AMERICA’S BOOK REVIEW
DISCOVER YOUR NEXT GREAT BOOK
READ your way
CH A RE OR F E TH RS A ST
Inside… The next Gone Girl?
A Rosie Project sequel
Peter Carey’s virtual world
paperback picks PENGUIN.COM
The Polaris Protocol
The Death Trade
The latest from the New York Times bestselling author of Dream Eyes and Copper Beach.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Coulter and Harrigan Family novels comes a brand-new contemporary romance series about second chances at love and hope reborn.
Retired Delta Force commander Brad Taylor returns with the fifth propulsive thriller in his New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series.
The master of suspense returns with a cutting-edge tale that pits his heroes Sean Dillon and Sara Gideon against the nuclear ambitions of Iran.
The Importance of Being Alice
Secret of the Templars
A Sister to Honor
The latest Presidential Agent novel and the most harrowing book yet in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
First in a new series! From New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister comes a series about finding your own wonderland— moving past one roadblock at a time.
The adventures of retired Army Ranger John “Doc” Holliday and his quest to uncover the secrets of the Templars continue to thrill in the new novel from New York Times bestselling author Paul Christopher.
Studious, modest, and devout Afia Satar is studying to become a doctor at an American college. But when a photo surfaces online of Afia holding hands with an American boy, she is suddenly no longer safe—even from the Pakistani family that cherishes her.
“A hard-driving thriller of the modern Arctic. Fast, well-written entertainment wrapped around something to think about.”—John Sandford “White Plague will make you shiver with both cold and terror. James Abel becomes your expert guide into the Arctic—and into a frightening scenario that’s all too believable.”—Tom Young In the frozen waters of the Arctic, Marine bioterror expert Joe Rush races to save a submarine crew from a lethal threat. The high-powered and technically advanced submarine U.S.S. Montana is in peril. Adrift and in flames, the boat— and the entire crew—could be lost. The only team close enough to get to them in time is led by Joe Rush. With only thirty-six hours before the surviving crew perish, Joe and his team must race to rescue the Montana and ensure that the boat doesn’t fall into the hands of a fast-approaching enemy.
JANUARY 2015 B O O K PA G E . C O M
PAULA HAWKINS A train ride takes a dark twist
From learning the secrets of bacon to mastering mindfulness, read your way to your best self in 2015.
PETER BUWALDA Mind the generation gap
SELF-HELP Five books lead the way to contentment and fulfillment
REBECCA HARRINGTON Meet the author of I’ll Have What She’s Having
CAREERS Get organized, get inspired and get ahead in the workplace
SCOTT BLACKWOOD The ripples of a Texas cold case
GRAEME SIMSION Don and Rosie return to face the challenges of married life
SHARON M. DRAPER A community finds courage in segregated North Carolina
Cover image © nPine at Thinkstockphotos.com
reviews 20 FICTION
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan Amnesia by Peter Carey Saving Grace by Jane Green Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen Sweetland by Michael Crummey Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan Driving the King by Ravi Howard Honeydew by Edith Pearlman Descent by Tim Johnston
Russian Tattoo by Elena Gorokhova
Meet the illustrator of A Violin for Elva
How We Are by Vincent Deary Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen Resilience by Jessie Close
columns 04 04 05 07 08 09 11 12
New Year, New You
WELL READ AUDIO LIBRARY READS WHODUNIT ROMANCE COOKING BOOK CLUBS LIFESTYLES
The Man Who Would Not Be Washington by Jonathan Horn Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt More Love, Less Panic by Claude Knobler The Work by Wes Moore Thomas Cromwell by Tracy Borman
30 CHILDREN’S Audacity by Melanie Crowder
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre Danger in the Darkest Hour by Mary Pope Osborne The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington by David Potter
A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W PUBLISHER Michael A. Zibart
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Cat Acree
Elizabeth Grace Herbert
Lynn L. Green
MARKETING Mary Claire Zibart
CONTROLLER Sharon Kozy
EDITORIAL POLICY BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured. BookPage is editorially independent and never accepts payment for editorial coverage.
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All material © 2015 ProMotion, inc.
BY ROBERT WEIBEZAHL
BY SUKEY HOWARD
The perils of publishing
Novelist Gail Godwin has chosen an unusual conceit for her new book, Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir (Bloomsbury, $25, 224 pages, ISBN 9781620408247). As the title suggests, Godwin—best known, perhaps, for the National Book Award finalist A Mother and Two Daughters—has shaped her memories not so much around her personal life or even the writing life, but largely around her experiences within the world of publishing. It is an industry that has changed dramatically since Godwin brought out her first book in 1970, and she has ridden its ups and downs, not always suffering fools gladly. As a student at UNC Chapel Hill in the 1950s, Godwin yearned to be a published writer, but when scouts from Knopf made their annual visit to the campus (a rather quaint practice, unimaginable today), the five-page sample from her novel-in-progress was summarily rejected. It would be 10 years later, after a stint in London and a couple of brief marriages that are barely mentioned in this memoir, that Godwin began to find her voice. She was studying at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a “mature” student at 30, when two classmates connected her with a young New York agent, John Hawkins. He became her literary champion for the next 40-odd years. Godwin did not fare so well with editors. Her first died before the debut novel he acquired saw the light of day. She then worked with the legendary Robert Gottlieb, but their relationship, which lasted through four books, including two of her three National Book Award finalists, was not always harmonious. Godwin takes pains to set the record straight on her side of the story, and their parting of the ways is depicted chiefly as amicable, due
My morning email from Orbitz screamed, “Never Stop Vacationing. Give in to your travel needs.” But, before you succumb to their pleas (and others like them) to go-go-go, I suggest you stop, sit quietly and listen to Pico Iyer read his short, cogent, elegantly argued The Art of Stillness (Simon & Schuster Audio, $14.99, 2 hours,
to professional vision rather than personal differences. Other top editors, including the venerable Harvey Ginsberg, would squire her books through the process of publication, but while she touches on advances and print runs and marketing plans, Godwin, sadly, doesn’t really provide much insight into what she calls the “dance partnership” between author and editor. A novelist noted for her deft dissection of family relationships, Godwin here offers surprisingly little about her own. She does write lovingly of her mother, a journalist and magazine writer who was a strong influence on her daughter’s own decision to write. Generally labeled a Southern writer because of her North Carolina childhood and the settings for most of her books, Godwin has actually Acclaimed spent most of novelist Gail her adult life in Godwin the North—in Woodstock, reflects on New York, at the changing a home she winds of the shared with the book business. composer Robert Starer until his death in 2001. Although theirs was obviously a loving, symbiotic partnership, Starer remains on the periphery of this story, even when it is clear that he lent a sensitive ear to her working process. An idiosyncratic, at times impressionistic book, Publishing is at its best when it taps Godwin’s often prickly frustrations with her publishers through the years, underscoring how even writers at the peak of their careers can fall prey to the corporate do-si-do and find themselves shunted aside without the aforementioned dance partner. Godwin’s literary star (read: sales) may have waned of late, even though she is still writing the same kind of novel. It is not she or her work, but the publishing business that has changed.
ISBN 9781442375840). It may make a lasting difference, allowing you to step out of the fray, if only for 30 minutes a day, and let thoughts from the corners of your life come unbidden while your mind meanders. “In an age of speed . . . nothing can be more invigorating than going slow,” Iyer notes. “In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. In an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” Maybe the “new you” in this New Year will go nowhere and be thrilled by the journey.
HEART OF DARKNESS If you look for resolution and redemption in fiction, The Laughing Monsters (Macmillan Audio, $29.99, 6 hours, ISBN 9781427252272), Denis Johnson’s latest walk on the wild side, is not for you. Living in various overheated, underserved, chaotic African countries, the novel’s edgy protagonists are always on the run, scheming for illicit wealth and avoiding getting caught—by whom and for reasons as elusive as their allegiances. Roland Nair, a white Danish-American who is ostensibly working for an obscure part of NATO, and Michael Adriko, a black African—likely Ugandan—and probable orphan, currently AWOL from U.S. Special Forces, do have a strange allegiance to each other, in an odd-couple way. On the surface,
this is a tale of adventure gone awry, tinged with classic noir riffs. Underneath it all is a bleak, provocative look at our morally messy post9/11 world, where there’s money galore for “snitching and spying” and buyers for all kinds of information, real or cleverly contrived. Scott Shepherd makes Nair’s first-person narration, mixed with bravado and despair, viscerally immediate.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO David Nicholls’ Us (Harper Audio, $44.99, 14 hours, ISBN 9780062368485) is a charming, cringeworthy-moment-filled deconstruction of a marriage and a family. The story is told by Douglas Petersen, a middle-aged British biochemist, who is well-meaning yet clueless about himself. After almost 25 years of marriage, Connie, his adored, artistic, free-spirited wife, tells him that their marriage is over. Hoping to glue their lives back together, Douglas insists that Connie and their teenage son, Albie, with whom he has a strained relationship, join him on a longplanned European tour. As they wend their star-crossed way across the continent, Douglas alternates his account of the present with seamless flashbacks, so as things might be ending, you get to see how their romance began and how their marriage aged alongside them. Can this relationship be saved? Can father and son make peace? In getting to those answers, you’ll be wonderfully entertained. Witty, keenly observant Nicholls understands the stress and mess of marriage and the perennial problems of parenting. David Haig’s narration is so good that you begin to think Douglas is talking directly to you—and, perhaps, he is.
Selected from nominations made by library staff across the country, here are the 10 books that librarians can’t wait to share with readers in January.
#1 New York Times bestselling author
AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST by Alan Bradley Delacorte, $25, ISBN 9780345539939
Bradley’s seventh Flavia de Luce novel sends the 12-year-old sleuth to a Canadian boarding school. Boring—that is, until a mummified body turns up.
tests the strength of the beloved O’Briens and proves that love and family can always triumph!
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion
Simon & Schuster, $25.99, ISBN 9781476767314 Literature’s favorite new odd couple returns in a sparkling story of holding onto love after marriage. BookPage review on page 20.
THE MAGICIAN’S LIE by Greer Macallister
Sourcebooks Landmark, $23.99, ISBN 9781402298684 A female illusionist stands accused of her husband’s murder and must convince a cop of her innocence in this compelling debut novel.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
Riverhead, $26.95, ISBN 9781594633669 This Hitchcockian debut thriller will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives. BookPage interview on page 13.
GOLDEN SON by Pierce Brown
Del Rey, $25, ISBN 9780345539816 The sequel to Red Rising continues the saga of Darrow, a rebel who must lead his people to freedom from their elitist masters.
THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS by Menna van Praag
Ballantine, $15, ISBN 9780804178983 A magic stitch causes trouble for a wounded scientist and the shy bookseller who may be in love with her in this heartwarming story of second chances.
THE BISHOP’S WIFE by Mette Ivie Harrison
Soho Crime, $26.95, ISBN 9781616954765 A devout Mormon wife begins to question her church’s tenents in this adult debut from YA author Harrison.
VANESSA AND HER SISTER by Priya Parmar
Ballantine, $26, ISBN 9780804176378 Get an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Bloomsbury set in this biographical novel about sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. BookPage review on page 23.
FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen
St. Martin’s, $25.99, ISBN 9781250019837 Best-selling author Allen returns to the Waverley family, the stars of her magical debut, Garden Spells.
“Sherryl Woods writes emotionally satisfying novels about family, friendship and home.
Truly feel-great reads!” −−#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber
Pick up your brand-new
FULL THROTTLE by Julie Ann Walker
Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 9781402294518 When the president’s daughter is kidnapped, her ex-military teen crush—now a member of a crime-fighting motorcycle gang—heads to her rescue. LibraryReads is a recommendation program that highlights librarians’ favorite books published this month. For more information, visit libraryreads.org.
www.MIRABooks.com • www.SherrylWoods.com
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THRILLER MASTERS ARE RAVING ABOUT
ELECTRIFYING NEW NOVEL “A hard-driving thriller of the modern Arctic. Fast, well-written entertainment wrapped around something to think about.” —JOHN SANDFORD “Stunning—it will have you on edge from its chilling start to its deadly denouement.” —LINDA FAIRSTEIN “Delivers relentless action and suspense on the unforgiving terrain of the Arctic.” —ALEX BERENSON “Fascinating! Fans of Crichton will enjoy Abel’s bone-chilling thriller.” —LISA GARDNER “Evoking both Michael Crichton’s medical thriller and Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October…this is a very tightly written first novel.” —BOOKLIST (Starred Review) “Abel…is a master of this chilled universe.”
“A stellar novel of action, adventure, and intrigue that leaves you constantly wondering, will-they-or-won’t they?” —STEVE BERRY “It combines the military action of Tom Clancy with the scientific adventure of Michael Crichton and places it all in the Arctic setting of classic Alistair MacLean. Joe Rush is a great new action hero.” —DAVID BELL “Will make you shiver with both cold and terror.” —TOM YOUNG
ON SALE NOW
“Riveting! White Plague grabs you on page one and never lets go!” —GRANT BLACKWOOD
WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
The worst trip I’ve ever been on “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me, Santa Catalina, the island of romance.” So goes the old Four Preps tune. But there is little romance for Jay Johnson, the somewhat squirrely protagonist of Daniel Pyne’s Fifty Mice (Blue Rider, $26.95, 304 pages, ISBN 9780399171642). Marooned on the fabled island getaway, Johnson is an unwilling participant in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Plucked from his oh-so-normal existence in the middle of a sunshiny Los Angeles day, drugged and spirited away to the seaside town of Avalon, he quickly discovers that every link to his former life has been summarily shut down—email, Facebook, cell phone, the works. Apparently he knows something, has seen something or is in possession of something that the feds desperately want to retrieve from him. Problem is, he has no idea what it might be, and nobody is willing to let him in on the secret. Everyone around him, as far as he can tell, is either another “inmate” or one of the “handlers,” despite the facade of normalcy that permeates his upscale oceanview neighborhood. And every indication is that their patience is wearing thin. Very thin. Deadly thin. Are you paranoid yet? Believe me, you will be.
INTO RUTLEDGE’S PAST The books of Charles Todd, recounting the cases of Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge in the days following WWI, are as quintessentially English as anything by Ruth Rendell, P.D. James or John Harvey. This is rather confounding, as Charles Todd is distinctly not English, and “Charles Todd” is actually a mother/son writing team from North Carolina and Delaware, respectively. Anglo- bibliophiles, don’t let that put you off, because these are some of the
finest historical mystery novels in print, and there are enough of them to keep you busy for months. The newest, A Fine Summer’s Day (Morrow, $26.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780062237125), is actually something of a prequel to the now 17-strong series. As such, it is a fine standalone novel about a series of murders that rock the English countryside in the summer leading up to the declaration of WWI. But
for longtime series readers, it will be much more than that, as it foreshadows the bare beginnings of what will one day become Rutledge’s deepest and most guarded secrets: the shell shock that will change the course of his life and the voice of a dead man that haunts him every day thereafter. Make no mistake: Todd mère et fils are in top form once again.
