AMERICA’S BOOK REVIEW
DISCOVER YOUR NEXT GREAT BOOK
in this issue
BILL BRYSON ELIZABETH STROUT LISA JACKSON
CHRIS BOHJALIAN and more
SUNIL YAPA His riveting debut about a real-life protest captures both the personal and the political
PaperbackPicks Been There, Done That
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
Life lessons from New York Times bestselling author and Today show personality Al Roker and his wife, ABC news journalist Deborah Roberts.
The new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.
NEW IN HARDCOVER
The epic fantasy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts—now in a beautiful French flap paperback edition.
The New York Times bestselling author of Silver Thaw returns to Mystic Creek for a new novel about a love that inspires the courage to start over.
What You Need
Seduction in Session
The first in a brand-new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Blacktop Cowboys® Series.
The second Perfect Gentlemen novel from the New York Times bestselling authors of the Masters of Ménage series.
City of Light
The new GhostWalker novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Viper Game.
The first in an all-new futuristic fantasy series from Keri Arthur— the New York Times bestselling author of the Souls of Fire novels.
The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.
NEW IN HARDCOVER
New York Times bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig present a masterful collaboration—a rich, multigenerational novel of love and loss that spans half a century.
JANUARY 2016 B O O K PA G E . C O M
05 MARIE KONDO The joy of tidying up
Sunil Yapa explores the growing pains of our rapidly globalizing world in his debut, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist.
09 HELEN ELLIS Meet the author of American Housewife
AMY CUDDY The power of being present
LUCY KALANITHI A physician’s fateful diagnosis
MARTINE BAILEY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS Accomplish your goals in 2016
reviews 21 FICTION T O P P I C K : My Name Is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
A cook’s appetite for revenge
Cover photo by Gilbert Chong
LISA JACKSON Putting aside sibling rivalry
on the cover
HEALTH & NUTRITION Choosing healthy habits
Ring in 2016 with These Hot New Romances from Avon Books!
The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie
Fallen Land by Taylor Brown The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert The Past by Tessa Hadley The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
Sound strategies for the future
29 ALEXANDRA BRACKEN A dreamy time-travel fantasy
BETHANIE DEENEY MURGUIA Meet the author-illustrator of Cockatoo, Too
columns 04 04 06 07 08 08 09
AUDIO WELL READ WHODUNIT BOOK CLUBS COOKING LIFESTYLES ROMANCE
T O P P I C K : The Road to Little Dribbling
T O P P I C K : When Mischief Came to Town
by Bill Bryson
by Katrina Nannestad
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard Stories I Tell Myself by Juan F. Thompson Let the People Rule by Geoffrey Cowan Their Promised Land by Ian Buruma Shame and Wonder by David Searcy
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea by Robert Burleigh Be a Friend by Salina Yoon The Turn of the Tide by Rosanne Parry Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford Going Where It’s Dark by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W PUBLISHER
Michael A. Zibart
Lynn L. Green
Mary Claire Zibart
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columns The third Strike Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are back. This time around, J.K. Rowling, writing in Robert Galbraith mode, lets us in on more of her Nick-and-Nora-esque detective duo’s backstories, stories that are relevant to the horrific crime they’re faced with. In the very first scene of Career of Evil (Hachette Audio, $40, 17.5 hours, ISBN 9781478962663), Robin opens a package addressed to her and
finds not the wedding trinkets she expected, but the severed leg of a young woman. Strike, who lost part of his right leg after an IED explosion in Afghanistan, is sure he’s the real target of this ghoulish gesture, but fears that Robin is also in this grisly killer’s sights. He can come up with three men vile and vindictive enough to be suspects. So the hunt begins, and with it, Strike and Robin reveal more of themselves, ever-circling their buried attraction to each other. Robert Glenister narrates in a fabulous array of British accents and gives both Robin and her scruffily appealing boss real emotional depth.
BY ROBERT WEIBEZAHL
How to read the classics weave in and out of the narrative. Elizabeth George’s psychological thrillers are far too cleverly choreographed and well-executed to qualify as guilty pleasures, but for me, the arrival of a new Lynley novel means I can sink into it and forget about our troubled world for a few blissful hours. A Banquet of Consequences (Penguin Audio, $50, 21.5 hours, ISBN 9781611763669), read by the always pitch-perfect John Lee, is George at her plot-twisting best.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
Carly Simon’s songs have been part of the soundtrack of my life, her take on reality often mirroring mine—and I know I’m not alone. This supremely talented singersongwriter takes us into her early life with her new memoir. Based on diaries she’s kept since she was 9 years old, Boys in the Trees (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 13.5 hours, ISBN 9781427271952) is an intensely immediate, graceful and lyrically written tell-all. Simon had VICTIM OR VILLAIN? a glitterati-literati-filled childWhen Claire Abbot, a prominent hood as the daughter of one of the founders of Simon & Schuster, but feminist writer, is murdered while on a book tour, elegant, aristocratic she always felt the least loved, the Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley ugly duckling compared to her two “bird of paradise” older sisters, and and Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers—his she started to stammer as a 6-yearrough-edged, headstrong sideold. Despite feeling inadequate, kick—must deal with the crime being shy but ambitious, “a soul and with Claire’s manipulative, who loses direction,” Simon went narcissistic assistant, Caroline on to a meteoric career, romantic Goldacre, a prime suspect who might also be the intended victim. entanglements with famous men and a turbulent marriage to James Caroline—her murky past, her Taylor. It’s all here in vivid detail, disturbingly unhealthy relationread in her lovely, familiar voice, ship with her two grown sons, her backed up with a piano score she confusing relationship with Claire and Teese Gohl arranged for this and her habitual lying—becomes audio, plus a previously unreleased the fascinating centerpiece of this song, “Oh Captain! My Captain!” who-and-whydunit, while Lynley At 70, she sure sounds great. and Havers’ ongoing problems
