is an accomplished anthropological adventure
By Toby Barlow FSG $27, 400 pages ISBN 9780374107871 eBook available
Review By Stephenie Harrison
Every so often, you come across a book so spectacular that from the moment your eyes fall upon its first sentence the rest of the world ceases to exist. E-mails go unanswered, family members and household chores are neglected—everything is put on hold until you have seen your affair with this book through. Novels like these are reminders not only of why we read, but also of just how vital and downright magical storytelling can be. Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees is such a novel. Books like Yanagihara’s are to be treasured, for they are all too uncommon—about as rare as the turtles that hold the secrets of immortality in her dazzling debut. Written in the form of a memoir, The People in the Trees is the story of Norton Perina, a young medical researcher who joins a 1950 anthropological expedition to the remote Oceanic nation of Ivu’ivu in search of a lost people who are rumored to have discovered the secret of eternal youth. Perina’s mesmerizing tale recounts his journey deep into By Hanya Yanagihara the jungle, a living Eden, where he makes a discovery so revolutionary, Doubleday, $26.95, 384 pages it stands to change the very face of human existence: By consuming ISBN 9780385536776, audio, eBook available the flesh of a particular turtle, it is possible to arrest the body’s natural decay, resulting in lifespans that stretch across centuries. However, Perina’s discovery is not without its own monstrous consequences—not just for himself, but for the island and its people, who may have been better off never having been found. Part medical mystery, part anthropological adventure thriller, part meditation on the devastation that often results when worlds collide, The People in the Trees is an exhilarating tour de force that is practically perfect in every way. Yanagihara’s past experience as a travel writer serves her well: Her storytelling is so convincing that readers will find themselves debating which elements are based in fact rather than the author’s vivid imagination. The People in the Trees is flawlessly paced Visit BookPage.com for a Q&A and deeply nuanced—a gorgeous, meaty novel that is spellbinding, with Hanya Yanagihara. scandalous and supremely satisfying.
The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty
At first, this reviewer wanted to warn readers not to be taken in by the light tone of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret. On second thought, maybe readers should let this rather crafty novelist’s deceptive breeziness and humor sweep them along. It makes the shocks just that much more deliciously nasty, including the gob-smacking twist in the epilogue.
is Connor Whitby, the P.E. teacher at the school attended by Cecilia and Tess’ kids. Handsome and fit, Connor has everyone wondering why he remains unmarried well into his 40s. Perhaps there’s a reason that most everyone in the book is Catholic, given its themes of sin, both venal and mortal, of guilt and redemption, forgiveness and confession—as well as its images of Easter eggs and hot cross buns and wrong doings that erupt on Good Friday like the undead. The genius of The Husband’s Secret is that it makes us start to wonder what in our own lives would—or would not—have happened if, say, we had waited just five more minutes before we walked out the door, had not said that hurtful thing, had applied a bit of logic to that situation. The Husband’s Secret is as scary as it is familiar. —Arlene McKanic
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Amy Einhorn $25.95, 416 pages ISBN 9780399159343 eBook available
On the surface, the story is about a group of nice, middle-class, mostly Catholic women living in modernday Australia. There’s Cecilia, the disconcertingly chipper and organized Tupperware salesperson with her mysterious, moody husband John-Paul and their beautiful young daughters. There’s Tess, who embarks on an affair of her own after she discovers her cousin Felicity is sleeping with her husband. And then there’s poor Rachel Crowley, whose daughter Janie was found dead in a park many years ago as a teenager. The case has never been solved, but Rachel’s sure she knows who killed Janie. A constellation of spouses, children and co-workers surrounds these women, giving the proceedings a cozy normality that we know can’t last. Though men tend to be background figures, the most developed
There’s an unclassifiable quality to Toby Barlow’s work—it’s not quite fantasy, not quite magical realism. With Babayaga, the Detroit-based writer returns to the strange mix of magic and raw human energy found in his debut, Sharp Teeth. Once you begin reading, you’ll stop trying to define this novel and simply term it an exhilarating ride. Barlow’s narrative focuses on the lives of several very different but equally fascinating individuals in 1950s Paris. Will is a down-on-hisluck American advertising agent whose firm just happens to be a CIA front. Oliver is an American partier who came to Paris with dreams of starting a literary journal. Inspector Vidot is a detective who went to an old woman’s home to investigate a murder and somehow found himself turned into a flea. And then there’s Zoya, a beautiful young woman who attracts men with ease. But then, Zoya has been a beautiful woman for centuries—and that’s just the beginning of her talents. Barlow has a gift for rendering the fantastic in a striking, matterof-fact way. Even at its most fanciful (we are, after all, talking about a novel that features a man being turned into a flea), Babayaga is grounded by firm and careful prose. Every page blends the realms of the impossible and bizarre with the realms of history, culture and the human condition—and in that blending, the magic begins to feel very, very real. But Barlow is not merely satisfied to believably inject magic into his narrative. As Babayaga meanders through the City of Light, it becomes deeper and even more fascinating— a meditation on love and secrecy and magic and what it means to be human that moves far beyond its intriguing premise. Babayaga is a book that, appropriately, casts a spell that’s hard to break.
PETER GETHERS By carla jean whitley
Love, life and pets
© Michael Luppino
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riter, producer, Random House Studio publisher and creative powerhouse Peter Gethers is best known to readers as the author of three memoirs about life with his cat Norton. His new novel, Ask Bob, delves into the complicated romantic life of a New York City veterinarian.
Tell us about your pets. I was always a dog person. But when I got Norton—a gift from a girlfriend—I instantly became a cat nut. Now I have two Scottish Fold cats: an 11-year-old (whose ears didn’t fold) named Harper—a girl—and a 1-year-old boy named Mitch, a total devil. Truth be told, I love all animals, and the menagerie that Dr. Bob has is my fantasy. What made you decide to carry over the pet theme from the Norton books to your fiction? This novel didn’t start out with a pet theme. I wanted to write about someone who had what he thought was a perfect relationship, only to have it yanked away. I then wanted to write about his new relationship—and about the difficulty of competing with “the ghost of perfection,” a phrase once said to me by Roman Polanski. As I began writing, it occurred to me that by making Bob a vet, I could deal a bit further with the complexities of human relationships, [as opposed to] a simple human-to-pet relationship. Things that come easily are not usually satisfying—nor do they last. You also write thrillers under the pseudonym Russell Andrews, and you’ve worked in TV and theater, most recently with the off-Broadway hit Old Jews Telling Jokes. How does writing a novel differ from a play or screenplay? TV is about dialogue. Film is about structure. Novel writing is about a lot more. Writing a good play is at least as hard as writing a novel, although it’s a very different skill set. It requires a huge amount of discipline. I can say this because I don’t consider Old Jews Telling Jokes a play—it’s really a revue. I like it, and I’m not putting down how hard it was to do—but it was a lot like writing a sitcom. It’s not exactly August: Osage County.