BIG TROUBLE, LITTLE ISLAND We were introduced to Anne Marie Laveaud, juge d’instruction (investigative magistrate) for the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, in last year’s Another Sun. Laveaud is back in The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe (Soho Crime, $26.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9781616953850), a compelling tale of a twin-speared investigation into the suspicious suicide of a high-profile (not to mention widely loathed) environmentalist and the murder of a comely Parisienne on a remote clothing-optional beach. This book is set 10 years after Another Sun, and the changes in Laveaud’s life are manifold: She is now divorced from a husband for whom the description “useless” would be nothing short of charitable; her son, pouty even as a child, has honed his petulance in adolescence; and there is a bubbly
young daughter added to the mix as well. As is the case with single mothers everywhere, Laveaud is an accomplished juggler, dealing with the joint responsibilities of keeping a family and a career in balance and navigating the murky waters of sexism, cronyism and racism in a society where she is very much an outsider. As much social commentary as mystery, this is a crackerjack whodunit from start to finish, as well as a compelling look into one of the last bastions of colonialism in a shrinking world.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY One of the cool things about being a book reviewer is that I get lots of books for free. So many, in fact, that it pains me to actually shell out my own cash for a book. This is not the case with Susan Hill, whose books have been on my wouldcheerfully-pay-for list since 2004’s The Various Haunts of Men. Ten years down the road, in The Soul of Discretion (Overlook, $26.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9781468301458), Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler has grown in depth of character and in responsibility, and is poised to take on the most formidable task of his career: the infiltration of a pedophile ring in his (fictional) hometown of Lafferton, England. To do this, Serrailler must go undercover as an imprisoned child molester and cozy up to a “fellow” convict. Just as he is on the threshold of a breakthrough, his subject engineers a daring prison break, challenging Serrailler to come along for the ride. What a dilemma—watch all your efforts spin right down the drain, or set loose a serial predator on an unsuspecting public. Brilliantly executed as always, Hill’s newest is gripping from the opening page until (literally) the closing sentence.
NEW from the editors of
ROMANCE B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
BOOKS WE LOVE
Carolyn Brown’s Burnt Boot, Texas, series continues with The Trouble with Texas Cowboys (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781402296086), a rough-and-tumble romance featuring a hero and heroine stuck smack-dab in the middle of a family feud. Jill Cleary moves to North Texas in order to work at Fiddle Creek Ranch, but a relative’s sudden injury leaves Jill, along with cowboy Sawyer O’Donnell, respon-
Romance • •
sible for the ranch, a general store and a popular local bar. When fists start flying between two ranching families, Jill and Sawyer must stand up for each other. Between their shifts at work and their hours in the shared bunkhouse, friendship blossoms into something that feels like love. But they’ve both been hurt in the past, and they are reluctant to jeopardize their friendship and the stability they’ve found in their happy piece of Texas. Will these two wary hearts take the risk? Brown’s written a zesty, rollicking romance filled with fun characters and plenty of laughs.
Suspense tempers a hopeful story of second chances in Silver Thaw (Signet, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780451418340), the first in a new series by Catherine Anderson. Amanda Banning moves to smalltown Mystic Creek, Oregon, with her 6-year-old daughter to escape her abusive husband, and she’s barely making ends meet when an ice storm leaves her homeless. But rescue arrives in the form of furniture-maker Jeb Sterling, and he is immediately attracted to the determined woman. Despite Aman-
da’s initial reluctance, he convinces her to take shelter with her daughter in his large house. Once she arrives, he finds himself further drawn to Amanda’s bravery and her adorable child. As Amanda’s secrets are revealed, Jeb begins helping her face her demons. But doing so means her husband might find her, putting her growing love for Jeb and the rosy future he promises at risk. A feel-good town filled with lovely people make this sweet story a winner.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE In Say Yes to the Marquess (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062240200), the second in Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series, a gentlewoman tires of her long engagement and decides she’s done waiting. Clio Whitmore, eight years a fiancée, resolves to take up residence in a newly inherited castle and break her engagement. Because her intended is overseas, Clio appeals to her absent fiancé’s rowdy, prizefighting brother to sign the engagement-dissolving papers. However, Rafe Brandon wants to do right by his sibling and plans to convince Clio to go through with the wedding. But there’s more than one obstacle to changing Clio’s mind—the biggest being the incredible attraction the two feel for each other. Rafe is determined to be noble for once, but he struggles to keep his desires, as well as hers, in check. The chemistry between these very likable characters sizzles, and their banter sparkles as they spar their way into happy-ever-after. When the Marquess finally shows, will he be able to convince Clio that he’s the better brother? Dare has spun a truly romantic delight.
COOKING BY SYBIL PRATT
Sweet, savory, superb Despite rumors that Brooklyn is “so over,” it remains the hottest borough in New York City. And Ovenly is one of its hottest bakeries. Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin met at a foodie book club, found that their entrepreneurial urges and love of baking meshed, gave up their day jobs and set off on the adventure that led to Ovenly, the uber-successful Greenpoint bakery where customers line up for their Bloody Mary Scones.
Now they’re publishing their first cookbook, Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery (Harlequin, $29.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9780373892952). For a super start to the new year, revitalize your baking repertoire and whip up some of those famous scones, then try Caramel Bacon Hot Tarts; sweet, subtly sharp Blue Cheese Apple Pie with Walnuts; herby Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon; Feta, Basil & Scallion Muffins; and rich, satisfying Salted Dark Chocolate Pudding. The instructions are detailed, easy to follow and often accompanied by step-by-step photos, tips and “get creative” variations.
A DIY NEW YEAR Cathy Barrow’s passion for preserving is boundless and inspiring. It’s her way of being a true and active locavore, of showing her commitment to our farmers, to our planet and to feeding real food to the people she loves. Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving (Norton, $35, 432 pages, ISBN 9780393240733), her debut cookbook, is her hard-to-resist invitation to make preserving a part of your everyday life and turn the fleeting abundance of each season into a wonderfully stocked pantry that makes your cooking
easier, healthier and more sustainable. With the clarity that comes from true expertise and with an evident concern for safety, Barrow covers water-bath canning, pressure canning, curing, brining, smoking and even making simple, fresh cheeses. Among the nearly 140 recipes, you’ll find jams, jellies, pickles, stocks, sauces, fish fumet, candied chilies, smoked oysters, air-cured Bresaola, duck confit and more. Go at your own pace, slip into preserving slowly or go gangbusters—Barrow will be there as your model and mentor.
culinary advenTure of a lifeTime! “What Mimi Sheraton doesn’t know is hardly worth knowing . . . the 1,000 foods you NEED to try, urgently.” —Anthony Bourdain, author, host, enthusiast “If you love food, this is a book to read before you die! . . . On nearly every page I’ve learned something new or honed my own judgment on hers.” —Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
Following the phenomenal 1,000 Places to See Before You Die®, it’s a life list of food—the world’s best tastes, ingredients, dishes, restaurants, and experiences that every food lover should know or have or dream about.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS Michael Pollan, our foremost foodie public intellectual, has had a powerful influence on how we eat, cook and think about food. If you’ve wondered who influenced him, you’ll find the answer in The Pollan Family Table (Scribner, $30, 352 pages, ISBN 9781476746371) by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan, Michael’s mother and three sisters. With more than 110 Pollan family-tested recipes and their collective “sage advice” on ingredients, techniques and food philosophy, this cookbook is a true home-cooked-dinner-onthe-table-every-night enabler. Corky, while having an impressive career, served up wonderful family dinners regularly, which made a lasting impression on all her kids. Here, two generations of Pollan women, who live the same time-strangled lives we all do, share their recipes and strategies. Each recipe has a “market” list and a “pantry” list that make shopping stress-free. Chatty header notes put every dish in context, cooking times are realistic and, best of all, the food is delicious, doable and often dazzling.
“Few people in the world have the experience that Mimi Sheraton brings to the subject of food. I’ll be spending the rest of my days knocking off dish by dish in 1,000 Foods . . . ” —Bobby Flay, chef, restaurateur “Her knowledge knows no bounds, her opinion is like gold.” —Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef, restaurateur • 1000foods.com WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc., and Patricia Schultz. 1,000 FOODS TO EAT BEFORE YOU DIE is a trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
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BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
The sidelines of history TaraShea Nesbit’s The Wives of Los Alamos (Bloomsbury, $16, 240 pages, ISBN 9781620405048) revisits a fascinating chapter in American history. Following their scientist-husbands to the improvised city of Los Alamos during World War II, the women in this intriguing novel find their lives turned upside down. Many of them give up careers of their own to join
their partners in a barren locale with poorly constructed housing. The novel’s sharply etched characters—captivating Starla, delicate Margaret, steely Louise and cantankerous Katherine—bring a deeply personal dimension to a story that’s told in a collective, first-person plural voice. While their husbands work in the Tech Areas of Los Alamos on the top- secret development of the atomic bomb, the wives pass the time by dabbling in crafts, outdoor activities and alcohol. Nesbit has done her homework, and it shows in her expert handling of detail and in the authenticity she brings to her characters’ daily routines. She skillfully mixes fact and fiction, bringing the 1940s to life in a way that’s sure to appeal to fans of historical novels.
STARTING A NEW LIFE All Our Names (Vintage, $14.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9780345805669), the third novel from Ethiopian author Dinaw Mengestu, is a compelling tale of immigrant life and the search for identity that accompanies it. Isaac leaves Uganda—a country torn apart by revolution and war—and comes to America, where he settles in a Midwestern college town and becomes involved with a social worker named Helen. Although she’s open-minded and compassionate, Helen is
unable to make sense of her new and distant friend. Isaac is held back by his past in Africa and the memory of his relationship with a close friend who forfeited his own happiness so that Isaac could embark on a new life. Balancing the past and the present is a delicate dance for Isaac—one that Mengestu renders with great sensitivity. The immigrant experience takes on a new poignance in his hands. Narrated by both Isaac and Helen, the novel provides fascinating perspectives on relationships, the meaning of home and the endurance of history. This is a rewarding novel that’s sure to get book clubs talking.
CALLING ALL BOOK CLUB GIRLS!
Is your book club meeting the highlight of your month? When you love a book, do you tell EVERYONE about it? Then you might be Book Club Girl material!
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Astonish Me (Vintage, $15, 272 pages, ISBN 9780345804617) by Maggie Shipstead revisits the era of Soviet ballet superstars, providing a backstage look at the demanding lives of professional dancers. Using Mikhail Baryshnikov’s famous defection as her point of departure, Shipstead tells the story of Arslan Rusakov, a Russian virtuoso who shakes up the ballet world after seeking asylum in America. Arslan struggles to make sense of his fame and of life in the West. He indulges in drugs and sex as he copes with the homesickness and displacement that come with defection. His failed romance with Joan, an American dancer of only average talent, takes the novel in a different direction, as it follows her transition from ballerina to wife and mother. Shipstead writes with insight about the lives of perfomers who sacrifice everything for their careers. This is a fascinating novel that examines the tensions and demands of an exacting vocation— one with repercussions that can last a lifetime.
Become one of ten Book Club Girl book clubs who will receive free books, access to authors, and special book club gifts for six months. Apply to become a Book Club Girl at www.HC.com/bookclubgirls Book Club Girl
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Top Teen Books
from the editors of BookPage
If you have any yard at all, you’ve encountered those unexpected moments of opportunity when a space clears and you can start planning for new growth. Maybe a tree had to be cut down. Or maybe you cleared out a swath of invasive privet. Whatever the reason, there it stands before you: a piece of earth crying out for something new to take root. Why not Grow a Little Fruit Tree (Storey, $16.95,
168 pages, ISBN 9781612120546)? Ann Ralph lays out all the “Simple Pruning Techniques for SmallSpace, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees” for those with limited space and, perhaps more importantly, limited time. She draws on years of experience to present an encyclopedic array of options for maximizing your little area’s big potential. With techniques for pruning and optimizing growth, Ralph’s trees stay short enough to harvest without a ladder, require little maintenance yet yield exquisite fruit. Get ready to easily enjoy your own bounty of citrus, apples, peaches, pears, persimmons and more.
CREATIVE LICENSE “Small” seems to be a good mantra for the cold, inward month of January. Artist Carol Marine wisely proposes that art can be made in tiny increments and become a daily practice, much akin to ritual or prayer. Her new guide, Daily Painting (Watson-Guptill, $22.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9780770435332), will open up a plot of fertile ground in your artistic imagination. Marine begins with a sincere personal testimony on “How Daily Painting Changed My Life (and Can Change Yours Too!),” and encourages readers to put aside their fears and creative inhibition in order to establish a daily devotion to painting.
LIFESTYLES BY JOANNA BRICHETTO
The intensity of Marine’s self-expression is matched by the practicality of her instruction. Previous experience is unnecessary: Her book gives you all the tools you’ll need to become a daily painter, with well-organized and encouraging advice divided into chapters on: “Materials,” “Subject Matters,” “Color Mixing,” “Values,” “Drawing and Proportion,” “Composition” and more. Marine also offers suggestions on how to photograph and sell your work online. You might paint small, but you can still dream big.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES A guide to decorating your home using books as the centerpiece of your interior design—what else would this BookPage columnist choose as her Top Pick? In Novel Living (STC Craft, $24.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9781617690877), Lisa Occhipinti makes a moving case for embracing print books—now more than ever—as “a counterpoint to the swipe of a screen.” But Occhipinti incorporates the written word in surprising facets of her life, and she gives us a cartload of wisdom on using books for decor and crafting along with practical lessons on the art of book collecting. Occhipinti goes on to provide a gloriously old-school education in how to build a library in your home, with diverse storage strategies and tips on putting together your own card catalog. Her most fun, and slightly paradoxical, tips involve preserving your precious volumes and demolishing others to use in a host of lit-nerd crafting projects—including a ladder shelf, a lighted book box, a bed headboard constructed with tessellated book spines and linens printed with your favorite text passages.
A window into a life—and a crime
ith The Girl on the Train, British author Paula Hawkins has written one of those books with a plot so delicious, you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself.