AUDIO BY SUKEY HOWARD
New Year’s means resolutions, and many will start this month vowing to drop a few pounds, exercise more or declutter their lives. Those with more ambitious aspirations can seek the path to intellectual self-improvement with Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Norton, $35, 480 pages, ISBN 9780393080964). Updated and expanded from an earlier edition, the book replicates what one should encounter (emphasis on should) at a good liberal arts college or university—a solid grounding in both classical and modern writers who have shaped Western thought. In a user-friendly manner, Bauer suggests not only what a well-educated person should read (and she freely admits her list is subjective and incomplete), but offers guidance on how to read and engage deeply with these canonical texts. Bauer is a realist. Although the program she puts forth is not for the faint of heart, she fully understands how the distractions of contemporary life preclude total submersion into a life of the mind. She knows that, as when beginning a physical exercise regimen, being overly ambitious in your reading probably means you’ll skip it altogether. She suggests starting with short, regularly scheduled reading periods—as little as 30 minutes, perhaps four days a week. Arguably the best advice she offers is never to check your email right before you start reading. “There is something in the format of email . . . that pulls the mind away from the contemplative, relaxed frame so important for good reading,” she writes. We’ve all been there. For those who may have difficulty with the actual act of reading (probably few and far between among BookPage readers), Bauer
offers direction on practicing the mechanics of reading. She then outlines the ideal ways to go about delving into the Great Books, including repeated readings (generally three), taking notes, learning to evaluate what you’re reading and finding a like-minded individual or two with whom to discuss the material. Her methods, which replicate a graduate seminar, might feel a bit daunting for the uninitiated, but Bauer is a genial, unintimidating guide. The heart of The Well-Educated Mind are the lists, covering six essential genres: fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry and science—arranged in that order, from the most familiar and comfortable (for most readers) to the most fear-provoking. Within each category, we are directed to read the works chronologically because, Bauer says, writers build on the work of those who have come before them. She introduces each section with Bauer supplies very helpful, context-setting a challenging guides on how and intriguing to approach that genre, curriculum what questions for the selfto ask yourself taught. when reading and the connections to seek, both within that genre and across all six categories. Bauer supplies a challenging and intriguing curriculum. The lists contain their share of the usual suspects—Aristotle, Shakespeare, Milton, Thoreau, Woolf—but some pleasant surprises, too, including All the President’s Men and Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Even if you read only a fraction of the choices, The Well-Educated Mind is a welcome counterbalance to the anodyne, information-based sound bytes that assault our daily lives. Unlike that exercise machine being used as a clothes rack in your bedroom, this is a portable, flexible means to self-improvement.
TIDYING UP B Y LY N N G R E E N
More life-changing magic
apanese organizing expert Marie Kondo has become a bona fide international phenomenon, selling two million copies of her first book and releasing a highly anticipated follow-up just in time for those hoping to make a clean sweep in the new year. for example. Gather every pair of shoes you own; inspect each pair and keep only the shoes that bring you joy; and finally, organize the remaining pairs in your closet so that you can easily see and reach each one. Whether you’ve already experienced the magic of Kondo’s methods or you’re a neophyte in the realm of neatly curated shoes and underwear, you’ll want to check out her latest offering, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (Ten Speed, $18.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781607749721). Here, Kondo provides more details, tips and diagrams to help you put her tidying plan into action. Her precise folding techniques (“like origami”) will have the clothes in your once-messy dresser drawers lined up like orderly rows of soldiers, ready to march out and do their duty—which is to bring joy to their owners. This new volume also includes a “tidying encyclopedia,” with Kondo’s authoritative instructions on everything from packing a suitcase neatly to dealing with mementos from past lovers (hint: get rid of them). And here’s what could be the best news of all: “If you’re terrible at tidying, you’ll experience the most dramatic change,” Kondo says. That’s right, the messiest among us (and we’re not naming names) stand to gain the most from implementing her system for tidying up. And that’s a clean sweep we can all applaud.
YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET YOUNGER. AND RICHER. Over 1 Million Copies Sold!
© NATSUNO ICHIGO
A celebrity in her native Japan, the soft-spoken but determined Kondo is obsessive about “tidying up,” which means keeping your home and personal possessions in order, from clothes and books to papers and personal mementos. The key to her organizational system is to save only those items that “spark joy,” and give away or discard the rest. Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Ten Speed, $16.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781607747307), has caused something of a sensation not only in Japan, but in the United States and Europe as well. Converts to Kondo’s cleanliness regimen sing her praises on social media, and a video in which she demonstrates her method for folding underwear has garnered more than a million views on YouTube. Who knew that folding clothes could generate that kind of excitement? Kondo wins over skeptics—and those who’ve tried and failed with other organizing systems—by presenting her plan in straightforward, logical steps that leave absolutely no wiggle room for clutter. Tidying is done by category: Take shoes,
A training program for the rest of your life
No gimmicks— just financial common sense that’s guaranteed to work
Happy New Year, New You! WORKMAN.COM WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. YOUNGER NEXT YEAR is a registered trademark of Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge.
WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
A gun just waiting to go off Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun (Soho Crime, $25.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9781616955908) could very well open with the staccato notes of the theme to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” Picture, if you will, a rainy night in Tokyo. A bedraggled walker on an urban river pathway comes upon an inert form on the ground, the head encircled by a pool of congealed blood. A .357 Magnum is found nearby, one spent shell in the chamber. Japan is a remarkably gun-free country, so it’s a heady experience indeed for average guy Nishikawa to be in possession of this deadly weapon—a weapon with (count ’em) four bullets re-
maining. No matter that he’s begun to have feelings for a beautiful young woman, it’s the gun that occupies virtually all of his waking thoughts. The psychological downward spiral into obsession is what drives this book, and during my
reading, I couldn’t help but think that Alfred Hitchcock could have created a brilliant film adaptation.
LEGENDARY ASSASSIN One of the great setups for a suspense novel is the premise of an
off-the-books loner, a modern-day Robin Hood who battles injustice anonymously (or at least with little fanfare), under the radar of the law. John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee is one; Andrew Vachss’ Burke is another; Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is a third. Add to this elite group Evan Smoak, the “Nowhere Man” of Gregg Hurwitz’s new thriller, Orphan X (Minotaur, $25.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9781250067845). Trained from childhood as a plausibly deniable intelligence agent, Smoak learned skills that would serve his masters well: espionage, betrayal and assassination. What they didn’t factor into the equation is that Smoak might use these skills to distance himself from the program and disappear like smoke. And that he would reappear as the legendary Nowhere Man, a hired gun that’s extraordinarily difficult to engage, but once engaged, is a worthy adversary to pretty much any opposing team. Smoak’s life is turned upside down when he becomes the prey of an enforcer whose skills are very much on par with his own. Readers can expect nonstop relentless action, très cinématique—speaking of which, it has already been optioned for a film by Warner Bros.
A FAMILY MATTER
The bond between brothers can be one of the most durable on the face of the earth, so it was truly horrific for CIA agent Sam Capra to watch the execution of his brother, Danny, which was captured on video by the terrorists allegedly responsible. As Jeff Abbott’s The First Order (Grand Central, $26, 400 pages, ISBN 9781455558414) opens, half a dozen years have passed since Danny’s untimely death, but the pain is still lodged deep in Capra’s psyche, a thorn that cannot be removed. Capra is an ex-CIA agent now, but old skills die hard, and when he gets some evidence that his brother’s death may have been faked, it’s a straw he will grasp at with every fiber of
his being. Trouble is, the same evidence suggests that Danny has gone on to become one of the world’s premier contract killers, and that he’s plotting the murder of the president of Russia. If he’s successful, the repercussions could be global and monumental, so Capra launches a one-man crusade to deter his brother from completing this ill-advised mission. This is a thoroughly riveting addition to one of the most compelling espionage series in modern fiction.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY I’ve always admired Håkan Nesser’s suspense series featuring now-retired detective Van Veeteren, in part because the books are reminiscent of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels. Both feature a dry sort of humor that is intelligent and appealing, and they’re both set in fictitious locations (in Nesser’s case, Maardam) that bear a marked resemblance to real-world cities but still allow the authors to tweak the milieu to suit the narrative. Although the setting is somewhere in continental Europe, Nesser’s dialogue is very English in tone (and I mean good English, like Ruth Rendell or Reginald Hill, thanks to the very capable translation work of Laurie Thompson). In Hour of the Wolf (Pantheon, $25.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780307906878), cop-turned-antiquarian-bookseller Van Veeteren’s son has turned up murdered, and he becomes very involved (perhaps too involved) in the investigation. But Van Veeteren is something of a latecomer to this story; the early chapters focus on the cover-up of a vehicular homicide, set against the contrapuntal narrative of the Maardam police department running a murderer to ground. Hour of the Wolf was first published in Swedish in 1999 (as Carambole), and it’s taken far too long to reach our shores (must have gotten lost in the U.S. mail). Like all the Van Veeteren novels, it was worth the wait.
BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
The silent treatment In Outline (Picador, $16, 256 pages, ISBN 9781250081544), Rachel Cusk’s shrewdly observed eighth novel, Cusk explores the nature of identity and the power of self-presentation. The book’s narrator, Faye, is a divorced writer flying to Athens to teach a summer course in creative writing. On
the plane, she meets an elderly Greek man who tells her about his previous marriages in a way that seems terribly slanted to Faye. What he leaves out, she realizes, is as important as what he discloses—an idea that’s central to the book. Over the course of 10 chapters, Faye relates the anecdotes and memories that friends, pupils and other writers share with her during her time in Greece—tales of broken marriages, failed families and personal regrets. Though Faye herself rarely speaks, she comes slowly into focus during the narrative, exposing the tangled threads of her own failed relationship. A smart, insightful novel that reveals Cusk’s remarkable understanding of the human heart, Outline will get readers thinking about the importance of stories—personal and otherwise—and the ways in which they define our lives.