Do your processes differ when you pen different types of books? Yes. Not so much the thought process, but the voice. Writing the thrillers helped me a lot. They are very plot driven—which my first two novels were definitely not— and as a result, Ask Bob is a much more satisfying novel. Plots are hard. I often say, somewhat snidely, that all too often, when critics use the term “literary” writer, they’re referring to someone who doesn’t know how to tell a story. Which of your books would you most like to see adapted to a different medium? I’d love to see my last three thrillers—Aphrodite, Midas and Hades—done either as films or as a TV series (they all have the same character and I’m convinced he’d be a great TV character). My deep, dark fantasy is to do a one-man show using the three cat books. I’m a good talker, and I’d love to try that. I’ll never have the nerve to do it, however, especially now that I know how hard it is to get a play going and make any money. What’s next for you? I have a lot of stuff going on. We’re shooting our first TV series for Random House Studio. It’s based on The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen, and airs in September on the Food Network. Away from Random House, I’m working with Stephen Sondheim and Wynton Marsalis on a seven-show performance at City Center. I’m also working with my writing and producing partner, Dan Okrent, because Old Jews is opening in Chicago in October and in London in March 2014. Finally, I have another book to write for Holt. Tentative title: Into the Fire: The Search for the Meaning of Food, Wine and Life. Sometime soon I hope to get some sleep.
reviews Ask Bob By Peter Gethers
Holt $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780805093315 Audio, eBook available
FICTION The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic By Emily Croy Barker
Pamela Dorman $27.95, 576 pages ISBN 9780670023660 eBook available
Dr. Robert Heller understands cats. And dogs. Heck, and snails— whatever animal you call your own, “Dr. Bob” can take care of it. In fact, his veterinary skills are so cherished that Dr. Bob is truly living his dream: He works in a small, New York Citybased veterinary practice where his patients’ owners have come to trust him, reports to a vet whom he has long admired, writes an advice column in one of the city’s newspapers and has married a woman who is nearly too good to be true. Just don’t turn to him with people problems. Those aren’t his forte. Maybe it’s because of Bob’s family—his brother Ted, for example, is driven by appearances and willing to step on anyone to get what he wants. It’s behavior that Bob’s parents enable. “In truth, most humans were complete ciphers to me,” Bob explains. “But I could pet the head of a horse, look into its eyes, and absolutely understand what he wanted, what was pulsing through that insanely strong body.” After they’ve married, Bob’s wife Anna asks him why, of all the people out there, he decided to trust her. That’s a question Bob can’t quite answer; all he knows is that when he found her, he found a piece of himself. But Bob can’t live his life in communication with only animals, and when tragedy strikes, he’s forced to cope with the consequences. Although Ask Bob appears at first to be a story about a man who understands animals at the expense of human relationships, it’s actually a story about family—human, feline, canine and otherwise. And as Bob explores the similarities between humans and animals, he realizes that familial relationships can affect who you become, but a person can also triumph over his or her past. In Ask Bob, author Peter Gethers (The Cat Who Went to Paris) has created a story with immense heart.
The bouncy title of this epic first novel sets up expectations of a certain type of book—maybe one with a pink stiletto or a sparkly diamond ring on the cover. Think again. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is a medieval fairy tale with a deliciously dark twist: The heroine is a modern-day woman trapped in an alternate, magical world. Nora Fischer’s dissertation is going nowhere fast—and her love life is in even worse shape—when she stumbles onto a portal to Semr, an archaic kingdom where magic is in the air and ideas about women’s roles are very different. Nora is enchanted (literally) by a woman named Ilissa, who quickly marries Nora off to her son to produce an heir. But her new family is not what it seems, and Nora flees to the protection of Aruendiel, a reclusive magician whose rough exterior hides a mysterious and painful past. Soon Nora has become Aruendiel’s apprentice, learning basic spells that come in handy when she and Ilissa meet again. Eventually, Nora will have to decide whether to make her way back home, or stay in a world she’s amazed to realize she has come to love. Emily Croy Barker is the executive editor of The American Lawyer magazine, where she oversees coverage of things like antitrust mass actions in Europe and the population of minority lawyers at big law firms. One can only imagine the fun she had writing this soapy, snappy tale. I’d be a sucker for any book in which Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice played a prominent role (Nora translates that classic novel chapter by chapter for Aruendiel), but The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic stands on its own merits as a thoroughly enchanting read. While Nora and Aruendiel may be more Heathcliff and Catherine than Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Barker has spun a clever, lush yarn that is uniquely its own.
—Carla Jean Whitley
FICTION Brewster By Mark Slouka
Norton $25.95, 288 pages ISBN 9780393239751 eBook available
Don’t look for heroes or a typical love story in The Violet Hour. Hill uses sophisticated prose to convey the tone and emotions of a 20-year marriage. The rise and fall of Abe and Cassandra is complicated and cruel, yet with her evocative writing, Hill—who has an MFA from Bennington College—leaves room for redemption. Fans of authors like Sue Miller and Elizabeth Strout should take notice. —Liz Atwood
—Karen Ann Cullotta
Rose Harbor in Bloom The Violet Hour By Katherine Hill
Scribner $26, 368 pages ISBN 9781476710327 eBook available
As Katherine Hill’s polished debut novel opens, Abe and Cassandra Green have been married for more than 20 years. Their accomplished daughter, Elizabeth, is leaving for college. The family is taking an afternoon sail on Abe’s new boat, when, suddenly, Abe and Cassandra descend into a life-changing argument. Abe ends the fight by literally jumping ship, leaving his wounded daughter and wife to navigate home. The Green marriage dissolves, Elizabeth moves east, and the author spends the remainder of the book deconstructing the history of Abe and Cassandra, beginning with their childhoods. Cassandra was the daughter of a mortician; Abe, the lone survivor after not one but both of his parents died sudden deaths. Cassandra and Abe met in San Francisco, where he was a young medical resident and she an aspiring sculptor. During their time together, Cassandra is never content. She flirts with infidelity; Abe is absorbed with residency, work, sailing—anything, Cassandra thinks, but her. After the fateful sailing trip changes everything, Abe and Cassandra do not speak to or see one another for nearly a decade. Then, the unexpected death of Cassandra’s father brings the Green family together, giving Abe the chance to extend a peace offering to his wounded daughter and drifting wife.
By Debbie Macomber
Ballantine $26, 336 pages ISBN 9780345528933 Audio, eBook available
In Rose Harbor in Bloom, beloved author Debbie Macomber returns
to the bucolic small town of Cedar Cove and the Rose Harbor Inn, where proprietor Jo Marie is anticipating the arrival of several guests. Mary Smith, with a scarf covering her shorn hair, checks in first. Mary reveals little of the reasons for her visit to Cedar Cove, but it is clear that she is gravely ill. Readers soon learn that she’s there to see her first and only love, and to seek forgiveness for a life-altering decision made during her youth. Next to arrive is Annie Newton, who is organizing her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary gala. With their lengthy and happy marriage, Kent and Julie Shivers inspired Annie’s conviction that love can last forever. But much to Annie’s shock, her grandparents are sniping at each other and arguing nearly nonstop. What is going on with the once happily married couple—and did Annie inadvertently cause their conflict? If that wasn’t enough, Annie is also trying to cope with her ex-fiancé’s stubborn refusal to accept the end of their engagement—and the arriv-
New from New York Times Bestselling Author
“Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum will enjoy getting to know amateur sleuth Cate Kinkaid.” —RT Book Reviews for Dying to Read
Available Wherever Books Are Sold Also Available in Ebook Format
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From J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, classic male coming-of-age stories attract generations of readers by delivering plainspoken narratives that seem to bleed from the page, yet are neither maudlin nor precious. Such is the case with author Mark Slouka’s evocative new novel, Brewster, which, despite delving bravely into despairingly dark subject matter, is still somehow infused with hope and light, achieving a sort of literary chiaroscuro. Jon Mosher, the novel’s hero, is a bright yet troubled 16-year-old track star whose German-Jewish immigrant parents survived the Holocaust only to have their comfortable suburban life in Brewster, New York, destroyed by the death of their young child. While the family patriarch buries his pain by working long hours at his shoe store in town and escaping into an endless stack of books at night, Jon’s depressed and delusional mother has suffered a mental breakdown, and even worse, blames Jon for his brother’s accidental death by electrocution. For Jon’s best friend, the brooding, enigmatic Ray Cappicciano, fate has dealt him not only a sadistic, alcoholic father, but also an absent mother and stepmother, both of whom have abandoned their sons over the years, leaving the boys in a decrepit house ruled by a violent drunk. Still, Slouka’s achingly realistic rendering of teenage romance, friendship and high school track team camaraderie is as often comic and delightful as it is brutal and devastating. While the teenage friends in Brewster rarely step across their hometown’s borders, Slouka has aptly juxtaposed the carnage of the Vietnam War with the rumbling social revolutions playing out across the nation during the Woodstock era. For example, Slouka’s portrayal of the tension-fraught relationships
between hippie teenagers defying the dictums of parents belonging to the “greatest generation” is not painted with broad strokes of right and wrong, but rather, a sad gray hue of moral ambiguity. It would not be an overstatement to suggest that Brewster could become the latest addition to the American canon of coming-of-age stories, enchanting readers with its soulful story of love, loss and the vagaries of the teenage heart.