Rachel Watson takes a commuter train from her slightly grubby suburb into London every day. It used to be to get to work. After she gets fired for drinking on the job, Rachel still takes the train so her roommate won’t know just how far she has fallen. Often on those train rides, Rachel catches a glimpse of a couple sitting on their back terrace, a “perfect, golden couple” whom she names Jason and Jess. She is sure they are blissfully happy, just as she used to be when married to Tom, before he cheated on her (which she found out about by reading his email, “the modern-day lipstick on the collar”). Rachel is an exasperating mess, and she makes for a wonderfully unreliable narrator. She drinks on the train—a little Chenin Blanc, or gin and tonic in a can. She calls Tom late at night when she’s blackout drunk, annoying his new wife and waking up their baby. She builds a whole story around Jason and Jess based on her view from the train, imbuing in them all the things she misses about her own marriage. So it’s no wonder she’s
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
By Paula Hawkins
Riverhead, $26.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594633669, audio, eBook available
outraged when, on one sunny morning, she sees Jess kissing another man in her garden. “I am furious, nails digging into my palms, tears stinging my eyes,” Rachel says. “I feel a flash of intense anger. I feel as though something has been Like Gone Girl, taken away from me. How Hawkins’ novel could she? hinges on a How could Jess do this? late-in-theWhat is wrong game twist, with her? Look and this one at the life they is a doozy. have, look at how beautiful it is! I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.” Rachel only learns that her Jason and Jess are actually Scott and Megan Hipwell when Megan goes missing. When Rachel realizes she was in their neighborhood the night Megan disappeared, she frantically tries to retrace her drunken steps and finds herself drawn into Scott’s life and, in the strangest of ways, her own past. The Girl on the Train is the kind of slippery, thrilling read that only comes around every few years (see Gone Girl). Hawkins, a former financial journalist, has written a couple of other books under a pseudonym, but this is her first crime novel. “[My books] got sort of darker and darker, and the characters got more complex,” Hawkins says by phone from her London home. “I’ve always read crime fiction, and it’s always been in my head as something I wanted to do.” The voyeuristic roots of The Girl on the Train came from Hawkins’ own commuting days. “I used to commute when I was a journalist, from the edges of London,” she says. “I loved looking into people’s houses. The train went
really close by apartments, so you could see in. I never saw anything shocking, but I wondered, if you saw anything out of the ordinary, an act of violence, who would you tell and would anyone believe you? I had a germ of it in my brain for ages. The voyeuristic aspects of commuting, everyone has. Even if you commute by car, you look into other cars.” In Rachel, Hawkins has created a complex, heartbreaking character whose penchant for self-sabotage is breathtaking. She’s lost everything that mattered to her and can’t quite find a way forward. “I feel more affection than most people will toward her,” Hawkins admits. “She was living this normal life and then had this incredibly rapid fall from grace. She’s obviously gotten herself into a mess with the drinking. She’s teetering on the edge, but could get back on track. I understand she’s a really frustrating character. You just want to shake her and say snap out of it.” Like Gone Girl, Hawkins’ novel hinges on a late-in-the-game twist, and this one is a doozy. As you might expect, this sleight of hand is not easy to pull off. “It’s a really tricky thing to do, actually,” Hawkins says. “It’s all about feeding tiny pieces of information, but hopefully keeping them slightly ambivalent. You have to have different people see different things in different ways, and hold back particular pieces of information.” Her book has been optioned for film by DreamWorks, something
© KATE NEIL
BY AMY SCRIBNER
that Hawkins is trying to take in stride. “It’s very exciting, yet I’m trying to not be too excited,” she says. “These things take a really long time. It could be years, it may not happen. It feels unreal. I haven’t cast Rachel. Possibly because she’s not beautiful, and it’s impossible to find not-beautiful actors.” (She has pondered Michelle Williams as Megan, with her “slightly dreamy, lovely blond prettiness.”) A longtime London resident, Hawkins wrote about financial issues for a variety of publications for 15 years. She’s lived in Paris, Oxford and Brussels, and was born and raised in Zimbabwe. “My parents still live there, actually,” she says. “It was a very lovely upbringing. When I was a child, it was a white-only government, effectively an apartheid system, although they didn’t call it that. As a 5-year-old, it didn’t really hit home. It was a nice place for me to grow up, but I am aware that the pleasantness of my childhood was bought at a high price.” Now a full-time novelist, Hawkins is working on a follow-up while awaiting whatever comes her way with the hotly anticipated release of The Girl on the Train.
publisher favorites America: Farm to Table Mario Batali & Jim Webster [Grand Central] 9781455584680 $35
The Paris Architect Charles Belfoure [Sourcebooks] 9781402294150 $14.99
National Geographic Atlas of the World, 10th Edition [National Geographic] 9781426213540 $195
LEGO Architecture Philip Wilkinson [DK] 9781465422866 $24.95
A Call to Duty David Weber & Timothy Zahn [Baen] 9781476736846 $25
The Rosie Effect Graeme Simsion [Simon & Schuster] 9781476767314 $25.99
Egg & Spoon Gregory Maguire [Candlewick] 9780763672201 $17.99
Scribe Bob Ryan [Bloomsbury] 9781620405062 $27
Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler [Thomas Dunne] 9781250039811 $25.99
Gray Mountain John Grisham [Doubleday] 9780385537148 $28.95
The Good Girl Mary Kubica [MIRA] 9780778316558 $24.95
Little Humans Brandon Stanton [FSG] 9780374374563 $17.99
New Slow City William Powers [New World Library] 9781608682393 $15.95
Lonely Planet: The World [Lonely Planet] 9781743600658 $29.99
Nuts to You Lynne Rae Perkins [Greenwillow] 9780060092757 $16.99
Conversations with Major Dick WInters Cole C. Kingseed [Berkley] 9780425271537 $26.95
Winning Marriage Marc Solomon [ForeEdge] 9781611684018 $27.95
Facing the paradox of success
utch writer Peter Buwalda is keenly attuned to the ironies of being a successful novelist. “A successful writer is living a paradox,” Buwalda says from to his home in Amsterdam, where he moved after his gripping literary debut, Bonita Avenue, became a bestseller in Holland in 2010. “Being successful and writing sort of exclude each other. Before I was a real recluse, and now I am an outgoing person. I have to be,” Buwalda says. “The exterior of my life has changed radically—where I live, the money thing, the people I meet, how those people behave toward me. But inwardly there’s not so much that’s different. How I look at myself hasn’t changed much. The writing of the new novel isn’t any easier.” Buwalda says that until he was 34, he worked as an editor and journalist and was “a very fanatical reader.” Then he decided to write fiction and “changed like Gregor Samsa in the story by Kafka into a novelist. For me it was late, so I had to try to write a thick, serious novel at once, without hesitating, diving into the deep.” The idea for Bonita Avenue, which was published in English in the U.K. last year and arrives in the U.S. this month with a translation tweaked for American readers, began with Buwalda “thinking about the abyss between the younger
By Peter Buwalda
Hogarth, $26, 544 pages ISBN 9780553417852, audio, eBook available
generation of the 1990s and 2000s and the older generation. For the first time in history, I think, because of the rise of the Internet, people from the older genBuwalda’s eration know international less about the world, maybe bestseller even about about a wisdom, than family’s layers the younger of deception generation.” Buwalda makes its realized that American nowhere is that debut. abyss more graphically evident than in the world of Internet pornography. “The thought that my grandfather has seen only my grandmother and maybe two or three other women while his grandson could watch all those pictures, all those movies on the Internet, made me wonder—what does this mean for people, for society, for relationships between family members?” To develop and amplify this idea, Buwalda spent the next five years writing eight hours a day in the cramped kitchen of his tiny apartment in Haarlem, a Dutch city near the North Sea. He recalls that at Christmas the year before he completed work on the book, his brother said, “But, Peter, what if your effort is only a narcissistic dream? And I said, then I will have lost five years of my life and I will try to find a way to laugh about it.” The finished book is, as Buwalda calls it, a hybrid of a plot-driven novel and a character-driven novel. The action starts when Siem Sigerius begins to suspect that his stepdaughter Joni and her photographer boyfriend Aaron are posting pornographic pictures online. Sigerius is a fascinating and complicated character. As a work-
ing-class youth he became a national judo champion, but after an accident ends his judo career, he discovers he has an innate genius for mathematics and goes on to a stellar academic career. The story—and Buwalda’s deep investigation of his characters’ lives— unfolds through the alternating perspectives of Sigerius, Joni and Aaron. “I think they’re mutants of my own character in a way,” Buwalda says. “I’ve given all my weak characteristics to Aaron. He’s insecure. He can’t sleep at night. He’s a jealous guy. He makes up things to show off. All the noble things in my character, the one who is ambitious, who cares about justice, who wants to win, I gave to Sigerius. “And the more vulgar side of my character, the one who wants to earn money, who is easy about sexuality, who is funny, I gave to Joni. I wanted to make her, the girl, the strongest one in this story. She never hesitates, she is the most cruel, she’s not a victim. So I split up my own character—with a purpose, of course, because I wanted to split up the morality of the problem so readers can decide for themselves what is right or wrong.” Enhancing the sometimes brooding character of the novel is the way time ebbs and flows throughout the book, both within chapters and between chapters. Buwalda says he learned this approach from reading writers like William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez. “I want the characters in the novel to remember events the way we usually talk about our lives. We don’t start and tell a linear story
© MIKEL BUWALDA
BY ALDEN MUDGE
about ourselves from birth to now. Instead we remember first the most important things, the most painful things or the most happy things. I tried to write the story the way memory works.” Bonita Avenue, whose title comes from a street in Berkeley, California, where a younger Sigerius and his new family live briefly while he pursues his mathematics career at the university, pulses with other themes and insider knowledge of judo, jazz, mathematics and, of course, pornography. “One of my goals was that for every subculture I entered in the novel—porn, math, jazz or judo—a reader must think I was a connoisseur,” Buwalda says, laughing. “So, yes, I had to do some research. Not so much for judo because I have a black belt.” The novel ends with a vividly described, shocking conflagration of violence. Asked about that section of the novel, Buwalda says making it so vivid “was also one of my aims. But I will never have the same experience of it as a reader because I invented it and it took me a year or so to write. It’s a strange act, writing, because it is so slow, while the reader gets through it so fast.” Like many things in his recent experience, Buwalda notes, “that is also a paradox.”
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU
There’s a book for that: Turning over a new leaf in 2015
o you want to work on some aspect of yourself this year? BookPage is here to help! We’ve got reading selections from head to toe. Make a resolution to improve your life with small, consistent changes that can make a big difference in the way you think and feel. THE MINDFULNESS HABIT by Kate Sciandra Llewellyn, $16.99, 216 pages, ISBN 9780738741895
Feeling scattered and stressed? This short, simple guide to mindfulness offers a six-week program to help you live in the present moment and achieve a calmer and more focused state.
CHANGING THE CONVERSATION by Dana Caspersen Penguin, $18, 272 pages, ISBN 9780143126867
If your strategy for winning an argument is to yell louder than the other guy, this innovative look at conflict resolution will be an eye-opener. Take a deep breath and learn to listen carefully, resist the urge to attack and find ways to move forward.
ZERO BELLY DIET by David Zinczenko Ballantine, $26, 336 pages, ISBN 9780345547958
The co-author of the popular Eat This, Not That! series delivers a diet-and-exercise plan that promises not only a flatter stomach, but also a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The solution lies in our fat genes and nine super nutrients.
SLAYING THE DEBT DRAGON by Cherie Lowe Tyndale Momentum, $14.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9781414397207
The blogger behind QueenofFree.net credits hard work and faith as the tools that helped her family eliminate a mountain of debt ($127K) in just four years. Her detailed, sensible strategies can help other families get their financial houses in order.
THE 5 SKINNY HABITS by David Zulberg Rodale, $24.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9781623363727
Zulberg taps the wisdom of the ancients to craft a health plan in which you’ll adopt one new habit each week for five weeks. The new habits—like eating light at one of your three daily meals—are simple but have major transformative potential.
EAT BACON, DON’T JOG by Grant Petersen Workman, $13.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9780761180548
The author of the bicycling manifesto Just Ride challenges conventional wisdom on eating and exercise in this strippeddown guide to getting strong and lean. Petersen encourages readers to trade long jogs for short bursts of intense activity and ditch that low-fat diet for a low-carb, high-fat eating plan.
B Y LY N N G R E E N
Come on, get happy
inding happiness and purpose are the twin pursuits of seekers everywhere. These books offer varied paths to the elusive goal of contentment.
meet REBECCA HARRINGTON the title of your new book? Q: What’s
would you describe the book Q: How in one sentence?
© MICHAEL LIONSTAR
THE OPA! WAY by Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon BenBella, $24.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781940363257
Building their approach around the values of Greek village life and the joyful exclamation “Opa!,” the authors contend that making authentic connections with others is the key to embracing life and finding fulfillment. QUOTE: “Real friendship is like a warm blanket that wraps itself around our soul.”
Q: You clearly don’t need to lose weight. Why all the dieting?
THE GRATEFUL LIFE by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons Viva Editions, $15.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9781936740895
Real-life examples and scientific research confirm the benefits of a grateful attitude on our health, our happiness and even our performance at work. QUOTE: “When you change your focus from what you think you need . . . to be happy, and instead give thanks for what you have, you will have unlocked the process that brings about an abundant and meaningful life.”
CONQUERING CULTURAL STRESS by Howard Murad, M.D. Wisdom Waters Press, $22.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781939642059
The noted skincare authority goes beyond the concerns of dermatology to examine how we deal with stress and what makes us feel younger and happier. Step one is letting go of the need to be perfect. QUOTE: “Being truly healthy not only means the body is free of diabetes, cancer, and other afflictions—but also involves a passion for life, a true connection with others, and an overall positive sense of self.”
A FIELD GUIDE TO HAPPINESS by Linda Leaming Hay House, $15.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781401945091
In this funny and engaging “field guide,” Leaming describes how moving from Tennessee to the Buddhist nation of Bhutan forced her to calm down, go with the flow and be who she really is. QUOTE: “I got a whole world full of new ideas in Bhutan that I can use anywhere, and I learned to take life as it comes, however it comes.”
THE PURPOSE PRINCIPLES by Jake Ducey Tarcher, $14.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9780399172649
Following the success of his self-published debut Into the Wind, the 22-year-old motivational speaker urges his fellow millennials to figure out what their passion is and build a life of purpose. QUOTE: “Happiness means living life on your own terms. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and comfortable—it means that you’ve decided that the best way to live life is to take the leap and create it for yourself.”
diet was hardest to stick with? Q: Whose
lost the most weight on Beyoncé’s diet. Did it also help you Q: You feel more bootylicious?
Q: If we are what we eat, what are you?
Q: What’s your #1 resolution for the New Year?
I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING Rebecca Harrington takes a personal tour of the meal plans of the rich and famous in I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in C elebrity Dieting (Vintage, $14.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9781101872437). From Gwyneth’s vegan pancakes to Victoria Beckham’s bok choy shake, Harrington downs every less-thandelectable morsel as she explores the calorie-slashing regimens of her favorite celebrity dieters.