LUST AND REVENGE Jeffrey Lent delivers another meticulously crafted historical novel with his fifth book, A Slant of Light (Bloomsbury, $17, 368 pages, ISBN 9781620404980). Malcolm Hopeton returns to New York state after serving in the Civil War to find that his wife, Bethany, and hired hand, Amos Wheeler, have both vanished from his homestead. When he discovers they’ve betrayed him, he seeks revenge. Hopeton murders Wheeler and accidentally kills his
wife— acts that resonate throughout the evangelical community where Hopeton lives. Meanwhile, Harlan Davis, a teenager who helped on Hopeton’s farm and witnessed the murders, works to defend him, collecting evidence in his defense. Also involved is Enoch Stone, an esteemed leader in the community, who decides to serve as Hopeton’s attorney. But as events unfold and Hopeton’s future hangs in the balance, hints of the community’s dark past come to light. A novel of somber beauty and electrifying suspense, Lent’s latest is also one of his best. It’s a compelling work of fiction that explores the nature of community and religious faith.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Kate Atkinson’s masterful novel A God in Ruins (Back Bay, $17.99, 480 pages, ISBN 9780316176507) is a story of epic proportions with a common man at its center. Teddy Todd, who was introduced in Atkinson’s previous book, Life After Life (2013), is the younger brother of Ursula. Now a veteran RAF pilot with a wife and daughter to care for, Teddy struggles to find a place for himself in an England transformed by war. Feeling remorseful for having survived a conflict that took the lives of countless others, Teddy contends with nightmares, a crippled homeland and—eventually—the untimely death of his wife. As usual, Atkinson moves effortlessly from era to era, flashing back to Teddy’s heroic turn as a World War II flyer. As a novelist, it seems there’s nothing Atkinson can’t do. She tackles the big events of history and the small particulars of the human experience with equal ease and aplomb.
New Book Club Reads for the New Year Moonlight Over Paris
by Jennifer Robson “The elegance of Robson’s prose flows through every page... a heartwarming love story that left me aching for a journey back in time.” —Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
“Vivid, heart-warming, and absorbing, The Golden Son succeeds as an immigrant’s tale and love story wrapped into one because of the beautiful writing and compelling characters that illuminate universal truths of loss and identity.” —Heidi Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
The Evening Spider
by Emily Arsenault “From the opening pages, it’s clear that this will be a haunting novel... An engrossing, suspenseful mix of historical fiction and contemporary thriller, with some unexpected twists and wisdom: ‘We have to learn to live with our ghosts.’” —Booklist
by Tim Powers
“A new Tim Powers novel is always cause for excitement. His latest is a twisted journey through time travel, possession, old Hollywood, addition, and familial violence . . . falling somewhere between a Tennessee Williams play and a Nancy Drew mystery.” —Publishers Weekly
Book Club Girl
with her own loving idiosyncrasies and encourages you to do the same. Beginning with a chapter of basic how-tos that even veteran cooks may need, she follows with an array of comfortable, doable, inviting recipes from Kimchee to Kefir, from Broccoli Raab to Sausage Bread Pudding or Corn Salad with Nectarines and Basil (summer will come again!), red-peppery Muhammara and Pear Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins that gently prod you to ferment your own food, use leftovers, make good ingredient choices and pay attention to your own cravings. Chernila’s know-how and joy spice up every dish.
VIBRANT VEGGIES V Is for Vegetables (Little, Brown, $40, 384 pages, ISBN 9780316373357) is not a surprise addition to Sue Grafton’s popular alphabet mystery series. It’s super-chef Michael Anthony’s paean to the magic of vegetables. Anthony, recently named an Outstanding Chef in the United States by the James Beard Foundation and chef at Gramercy Tavern and Untitled, is not a vegetarian. But like many of his esteemed confrères, he now puts plant-based food in the spotlight and reconsiders the balance of dishes we serve in our
BY HILLI LEVIN
BY SYBIL PRATT
Happy at home If your New Year’s resolutions include more home-cooked meals but you need a motivator to get going in that direction, here she is. Alana Chernila delights in cooking and sees home cooking as creative, empowering and life-enhancing. In The Homemade Kitchen (Potter, $24.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780385346153), her unique, supportive, happy voice is loud and clear. Not a proponent of culinary perfection, Chernila believes in stamping her meals
COOKING A slow and simple life traditionally meat-centered cuisine. In this beautifully illustrated A-to-Z guide to the goodness of vegetables, he makes it easy and exciting to explore new ways to serve a phenomenally flavorful array of them. Anthony has reinterpreted triedand-true classics—Grilled Iceberg Lettuce, Roasted Leeks with Tangerine Vinaigrette—and invented new ways to make veggies sparkle with recipes from Asparagus with Preserved Ginger Relish to Sweet & Sour Rhubarb Sauce. Why not veg out this year?
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS If you didn’t get Ree Drummond’s latest, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime (Morrow, $29.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780062225245), as a holiday gift, better give it to yourself as a New Year’s treat. Drummond loves dinner with real Pioneer Woman passion, and she’s determined to make sure you love it, too. To that lofty end, she offers comforting classics—from homey Tuna Noodle Casserole to a more sophisticated Beef Stroganoff—as well as freezer food that provides immediate supper solutions, 16-minute life-saving wonders like tangy Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce and lusciously loaded Supreme Pizza Burgers. And there’s more: breakfast treats that taste great in the evening; dinner soups and salads; soul-satisfying pastas; and quick-to-make, “sweet-toothapproved” desserts. As always, the images of food, family and ranch scape are gorgeous, and there are so many step-by-step photos that you might be able to make these 135 dishes without reading—but then you’d miss Drummond’s ready charm and infectious enthusiasm.