reviews al of Oliver Sutton, who gave Annie a first kiss she has never forgotten. The stories of these five guests are interwoven with the events of Jo Marie’s daily life as she awaits news about her husband, who’s been reported missing after a military helicopter crash. She also carries on an intriguing, albeit often frustrating, friendship with the irascible Mark, whose interpretation of his duties as the inn’s handyman clashes with Jo Marie’s independent spirit. Each of these stories explores the difficult choices that impact our lives and change the course of our futures; how our perceptions of other’s actions may, or may not, be valid; and the necessity of strength and forgiveness in our lives. Seeing characters from previous Cedar Cove books appear at the Rose Harbor Inn is an additional pleasure. As always, Macomber uses warmth, humor and superb storytelling skills to deliver a tale that charms and entertains. —Lois Dyer
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Avon Romance Delivers
FICTION Snow Hunters By Paul Yoon
Simon & Schuster $22, 208 pages ISBN 9781476714813 eBook available
The Rathbones By Janice Clark
Doubleday $26.95, 384 pages ISBN 9780385536936 Audio, eBook available
Paul Yoon’s 2009 story collection, Once the Shore, won numerous accolades, including being named Best Book of the Year by the L.A. Times and Publishers Weekly. Expectations were high for his debut novel—and with Snow Hunters, he has fulfilled them. The plot of Snow Hunters is a spare one; it follows the journey of Yohan, a young North Korean and former prisoner of war who, after the Korean War’s conclusion, decides not to return to the North, but travels instead on a cargo ship to Brazil, where the U.N. has forged an agreement to allow former prisoners of war to emigrate. Yohan is apprenticed to an elderly Japanese tailor, Kiyoshi, who lives in a mostly Japanese community in an unnamed town on Brazil’s coast. The author skillfully weaves together scenes from Yohan’s youth and his years as a soldier and POW with those from the present, as his relationship with Kiyoshi strengthens. Yohan’s mother died at his birth, and he was raised by his father, “a solitary man” whom he never knew well. He was 16 when his father died, and as he looks back, he realizes his parents were simply “a blank space in his life that he was unable to paint.” From Kiyoshi he learns not only tailoring skills, but also how to care for, and about, those who are now part of his life. In the quietly resonant descriptions of his characters—Yohan, Kiyoshi and two local beggar children named Bia and Santi—Yoon paints an eloquent picture of the changes taking place in Yohan’s life as he gradually moves from the ravages of war to a contemplative and isolated existence occasionally sprinkled with moments of joy. For readers who enjoyed A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee or Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Snow Hunters is an introspective and moving novel to savor.
Take a deep breath before you start reading The Rathbones, and renew regularly. You’ll need it to navigate the story itself, which is mesmerizing, but also for the unexplainable bits: the attempted rape which probably wasn’t, the silent fate of unnumbered baby sisters lost in a family that prizes sons, and the powerful spiritual bond between whales and their pursuers. If that sounds confusing, rest assured that putting these pieces together turned out to be far easier than trying to put the book down—and was an enthralling exercise all the way. Standouts in a large cast of characters include the novel’s young narrator, Mercy Rathbone; her uncle, Mordecai; and her missing brother, Gideon. Their stories begin during the 19th-century decline of the whaling industry and the subsequent fall of the Rathbone family, whalers through and through. It all harks back to the mid-1700s, when the Rathbones, living in a huge house built to separate the sexes, pursued the patriarch Moses Rathbone’s quest to catch thousands of sperm whales. The family men excelled in their chosen mission (and mission it was) of bonding with the whale population that was then teeming off the Connecticut shore. Behind the scenes lurks the uncredited influence of the forgotten Rathbone women. Only when Moses’ oldest son Bow-Oar impatiently places profit above mysticism do the family fortunes begin to fail. Janice Clark, a Chicago writer and designer, not surprisingly grew up amid the whaling culture of Mystic, Connecticut. Her book is vastly appealing in its primal reach back to the Odyssey and Moby-Dick. The Rathbones will draw in men and women alike, and at its close, many of those readers may well be inclined to take another deep breath— and start all over again.
The Fields By Kevin Maher
Reagan Arthur $26, 400 pages ISBN 9780316223560 Audio, eBook available
The Fields—the first novel by Kevin Maher, a journalist originally from Dublin—stars Jim Finnegan, a 14-year-old with a potty mouth and a heart of tarnished silver. He hangs with a gang of toughs who swill lager and try to trump each other’s sexual conquests. Yet the lasses are no shrinking violets. Jim’s five (count ’em) sisters are as ominous as the witches in Macbeth. During the course of this somewhat picaresque story, Jim faces some serious challenges, including the accidental pregnancy of his girlfriend, Saidhbh, and an unfortunate relationship with an abusive priest. Though Jim’s studies suffer, as does his relationship with Saidhbh, he endures these with incredible fortitude, and despite its sordid subject matter, The Fields is brimming with humor and cheer. This is particularly true of Jim’s outrageous family, whose determination to be joyful amid gloom—or gloomy amid joy— is integral to the Irish sensibility, as when Jim’s “mam” and her friends gleefully deplore lives cut short: “Cancer, death, only twenty! It’s music to their ears, like the sound of a starter gun.” Maher’s prose has a manic, scabrous quality, like the ravings of a Guinness-fueled publican. He writes less like Joyce and more like Céline. Indeed, the only reference to Joyce is when a character suggests that a companion volume to Dubliners could be called “Ireland’s a Bit Rubbish and Has No Jobs.” It’s a small miracle whenever any adolescent survives, and Jim emerges with all his chakras intact (after another zany subplot involving New Age training in London). But one hopes for Jim what Larkin hoped for: “No God any more, or sweating in the dark / About hell and that, or having to hide / What you think of the priest.” —Kenneth Champeon
NONFICTION Son of a Gun
The Telling Room
By Justin St. Germain
A CHEESEMAKER’S TALL TALE Review by Anne Bartlett
According to Spanish legend, medieval knight Rodrigo Díaz, known as El Cid, was valiant, honorable and faithful, loyal even to the king who unjustly exiled him. The reality: Well, maybe not. Modern historians say El Cid really existed, but he was a much more mercenary and self-interested character than the hero immortalized in epic poetry, ballads and film. What on earth does that have to do with a guy named Ambrosio Molinos, who made a really good artisan cheese in the Spanish village of Guzmán for a short time back in the late 20th century? More than you might think, as Michael Paterniti demonstrates in his lovely, rollicking new book, The Telling Room, an exploration of his decade-long attempt to write about Ambrosio and his cheese, Páramo de Guzmán. Paterniti first heard of this great cheese when he was working for Zingerman’s, a gourmet deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Years later, when he was an established freelance writer with a young family, he sought out Ambrosio, who turned out to be a writer’s delight and a teller of innumerable folktales By Michael Paterniti (among them El Cid’s legend). Ambrosio’s greatest story is his own: about Dial, $27, 368 pages how his best friend betrayed him and cheated him out of his cheese compaISBN 9780385337007, audio, eBook available ny in a bitter dispute. The “telling room” of the book’s title is the small room in the Molinos family’s storage cave (yes, cave) where Ambrosio, the Zorba of Guzmán, waxes poetic. Infatuated with Ambrosio and Guzmán, Paterniti moved his family to the remote village, only to become blocked, unable to finish the book. Clearly, he worked his way through the dilemma, but only after overcoming his reluctance to check into Ambrosio’s story. It turns out—surprise!—Ambrosio, like El Cid, is perhaps not the perfect knight, any more than Guzmán, with its Franco-era secrets, is a fairy-tale village. Paterniti writes with charm and verve, providing cultural context with discursive footnotes that mimic Ambrosio’s own circuitous style. He leads the reader down his own twisting path to a deeper understanding of why we need the Ambrosios of the world: They are the storytellers whose magic makes reality bearable.