CAREERS BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
A makeover for your daily grind
ith the new year comes glorious possibility, which makes this a perfect time to think about improving your outlook and productivity at the office. This trio of books offers ideas, support and strategies in equal measure, no matter your goal: Want to get more done? Banish distractions? Feel connected to your work? These titles are here to help—and inspire. When it comes to work, what gets you revved up? Analysis or action, efficiency or innovation? Do repetitive tasks drive you bonkers, or are they soothing? While most of us can easily answer those questions, in Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style (Portfolio, $26.95, 304 pages, ISBN 9781591847304), Carson Tate points out that most of us don’t actually take the answers into account when we plan our workdays. Calendars and to-do lists are great for some people, but for others, they’re highly detrimental. “The truth is that the problem is not you. It’s how you are trying to overcome your busyness that is the problem,” Tate says. The workplace productivity expert and career coach explains that, based on research into brain activity and work styles—plus her own experiences and those of her clients—there’s no single, right way to achieve productivity. Instead, there are four predominant “productivity styles”: Prioritizer, Planner, Arranger and Visualizer. A 28-question quiz, the Productivity Style Assessment, will guide readers toward identifying their own style, as well as the styles of their bosses and co-workers. Tate’s on-point assessments of what works for those styles (and what’s never going to, so don’t try to force it!) are supremely useful. Four detailed case studies are interesting and inspiring, and sub-
ject-specific chapters like “Lead a Meeting Revolution” and “Tame Your Inbox” offer hope for the harried. Work Simply is an insightful, supportive book for those who want to do more and better (and have some fun along the way) but haven’t quite figured out how.
FINDING FOCUS Ah, our techno-centric era—the immediacy of texting, the wonders of wireless, the ability to take photos of anything at any time and send them to anyone. Amazing, sure, but also a recipe for feeling scattered, stressed and always behind. Edward M. Hallowell understands: He’s an M.D. specializing in attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the author of 14 books on the topic, including the best-selling Driven to Distraction. In Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive (Harvard Business Review Press, $26, 256 pages, ISBN 9781422186411), he sets his sights on the six most prevalent time-wasters, from compulsive email-checking to ineffective multitasking to being unable to say no. These distractions are all part of what he calls Attention Deficit Trait (ADT), or “a severe case of modern life.” While conditions such as ADD and ADHD are genetic, ADT is situational—people may suffer from it at work, but are just fine at home. Wherever it happens, it doesn’t feel good; restlessness, frustration and an inability to focus are the unfortunate result. But there’s
hope in these pages. Based on his treatment of thousands of patients, Hallowell offers ways for readers to identify the distractions in their lives and learn how to deal with them. For example, those who are “toxic worriers” should “Get the facts. Toxic worry is rooted in lack of information, wrong information, or both.” If achieving “flexible focus” (which he defines as a balance of logical and creative thinking) is proving a challenge, “Draw a picture. Visuals clarify thinking. Draw a diagram, construct a table, cover a page with zigzags. . . . You may soon see the bigger picture you’d been looking for coming into focus.” Hallowell’s voice is knowledgeable, accessible and, above all, encouraging. We can do it!
GETTING YOUR GROOVE BACK Christine Carter gets things done: She’s a sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center; is the best-selling author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents; has been cited in The New York Times; interviewed on TV by the likes of Oprah and Dr. Oz; and is raising two daughters. But, as she explains in The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work (Ballantine, $26, 320 pages, ISBN 9780553392043), not long ago, even she found herself completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Something had to change. “I needed to get my groove back, to live in my sweet spot . . . that point of optimum impact that athletes strike on a bat or racquet or club, that place where an athlete has both the greatest power and the greatest ease,” she writes. And couldn’t we all benefit from a life that’s easier—less harried, less stressful and more balanced?
UNLEASH THE POWER OF A PERFECT AGENDA A meeting without an agenda is like a ship without a rudder. Without an agenda, there is no way to guide the conversation to achieve the meeting’s goal. Revolt against agendaless meetings—always ask for an agenda in advance. If the leader cannot provide one, you should either decline the meeting or (if you feel you must attend anyway) accept the fact that there is a high probability your time investment will yield a poor return. When you lead a meeting, create what I call a POWER agenda: • Purpose • Outcomes • Who • Execution • Responsibility A POWER agenda will ensure that you are clear on the purpose and outcomes for the meeting and guarantee that you have a thoughtful, organized plan to achieve them. from Work Simply by Carson Tate
Carter acknowledges that it might be difficult to achieve a state of flow when there’s so much going on, but her “Sweet Spot Equation” promises to help readers achieve a happier, more relaxed life via tips, strategies and examples in five major areas: Take Recess, Switch Autopilot On, Unshackle Yourself, Cultivate Relationships and Tolerate Some Discomfort. Her data is fascinating, her strategies empowering and, while avid readers of balance-your-life books will have encountered these concepts before, Carter’s take offers fresh approaches; the “Work on your eulogy, not your resume” and “Distinguishing mastery from perfectionism” sections are excellent examples. It’s heady stuff, but if it means getting closer to that sweet spot, it’s definitely worth the effort.
BEHIND THE BOOK BY SCOTT BLACKWOOD
All the voices we’ll never hear
he 1991 murder of four teenage girls that inspired my novel, See How Small, has haunted me for 23 years. It struck a deep chord in anyone who lived in Austin, Texas, then—one that reverberates even now.
I was teaching high school in Austin at the time, and my eldest daughter had been born only a few months earlier, so the sudden loss of these girls—Sarah and Jennifer Harbison, Amy Ayers and Eliza Thomas—hit particularly close to home. They were in a very real sense, the “every girls” of the community: They were loved by their parents, belonged to Future Farmers of America, danced the two-step, dated awkward boys, attended midnight movies, had sleepovers and looked out for one another. Then one evening the unimaginable happened: They were bound, raped, shot and then burned in a fire set to cover up the crime. Eight years went by as the investigation was plagued by false confessions and false leads. Then, in 1999, a newly launched investigation engulfed four young men who were boys at the time of the murders, roughly the same ages
SEE HOW SMALL
By Scott Blackwood
Little, Brown, $25, 224 pages ISBN 9780316373807, audio, eBook available
as the girls. After hours of interrogation, two of the men confessed. They soon recanted, but were later convicted and sent to prison for a decade based solely on the confessions. Still, the parents of the girls must have thought—after enduring the horrific details of the trial—that finally there was a resolution, there was justice, even if at a great See How price to them Small is personally. Now they could try my attempt to move on with to make their lives. emotional And then in sense out of the summer of inexplicable 2009, shortly after I began events. See How Small, both men were released because forensics investigators—using more advanced DNA identification methods—found DNA evidence of two previously unknown male assailants. In short, the two men who confessed couldn’t have been the perpetrators. So what did this all mean? Investigators and the prosecution had told the same story to the girls’ parents for a decade. The parents reacted as anyone would who’d shaped the arc of their lives around it: They refused to believe the new evidence. The original story of a robbery gone wrong—compelling in its detail if somewhat implausible—had become the parents’ reality, a way for them to make meaning out of atrocity. And what of the girls? Weren’t they more than victims? What about their stories? And what of the incarcerated men (whose boyhoods were now long past) and their families? It had dramatically shaped their lives as well. The mur-
ders—known since as the “yogurt shop murders” because of where they took place—remain unsolved. The case is a Texas In Cold Blood of sorts, a challenge to our basic ideas of justice, responsibility, grief, love and even the shape of the stories we tell to make sense of it. The ache in this story stays with you. See How Small is my attempt to make emotional sense out of inexplicable events by channeling all the voices we’ll never hear. Another inspiration for See How Small was very personal. One day, soon after I began writing the novel, my wife called me at my downtown Chicago office, saying our then 6-year-old daughter had gone missing from school. The police were called, the school grounds searched, the neighborhood canvassed, a helicopter hovered overhead. While racing home in a cab, I called everyone I knew. Horrific images rose in my mind. Nearby Lake Michigan took on new connotations. Alleyways seemed ominous. Every passerby suspect. How could we have been so oblivious to the dangers? Eventually, nearly an hour after the first call, my wife called to tell me they’d found her. She’d created a play date with a friend, somehow evaded the school staff and walked three quarters of a mile to a friend’s house. She was safe. But the veil had been lifted, everyday life
revealed to be potentially treacherous and wondrous at the same time. The title See How Small is taken from the voice of the dead girls in the novel, who say, “See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart?” This is the central theme of the book: Though its characters are separated by suffering and loss, by the ephemeral, random nature of the world, they can make an eternal human shape out of it, can tell their own stories—full of joys and sufferings—that connect them with each another, and with each of us. In the end, it’s about transcending loss through accepting loss— embracing all of human experience, and being transfigured by it.
A longtime resident of Austin, Texas, author Scott Blackwood now lives in Chicago and teaches writing at Southern Illinois University. He has won awards for his previous work, which includes the novel We Agreed to Meet Just Here and a twovolume history of Paramount Records. Look for a review of See How Small on BookPage.com.
FICTION JEFFREY SKEMP
brother. Kevin’s father hopes a summer under the care of Pops, the family’s cantankerous patriarch and the town veterinarian, will restore the devastated Anne. For Kevin, his time in Medgar is not a retreat, but an introduction to the thorny issues of adulthood, as well as the healing power of nature, thanks to his friendship with Buzzy Fink, a local boy who instructs Kevin in the ways of wilderness. The town knew better days when the nearby coal mines were productive. Now people are selling off their ancestral lands for the latest in coal extraction: mountaintop removal, which destroys the landscape. In a place with more poverty than opportunity, the choice to sell is a tempting one. A small group of townspeople oppose the powerful mining interests, including Pops. As Kevin accompanies Pops on his veterinary rounds into the hills and hollows, he begins to see what happens when a community loses its connection to its history—a connection Kevin has just discovered for himself, thanks to his time on the family homestead. Among the novel’s many joys are its characters, which add humor, drama and heartbreak to this layered story. Though a few are just this side of stereotypical (the gay hairdresser, the sassy housekeeper, the repugnant mine company boss), they illustrate the way years of common experience and friendship can be tested by change and hardship. This affecting comingof-age story faithfully portrays environmental concerns alongside rich family histories.
THE ROSIE EFFECT
Working for a happily ever after R E V I E W B Y C A R R I E R O L LWA G E N
We hear plenty of stories about falling in love. What we don’t often get, especially in romantic comedies, is the idea that marriage just might be the beginning of the love story, not its culmination. As The Rosie Effect shows, sometimes it’s possible, and even necessary, to fall in love with your partner over and over again. Sometimes that process can be just as beautiful—and just as romantic. In The Rosie Project, we met Don. He may or may not be on the autism spectrum, but he certainly relies on logic instead of emotion and is often baffled by his interactions with other people. When he meets brash, break-the-rules Rosie, he discovers a love that defies logic. We left them at happily ever after. Now we meet them again after a life-changing move to New York and news of a pregnancy. Both By Graeme Simsion Don and Rosie are growing as people, but they’re not really growing Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 352 pages together, and Australian author Graeme Simsion portrays that tension ISBN 9781476767314, audio, eBook available beautifully. Just as in a romantic comedy, we find ourselves hoping that two characters will overcome obstacles to find true love—but this POPULAR FICTION time, they’re sitting just across the dinner table from each other. Many sequels falter, but this one is pitch-perfect. It’s cute, but it isn’t cheesy. It’s extremely funny and clever, but not at the expense of the characters or as an insult to the reader. The unexpected twist in The Rosie Effect is the way Simsion manages to make marriage romantic. This book isn’t really about pregnancy or living with autism or moving to a new city. It’s about having your world rocked when you really, truly have to compromise with another person. It’s about how tricky that is, how hilarious that can be, and how beautiful it is when you pull it off.
ETTA AND OTTO AND RUSSELL AND JAMES By Emma Hooper Simon & Schuster $26, 320 pages ISBN 9781476755670 Audio, eBook available
Etta and Otto and Russell and James is at once alluring and unexpected. The novel opens with a letter from 83-year-old Etta to her husband, Otto. Etta has left the couple’s farm in Saskatchewan to walk more than 3,000 kilometers to see the ocean. In the letter, Etta tells Otto that she will try to remember to come back, a hint at her failing memory. Otto, hands trembling, decides not to follow. The setting quickly shifts to the early 1930s, where we meet young Otto and his 16-member family
of farmers; Etta, who lives in town with her parents and sister; and Russell, a displaced orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle next door to Otto. From there, the novel—still told partially in letters—alternates between the characters’ early years to Etta’s current-day cross-country journey, revealing how the trio met, what drives them, and how their lives became so intimately interwoven. Layered alongside Etta’s journey is Otto’s trip across the Atlantic at age 17 to fight during World War II. As Otto serves abroad, Etta looks after Russell, and the two become more reliant on one another. In the present, Otto’s memories of the war come to the forefront as he copes with Etta’s absence. Emma Hooper’s debut is intelligent, moving and captivating. Inspired by a piece of her own family history, the author examines with creativity the consequences of great love and loss, blurring the
lines between memory, illusion and reality. Perfectly crafted and endearing in its unpredictability, Etta and Otto and Russell and James pulls readers along with every page turn. —STEPHANIE KIRKLAND
THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH By Christopher Scotton
Grand Central $26, 480 pages ISBN 9781455551927 Audio, eBook available
Kevin Gillooly, the teenage protagonist of Christopher Scotton’s debut novel, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, returns with his mother to her Eastern Kentucky hometown of Medgar after the horrific accidental death of his 3-year-old
WEST OF SUNSET By Stewart O’Nan Viking $27.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780670785957 Audio, eBook available
It’s easy to forget that by the time he was 41, F. Scott Fitzgerald was washed up. His books were out of
FICTION print, magazines weren’t interested in his stories and his monthly royalties were down to pocket change. In 1937, he went to Hollywood, where he struggled to make a living writing screenplays, barely staying one step ahead of his creditors. It is these lean years that Stewart O’Nan examines in his brilliant biographical novel West of Sunset. When Fitzgerald arrived in Hollywood, his wife, Zelda, was in a mental hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and their daughter, Scottie, was lodged in an East Coast boarding school. Overcome with guilt and plagued by the alcohol addiction that would lead to a fatal heart attack just three years later, Fitzgerald worked as a studio screenwriter for projects both notable (Gone with the Wind) and forgotten (A Yank at Oxford), surrounded by colleagues such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Humphrey Bogart. At the same time, he met and fell in love with Sheilah Graham, a British gossip columnist with her own complicated past. Their relationship sustained him and also made it possible for him to work on his final novel, The Last Tycoon. But he still returned east regularly to see Zelda or take her on small trips—once, he even brought her to her family’s home in Alabama for a trial stay. O’Nan has always found the drama inherent in hard work (Last Night at the Lobster) and in the nuances of personal relationships (Emily, Alone), and West of Sunset combines both. As glamorous a subject as Hollywood in the 1930s is, the small moments work best in this poignant novel: the guilt Fitzgerald feels over not spending his holidays with his wife and daughter; the awkward friendship between Scottie and Sheilah; and the struggles that Fitzgerald has alone with his typewriter. O’Nan handles these situations with the utmost sympathy. He paints a deeply personal portrait of a man on his last legs—financially, creatively and physically—and as painful as the subject matter is, it is also a pleasure to read. West of Sunset is truly one great writer exploring the life and work of another. —LAUREN BUFFERD
AMNESIA By Peter Carey
Knopf $25.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780385352772 Audio, eBook available
Two-time Man Booker Prize winner (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang) Peter Carey’s 13th novel is a darkly satiric tale of cyber activism, modern Australian history and the exhilaration and perils of advocacy journalism. Facing financial ruin after a six-figure defamation judgment, Sydney journalist Felix Moore, “a socialist and a servant of the truth,” is recruited by an eccentric real estate developer to tell the story of Gaby Baillieux. This young hacker, known as “Angel,” has launched a computer worm that simultaneously freed thousands of prisoners in Australia and the United States. Apart from his need for quick cash, Felix’s willingness to take on the project is fueled by his own political inclinations. The first third of the novel is narrated in Felix’s lively, cynical voice as he describes how he’s been placed in a “privileged role where I might be both a witness and participant in a new type of warfare where the weapons of individuals could equal those of nation states.” From there, Carey shifts to the third person, as Felix, spirited away to an isolated location, wrestles with the challenge of turning the tape-recorded recollections of two unreliable narrators—Gaby and her mother Celine, an actress and wife of a member of Australia’s Parliament—into a serviceable work. Carey, who reportedly turned down an offer to ghostwrite the memoir of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, infuses the novel with a distinct political perspective. Through Felix, he describes the events of 1975, when Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was deposed in what Carey suggests was a CIA-led coup
GRAEME SIMSION B Y C A R R I E R O L LWA G E N
After ‘I do’
ustralian novelist Graeme Simsion found unexpected success with his first novel, a romantic comedy starring an uptight geneticist and a freespirited young woman. In The Rosie Effect, Simsion revisits Don and Rosie as they struggle with marriage.