Nathan Williams and Katie Searle-Williams began exploring a philosophy of “slow living” with the publication of their first issue of Kinfolk magazine in 2011. The couple aimed to connect and share their ideas with other young professionals longing for a departure from the Martha Stewart school of thought, where more is more. The Kinfolk Home: I nteriors for Slow Living (Artisan, $35, 368 pages, ISBN 9781579656652), the follow-up to Williams’ 2013
bestseller, The Kinfolk Table, includes advice on creating homes that foster community, center on simplicity and allow for slow living—and includes 34 essays from creatives all around the world. The featured homes and interiors share a common aesthetic: muted, neutral tones, elements of the natural world and touches of industrial materials. Almost all of the furniture pieces are sleek and modern, but these are paired with more rustic materials like hand-thrown ceramics, leather and wool. Despite the constant designer and artist name-dropping, the calming, uncluttered interiors bathed in natural light alongside the contributors’ earnest essays make Williams’ slow living seem inviting. After all, slow living “isn’t about determining how little we can live with—it’s about working out what we simply can’t live without.”
SO LONG, IKEA Appreciate the minimalist look, but on a tighter budget? Have no fear, designer Ben Uyeda can teach you how to easily construct timeless and sturdy modern furniture that you’ll be proud to showcase. Uyeda relies on readily found materials like wood, concrete and metals, and he includes handy ad-
vice on buying and even scavenging for each one. HomeMade Modern: Smart DIY Design for a Stylish Home (Running Press, $24, 216 pages, ISBN 9780762455072) includes enough projects to outfit your entire home, from the living room to the bedroom and even an outdoor space. You’ll find the Concrete Bucket Stool that started Uyeda on his crusade, along with essential pieces like the Flip Desk and Platform Bed. Uyeda offers endlessly helpful troubleshooting tips in his “What could go wrong?” sections for each project, and if you get tired of a piece, there are even clever suggestions for ways to recycle and repurpose them.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES For in-depth reporting on the homes, cuisine, culture and creatives in the South, no publication has been as consistent as Southern Living magazine. A champion for the region’s distinctive lifestyle, the enduring and highly circulated publication marks 50 years in print with the sumptuous and celebratory Southern Living 50 Years (Oxmoor House, $40, 320 pages, ISBN 9780848744144). Beginning with a short history of the magazine’s inception in 1966 as a cousin to Progressive Farmer magazine and following its evolution, the book includes excerpts from the most enduring travel pieces, memorable photo-essays, recipes and think pieces on cultural topics from bustling Atlanta to quiet Appalachia. And as with the magazine, you don’t have to be a Southerner to draw inspiration from its pages. Anyone who values print media, community, creativity and a cozy home will enjoy this beautifully compiled coffee table book.
ROMANCE B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
the title of your new book? Q: What’s
Battle for love Former childhood friends struggle to find adult happiness amid the turmoil of medieval Scotland in The Rock (Pocket, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9781501108785) by Monica McCarty, part of her Highland Guard series. For five years, blacksmith’s son Thom MacGowan has waited for noble-born Lady Elizabeth Douglas to return from France. Chums since they were small, Thom’s feelings for the beauty evolved as he grew older, and upon reuniting, he can no longer
deny that he is in love with her. His admission catches her by surprise, and a rebuffed Thom leaves to become a solider, determined to make her regret rejecting the advances of a lowly peasant. As the years pass, Elizabeth begins to see Thom in a different light, yet the social chasm between the pair seems impossible to span. This only spurs Thom into feats of derring-do in order to prove his worth, and though he has a chance to become a hero, he might still lose Elizabeth—and his life. This romance is rife with action as well as historical detail, and readers will despair for these star-crossed lovers torn between duty and desire. McCarty has delivered an enchanting blend of fact and fiction.
WOUNDED HEARTS Hearts are at risk in the kisses-only A Chance of a Lifetime (Forever, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781455561582), the latest in Marilyn Pappano’s Tallgrass series. Young widow Benita Ford is blindsided when her childhood pal, now an Army captain, unexpectedly returns to Tallgrass, Oklahoma. Calvin Sweet was best friends with Benita’s late husband, but an unexplained falling-out estranged
meet HELEN ELLIS
them. However, Benita can’t avoid Calvin for long—his family and hers are neighbors—and they find new closeness even as they avoid speaking of the past. That’s perfectly OK with Calvin. He knows he’s falling in love with the sunny Benita, but he’s also hiding a secret. He’s not sure that he’ll ever find the courage to make his confession to her, even though he’s aware that his reticence threatens their happiness. A secondary romance adds to the poignancy of this emotionally compelling story demonstrating the healing power of love.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE Stephanie Laurens delights with a fast-paced blend of romance, mystery and adventure in The Lady’s Command (Mira, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780778318613), the first in her new Adventurers Quartet. When Declan Frobisher, son of a seafaring dynasty, married a duke’s daughter, he was thrilled with his new wife. He imagined he’d continue making exciting voyages as a ship’s captain while she waited safely at home. But Lady Edwina has different plans. As enamored as she is with her husband, she challenges him to create a marriage built on a true partnership. So when a mission to West Africa is offered to Declan, Edwina convinces him to allow her to come along. At first, he’s alarmed— and overprotective of her—but his bride has ways of making him see reason. Together they investigate the mysterious disappearance of several British citizens, an inquiry that brings them close to danger— and closer together. Declan and Edwina’s story entices, entertains and will leave readers eager for the next novel in the series.
Q: Describe the book in one sentence.
your favorite Southern saying? Q: What’s
three ways Southern women are different from Q: NName orthen women.
Q: What’s the one mistake you should never make in poker? Q: What’s your guilty pleasure? Q: What New Year’s resolution do you intend to keep this year?
AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE Since the publication of her first novel, Eating the Cheshire Cat, in 2001, fans of Helen Ellis’ darkly comic writing have been eagerly awaiting another book. They finally get their wish with American Housewife (Doubleday, $24, 208 pages, ISBN 9780385541039), a collection of 12 stories that skewer domesticity in hilarious style. A native of Alabama and a competive poker player, Ellis lives with her husband in New York City.