Ecstatic Nation By Brenda Wineapple
Harper $35, 736 pages ISBN 9780061234576 eBook available
American Equal Rights Association was created to lobby the government for equal rights for all, female and male, black and white. But many abolitionists felt it was only the “Negro’s hour,” rather than, as Stanton said it should be, the “nation’s hour.” Wineapple introduces us to familiar names such as Clara Barton and P.T. Barnum, as well as a wide array of lesser-known figures, such as Lydia Maria Child, a popular author of children’s literature who was also an abolitionist. Child is best known today for the Thanksgiving Day jingle “Over the river, and through the wood,” but her other works included an influential book advocating immediate emancipation of the slaves, a novel about interracial marriage and a compilation on the condition of women. In Ecstatic Nation, Wineapple offers a beautifully written and skillfully woven narrative that anyone interested in American history should enjoy.
“We’re just looking for the ghost town,” a stranger tells Justin St. Germain on the back roads of Arizona. St. Germain understands—maybe more than the stranger could appreciate. He is a haunted man. After his mother’s death, he moved from Arizona to San Francisco and rarely told new friends that she had been murdered when he was 19. He didn’t want to be defined by the tragedy. But now he can’t forget it, and Son of a Gun is his journey to make sense of it all. The journey is also literal, as St. Germain returns to the scene of the crime. He interviews the detective, pages through old case files and reconnects with his mother’s former boyfriends. There’s something about the memoir that’s reminiscent of a dog sniffing around a backyard, determined and focused, following pure animal instinct to dig things up. Ultimately St. Germain’s journey is as much about himself as it is about his mother. It is about understanding how he arrived at his “new and clean” life in California after leaving behind such wreckage—not just the murder, but also emotional wreckage, domestic violence and poverty. The book’s construction is pure elegance. By weaving the history of Wyatt Earp with his own story, St. Germain suggests meaningful parallels between the town of Tombstone and himself. Tombstone is defined by 30 seconds of violence that happened more than 100 years ago. St. Germain, too, is struggling against the inevitability of the past defining his present. As all of this unfolds, St. Germain manages to make the book feel like an old Western, a burlesque of violence strangely appropriate for his tale. By page 15 I knew I was in the hands of a master storyteller. Emotionally raw and beautifully written, Son of a Gun is a book you won’t soon forget.
— K e l ly B l e w e t t
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When John Quincy Adams died in 1848, much of the nation was in the midst of exuberance and exultation. For many people it was a time of great optimism, for reasons including the discovery of gold in California and the establishment of the new Free Soil political party. At the same time, there was also greed, violence and a refusal by many to consider a solution to the nation’s most controversial issue: slavery. In her masterful, sweeping synthesis of a transformative time, Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877, Brenda
Wineapple explores what followed Adams’ death in a wonderfully readable book that holds our interest on every page. It is a rare combination of cultural, political, intellectual and military history that brings this pivotal period to vivid life. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, realizing that their entire project could rise or fall depending on how they handled the issue of slavery, had decided to leave the word “slave” out of their final document. Through the years other compromises were reached on slavery until the word “compromise” went from being regarded as an act of statesmanship to an epithet. The abolitionist Wendell Phillips noted, “The great poison of the age is race hatred,” which affected white attitudes not only toward black slaves but also toward Native Americans. By the spring of 1866, in the wake of the Civil War, Elizabeth Cady Stanton declared the women’s rights movement was in “deep water.” Led by Frederick Douglass and Henry Ward Beecher, among others, the
Random House $26, 256 pages ISBN 9781400068623 eBook available
reviews Lawrence in Arabia By Scott Anderson Doubleday $28.95, 592 pages ISBN 9780385532921 eBook available
NONFICTION Following the war, Lawrence did as much to lower his profile as he had done to raise it during the hostilities. Working in a series of low-level military jobs, writing his memoirs and withdrawing further into seclusion, Lawrence exhibited all the symptoms, Anderson notes, of PTSD. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1935 at the age of 47.
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Lawrence in Arabia is so geographically far-ranging that it needs to be read with an atlas of the Middle East close by—and perhaps a bottle or two of strong drink to get one through its more harrowing passages. Although the fabled T.E. Lawrence is the focal point of the narrative, author Scott Anderson casts a much wider net, sketching in the imperial designs, battles, political machinations and tribal rivalries that convulsed Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt during WWI—and including those regions that would eventually become Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. Besides the diminutive, scholarly and strong-willed Lawrence, Anderson constructs his history around larger-than-life figures such as the agronomist, spymaster and ardent Zionist Aaron Aaronsohn; the blue-blood oil explorer William Yale; the German master of intrigue Curt Prufer; and Djemal Pasha, the military and political leader of half the besieged Ottoman Empire. A major theme here is the incompetence and institutional crosspurposes of the British military establishment, failings that would have been comic had they not led to such massive loss of life (most infamously at Gallipoli). It’s little wonder that Lawrence, a schemer who worked his own plans at his own pace, was so effective initially in his campaign for Arab independence. His gifts for language, cultural understanding and diplomacy enabled him to assemble and lead native troops in a series of successful campaigns. And despite his Oxford education and finely tuned English sensibilities, he could—and did—spill Turkish blood as readily as his most savage underlings. In spite of the battles he won, though, he ultimately lost his private war to keep England and France from imposing their will on the conquered territories.
The End of the Suburbs By Leigh Gallagher Portfolio $25.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781591845256 eBook available
and suburban dwellers themselves, she cites several reasons for the decline of the suburb as we know it: Home values have inverted; cities are experiencing a resurgence; households are shrinking; the price of oil is rising. As urban areas have witnessed a rise in population and influx of wealth over the past decade, the suburbs have experienced a rise in poverty; from 2000 to 2010, she points out, “the growth rate in the number of poor living in the suburbs was more than twice that in the cities.” The End of the Suburbs is a firstrate social history that asks pointed questions about one of America’s most cherished cultural institutions. —Henry L. Carrigan Jr.