Had you always planned to continue the story of Don and Rosie? On the contrary, I had made a firm decision that there would not be a sequel. I was well advanced with a new novel when I changed my mind. A number of readers and critics had commented that the happy ending was unrealistic—Don and Rosie would struggle in a marriage. Of course they would! Everyone does at times. I wanted to explore this and show that they could make it through. I struggled for a while to find a way into the story—then, one evening at dinner we were celebrating the pregnancy of someone in my writers’ group. . . . Was exploring what happens after marriage as exciting as new love? Overall it was exciting. I wanted to take Don and Rosie to a very low point, to where their marriage was in real jeopardy. That meant having both of them lose faith in the relationship. The Rosie Project was about falling in love. The Rosie Effect is about making a longterm relationship work. The tones of the books reflect these different moods—and different challenges. What the two stories do have in common is that we should see that these guys are fundamentally compatible—and we sometimes want to bang their heads together! Rosie seems closed off to the reader as well as to Don, whereas in the original she was the more accessible character. Why? We are in Don’s head, so we understand why he is doing what he does. But we only see Don’s view of Rosie, and if we take this at face value, it’s easy to judge her harshly. And she’s not in every scene: Don is the protagonist here. I guess we’d not be surprised if the male partner was invisible, at work, closed off, unapproachable, when the protagonist was having a drink with her female buddies—but when we reverse the genders, we notice the absence of the woman. It’s clear why people on the autism spectrum might relate to Don, but are there readers who relate to him in unexpected ways? I didn’t expect so many women to “fall in love” with Don. I wanted readers to be sympathetic, empathize, but, “I’d give up being a vegan if I could marry Don”; “Is there a real Don and can I have his email address?”; “Rosie doesn’t deserve Don!”—no, I didn’t expect that. Don, for all his intelligence, decency and “cuteness” would be hard work! OK, he is a romantic hero, but he’s a long way from a conventional one. Don’s best friend, Gene, is his opposite. Why do you think these two very different people have such a strong bond? I see Gene as the dark side of Don—a geek who learned to fake it till he made it. I mean, what sort of man in his mid-50s is “collecting” women? What’s he trying to prove? I think unusual people have a choice of finding a place that accommodates them, or changing to fit in with broader society. Don and Gene represent those two different choices. I like to think that in The Rosie Effect Read an extended version of we see Gene in more depth.
this Q&A on BookPage.com.
reviews provoked by Whitlam’s withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. In another subplot, he describes the at times comic efforts of Gaby and her lover, Frederic Matovic, to thwart the activities of a chemical manufacturer they believe has introduced dioxin into Melbourne’s water supply. Felix Moore and the other characters in Amnesia clearly believe we’re living in an age where “the enemy was not one nation state but a cloud of companies, corporations, contractors, statutory bodies whose survival meant the degradation of water, air, soil, life itself.” Even if you disagree, you still can enjoy this intricate and unusual story. —HARVEY FREEDENBERG
SAVING GRACE By Jane Green
St. Martin’s $26.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781250047335 Audio, eBook available
FICTION easily as she manages their calendar and quickly becoming indispensable to the couple. But Grace can’t shake the feeling that there’s something amiss. As plain, timid, competent Beth begins transforming into a glamorous Grace clone, Grace wonders whether she is slowly being replaced in her own life, and she has to decide whether it is a life she wants to fight for. With Saving Grace, Jane Green proves yet again that she is one of the most dependably compelling writers of women’s fiction around. Her characters are flawed but likable, her stories intriguing but believable. Even when she occasionally lapses into lazy prose (“her heart breaks open into a smile”), Green consistently delivers compassionate, relatable stories about the issues facing contemporary women. Grace is a vintage Green character: all-too-human and stronger than she thinks. —AMY SCRIBNER
LILLIAN ON LIFE By Alison Jean Lester
Grace Chapman has a seemingly perfect life: She’s a lifestyle icon with a best-selling author husband, a loving daughter and a gorgeous home outside of New York City. A former cookbook editor, she now cooks legendary meals for the local women’s shelter and plans community fundraisers. But look closer. Grace’s charming, handsome husband, Ted, has a vicious temper, a mammoth ego and a wandering eye. One moment a loving, attentive spouse, Ted can switch in an instant, yelling and blaming Grace for the slightest mishap. After growing up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness, Grace cowers when her husband berates her. She worries that mental illness lurks in her own genes. When their dependable, longtime assistant quits, Grace hires a new assistant to organize their lives—and keep Ted in check. Beth gets their lives in much-needed order, managing Ted’s temper as
Putnam $25.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780399168895 Audio, eBook available
“Beginnings are crystal clear. Endings are too, once they’re final. It’s difficult to tell what part of the middle you’re in, though.” The restlessness of that sentiment sums up Alison Jean Lester’s memorable protagonist quite well. A mix of “live and let live” and the dos and don’ts from her midcentury upbringing, the heroine of Lillian on Life slides off the page as real, complicated and contradictory. We meet Lillian—and her insecurities, regrets and triumphs—in late middle age, as she’s solidifying her beliefs about herself and the world. As she mulls over the past decades of her life in episodic chapters, she reveals much—and occasionally conceals more. In some passages, she straddles
the fine line of self-pity; in other instances, she speaks incisively about her experiences of desire, disappointment or loss in ways that seem universal. One memory brings out a wistful softness while the next elicits a hardened life mantra. Lillian embodies the quest to understand our natures and our lives—both what has happened to us and what we have chosen. The novel captures how our minds trip us up as Lillian meanders through her memories and flashes of poignant feeling in a nonlinear way. Yet for all the wandering, Lester’s narrative flows and holds together as we follow along. We feel Lillian’s disappointments and embarrassments, relate to her naiveté and shake our heads at her justifications. As someone who hears others’ voices rattling in her head long after they are gone, Lillian sifts through her thoughts on her judgmental mother, protective but passive Poppa and her varied lovers. In Lillian, Lester has created a wry, self-conscious, introspective woman with a memorable voice to match. Like a portrait painted over and over, Lillian bears the evidence of many revisions. Her vulnerability is palpable in every story she relates. Each chapter acts like a signpost on Lillian’s journey to find peace with herself. —MELISSA BROWN
ALMOST FAMOUS WOMEN By Megan Mayhew Bergman Scribner $25, 256 pages ISBN 9781476786568 Audio, eBook available
In her first collection of stories, Birds of a Lesser Paradise (2012), Megan Mayhew Bergman focused on the relationships between humans and animals. In her new collection, Almost Famous Women, Bergman focuses on the lives of real women who have been marginalized (or mythologized) in history. They include Violet and Daisy
Hilton, conjoined twins at odds in life but not in body; Marion “Joe” Carstairs, a womanizing power boat racer; Allegra Byron, the illegitimate daughter of Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont; and many other women whose stories are as captivating as they are obscure. Bergman’s focus is on gender, regardless of time, race, sexuality or nationality, and she celebrates complexity rather than apologizing for it—after all, great women aren’t necessarily good. Her prose is as startling in its variance and complexity as the lives of the women it describes. Their once overlooked stories are not to be missed. —MIRANDA HILL
WILDALONE By Krassi Zourkova
Morrow $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062328021 Audio, eBook available
Greek mythology and Bulgarian fairy tales have never felt as modern as they do in Wildalone, Krassi Zourkova’s debut novel. Building on the momentum established by Stephenie Meyer’s ever-popular Twilight franchise, the Bulgarian-born Zourkova introduces fans of supernatural romance to a dark and heady new love triangle involving a gifted musician and two bewitching brothers. Forsaking her family and her homeland, Thea Slavin leaves Bulgaria to attend Princeton University in the hope of becoming a world-class pianist . . . and of uncovering the truth behind the mysterious death of her older sister several years earlier. Struggling to assimilate into American culture and meet the demands of Ivy League life, Thea finds herself drawn into a sensual relationship with two brothers, Rhys and Jake Estin, each of whom seems to have secrets of his own—and the answers may lie in the myths and legends Thea grew up with and had dismissed as nothing more
FICTION than stories. As shocking truths are revealed and fantasies made real, Thea must decide how far she will go for love. Moody and mesmerizing, Wildalone is sure to appeal to lovers of the alpha-male romance. Despite working as a lawyer, Zourkova writes prose that is lush and seductive, whether she’s describing the Princeton campus or her own Bulgarian homeland—not to mention the electric relationship between Thea and her two suitors. An imaginative and ambitious first novel, Wildalone is a dark, sensual fairytale that will leave readers begging for a sequel. —STEPHENIE HARRISON
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IN SOME OTHER WORLD, MAYBE By Shari Goldhagen
St. Martin’s $25.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781250047991 Audio, eBook available
COMING OF AGE
The stories we consume in youth—whether through books, television, film or song—often become the defining narrative of our lives. A shared affection draws people together, and a mention of a character or a trace of a lyric can immediately transport us to another place and time. Throughout In Some Other World, Maybe, the driving force is the 1992 movie adaptation of the comic books Eons & Empires. Adam is dead set on getting out of his small Florida hometown, and seeing the movie with a longtime crush is one of the last memories he’ll make there. In Cincinnati, Sharon skips school so she can see the film alone—twice. Phoebe and Ollie make a trip to their suburban Chicago movie theater on their first date, and all of their friends join in. Each trip is, on the surface, a typical high school vignette. But in the two decades that follow, Eons & Empires remains a
benchmark for Adam, Sharon and Phoebe—and it becomes the tie that draws them together. With the numerous ways the characters’ stories interact and nearly intersect, the story could have easily turned hokey. But in Shari Goldhagen’s skilled narrative, these twists reveal themselves naturally in a sort of fictional six degrees of separation. Much history occurs during the course of In Some Other World, Maybe—with international news events cluing the reader in to how time has progressed—but the outside world isn’t really the point. As the characters grow from teenagers to confused college-age kids to more established adults, Eons & Empires serves as a touchstone for each. The result is a compelling tale that leaves readers pondering what is and, had life taken another direction, what could have been. —CARLA JEAN WHITLEY
SWEETLAND By Michael Crummey
Liveright $24.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780871407900 Audio, eBook available
ment is so convinced of the island’s hopelessness that it will generously pay its inhabitants to relocate. This provokes a battle between Sweetland and the prosperous mainland. Once, fishing supported the communities along the North Atlantic coast. With the collapse of the cod stocks and fish populations through overfishing and climate change, this support is increasingly tenuous. Sweetland is thus in part a parable of how environmental collapse and social collapse are one. Crummey’s Newfoundland has become, at best, a remittance economy and, at worst, a stopover for Sri Lankan refugees headed to Toronto. Sweetland is purposeful, and it certainly evokes the rawness and fragility of life in Newfoundland. It is not, however, an advertisement for the place, as Crummey devotes pages of rather self-consciously muscular prose to food preparation or to Sweetland grumbling like King Lear in various squalls— admitting with grave understatement that he “sounded slightly unhinged.” Sweetland is both a testament to human resilience and a keen study of where that resilience shades into cussedness and derangement. —KENNETH CHAMPEON
VANESSA AND HER SISTER In Michael Crummey’s novel, Sweetland, a Newfoundlander named Queenie offers some literary criticism. Concerning books about her province, she says: “It was a torture to get through them. They were every one depressing. . . . Or nothing happened. Or there was no point to the story.” She adds that they are unrecognizable and probably written by outsiders. Does Newfoundlander Crummey rise to Queenie’s challenge? Readers may decide for themselves. But what Sweetland lacks in sweetness and light, it makes up for in authenticity. The title refers to an island and one of its eponymous residents, 70-year-old Moses Sweetland, who makes some of Cormac McCarthy’s surlier characters seem like Holly Golightly. The Canadian govern-
By Priya Parmar Ballantine $26, 368 pages ISBN 9780804176378 Audio, eBook available
Duncan Grant; art critic Roger Fry, curator of New York’s Metropolitan Museum; and economist John Maynard Keynes. The Stephen siblings—Vanessa, Virginia, Adrian and Thoby, the eldest brother— moved to the “bohemian hinterland” of Bloomsbury after their parents died, and Thoby’s Cambridge friends quickly adopted it as their favorite gathering place. By means of Vanessa’s diary entries and letters, postcards and telegrams traveling back and forth among this large cast of characters, Parmar delves into not just their intellectual pursuits, but also their flirtations, affairs and sexual proclivities, which they reveal with little thought to discretion. But, as the title suggests, Parmar’s main focus is the Stephen sisters: Vanessa, the artist, and Virginia, the novelist, whose relationship was challenged by Vanessa’s 1907 marriage to Clive Bell. Vanessa and Her Sister succeeds not only as a glimpse into this remarkable artistic family, but as an insightful portrayal of post-Victorian London as seen through the eyes of its increasingly uninhibited intellectual elite. —DEBORAH DONOVAN
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A PLEASURE AND A CALLING By Phil Hogan
Picador $25, 288 pages ISBN 9781250060631 Audio, eBook available
Priya Parmar’s second novel opens an intimate, witty and highly entertaining window into the early 20th-century circle of writers, philosophers and artists known as London’s Bloomsbury Group. They met several times a week at the homes of Vanessa and Clive Bell and Vanessa’s brother and sister, Adrian and Virginia Stephen (later Woolf). This erudite group also included the novelist E.M. Forster; biographer Lytton Strachey; artist
Mr. Heming, the narrator of A Pleasure and a Calling, is more than an uninvited guest: He’s the guest you never knew you had. Channeling the socially detached and unnerving personality of Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Phil Hogan creates a character that will inspire intrigue as well as ire. Heming owns the premiere real estate agency in his small English town, which provides him a steady