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WHAT LIES BEHIND
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New York Times Bestselling Author Hired to investigate the suspicious death of a New Orleans musician, Cafferty and Quinn discover that the line between passion and obsession can be deadly.
LISA JACKSON BY CARLA JEAN WHITLEY
© NINA SUBIN
Sisters share a fictional bond
hen rising star Allie Kramer goes missing and her stunt double is shot on the set of her latest film, Allie’s sister, struggling actress Cassie Kramer, is considered a person of interest. The sisters have already been through more than their share of drama after a killer stalked them and their once-famous mother, and Cassie has never been the same. But she’s determined to find Allie, despite their strained relationship. Combining the hot genre of dark, female-driven suspense (think The Girl on the Train) with the evergreen topic of sibling rivalry, Lisa Jackson’s After She’s Gone takes readers along for the chase as Cassie tries to solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance. Jackson’s new thriller is a long-awaited follow-up to two of her most popular books: The West Coast Series’ Deep Freeze (2005)
A pair of sisters is at the heart of this story, and you have a close relationship with your sister—one I assume does not parallel the story of Cassie and Allie! How does your relationship with your sister influence your writing? When we were growing up, there was some sibling rivalry, but we were always pretty close. There were a couple of years between us, and in high school I would say, oh, do I have to hang out with Nancy? [Now] we only have each other. I’ve talked to her four times today and been over to her house once, and it’s only 11 o’clock. My sister and I think a lot alike, although we play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, I’m the worst with typos. She notices those. She balances her checkbook to the penny. If my checkbook is kind of close, it’s good enough. Conversely, I’ve always said I’m a big picture person. I am very much, and Nancy is a detail person.
How do you and Nancy determine which projects to collaborate on? Jackson celebrates 20 years at Kensington with The first book we ever wrote was a her editor, John Scognamiglio. collaboration with another gal and it never went anywhere, and that was 35 years ago. About 10 years and Fatal Burn (2006), which are ago, we were on a road trip and we being reissued in new mass-marsaid, let’s do something together a ket editions to coincide with the little different than what we would release of the latest book in the usually write. [The Wicked series] series. had a paranormal aspect—all these Jackson, who has published 37 books with Kensington and has al- sisters who have been sequestered most 20 million copies of her books away. Let’s give them all a gift and play with that. We had so much fun. in print, knows something about Sometimes it’s a grind, but we try sisters—she periodically collaborates with her real-life sister, fellow to keep having fun and mix it up a little bit to keep it fresh. We’ve been bestseller Nancy Bush. Jackson talked to us about the role of sisters at this for 37 years. When we had children it was easier because we in After She’s Gone, as well as the were more hip, the kids were more source for her energetic writing.
hip. Now I have grandchildren, and they’re a little too young to be hip. They’re 5 and under, and they’re not cool yet.
Lisa Jackson (left) with her sister and writing collaborator, Nancy Bush.
With After She’s Gone, you’ve returned to your West Coast Series. Why did you go back to this story almost 10 years after the publication of the first two books? I love the characters. I loved writing Deep Freeze and Fatal Burn. The series was very popular, my editor [John Scognamiglio] loved it, and he wanted to see where the girls were today. . . . I ended Deep Freeze with a cliffhanger that I wanted to go into the next book. Then John brought it up again and said, ‘What if we have a stalker and he really likes Hollywood.’ I said, ‘John, that’s Deep Freeze. We can’t do that again!’ I wanted to flip it. I wanted it to be about the sisters and the rivalry. I read Deep Freeze and Fatal Burn again and thought, what am I going to do to these sisters to make them hate each other? It was a switch. It was a challenge. But I also had a lot of fun with it.
business interests and I have charitable interests. I have friends that I don’t get to see enough of. I have a very, very busy life. I think that energy translates. I don’t get in my chair—which I used to, but I can’t do it anymore— and just sit down and let the day unroll. Now I feel like I have to exercise three times a week because you can’t put it off. You can put it off in your 30s and 40s, but you can’t in your 50s and 60s because [stuff] falls apart. I read a lot, I watch TV, I read the newspapers. I have more story ideas filed away than I have years in my life left.
AFTER SHE’S GONE
It sure seems like you enjoyed writing After She’s Gone. I felt like this book had a lot of energy. . . . If I have high energy in my life, it translates in the book I’m writing. How do you pursue that invigoration in your life? My life is never dull. That’s not by choice. I have lots and lots of interests. I have a big interest in my family and my grandchildren and the generation above me, which is falling left and right now. I have
By Lisa Jackson
Kensington, $26, 400 pages ISBN 9781617734656, audio, eBook available
Second try produces a daring debut
unil Yapa, author of the gripping, profoundly humane first novel Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, used to hide his laptop in the oven of the beach house he was renting in Chile.