Manson By Jeff Guinn In 1962, Malvina Reynolds captured both the rapid development and growth of the suburbs, as well as their homogenous character, in her song “Little Boxes,” which Pete Seeger made famous the following year: “Little boxes on the hillside / little boxes made of ticky tacky . . . they all look just the same.” Fifty years later, as Leigh Gallagher observes in this captivating and thoughtful social history, the suburbs that the Ozzie and Harriet Nelsons of the 1950s and early 1960s so coveted are now declining, fostering a shift in the shape of the American dream of home ownership. In The End of the Suburbs, Gallagher traces the history of the suburb from its rise during the post-WWII development of tract housing in places such as Levittown, Pennsylvania, to the great urban exodus of the ’50s and ’60s, when many city-dwellers decamped to wealthy enclaves such as Lake Forest, Illinois. The suburbs grew so quickly because of the rapid growth of the middle class, the advent of mass production of building materials and houses, and the freedom provided by the automobile. Gallagher acknowledges that most Americans still live in the suburbs because we are a culture that values privacy and individualism, but she provides plenty of evidence that suburbia is at the beginning of a steep decline. Drawing on extensive interviews with policy analysts, construction and housing experts,
Simon & Schuster $27.50, 512 pages ISBN 9781451645163 eBook available
It has been 44 years since Charles Manson manipulated members of his so-called Family into murdering pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other people in a delusional attempt to spark “Helter Skelter,” the end-of-the-world race war that Manson had convinced his followers would lead to their rise as saviors of the world. Crazy stuff like this has a long shelf life. In the almost half-century since, rivers of ink have flowed in the attempt to understand how this diminutive ex-con could have lured normal-seeming middleclass youngsters (mostly girls) into savagery. In fact, so much has been written about Manson and his followers that it’s easy to wonder if there’s anything new to say. It turns out there is. Jeff Guinn managed to track down and interview Manson’s older cousin, with whom a young Charlie Manson had lived when his mother was in prison, and his younger sister, adopted, to Manson’s great dismay, while he was imprisoned at McNeil Island, Washington. Neither of these women can shed light on the ultimate source of Manson’s dysfunction—he appar-
ently was a sociopath from a very young age—but they do clear up much of the misinformation about his childhood and help Guinn offer a richer understanding of Manson’s early life. Guinn also interviewed former cellmates, Manson Family members, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi (who wrote the definitive book on the murder trial), and a host of others. The result is that Guinn’s well-researched biography, Manson, offers many new details about Manson’s life and enhances our understanding of him in several ways. It turns out that Manson, who hated formal schooling, was a serious student of manipulation. Though functionally illiterate, he worked his way through Dale Carnegie’s books about the arts of persuasion, investigated Scientology not for its dogma but for its methods of captivating followers and sat at the feet of pimps to learn techniques for manipulating women, and through them, men. Guinn also shows Manson to have been a guru worried about losing his followers. His need to bind them to him, Guinn suggests plausibly, was part of his path to murder. Finally, Guinn does an excellent job of placing Manson in the context of the tumultuous 1960s. In some circles, Manson and his followers are thought to be the logical end-product of those wild times. But Guinn offers a more nuanced view: “Charlie Manson is a product of the 1960s—and also of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s,” he writes. In what is probably the fullest biography of Manson to date, Guinn shows that Manson the murderer is not just a creation of the ’60s but the unfortunate sum of all his parts. —Alden Mudge
The Wet and the Dry By Lawrence Osborne
Crown $25, 240 pages ISBN 9780770436889 eBook available
Travel writer and novelist Lawrence Osborne faced infinite bureaucratic delays getting a visa for his trip to Pakistan. Since his goal was to find out if he could get drunk
NONFICTION in dry Islamabad, a friend joked that the holdup was due to his job description: “visiting alcoholic.” In his new book, The Wet and the Dry, Osborne travels across the Middle East trying to get a drink in ostensibly sober Muslim cultures. What emerges from this journey is a nuanced, intriguing portrait of alcohol and sobriety in the Islamic world. Osborne finds that it is possible, if not always easy or safe, to get a drink in Islamabad—and in Beirut, Oman, Dubai and Malaysia. Often sequestered in hotels catering to the international traveler, some bars are leftovers from British imperialism, dusty time capsules where Osborne can get a gin and tonic at 6:10 each evening. Other bars are hidden away, targets for Islamic fundamentalists, and therefore dangerous to drink in. One gets the impression that Osborne relishes the danger. Part travelogue, part memoir, The Wet and the Dry inevitably focuses on Osborne’s own relationship with alcohol. He is comfortable calling
himself an alcoholic and detailing long days and nights in bars, blackouts and hangovers. The dark allure of alcohol seems more glamorous and compelling to him than the woman he brings along to Oman. And yet his travels begin as an attempt to “dry out” in the Islamic world, to see what sobriety and sober cultures have to teach him. The personal crisis that brings him to this odyssey seems to be his mother’s death, and the legacy of alcoholism in his own family, yet Osborne never swears off drinking completely, even in the driest cultures. When he and his lover cannot find any alcohol in Oman and end up drinking strawberry juice to see in the New Year, he writes of the dreadful clarity of sobriety. Ultimately, this book is more about the traveler than the travels. Osborne’s haunting, crystalline prose is as refreshing as a cool gin and tonic on a hot day in a dark room. But beware the kick! —Catherine Hollis
Turn Around Bright Eyes By Rob Sheffield
It Books $25.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780062207623 Audio, eBook available
Rob Sheffield’s first book, Love Is a Mix Tape, described his first marriage through the songs he and his wife shared, loved and fought over, and ended with her unexpected death from a pulmonary embolism. Turn Around Bright Eyes begins where that book ended, with Rob relocating from Virginia to New York and navigating out of grief and into adulthood via many late nights in karaoke bars. Each chapter is titled with a song that’s a signpost on Rob’s journey.
He attends “Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy” camp, and the band he’s assigned to plays the Bad Company song of the same name. (Sheffield confesses he can’t sing or play an instrument, and bruises his thighs mercilessly with a tambourine.) “Livin’ Thing” briefly mentions the ELO song, but is more about Sheffield adapting to living alone after marriage, then making his first forays out into the world of karaoke, his days measured out in microwave soy burgers, like a modern-day Prufrock. Sheffield’s grief runs deep, but he learns to move on, one song at a time, and falls in love again, with an astrophysicist and fellow music geek. He tweaks a lyric from “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to sum up his story: “Once upon a time I was falling apart, now I’m always falling in love.” Pop music fans will love finding lyrics studded throughout the book like tiny Valentines. Anyone with a heart should find room in it for Turn Around Bright Eyes. —heather seggel
Introducing the NEW Idiot’s Guides! As Easy As It Gets • New covers and branding treatment 9781615644100
• Twelve titles publishing September and November 2013
A member of
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• More graphic with the right balance of text, art, and color optimal for making each topic as easy to learn as possible
Ease Those First-Day Jitters with these MustHave Picture Books!
What will it take for a little bull to realize he’s being a big bully?
by 2013 Caldecott Honoree Laura Vaccaro Seeger
★ “Beautifully executed.” —Booklist, starred review
★ “Seeger’s pages pop with action.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “The antibullying message comes across clearly without being heavy-handed or didactic.” —School Library Journal, starred review
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Even monsters get nervous on the first day of school!