reviews flow of money—and keys to most of its residents’ houses, which he uses to indulge his penchant for snooping. He takes his obsession to sociopathic levels, noting the routines and habits of every house he violates and taking home mementos of his conquests. Heming hides his fetish well, until the day he is caught sneaking through a house after a lovers’ quarrel. Readers will begin to question their own morality as they watch the protagonist go to extreme lengths to cover his tracks. A Pleasure and a Calling takes readers into the mind of a truly disturbed man and follows the development of his psychosis. Jumping from the present day to Heming’s past, from childhood curiosity and tragedy to the inability to maintain conventional relationships as an adult, the creation of a monster is unveiled. Hogan’s writing style echoes the creepiness of his main character. The lack of emotional adjectives and use of idiocentric phrases further solidify the darkness of our complicated narrator. This perfectly paced psychological suspense story is a roller-coaster ride through paranoia and manipulation. —SCOTT MAUCIONE
DRIVING THE KING By Ravi Howard
Harper $25.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780060529611 Audio, eBook available
A moment can change everything. Nat Weary learns that in a hurry. One minute, he was a World War II veteran on bended knee, proposing to his sweetheart during a concert in their hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. The next, Weary spots several men armed with pipes heading toward the performer, his childhood friend Nat “King” Cole. Before his girl can utter a response, Weary leaps from the auditorium’s colored balcony and
FICTION widely known in 2012, when her story collection Binocular Vision won both the PEN/Malamud and National Book Critics Circle awards and was a finalist for numerous others. Her new collection, Honeydew, gathers tales from the last 15 years, each one a closely observed look at the ordinary graces and sorrows of everyday life. Most of the stories in Honeydew take place in Goldolphin, a fictional suburb of Boston peopled with professors, beauticians and shopkeepers. In “Dream Children,” an au pair finds frightening paintings of her charges hidden around the house and discovers that the images are created with the same intent that keeps her secretly brewing herbal potions for the children’s continued good health. The title story (included in The Best American Short Stories 2012) encompasses infidelity, pregnancy and an anorexic teenager who imagines herself as an insect, yet, by the story’s close, a new baby is born, weight is cautiously regained and relationships have shifted into more harmonious circumstances. At least for the time being. Many of Pearlman’s most memorable characters are observers and listeners. In linked stories (“Puck,” “Assisted Living”), Rennie, the proprietor of the antique store Forget-Me-Not, keeps as close an eye on her customers as she does the teapots and Victorian jewelry in her shop. In one of the collection’s most vivid stories, “Wait and See,” Lyle is born with pentachromatic vision, a condition that allows him to see depths and variations of col— C A R L A J E A N W H I T L E Y or that most humans aren’t privy to—and which proves to be both a blessing and a curse. HONEYDEW Like Lyle’s vision, Pearlman’s By Edith Pearlman prose shimmers, and the stories are filled with beguiling details of Little, Brown color, taste and smell. Pearlman $25, 288 pages ISBN 9780316297226 knows—and seems to care about— Audio, eBook available each of her characters, even the most irritating, and no matter SHORT STORIES their age, gender or race, they are drawn incisively and with empathy. Though the collection lacks the range of Binocular Vision, HoneyEdith Pearlman has been pubdew is a solid group of stories by a lishing award-winning stories since very great writer indeed. the late 1970s, but became more —LAUREN BUFFERD
runs on stage to defend his friend. By cracking one of the men over the head with a microphone stand, Weary saves Nat’s life—and ensures he’ll spend the next 10 years of his own in prison. In Driving the King, gifted novelist Ravi Howard uses glimpses of Weary’s post-prison life to give weight and hope to all he lost during a decade locked up. Weary finds a second chance and much-needed distance from Montgomery by becoming Cole’s driver and trusted friend in Los Angeles. Howard weaves historical events through this fictional retelling, using them as key plot points and context for Weary’s internal turmoil. The Montgomery bus boycott is central, and Howard also introduces readers to a young Martin Luther King Jr. In reality, Cole never returned to perform in the South after being attacked during a 1956 performance in Birmingham and was resented by some black people for performing in front of segregated audiences (resentment that continued even after Cole revealed his financial support of the Montgomery bus boycott). This novel follows in the thematic footsteps of Howard’s debut, Like Trees, Walking, which recounted a lynching in Mobile, Alabama. Through unfussy language and well-formed characters, Howard takes readers of all races, ages and classes into the world of pre-civil rights era black people, offering insight on and understanding of one of our country’s most tumultuous periods.
DESCENT By Tim Johnston
Algonquin $25.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781616203047 Audio, eBook available
Tim Johnston’s latest novel has an unusual take on the parent’s-worst-nightmare scenario of child abduction. He doesn’t focus so much on the abductee, Caitlin Courtland, but instead on what Caitlin’s disappearance does to the men in her life. Caitlin is snatched while the family is on vacation in the Rockies; they’re there partially because it’s a great place for Caitlin, a champion high school runner, to train. The disaster shatters the family almost at once, but things were shaky for the Courtlands even before the kidnapping. Dad Grant was unfaithful to his wife, Angela. Dudley adored his older sister, even though she teased him for being fat and unambitious. Still, both he and Grant are guilt-ridden for not being able to protect her. Johnston’s women are tangential, but not because he’s one of those male writers who can’t write credible women. With the exception of Angela, who falls to pieces and stays that way for pretty much the whole book, the women are fairly strong, intelligent and well-rounded. Caitlin, during the brief time we see her, is a powerhouse. But it’s the men who demand answers; Caitlin’s abduction is an affront to their manhood, even if they never knew her. They speak in bursts of terse but beautifully rendered dialogue and their thoughts are just as circumspect. Johnston’s equally spare, alluring descriptions of the landscape, the weather, geriatric cars and trucks, farm equipment and firearms recall Annie Proulx. Both suspenseful and sorrowful, Descent explores what it means to be a man—a husband, a father, a brother, a son, an officer of the law—in an uncertain time. —ARLENE McKANIC
NONFICTION BLACK DIAMONDS By Catherine Bailey
Exile from the Motherland REVIEW BY ALDEN MUDGE
If Elena Gorokhova’s splendid second memoir merely conveyed to readers a vivid, almost visceral understanding of the sometimes paralyzing sense of dislocation she experienced arriving in the United States in 1980 from the Soviet Union, that alone would be reason enough to read it. On her first day in the U.S., for instance, she visits the air-conditioned Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with the American husband she barely knows, and wonders, “Why are there no smells? Russia assaults you in your nostrils: milk always on the verge of turning sour, the wet wool of winter coats we wear everyday for five months, rubber phone booth tiles buckled with urine. . . .” In the first third of Russian Tattoo, which describes her first year in the U.S. and the full extent of her unhappy first marriage, nearly every By Elena Gorokhova page sings with sharp, intelligent, often witty observations about her Simon & Schuster, $26, 336 pages new, confusing life in America. ISBN 9781451689822, eBook available But in a way, this section of the memoir is merely the brilliant MEMOIR surface of a more profound exploration of her split identity, of what leaving her Motherland and making a life in her new homeland has meant for Gorokhova: What does she carry? What does she leave behind? Gorokhova accomplishes this through a moving exposition of her difficult relationships with her mother and her American-born daughter, Sasha. Readers of Gorokhova’s wonderful first memoir, A Mountain of Crumbs, know that Elena herself was a lively, rebellious daughter. Here she writes that her mother was “a mirror image of my Motherland—overbearing, protective, controlling, and nurturing.” When Gorokhova’s own daughter is born, her mother arrives from the Soviet Union to live with them in New Jersey permanently. It’s a complicated set of relationships, but as the years pass, Gorokhova sees that her daughter has become “just as ruthless and honest as I used to be.” And she herself has seemingly become more like her mother. With these sorts of divides there are never clean resolutions, but as the illuminating final section of the memoir indicates, there are soulful accommodations. Some of us actually do get wiser as we get older.
HOW WE ARE By Vincent Deary FSG $25, 272 pages ISBN 9780374172107 Audio, eBook available
We humans tend to like our maps, our GPS devices, explicit directions and clear instructions. We want the how-tos: how to get there, how to cook, build, decorate and repair things. We need to know how to do it—and that we can do it. How We Are, the first book of Vincent Deary’s forthcoming How We Live trilogy, is such a handbook for the questing spirit.
Penguin $17, 544 pages ISBN: 9780143126843 Audio, eBook available
“I could’ve been a judge, but I never ’ad the Latin. . . . And so I become a miner instead.” So starts the bitterly funny “Miner’s Sketch” from the 1960s revue Beyond the Fringe, which gave Americans a sense of the long, brutal class war in Britain between coal miners and the ruling class. Neither emerged intact. That antagonism provides the backdrop for Catherine Bailey’s irresistible Black Diamonds, a dual history of the “torrid unraveling” of an aristocratic dynasty, the Earls Fitzwilliam, and the collapse of the Yorkshire coal mining community that provided the family’s wealth. As she did in The Secret Rooms, her 2013 bestseller about the Dukes of Rutland, Bailey provides proof that a noble title doesn’t always signify noble behavior. In 1902, when Bailey opens her story, the Fitzwilliams were based at the 365room Wentworth estate. Staggeringly rich from coal, they spent the subsequent decades mistreating With the patience and assurance tomatic responses of a life hardly their children, betraying their lived. Change, he tells us with wit of an articulate guide, Deary inspouses, impregnating village girls vites us to consider intriguing ideas and contagious energy, frees us and chorus dancers and suing each from the stifling weight—and secu- other. Today, they have lost both about human behavior. Drawing on his experience as a health rity—of the same-old, same-old. Wentworth and their noble title. psychologist and using a wealth of Deary knows about change. At Ironically, the one thing the cultural, historical and literary ref- the age of 40, he moved to EdinFitzwilliams did not do was oppress erences that range from the Budburgh and began a new life there as their workers: They were among dha, to Nazi concentration camps, an aspiring writer and, eventually, the best of the mine owners. But to Dorothy in the land of Oz, he a single parent of a teenager. He is they could do nothing about the leads us to examine ourselves. He transformed by the experience. By viciousness of their fellow owners. shows us how, in the “grooves of the time he has helped us examBailey writes movingly of the fatal the heart” and the pathways of the ine our innate struggle to accept accidents, the miners’ ghastly living brain, we are conditioned to seek change and even find comfort conditions and the community solicomfort in the status quo. there, we too are ready to welcome darity that alleviated the horrors. Human beings are creatures of and appreciate what he calls a new Peter, the eighth Earl Fitzwil“conscious competence.” Such habit. Change makes us uneasy, liam, was a war hero and compulwhether we seek it (as in a new mindfulness is the higher calling sive adulterer. When he died in a we deserve, Deary says—and with opportunity at work or in love) or plane crash in 1948 with his lover find it thrust upon us (as in grief, a better understanding of human Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, John F. sudden illness or the classic midlife nature, we’ll be far more likely to Kennedy’s sister, the grieving famicrisis). Yet this process of adapting achieve it. lies rushed into full cover-up mode. is what elevates us from the au— P R I S C I L L A K I P P Bailey gives us the real deal, on
reviews that and everything else. Downton Abbey’s earl would be appalled, but the dowager countess would love it. —ANNE BARTLETT
IT WAS ME ALL ALONG By Andie Mitchell Clarkson Potter $24, 240 pages ISBN 9780770433246 Audio, eBook available
NONFICTION THE INTERNET IS NOT THE ANSWER By Andrew Keen
Atlantic Monthly $25, 288 pages ISBN 9780802123138 eBook available
Andie Mitchell had been overweight for as long as she could remember. But cutely plump as a school-age kid became morbidly obese at age 20, when she weighed nearly 300 pounds. Growing up with a depressed, alcoholic father and a mother who worked round the clock to pay the bills, Mitchell grew to view food—any food—as her friend and companion. Bowls of sugary cereal kept her company for hours while her mom worked and her dad slept. Drive-thru cheeseburgers rewarded her for staying out of the way while her mother cleaned other people’s homes. “Eating made me forget,” she writes. “Filling my belly stuffed my mind so completely that no space existed for sadness.” Despite her weight, Mitchell had plenty of friends and several boyfriends. She resigned herself to a lifetime of obesity. But when size 16 became size 22 during her freshman year of college, and she saw the fear in her mother’s eyes, she knew something had to change. During the following summer and a semester in Rome, she learned to appreciate good food in moderation and discovered that exercise doesn’t have to hurt. Slowly, the numbers began to creep downward as her self-worth creeped up. It Was Me All Along is the strikingly honest story of one woman’s long journey to self-acceptance. It’s a must-read memoir for anyone who has used food to numb the pain rather than nourish the body. —AMY SCRIBNER
By Jessie Close
Grand Central $27, 320 pages ISBN 9781455548828 Audio, eBook available
Close’s words, “a new chapter in my life, one of sobriety, hope and purpose.” With her sister’s encouragement, Close is telling her story to the world in hopes of removing the stigma from mental illness. It’s a story well worth reading. —KEITH HERRELL
THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT BE WASHINGTON Although Andrew Keen has long been involved with Silicon Valley, he has a big problem with the sunny predictions made by early champions of the Internet. And here he is on solid ground. The web did not level the political playing field, provide nearly as many jobs as it destroyed, turn every citizen into an entrepreneur or allow us to share the Internet’s bounty of conveniences without sacrificing our privacy in the process. Keen concedes that only so many sins can be laid at the Internet’s feet, but he does indict it for an array of evils, ranging from encouraging copyright piracy to concentrating wealth in the hands of a few. He describes how digital photography reduced Kodak to ruins and how the digital copying of music toppled his beloved record stores along London’s “Golden Mile of Vinyl.” But there’s a distinction to be made—and one Keen too often ignores—between the capabilities a new technology offers and the uses to which those capabilities are put. After all, one can hardly blame the invention of the telescope for a proliferation of Peeping Toms. Nor is there anything intrinsically sinister about new technologies rendering old ones obsolete. All technologies are transitional, and at each stage of inventive evolution there are human casualties, jobs lost and communities torn asunder. This is a major reason governments exist—to help absorb the shock of such dislocation. That’s pretty much the solution Keen ultimately arrives at. “The answer,” he says, “is to use the law and regulation to force the Internet out of its prolonged adolescence.” Technology, after all, controls process, not its own context.