“That was my security measure,” Yapa says with a bemused laugh during a call to Woodstock, New York, where he currently lives. “I’d put it in a baking tray and hide it in the oven!” What Yapa was protecting was the 604-page first draft of his novel about the chaotic protest during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle that erupted into violence. In Chile, where he lived frugally while he was teaching himself to write, Yapa didn’t have access to a printer, the cloud or a backup hard drive. The novel lived only on his laptop. Maybe you can guess where this is going. But first, a little more background: Yapa grew up mostly in State College, Pennsylvania. He knew from a young age that he wanted to write fiction. Libraries were his favorite haunt. And while he had many friends as a child, his mother often had to tell him to stop reading and shoo him out of the house to play. But as the son of an immigrant—his father is a recently retired Penn State geography professor from Sri Lanka; his
YOUR HEART IS A MUSCLE THE SIZE OF A FIST
By Sunil Yapa
Lee Boudreaux/Little, Brown, $26, 320 pages ISBN 9780316386531, eBook available
mother is from Montana—“there was a sense that being a writer wasn’t a serious occupation or a useful use of your time. My father never said that to me, and in fact he’s very proud that I’m doing it. But it’s something that I absorbed and something I’ve heard reflected from other second-generation immigrant kids. It was very difficult to think about all he had sacrificed to get here and raise my brother and me in a middle-class life and take being an artist seriously.” So from the age of 17 to 27, Yapa tried to follow in his father’s footsteps and get a Ph.D. in geography. But then he began to travel, “and I realized I didn’t want to be an academic; what I wanted to do was write fiction.” Yapa also discovered a surprising way to support his writing habit. “I worked as a traveling salesman. A friend and I would travel all over the country to the biggest colleges and universities and sell posters. We would compress a year’s work into two intense months and make $10,000 or $15,000—not enough to live in New York or San Francisco or, really, anywhere in the U.S.” But with help from his grandfather, who encouraged his writing, he and his friend discovered that they could live on what they had made for a whole year in Chile or Guatemala without working. “We didn’t live the high life, but I was able to teach myself to write for almost seven years before I sent anything out.” Yapa was eventually accepted to the Hunter College M.F.A. program, where he honed his talents with guidance from writers like Peter Carey, Colum McCann and Claire Messud. After graduating, he returned to his traveling-salesman gig to support the completion of his novel. One night on a sales trip to Chicago, the laptop containing the only copy of his book was stolen from his hotel room. “I never recovered it. It was just
gone. I was devastated, of course. I was depressed for three months. But I honestly think it was a moment when I knew I must be a writer because the story started bubbling up again in my brain, and I thought, oh god, I’m going to write this thing again because it’s not going to leave me alone.” Yapa now thinks there were benefits to the loss of the first draft. The disappeared draft “I thought, oh had more than god, I’m going 50 characters. The published to write this book includes thing again a streamlined because it’s and compelnot going ling cast of characters— to leave me fully realized alone.” personalities who dramatize the stories of the people who clashed in Seattle on the first day of the WTO meeting. These include Victor, an initially apolitical, homeless teenager with a connection to Police Chief Bishop; demonstrators Kingfisher and John Henry, who struggle throughout a brutal day to remain nonviolent; police officers Park and “Ju,” who are overwhelmed by the sheer number of protesters; and Dr. Charles Wickramsinghe, a Sri Lankan diplomat caught up in the fray. “I was thinking about the protest and about globalization,” says Yapa, explaining the inception of the book, “and I found this picture
© GILBERT CHONG
INTERVIEW BY ALDEN MUDGE
of a woman on the street in Seattle, almost wreathed in tear gas. She was on her knees and there was blood coming from her forehead. Someone, he looks like a medic, is tending to her scalp. Her hands are clasped together and it looks like she’s praying, but she might just be in pain. You can’t tell. I saw that, and I thought, wow, what would make a woman like that risk tear gas, pepper spray, beatings for a protest? Because this was a different kind of protest. It was about someone else’s rights three continents away. It wasn’t about an expansion of this person’s own rights, necessarily, but about a recognition of living in a globally connected world, where our lives overlap with each other. That, to me, was both inspiring and totally confusing.” Yapa, who lived in Seattle when he was 19—the same age as his luminous character Victor—did an enormous amount of research to bring a startling clarity to his narrative. “Almost everything that happens in the book happened, at some point, in the protest,” Yapa says. “I wanted the experience for a reader to be accurate, not sensationalized.” So a reader will experience the
incredible discipline of the nonviolent protesters; the utter confusion and fear of a police force of 900 at most trying—and finally failing—to maintain order when faced with 60,000 demonstrators; and the tension within all of Yapa’s characters between their public actions and their complex inner thoughts and emotions. This ends up making Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist an absolutely compelling read. Many of the scenes are simply electrifying and some are quite violent. “I really, really wanted this book to be a page-turner,” Yapa says. “But I didn’t want to sensationalize the violence. And yet [violent acts] happened. I wanted a reader to experience what courage it must have taken for people to sit through this.” In addition, Yapa is interested in the ideas behind the protests and the WTO. “I also wanted readers to experience the politics and economics of IMF deals and World Bank loans, structural adjustments and austerity programs. All that stuff is very academic and kind of boring.” In the novel, Yapa somehow manages to put human faces and human consequences on these abstractions. The book probably succeeds so well because Yapa “tried to have no villains in the book. The whole book is a project to empathize with all the characters. I wanted a reader to think, yeah, it’s not just that this character seems terrible, he is terrible! And yet he has a history, and that history doesn’t forgive his actions, but it does complicate our view of him. I think the essence of compassion is to hold two contradictory feelings for someone at the same time.” Asked how he arrived at such a view, Yapa points to his experiences as a biracial child. “I have double vision. In mainstream white culture, I felt kind of Sri Lankan. But I don’t speak the language and I didn’t grow up there. So when I was around Sri Lankan culture, I felt very white. I am always straddling two worlds. As a kid you struggle with feeling like an outsider. But as a writer that’s an excellent place to be.”
The Smallest Act of Courage Can Change Everything… The haunting new novel from the author of the National Bestseller, What She Left Behind... In a turn-of-the-century coal town , grief, poverty and crushing child labor conditions erupt as one brave woman strives to fight injustice and heal her past .