In Quick’s new YA novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, Leonard plans to celebrate his 18th birthday by using an old Nazi handgun to kill his former best friend and then himself. But first he has gifts to deliver to the four people who mean the most to him: an elderly neighbor with whom he trades Humphrey Bogart quotes; a classmate whose violin music soothes him; his completely out-of-reach crush; and his Holocaust studies teacher, Herr Silverman, who plays a crucial role as Leonard draws closer to what may be his final act. Just as Leonard carefully chooses whom to trust with his secrets, Herr Silverman must decide what he’s willing to do to help a student in need. “I really wanted to show that conflict,” Quick says in a call from his Massachusetts home. “When you have to grade 80 five-paragraph essays for kids trying to get into Harvard, and some kid comes to you with some type of crisis and is crying, which do you choose? Do you comfort that kid or do you grade the essays? Or do you comfort the kid and grade the essays and tell your wife you can’t go out that weekend? I wanted to set up that relationship as something that was challenging. When is it time to break down those
Taking that BIG step into the classroom doesn’t have to be SCARY! Delight young readers with this charming twist on the first day of kindergarten.
Imprints of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group • mackids.com
INTERVIEW B y j i l l r a t z a n
atthew Quick may be best known for The Silver Linings Playbook and the Oscar-winning movie it inspired, but he’s never really stopped being a teacher. Writing for teens simply lets him send his intended messages to a wider audience. “If you care about kids,” he says, “teaching is the hardest job in the world.”
by Daniel J. Mahoney Illustrated by Jef Kaminsky
Neal Porter Books/ Roaring Brook Press
Between a gun and a hard place
forgive me, leonard peacock
Feiwel and Friends
By Matthew Quick
Little, Brown, $18, 288 pages, ISBN 9780316221337 eBook available, ages 12 and up
boundaries, play loose with the rules? How far do you go?” Helping these students can save their lives, but as Leonard’s favorite teacher learns, it can also create a set of ethical questions without any easy answers. Quick—who left his job as a high school English teacher in New Jersey to pursue an MFA in creative writing—understands that teens want to be on equal footing with their adult teachers while still needing them to be dependable authority figures. Connections between teachers and students matter—and linger. Quick tells an anecdote about a lonely student who once approached him for advice. Quick told the young man, “You don’t know who you’re going to meet in five years. Your best friend could be out there, your life partner could be in some other high school, having all the same issues and the same problems—you don’t know who they are yet, but you’ll meet that person eventually.” Quick soon forgot about the conversation, but his student didn’t. Eight years later, the former student returned to introduce Quick to his wife and told him, “You were right about that.” Quick was touched. “The things we tell teenagers are powerful,” he says. “They remember.” So why did Quick leave the classroom for writing? Several reasons, he says, including returning to an earlier passion and “knowing how to find balance.” During his own teen years, Quick was discouraged from pursuing a career in writing, as it was considered “unmanly” in his blue-collar hometown. But Quick found that teaching, counseling, coaching and chaperoning left little time for writing—or anything else. Becoming a full-time author made him feel “fully alive” while also providing for himself and his family. Leaving teaching was a risk, but one that paid off. Along with The Silver Linings Playbook, Quick is now the author of three books for young adults and the upcoming adult novel The Good Luck of Right Now, set
to be published by HarperCollins in 2014. And since the success of The Silver Linings Playbook, he’s found himself with more readers, sales, translations and speaking engagements than he ever expected. “But that’s not why I write,” Quick emphasizes. Instead, what drives his novels is the idea that everyone—even those who don’t consider themselves bookish types—can benefit from the increased sensitivity that fiction provides. “You can’t put a price tag on empathy,” he says. Although most of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is told from Leonard’s point of view, a series of letters interrupts the narration from time to time. These letters come from a lighthouse on the edge of a post-apocalyptic world. No ships have been seen in decades, but the lighthouse keepers—a man, his wife, their daughter and the man’s father-in-law—faithfully maintain the beam anyway. The significance of the letters, and how they relate to Leonard, becomes clearer as the novel progresses. “Leonard is damaged, angry—but wonderful,” Quick says. “He’s sending out light. He just wants to be loved, and no one sees it.” According to Quick, the ambiguity at the heart of this novel was intentional—and any actual resolution irrelevant. Teens “will tend to exaggerate to make their point because nobody’s listening,” Quick says, and this sense of drama can kick into high gear on especially symbolic days, like birthdays. “Leonard has to take it to this crazy height and level to get people to see how much pain he’s in.” But YA literature allows for unresolved conflicts and open endings just as much as hopeful, happy resolutions. Says Quick, “I don’t think that YA should be required to do anything except make kids think.”
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
A tall tale from deep in the bayou Review by Alice Cary
Gather ’round, readers, and welcome to Sugar Man Swamp in the Texas bayou, home of an intriguing menagerie that includes raccoons, rattlesnakes, wild hogs (the Farrow Gang), alligators, possums, an elusive ivorybilled woodpecker and much more. King of this ecosystem is Sugar Man, a cousin of Bigfoot who stays hidden and sleeping, only emerging during a crisis. And indeed, a crisis is afoot, as owner Sonny Boy Beaucoup plans to turn 2,000 acres of the swamp into the Gator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, presided over by champion gator wrestler Jaeger Stitch. The swamp needs rescuing, and the heroes are an unlikely trio. There’s a pair of raccoons named Bingo and J’miah who serve as Swamp Scouts, watching over the area and warning Sugar Man when necessary. Then there’s 12-year-old Chap Brayburn, who has lived here all his life. His By Kathi Appelt mother runs the Paradise Pies Cafe, known for heavenly fried sugar pies Atheneum, $16.99, 336 pages made from the swamp’s canebrake sugar. Chap’s grandfather, who knew ISBN 9781442421059, audio, eBook available the swamp inside and out, has just passed away, leaving Chap to try to fill Ages 8 to 12 his shoes as human guardian of this special place. Newbery Honor-winning author Kathi Appelt weaves these characters together in a lovely symphony, giving both animal and human viewpoints in numerous chapters, many of which are quite short. The book is a breezy read, full of excitement, and Appelt’s folksy, tall-tale style makes the novel a great choice for a read-aloud. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp is a tour de force filled with thoughtful, admirable characters like Chap and his grandfather, and rollicking goofballs like the raccoon Swamp Scouts, who help save the day despite their tendency to get themselves in trouble. Underneath all the hijinks are real lessons to be learned about how different species live together and interact, about the importance of conservation and about the impact of development on a fragile ecosystem. Readers will feel as though they’ve had a VIP tour of Sugar Man Swamp—the only thing missing is a taste of that famous fried sugar pie!