Even before reading the first words of Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness, it’s obvious that this is no ordinary memoir. First there’s the cover, with author Jessie Close in the embrace of her sister, actress Glenn Close. Then there are the photos inside, with captions like, “My dad on the porch of our house in the paracommando camp in Zaire.” It’s been a harrowing ride for Jessie Close, and not just because of her famous sister, or a father who served as personal physician to an African leader, or a family that was swallowed up by a movement known as Moral Rearmament (MRA), whose “Up with People” image hid a darker side that estranged her from her parents. Now 61, she has battled severe bipolar disorder, exacerbated by alcoholism, since her teens. Resilience is her story, with occasional vignettes from Glenn. It’s quite a journey, with detours to Zaire, Switzerland and India before Close finally settles in Montana. As husbands, houses and bad decisions pile up, it’s painful to read but hard to put down—especially when it becomes clear to Close that her older son, Calen, has inherited the mental illness that runs in the family. With wealthy ancestors and a trust fund to lean on, Close can afford top-quality mental health care for both herself and her son, although she inexplicably doesn’t receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder until she is almost 50. Even then, she struggles with suicidal thoughts and only gets her illnesses under control with medicine, sobriety and a revamped lifestyle. With a title like Resilience, it’s a foregone conclusion that the book will end on a hopeful note—in
By Jonathan Horn Scribner $28, 384 pages ISBN 9781476748566 Audio, eBook available
When “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, Robert E. Lee’s father, eulogized George Washington, he memorialized the late president’s effort to forge a unified nation that would bring happiness forever to the people of America. On the eve of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, married to the daughter of Washington’s adopted son, appeared poised to preserve the Union that Washington had fought so hard to establish. Yet, as journalist and presidential speechwriter Jonathan Horn points out in his stirring and elegant The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, Lee chose to lead rebel forces against the Union, leaving division and discord in his wake. Although Lee’s proponents argue that he is the “second coming” of Washington and point to similarities between the two men, others note that Lee’s legacy lies in his painful decision to preserve the values of his beloved state of Virginia above all else. While Horn does not draw on any new archival materials, he chronicles Lee’s life with a vitality that captivates our imagination and keeps us glued to Lee’s story. With graceful vigor, he traces Lee from his childhood to his days at West Point, his command in Mexico, his leadership at Harper’s Ferry and ultimately to his decision to resign his commission in the U.S. Army. Lee’s decision to turn his back on the Union—and his
NONFICTION canny leadership in battle—meant that he would be forever estranged from the nation he cherished. Horn’s illuminating study offers a fascinating comparison between two figures who shaped American history. —HENRY L. CARRIGAN JR.
SILVER SCREEN FIEND By Patton Oswalt Scribner $25, 240 pages ISBN 9781451673210 Audio, eBook available
Patton Oswalt’s career has ranged from earnest stand-up comedy to material that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture to simply follow along. In Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film, he describes how a lifelong love of cinema led him from hubris to humility and back on more than one occasion. Moving to the West Coast to pursue a stand-up career, Oswalt ends up in Los Angeles, writing for television and complaining about his cushy job. When he’s not there or onstage, he’s hunkered down in an old theater, watching movies and telling himself it’s all research for an eventual career as a director. Instead, he gets work in movies and TV and continues to hone his stage material, and finally notices that’s not such a bad life after all. Silver Screen Fiend is funny, but more for Oswalt’s connect-the-dots streams of consciousness than any straightforward jokes. Many stories hinge on his behaving like an entitled ass and then learning his lesson, but the know-it-all tone still dominates. Has he really learned? Or is the tension between feeling like both the smartest guy in the room and the weakest link the engine that drives great comedy? When Oswalt breaks his film addiction and comes blinking back into the light, it’s with an awareness that real life has been passing him
by while he was at the movies. Still a film junkie, he now manages to find time for things like marriage, family and reality. Oswalt writes in a foreword, “This will be either the most interesting or the most boring addiction memoir you’ve ever read.” Fans of his skewed take on the world will scarf up Silver Screen Fiend like a tub of popcorn at a Saturday matinee. —HEATHER SEGGEL
MORE LOVE, LESS PANIC By Claude Knobler Tarcher $25.95, 272 pages ISBN 9780399167959 eBook available
ride of parenthood, even when it isn’t clear exactly where the journey may lead. Parents will find many such nuggets of good advice in this entertaining, easy-to-read combination of memoir and parenting guide. —ALICE CARY
Visit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Claude Knobler.
THOMAS CROMWELL By Tracy Borman
THE WORK By Wes Moore
Spiegel & Grau $25, 272 pages ISBN 9780812993578 Audio, eBook available
Atlantic Monthly $30, 464 pages ISBN 9780802123176 eBook available
One day Claude Knobler and his wife read a newspaper article that would change their lives. Written by award-winning journalist Melissa Fay Greene, it chronicled the plight of Ethiopian children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. The article moved Knobler so deeply that he mentioned to his wife that they should adopt an Ethiopian child. Early on in More Love, Less Panic, Knobler admits, “The absolute 100 percent real truth of the story, is that I never ever thought my wife would agree.” She did, however, and before long Knobler found himself traveling to Ethiopia to bring home 5-year-old Nati to join the family’s two biological children. In seven humorous, touching chapters, Knobler interweaves stories about his son’s adoption with lessons he’s learned that will be helpful to all parents, such as “How Trying to Turn My Ethiopian Son into a Neurotic Jew Taught Me It’s Nature, Not Nurture.” Young Nati was hardly a “Neurotic Jew”; instead, he was a carefree, energetic boy who found joy everywhere he went. With hardly a worry in his personality, he enriched his new family in endless ways. Knobler wisely advises parents to try to sit back and enjoy the wild
score Moore’s point that the meaning of life is clearer when we are willing to serve others, whether as an inner-city principal or a social entrepreneur. The Work will resonate with people seeking their own purpose in life.
In his bestseller The Other Wes Moore, Rhodes Scholar, combat veteran and White House fellow Wes Moore pondered how his youth propelled him to the pinnacle of success while another Baltimore man with the same name sank into poverty and crime. Moore’s inspiring new book, The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters, could be considered a sequel, as Moore describes what happened when he became an adult. More than a travelogue of adventures, however, this memoir shares his quest to understand how people find their true calling. Moore’s career has not had a straight trajectory, and readers puzzled about their own direction might find his indirect path encouraging. In choosing employment, he found more motivation in compassion and a hunger to serve than in personal gain or status. Moore’s course has intertwined with larger events such as the war in Afghanistan, where he served as a paratrooper, and the recession, which found him working in New York’s financial district at the time of Wall Street’s collapse. His inside accounts of these events strongly evoke the concerns of those times. Between each chapter, Moore tells stories of other people who bring their unique talents to lives of service. These stories under-
Thomas Cromwell and the Tudor Court have had something of a resurgence in popular culture. While Showtime’s melodramatic “The Tudors” focused on Henry VIII and his six wives, Hilary Mantel’s Booker-Prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies dramatized the political rise of Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Tracy Borman’s vivid new biography, Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, is a timely addition to histories of the era. Cromwell was born a commoner and rose to power through a blend of native intelligence and dogged workaholism. This aspect of Cromwell is what we see in Mantel’s novels, rendering him a sympathetic figure. The importance of Borman’s biography of Cromwell is that she creates a more balanced portrait of a contradictory and ruthless man. Borman, who is chief curator of Britain’s royal palaces, blends the private and the public Cromwell, so we glimpse his personal generosity (he was always kind to widows and orphans) as well as his single-minded Machiavellian statesmanship. Torture and executions were tools for Cromwell to maintain his importance to the king, but they were tools that could also be turned against him. Thomas Cromwell is a readable portrait of a complex man and the violent history he made. —CATHERINE HOLLIS
At the heart of an uprising
the spirals that follow humanity through space and time, readers of this unusual novel will find themselves turning in apparent circles, yet always ending up in a slightly different place from where they started. —J I L L R A T Z A N
REVIEW BY DIANE COLSON
Rural Russia is not a kind place for Jews in the early 20th century. Miserable, powerless peasants make their Jewish neighbors the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong—and things go wrong all the time. For teenager Clara, the repression tightens as she watches her father and brothers spend their days studying the Torah, while she sweeps floors and prepares meals. As a girl, Clara is forbidden to learn how to read, write or speak Russian—but secretly, she does all three. When violence explodes against the Jewish villagers, Clara’s family immigrates to New York City. There, Clara feels trapped by the same Jewish traditions that bound her in Russia. While the men continue to read and study, Clara works 10-hour days in a sweatshop. But she will not be caged, not by tradition or injustice. Learning about the By Melanie Crowder formation of unions to protect workers, Clara risks her life to join the Philomel, $17.99, 400 pages crusade. ISBN 9780399168994, eBook available Based on the true story of Clara Lemlich, Audacity throbs with the Ages 12 and up emotions of this exceptional young woman who fought for equal rights and improved labor standards in factories. Melanie Crowder’s NOVEL-IN-VERSE verses spit out Clara’s rage, cradle her longing and soar like the birds that are her constant companions. Pair with Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Uprising or Elizabeth Winthrop’s Counting on Grace to get a full picture of early labor conditions for young immigrants.
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST By Holly Black
Little, Brown $18, 336 pages ISBN 9780316213073 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up
“Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin . . . and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.” So begins Holly Black’s exquisite story about siblings Hazel and Ben and the sleeping faerie prince they swore to protect. When Hazel and Ben were children, they would disappear into the forest, whisper their secrets to the horned boy and protect unsuspecting humans from the evil faeries. Ben subdued them with his haunting music, while Hazel wielded a sword against the sinister fae who lured tourists to their deaths. As
they grew older, Hazel put away her sword and Ben gave up his music. But then one day the horned boy woke up. Hazel, now 16, once made a bargain with the fae, and they’ve come to collect. Black’s stories are like the faerie world she creates—deeply dark, yet achingly beautiful. She turns stereotypes on their heads and engages her readers in a discussion about social constructs and finding oneself, whether in a faerie land or the real world. This is a true storytelling achievement and perhaps Black’s finest work yet. — K I M B E R LY G I A R R A T A N O
THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN By Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Brook $17.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781626721258 eBook available Ages 12 and up
Marcus Sedgwick’s latest offering
is the perfect book for readers who are still pondering the multiple paths in his Printz Award-winning Midwinterblood and are seeking something new to captivate and astound them. The Ghosts of Heaven is divided into four parts, which might be four different stories or four parts of the same story. In settings as varied as a prehistoric cave, a gossipy village, an insane asylum on the cusp of modernity and a spaceship en route to other worlds, readers meet a series of eager but flawed characters. A girl yearns to make her mark with charcoal and powder; a teenage herbalist is helpless to stop the accusations of witchcraft that surround her; a doctor’s fears are echoed in his patients; and a space sentinel faces decisions that might affect all of eternity. The four stories are linked through a motif of spirals and helixes, geometric shapes that carry mathematical, artistic and spiritual significance. Sedgwick advises readers that the four stories can be read in any of 24 different combinations. Like
HOLD TIGHT, DON’T LET GO By Laura Rose Wagner
Amulet $17.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781419712043 Ages 14 and up
Laura Rose Wagner’s debut novel tells the heartfelt, gritty story of a girl living through the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Sixteen-year-old Magdalie and her cousin, Nadine, are like sisters, both raised by Nadine’s mother, who dies in the quake. The boredom, poverty and filth of the makeshift refugee camp are made bearable by the girls’ friendship, but then Nadine’s father procures an American visa, and she moves to Miami. Nadine promises to send for Magda, but as the months drag on, Magda stops expecting a reunion and must rediscover her connection to the people and opportunities that remain in Haiti. Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go is an excellent choice for readers searching for a diverse narrative. Wagner worked in Haiti for three years, including the year of the earthquake. She is sensitive to reductive and sensationalist portrayals of Haiti, and she tackles these issues in a particularly compelling moment between Magda and an American photographer. There is darkness, anger and despair in what Magda endures, and Wagner is harsh when she needs to be, depicting the hazards faced by young women through moments that are difficult to read. With a realistic balance between righteous anger and sardonic humor, Wagner produces an empathetic and enlightening portrait of a teen’s life in Haiti. —ANNIE METCALF
SHARON M. DRAPER INTERVIEW BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
This is the sound of courage
hanks to a smart-alecky student who sat in the back row of her classroom, Sharon M. Draper went from teacher to award-winning writer. Of course, there were other factors: a lifelong love of reading, plus years of hard work and outstanding scholarship, for starters. But as Draper tells BookPage from her Cincinnati home, that student’s challenge—“Why don’t you write something?”—led her to an entirely new career. Further inspired after winning an Ebony magazine short-story contest and receiving a lovely letter from author Alex Haley, Draper began writing longhand while she served as a study-hall monitor. “I got 24 rejection letters in a row,” she recalls. “And the very last letter was a ‘yes’ from Simon & Schuster.” It’s been 20 years and 25 books since that yes for 1994’s Tears of a Tiger, which won Draper her first Coretta Scott King Award. Since then, her accolades have been many: National Teacher of the Year, five-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and New York Times best-selling author. She’s been honored at the White House no fewer than six times. Draper, who retired from teaching in 2000 to write full time and to
STELLA BY STARLIGHT
By Sharon M. Draper
Atheneum, $16.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781442494978, audio, eBook available Ages 9 to 12
speak at schools, book festivals and other events, takes readers to 1932 North Carolina in her new novel, Stella by Starlight. Ten-year-old Stella, her parents and her brother Jojo live in Bumblebee, a tiny town united by hardscrabble life in the Jim Crow South. There’s love and laughter, but, Stella observes, “Every Negro family in Bumblebee knew the unwritten rules—they had to take care of their own problems and take care of one another. Help from the white community was neither expected nor considered. It was as it always had been.” One night, Stella and Jojo realize it’s not just the bright stars that are casting a glow outside; the Ku Klux Klan is burning a wooden cross, sending an eerie red light flickering through the trees. Draper skillfully builds suspense around this frightening event and subsequent unrest which, while handled peacefully by the black community, is still dangerous to them and the few white townspeople who aren’t racist. Even a visit to the candy store is layered with risk and tension. Draper offers comic relief through schoolhouse scenes and an accidentally hilarious school play. Although Stella by Starlight is fiction, Draper drew inspiration from her own family’s story. “The timing falls within my father’s childhood, but I wanted the main character to be based roughly on my grandmother . . . [who] used to go outside at night and write in her journal. All of them were lost except one; she gave it to my father just before she passed away. He gave it to me and said, ‘I want you to write my mother’s story.’ ” And so, like Draper’s grandmother, Stella is bright and hungry to learn. She asks lots of questions,
papers her walls with newspaper articles and eagerly listens while the grown-ups talk—which Draper loved to do during her own childhood visits to North Carolina. “Sitting on the front porch at my grandmother’s, I wasn’t taking notes to write a book as a 10-yearold, but I was absorbing things about these people,” Draper says. “Everybody was different at night. They worked all day in the fields, no cushy office jobs. At night, they were telling stories, relaxed, and could be themselves. . . . When it came time to write the book, the rhythms of their voices were what started it and triggered my memories.” Draper is curious to see how Stella by Starlight resonates with young readers. “I have grandchildren this age, and they really don’t think much beyond yesterday,” she says. “To go way back and ask them to care about a child who lived in 1932 is asking them to take a journey.” If anyone can get kids to take that journey, Draper can. Through Stella’s eyes, readers learn about societal and political issues from 1932 that, alas, are still relevant today. Universal themes, important lessons, plus some fun—it’s very teacherly, isn’t it? That’s inevitable, as being a teacher is part of Draper’s identity: “Wherever I go, I teach . . . not from a script, not by rote. I speak from the heart.”
A New Classic For Valentine’s Day!
There’s No One I Love Like You Written by Jutta Langreuter Illustrated by Stephanie Dahle On Sale Now! ISBN: 978-0-7358-4126-0 Price: $17.95 US/$18.95 CAN
“. . . a heartfelt story that is both sweet and beautifully done.” Children’s Literature Review
Feel the Love!
reviews LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET
Beauty in a bustling world REVIEW BY JULIE DANIELSON
It’s not often that you see class addressed in picture books in ways that are subtle and seamless, but Last Stop on Market Street, the affectionate story of a young boy and his grandmother, does just that. CJ walks with his nana under an umbrella after leaving church. “The outside smelled like freedom” to the boy, who must have felt squirmy in the pews. They head for a bus stop, and CJ wonders why they always have to catch the bus, especially when he sees his friend zip by in a car with his dad. “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?” he asks. On the bus, he covets an older boy’s digital music player and earbuds. He also wonders why he and his nana always have to go where they’re going after church, a destination revealed at the book’s close. His grandmother has a glass-half-full response for every query: Why, the bus breathes fire, and the bus driver always has a trick for By Matt de la Peña CJ. There’s a man with a guitar right across from them on the bus, so Illustrated by Christian Robinson who needs tiny music devices when you have “the real live thing” right Putnam, $16.99, 32 pages there? The bus trip reveals a community of intriguing characters, and ISBN 9780399257742, eBook available their destination promises the most colorful personalities. CJ and Ages 3 to 5 Nana even talk to a blind man, who tells CJ he can see the world with PICTURE BOOK his ears and nose and shows CJ how to “feel the magic of music” by closing his eyes and letting go. When CJ and his nana step off the bus, readers discover that they’re heading to a soup kitchen. As they walk from the bus stop to the building, CJ wonders how Nana always witnesses beauty in surprising places. With his crisp, uncluttered illustrations, Christian Robinson—the perfect illustrator for this story— captures the exuberance and wonder inherent in Matt de la Peña’s vivid, resonant text, giving abundant individuality to each community member we see. This ode to gratitude Illustration © 2015 by Christian Robinson. is 2015’s first must-read picture book. Reprinted with permission of Penguin.
dark clouds form and insects take cover. The first drops land gently, then fall harder, making mud and filling the crevices of foliage. But Sayre doesn’t stop there: She shows readers what happens when the rain stops, the beautiful patterns it makes and how the earth responds to the gift it has received. Sayre’s colorful photo-illustrations seem to ripple with life and movement: An insect’s wing twitches here; water droplets fall there. She varies her focus, sometimes showing a flower or insect as if it’s inches from our noses, and other times panning back to view pattering rain in puddles. The book’s concluding pages delve further into the science of rain with facts about cloud formation, the shapes of raindrops and what they’re capable of—magnifying their surroundings, reflecting light, hydrating insects and more. The final note is one that only a scientist and poet like Sayre could pull off so beautifully: “Raindrops Inside You,” which describes how humans return raindrops to the sky through our breath and drying tears. A well-rounded list for further reading includes informational books and a poetry collection. The miracle that is rain has never been so captivating. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N
MR. SQUIRREL AND THE MOON By Sebastian Meschenmoser
NorthSouth $18.95, 48 pages ISBN 9780735841567 Ages 4 to 8
This charming book by Sebastian Meschenmoser has the feel of a classic fable. Mr. Squirrel and the Moon begins with an illustration of a large yellow circle of cheese that bounces out of a wheelbarrow, shoots down a hillside and soars off a cliff. Where-oh-where does it land? You guessed it—on a slender limb on Mr. Squirrel’s tree. You can imagine Mr. Squirrel’s surprise at finding the moon on his branch,
and what if someone thinks he’s stolen it? He worries he’ll be put in jail. Determined to rid himself of the moon, he manages to shove it off the branch and onto the ground— where it lands on Mrs. Hedgehog and gets stuck to her quills. When a billy goat happens along and tries to free her, he impales the moon— with the hedgehog attached— against a nearby tree. Mr. Squirrel watches in dismay as a swarm of bees and a mischief of mice smell the moon and go to town, eating all but a sliver. Then the goat rigs up a slingshot that flings the sliver of moon into the sky. As the three friends sit and stare at the crescent moon above, Mr. Squirrel trusts it will soon return to its old self again. This clever romp is a perfect bedtime book. —BILLIE B. LITTLE
RAINDROPS ROLL By April Pulley Sayre
Beach Lane $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9781481420648 eBook available Ages 4 to 8
With expertly crafted, economical text and vivid photographs, April Pulley Sayre brings readers a tribute to the wonders of rain itself. Alongside pleasing rhymes (“Rain plops. / It drops. / It patters. / It spatters.”) and satisfying alliteration (“the sky darkens with storm”), Sayre turns her lens to the natural world and how it responds to the water cycle. She opens with the mere anticipation of rain, as
DANGER IN THE DARKEST HOUR By Mary Pope Osborne
Random House $14.99, 192 pages ISBN 9780553497724 Audio, eBook available Ages 7 to 10
The indefatigable Mary Pope Osborne returns with a new title in her popular Magic Tree House series. Set in occupied France during World War II, Danger in the Darkest Hour, the first Magic Tree House Super Edition, provides the same reading level as the Merlin Missions (books 29 through 52) but with a longer story and more complex plot. In their new adventure, Jack
and Annie travel through time to June 4, 1944, just days before the Allies’ invasion of Normandy. Merlin has sent their friends, the young enchanters Teddy and Kathleen, to London to bolster the hopes of British leaders during the dark days of the war. Teddy and Kathleen have become secret agents in the SOE, the Special Operations Executive. (Known as “Churchill’s Secret Army,” the real SOE sabotaged and fought the Nazis throughout occupied Europe.) But now Teddy desperately needs Jack and Annie’s help. Kathleen has disappeared while on a mission to France, so Jack and Annie must parachute into Normandy to find her. Complete with maps and an overview of WWII, Danger in the Darkest Hour introduces sophisticated themes in an accessible and exciting package appropriate for young readers. Clearly, Osborne still has the magic touch.
could be legendary. This story by veteran children’s author Mac Barnett and his longtime friend Jory John is absolutely hilarious. The illustrations by Kevin Cornell add just the right flavor to the comic writing. With genius pranks, a purple-faced principal and lots of cows, there’s something here for everyone.
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
would you describe Q: How the book?
—J E N N I F E R B R U E R K I T C H E L
THE LEFT BEHINDS: THE IPHONE THAT SAVED GEORGE WASHINGTON By David Potter
Crown $16.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780385390569 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12
Twelve-year-old Mel isn’t expecting Christmas to be exciting. His family life has recently come apart, so he and two other classmates are THE TERRIBLE TWO spending the holidays at their posh boarding school, where they’re By Mac Barnett known as “the Left Behinds.” When and Jory John a history teacher escorts the trio to Illustrated by Kevin a Christmas Day re-enactment of Cornell Amulet, $13.95, 224 pages Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, things go strangely haywire, ISBN 9781419714917 Audio, eBook available and Mel, Bev and Brandon inexpliAges 8 to 12 cably find themselves thrust back in time to December 25, 1776. MIDDLE GRADE The resulting nonstop historical action begins when Mel discovers a body lying on haystacks in a stable Miles Murphy is not happy and realizes that the deceased is about starting at a new school none other than “stone-cold dead” in the snoringly boring town of General George Washington. Mel Yawnee Valley. The only thing that determines that a rogue iPhone might make this OK is becoming app, iTime, is to blame, and he and the greatest prankster the school his friends must fix history and has ever seen. Miles was proud of save the Revolution. The excitehis reputation as “King Prankster” ment never stops in this riveting at his old school, even if it meant tale, leading Mel to Philadelphia in that some of his friends didn’t like search of Ben Franklin (whose elechanging out with him anymore. tricity can recharge Mel’s iPhone) On the first day of school, howand on to Trenton to surprise the ever, Miles discovers that there is Hessian forces. already a pretty awesome prankDavid Potter’s debut is smart, ster among the students: Niles Sparks, apparent goody two-shoes. funny and the first adventure of the time-traveling Left Behinds. Niles would like to team up with Readers will charge through these Miles, but Miles isn’t having it. It super-short chapters like a Revolutakes some pranks gone wrong to tionary soldier on the run. convince Miles that together—as —ALICE CARY the Terrible Two—he and Niles —DEBORAH HOPKINSON
meet TRICIA TUSA PAUL STUART
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 young readers? Q: What
A VIOLIN FOR ELVA Tricia Tusa has illustrated more than 50 picture books. In A Violin for Elva (HMH, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780152254834, ages 4 to 7), written by Mary Lyn Ray, Tusa’s gentle watercolor-and-ink illustrations reveal the sweet story of a woman’s childhood wish and her lifelong love of music. Tusa lives in New Mexico.
BY THE EDITORS OF MERRIAM-WEBSTER
SHORT AND SWEET Dear Editor: Since a pamphlet is, like a booklet, a small book, was there ever such a thing as a pamph? D. I. Moorhead, Minnesota While there is logic to your question, the answer is no. But the origin of the word pamphlet is surprising, tracing back to a 12th-century love poem. “Pamphilus, seu De Amore” (“Pamphilus, or About Love”) was a Latin poem describing a series of amusing amorous adventures. In its day, “Pamphilus” enjoyed widespread popularity, especially among university students. In the late Middle Ages, short compilations of popular classical authors were often given French diminutives based on the author’s name. For example, “Esopet” was a familiar title for the works of Esope (Aesop), and “Avionet” was a familiar title for the works of Avianus (a Roman teller of fables).
danger. As a result, it became customary for nobles to have a servant taste their food just before it was served. The tasting was accomplished at a dining room sideboard reserved solely for that purpose. The name for the sideboard became credenza in Italian, reflecting its role in providing assurance to aristocratic diners.
synonym for cowardly is the earliest known in writing, he didn’t invent the phrase. The basis of the word lily-livered lies in the once-held belief that a person’s health and temperament are influenced by four bodily fluids, or humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. According to this medieval theory of WARY DINERS medicine, yellow bile or choler, the Dear Editor: humor that governs anger, spirit Why is a certain type of bookcase COWARDLY COLOR and courage, makes a person chocalled a credenza? It sounds Italian. Dear Editor: leric, or hot-tempered. AccordingJ. P. I know from high school English ly, it was thought that a deficiency Stockton, California class that even back in Shakespeare’s of yellow bile would make a person time, lily-livered was used to mean You’re right that the word creden- cowardly. But it was never explained spiritless and a coward. It was further believed that the deficiency za originated in Italian. The history what lilies or livers had to do with would cause the liver to be white or of the word spotlights a downside cowardice. Can you tell me? lily. Because of this belief, lily-livof being rich in medieval Europe. W. M. ered and white-livered have been In Italian, credenza literally Kirkwood, Missouri used since the 16th century to means “belief” or “confidence,” the mean cowardly. Probably because latter being just what a member of You might remember lily-livered of its alliteration, lily-livered is now a royal or noble household needed from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in the more common expression. to have in his or her food and drink which Macbeth verbally abuses during the Middle Ages and Rea young servant, “Go prick thy Send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: naissance. Being poisoned by one’s face, and over-red thy fear, / Thou Language Research Service enemies, employees or even one’s lily-livered boy.” Although ShakeP.O. Box 281 own family was an ever-present speare’s use of lily-livered as a Springfield, MA 01102 Similarly, Pamphilus became Pamphilet in Old French. Borrowed into later Middle English as pamfilet or pamflet, the word denoted any short written work. In the 17th century, pamphlet became associated with polemics on controversial social, political or religious issues.
Test Your Mental Mettle with Puzzles from The Little Book of Big Mind Benders tHe 15 puzzle
Puzzle TYPe: logIc coMPleTIoN:
DIffIculTY: TIMe: ___________
Puzzle TYPe: worD coMPleTIoN:
long before suDoku, another number puzzle called the15 Puzzle took the world by
fill in the missing words to turn CAT into DOG.
storm. You are given 15 wooden blocks in a square frame, numbered 1 to 15, with the last two blocks, 15 and 14, out of order. Your goal is to slide the blocks back into order without taking them out of the frame. The standard 15 Puzzle with square blocks has no solution, but this version with round blocks does. What’s the trick?
Each word differs from the previous word in just one letter, like this: THIS–THIN–THAN–THAT. There are two solutions for the second missing word. Can you find them both?
DIffIculTY: TIMe: ___________
C A T
HINT: Notice the directions of the shadows. For the full history of the 15 Puzzle, see The 15 Puzzle, by Jerry Slocum and Dic Sonneveld (slocumpuzzles.com). You can play this and other sliding block puzzles at puzzleworld.org/ SlidingBlockPuzzles.
C C C D
A O O O
T T G G
ANswer: The solver put the blocks in the following order, turned the entire tray a quarter turn clockwise, then twisted each block back right side up. Note that the tray ends up in a different orientation.
T T T G
A O O O
enD position (solved)
C C D D
Photos by Jerry Slocum
HINT: Change the A in CAT to O.
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4 3 2 1
8 7 6 5
12 11 10 9
15 14 13
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