Dinosaur Kisses By David Ezra Stein
Candlewick $15.99, 32 pages ISBN 9780763661045 Ages 2 to 5
Very young children tend to have great energy, and they have a joyful, infectious sort of hubris to boot. Caldecott Honor-winning author/ illustrator David Ezra Stein knows this and embodies this energy in Dinah, a baby dinosaur, the star of his new picture book, Dinosaur Kisses. Dinah hatches newly from her egg and heads out: “There was so much to see and do.” She stomps and chomps with the grace of a sumo wrestler, but it’s when she sees two prehistoric creatures kissing that she’s determined to try this herself. The problem, however, is that she
black outlines and chunky lettering, including a larger, louder font for the “STOMP!”s and “WHOMP!”s and “KRAK!”s. The book’s dominating horizontal line, as we watch Dinah stomp along the horizon, makes for compelling page turns, also matching the great energy of the book. It’s big, loud fun for rowdy, raucous toddlers. Mwah! —J u l i e D a n i e l s o n
— DEBORAH HO P KINSON
The Truth of Me By Patricia MacLachlan
Charlesbridge $16.95, 142 pages ISBN 9781580895606 Ages 10 to 13
Katherine Tegen/ HarperCollins $16.99, 128 pages ISBN 9780061998591 eBook available Ages 6 to 10
By Leah Pileggi
Prisoner 88, Leah Pileggi’s engaging debut novel, was inspired by a
“Not all kids are best friends with their grandmothers. But I am,” narrator Robbie tells readers in the opening pages of The Truth of Me. Robbie’s parents are touring the
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lacks the agility to properly pull off a gentle kiss and ends up whomping, chomping and stomping everyone she meets. In one very funny illustration, her kiss turns into a giant bite on the backside of a dinosaur. “Whoops,” she says, as she hangs by her teeth from a brontosaurus rump. Later, she actually swallows another creature in a vain attempt to more carefully use her lips in the act of kissing. There’s a lot of humor in these bumbling moments: In one, she stomps on and flattens a fish walking on two legs. So much for that species. Dinah stomps happily on. It’s only when another dinosaur baby emerges from a nearby egg that the two come up with their own brand of kissing: more chomping, stomping and whomping. A boisterous head-butt is their version of affection. Great minds think alike. Infused with lively, attentiongrabbing yellows and cheerful, stimulating oranges to match Dinah’s mood, the book is filled with thick
tour of the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho. As Pileggi took in the sights of the “Old Pen,” the docent happened to mention that the youngest prisoner incarcerated there was 10-year-old James Oscar Baker, convicted of manslaughter in the 1880s. The idea for Prisoner 88 was born. This evocative, heartfelt story, sure to appeal to boys, is narrated by Prisoner 88 himself. Jake Oliver Evans is a boy who hasn’t had much joy—or much of anything—in his first 10 years. Sentenced to five years in prison for shooting and killing a man who threatened his father, Jake tries to look on the bright side of things. Being confined to the Old Idaho Penitentiary offers benefits he’s never had during his old life with Pa: more food than he’s ever seen at one time (and every day at that), a chance to work with hogs and the opportunity to learn to read (though, especially at first, Jake’s not so sure he cares much about his letters). Through Jake’s eyes, young readers will get a glimpse of life in Idaho Territory in 1885. Jake’s fellow prisoners are a diverse lot, including a Chinese American and a Mormon arrested for polygamy. But Jake manages to survive, and even win the hearts of the tough men around him through his cheerful acceptance of his lot and his willingness to work. One of the values of historical fiction is the insight it provides us into the lives of people in other times and places. Thanks to Pileggi’s skillful storytelling, young readers will be rooting for Jake to find a future— and family—of his own.
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world with their string quartet, so Robbie—along with his other best friend, his dog Ellie—are staying with Robbie’s grandmother Maddy for the summer. Maddy isn’t like most grandmothers. She hates cooking (on a previous visit, she served Robbie doughnuts for dinner), preferring to spend time in the woods with her wild animal companions. Robbie’s mother questions Maddy’s unusual priorities, but Robbie loves Maddy the way she is. Her friend Henry, the local doctor, does too. During one of their frequent evenings together, Henry tells Robbie that everyone has their own small truths . . . and challenges Robbie to find one of his own by summer’s end. Does Robbie’s truth have to do with his suspicion that his mother loves her violin more than she loves him? Does it have to do with Maddy’s special relationships with the creatures of the forest? Or is some other truth out there waiting to be discovered—a story that belongs to Robbie alone? Author Patricia MacLachlan, best known for the Newbery Medalwinning Sarah, Plain and Tall, once again demonstrates that simple language can be used to convey powerful ideas. Themes of friendship, family and the past’s relationship with the present blend with a touch of humor, and elements of both realistic fiction and magical realism combine so seamlessly that the exact transition between them is hard to detect. For example, is Maddy just a good dog trainer, or is some special gift at work when Ellie learns to coexist peacefully with the squirrels she used to chase? Did
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Maddy really once sit on a log and share cornbread with a bear? And since Robbie’s age is never explicitly stated, readers across the elementary school years can identify with him as he navigates a summer full of camping, music, animals and most of all, simple truths.
With a strong sense of mystery, an unusual setting and engaging teen characters—both male and female—Brother, Brother is a perfect page-turner for summer reading, whether readers are on the beach or just dreaming of one. —Deborah Hopkinson
— JILL RATZAN
Brother, Brother By Clay Carmichael
Roaring Book $17.99, 320 pages ISBN 9781596437432 eBook available Ages 12 and up
—J i l l R a t z a n
Starglass By Phoebe North
Simon & Schuster $17.99, 448 pages ISBN 9781442459533 eBook available Ages 12 and up
On the day that his beloved grandmother, Mem, dies, Billy “Brother” Grace dreams of the sea. While he’s never been to the ocean in his 18 years, Brother has grown up hearing his grandmother’s stories from her childhood. Brother holds a single memory of his mother, who dumped him with Mem and then was killed in a car crash. After the loss of Mem, he believes he is alone in the world—well, at least as far as family goes, since he still has his loyal dog Trooper— but all that changes in a flash. First, his buddy Cole, who’s been struggling to raise his 5-year-old brother Jack on his own, disappears, leaving Jack with Brother. Then Brother discovers the newspaper his grandmother had been reading before her death—a newspaper with his own picture in it. Only it’s not him at all, but his spitting image: a senator’s son named Gabriel, who nearly died of a drug overdose. Brother sets out for an island off the coast of North Carolina to find the truth about himself, his twin brother and his family. It’s not your typical solo adventure, though, as Brother has an Australian shepherd and a pesky kid in tow, as well as a car that doesn’t quite make it. Thanks to some help from a girl named Kit, Brother arrives on the island, but his hopes of finding a loving family are dashed as he becomes embroiled in a web of old secrets and lies. Brother, Brother tackles a number of hard issues, including drug addiction, PTSD and class conflict.
and Yiddish phrases sprinkled throughout the text are clearly defined in context, but subtly altered definitions hint at the intriguing ways that words can change over time. In the end, many questions are answered . . . but many new ones take their place, to be pursued in a follow-up novel, Starbreak, in 2014.
OCD Love Story By Corey Ann Haydu
Simon Pulse $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781442457324 eBook available Ages 14 and up
Five hundred years ago, Terra’s ancestors left a dying Earth for life aboard the Asherah, a spaceship bound for the distant planet Zehava. Over time, their well-intended plan to preserve their society—and their secular Jewish heritage—has hardened into a set of authoritarian rules: Everyone must marry and raise a family, and occupations and corresponding class structures are determined by an elite Council. Obedience is a mitzvah—part good deed, part commandment—and deviances are not tolerated. As the Asherah approaches Zehava, Terra is almost 16—the age at which she must choose a mate or risk being assigned one. Her father has never recovered from her mother’s unusual early death; her older brother is distant; and her longtime best friend has concerns of her own. Terra’s passion is drawing, but her new career placement seems not to involve art at all. And at night, Terra dreams of an unseen lover—her bashert, Hebrew for “heart’s twin.” When Terra accidentally stumbles on an underground anti-Council resistance movement, the certainties in her world begin to disappear. Readers familiar with the structure of YA dystopias may think they know what to expect next, but author Phoebe North demonstrates that a futuristic tale of love, rebellion and the search for identity can still offer some surprises. Life on the spaceship is meticulously described, and journal entries from an original passenger—a lesbian grieving her own lost lover—add context from the early days of the voyage. Hebrew
If you ask Bea, she’d tell you that she’s in therapy because she has a little trouble managing her anxiety. She doesn’t really need a therapist, and she certainly doesn’t need to attend group therapy with a bunch of other teens who—let’s face it— look like freaks compared to Bea. Of course, Beck—who has a habit of constantly washing his hands and doing things in sets of eight—is kind of a cute freak. But still, Bea doesn’t belong with these other kids and their compulsions . . . or does she? Ever since Bea’s bad breakup with her last boyfriend, she has had a tendency to fixate on people— mostly guys—whom she needs to “check on” in order to keep them safe. Her latest obsession is handsome Austin, who attends couples therapy with his wife and whose sessions Bea just happens to overhear. But when Bea starts following the couple from the therapist’s office in the suburbs to their home in downtown Boston, it’s clear to everyone but Bea that her interest has gone too far. OCD Love Story is one of those novels that sneaks up on you—what seems to start off as a humorous account of one girl’s adventures in therapy turns into something much darker and more intense, as readers gradually realize the extent of Bea’s illness. In her debut, Corey Ann Haydu raises important questions about recognizing, enabling and recovering from mental illness—all explored in Bea’s funny, loveable, vulnerable voice. —Norah Piehl
BACK TO SCHOOL By julie hale
meet PAUL SCHMID the title of your Q: What’s new book?
© linda wallace
Get in gear for the school year
f your child is fighting the back-to-school blues, then check out these terrific picture books. Sure to allay first-day fears, each one takes a lighthearted look at life in the classroom. The lesson is clear: School’s not awful—it’s awesome!
Canines in the classroom Parents looking for a painless way to broach the subject of school with their young ones will love Dog-Gone School (Random House, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780375869747, ages 3 to 7) by husband-and-wife collaborators Amy and Ron Schmidt. Pairing her original, school-related poems with his colorful photographs, this hilarious book lets readers tag along to class with a pack of mischievous, adorable dogs. Ron Schmidt posed the pooches in classic school settings and somehow caught them on camera: A wirehaired terrier stands atop a tower of books in order to access a water fountain; a Jack Russell terrier and his pit bull sidekick—partners in crime—wait outside the principal’s office. With examples of haiku, free verse and onomatopoeia, this charming collection serves as a terrific introduction to poetry while making the prospect of school seem awfully appealing. Sure to get high marks from little readers.
A warm school welcome
CALMING THE NERVEs The title of Heather HarttSussman’s new book says it all: Noni Is Nervous (Tundra, $17.95, 24 pages, ISBN 9781770493230, ages 2 to 5). The prospect of the first day of school sends Noni, the story’s adorably anxious heroine, into a nail-biting, hair-twisting frenzy. She worries about wearing the wrong thing and envisions her teacher as a fanged monster. Her family tries to assuage her fears, to little avail. Noni somehow survives the first day, and on the second, her luck picks up: She meets an extroverted girl named Briar, who introduces her to a slew of new friends. Noni soon gets the hang of the school routine and finds that she fits right in. Geneviève Côté, who contributed the story’s appealing illustrations, is the sort of artist who can create an expressive figure with a few wellplaced lines. She gives Noni a broad, beaming, peaches-’n’-cream face. A character kids will love, Noni has an important lesson to share: This school stuff is a cinch! All it takes is patience, time and—yep!—a little bit of courage.
has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who
was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What
was your childhood hero? Q: Who
books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What
one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What
message would you like to send to children? Q: What
OLIVER AND HIS ALLIGATOR Paul Schmid is the author-illustrator of A Pet for Petunia, Petunia Goes Wild and Hugs from Pearl. In his latest picture book, OLIVER AND HIS ALLIGATOR (Disney/Hyperion, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781423174370), a fearful boy discovers that an alligator can be a comforting companion on the first day of school. Schmid lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter.
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Ready and Waiting for You (Eerdmans, $17, 26 pages, ISBN 9780802853554, ages 4 to 7) by author Judi Moreillon is an appealing little story that’s tailor-made for soothing schoolrelated stress. With flapped pages that
open up like doors and sensational torn-paper collage illustrations by Catherine Stock, this visually beguiling book depicts school staff and students in a variety of vibrant scenes—on the crowded playground, in the bustling cafeteria, aboard the big yellow bus—where they’re waiting to welcome new arrivals. “Come in through this door. Are you new?” are words repeated regularly throughout the book. The cheery salutation makes new students feel comfortable and gives them a sense of belonging. Stock achieves an incredible level of detail through her precise, expressive collages, which overflow with energy and texture. This lively story is perfect for youngsters who need a bit of back-to-school nurturing.
would you describe Q: How the book?
By the editors of Merriam-Webster
LARGER THAN LIFE
Dear Editor: I always assumed that the prehistoric creature we call a mammoth was so named because of its size. I heard recently, however, that the word mammoth comes from Russian. Can you tell me the real story? A. L. Dover, New Hampshire
Dear Editor: I read an article about a favorite actor of mine who was described as having a mercurial temper. I understand the word mercurial to mean something similar to moody. Is it somehow related to the planet Mercury, and if so, what does it have to do with being moody? C. R. Santa Barbara, California
The real story is that the word mammoth comes from the Russian word mamot or mamont. That’s because some of the earliest archaeological discoveries of mammoths happened in Siberia, Russia, where the extremely cold temperatures helped preserve specimens of the extinct creature. The history of the Russian word is uncertain, but it was used in creating the scientific name of these creatures (Mammuthus) and gave rise to the common English name for them, mammoth, first attested in the early 18th century. Because some specimens were so large, the word mammoth later came to be used as an adjective to describe anything very large, such as a “mammoth iceberg.”
You’re on the right track in finding a relationship between mercurial and the planet Mercury. The story of mercurial starts not with the planet, however, but with the namesake of the planet, the Roman god Mercury. The adjective mercurial, the name of the planet Mercury and the name of the element mercury all come from the name of the Roman god. As the messenger of the gods, Mercury needed to zip from place to place, and he is often shown with wings on his sandals or cap as a sign of his fleet-footedness. The words that come from his name are reminders of his speediness. The planet Mercury races around the sun very
quickly indeed, finishing an orbit in just 88 days. The element mercury, also known by the descriptive name quicksilver, is a metal that, in its liquid form, skitters away instantly if it is touched. And what of the mercurial temper? A person who is mercurial can change moods with bewildering speed.
CAUGHT SHORT Dear Editor: Can you tell me where the terms hick and hick town come from? J. N. Brighton, Michigan The noun hick derives from the nickname Hick, a shortened form of Richard. The nickname, of course, is no longer used; we’re all familiar with Rick and Dick, but who ever heard of Hick? Since hick has come to mean “an unsophisticated provincial person” and is nearly always derogatory, it’s not hard to understand why it fell out of use as a friendly nickname. But in the Middle Ages, Hick was just one of many rhyming nicknames that were established in popular use. Besides
Hick, for example, there was Hob for Robert (along with Dob and Bob and Rob) and Hodge for Roger. Hob survives now only as the name for a goblin (hobgoblin), while hodge ended up as a British term for a farm laborer. Up to the 17th century, shortened names were used in certain contexts with a touch of derision, somewhat in the way we employ Tom, Dick, and Harry today. One religious polemicist used Hick, Hob, and Hans (Hans being short for Johannes) in 1565 to generalize members of an opposing sect. Shakespeare, in his play Coriolanus, has the hero referring to the ordinary Roman citizens for whom he feels nothing but contempt as Hob and Dick. Nowadays the term is mostly American, having experienced something of a revival in the last century. When used attributively, as in hick town, it means simply “unsophisticated” or “provincial.”
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