“Wiseman weaves a story of intrigue, terror, and love.” —Jewish Book World on The Plum Tree
“Screams with authenticity, depth, and understanding.” —The New York Journal of Books on What She Left Behind
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Learning the language of confidence
n a recent flight, I was deep into social psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s fascinating new book, Presence, when the woman next to me leaned over and said, “Is that the TED talk lady?”
By now, Cuddy is used to that description. Her 2012 TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” touched a collective nerve, racking up more than 29 million online views. In her presentation, she urged the audience to make small changes like striking a superwoman-style “power pose” before tackling a difficult situation. Cuddy also revealed in the talk that she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident when she was 19. Her IQ dropped by two standard deviations, forcing her to struggle through years of therapy before she regained her mental clarity and graduated from college. Cuddy’s experience motivated her to study psychology, and in Presence she takes mountains of research about body language and translates it into simple, useful insights for taking control of your life by being more “present.” I spoke to Cuddy from Rome, where she had just delivered a presentation to a group of human resources professionals. Despite her jet lag, she sounded buoyant and, well, present when talking about her new book.
By Amy Cuddy
Little, Brown, $28, 352 pages ISBN 9780316256575, audio, eBook available
You recently tweeted, “When we stop looking after our own posture, we are abandoning ourselves.” What do you mean by that? Posture is one of the ways to be one’s authentic best self. If we start slouching or hunching over our phones, or wrapping ourselves in our shawls, we’re doing things that are leading away from our best selves. We’re putting ourselves in these powerless poses without thinking about it. After reading your chapter, “I don’t deserve to be here,” I have to wonder: Why do so many people feel like an imposter? One [reason] is that we feel we need to present a confident version of ourselves, so we’re not allowed to communicate any self-doubt. Self-doubt is like blood in the water and the sharks will come get you. We assume everyone else is fine, and we’re the only ones who feel self-doubt. But of course we all do. We’re human! We often have this sense that the community we’re in is more homogenous than it is, and we’re the ones who are different in a bad way. Oh, I’m from a farm town, so I don’t fit in at a place like Harvard. It’s not even status-based. You could be a [Harvard] legacy, you could be a first-generation immigrant. We all sometimes attribute success to luck. I was surprised to read that this happens as much to men as women. Is it just a stereotype that women are more apologetic and less sure of themselves? After the TED talk, I got thousands of emails, and half were from men saying they felt like a phony or fraud. I couldn’t believe it. I started to dig in, because I didn’t know the imposter literature very well. Then it started to line up for me that men have this burden where they’re not allowed to share this feeling, so they’re really in the dark.
You have interesting and wide-ranging conversations in the book. I was particularly taken by the one with actress Julianne Moore. Why did you want to talk with her? It was never the plan to include performers in the book. But I met her, and she was so fascinated with this whole idea. The way she articulated her understanding of presence was just as I would as a scientist. She is great at leaving everything behind and being in the moment. Everyone she works with says she’s totally reliable at being present. And she’s phenomenally good about explaining what it’s all about. It’s about power; it’s about openness and not fearing social judgment. It’s about the moment and not about this huge, transcendent permanent state that you get to. You write quite a bit about the power of yoga, yet you confess to not being a yoga person. Have you given it another try? I promise I’m going to when my life slows down! And I know that completely goes against all my own advice, but I just can’t seem to get it started. I am definitely going to become a yoga person. Yoga was always kind of marginalized, so scientists didn’t want to study it. Now there’s a heap of research. I use the example in the book of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s this proud group of mostly men, who you don’t associate with yoga, and still it works for them. It works because you’re focusing on the movement and the posture instead of what’s happening. Most of the postures are pretty expansive, even if you’re on the ground or in downward dog. And expansive poses are hardwired to make you feel powerful.
© STINE HEILMANN
BY AMY SCRIBNER
You have a teenage son. How do you think the concept of presence can be applied to parenting? I hear from so many parents who practice presence with their kids. One of the things is to start early when the kids are not so self-conscious about doing funny things like striking a power pose. You know how you can wrap a piece of paper around a pen, [and the paper stays curled]? That’s what I imagine when I see my son’s female friends and how much their body language has collapsed since they’ve started middle school. We need to start practicing presence much earlier. Kids have in some ways the boldest body language because they are not constrained by cultural norms or stereotypes. Writing, teaching, parenting: How do you achieve balance in life? I think I’m doing way too much. That’s the totally honest truth. And I’m trying to do it all full time and perfectly. I’m still kind of struggling with my fears of being insignificant if I stop doing all these work things. I’m divorced and remarried, and I have my son half of the week. For that half of the week, I get home as early as I can. My son is super savvy, though. He’ll say, ‘You’re not really being present with me, Mom.’ So that helps!
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A riveting, deeply affecting true story of one girl’s coming-of-age in a polygamist family
—New York Times Book Review on Vengeance
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“Women’s fiction at its finest.” —Liane Moriarty on The Secrets of Midwives
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From the beloved actor known for his roles on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and NCIS comes a quirky crime novel featuring a well-intentioned young actor, a trio of suave crooks, and a series of untimely coincidences
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A doctor confronts his dying days
lthough Paul Kalanithi dreamed of becoming a writer, he first planned to spend 20 years as a neurosurgeon-scientist. Tragically, however, in 2013—during his last year of residency at Stanford— the nonsmoking 36-year-old was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
Soon after, he wrote a powerful New York Times op-ed piece, “How Long Have I Got Left?,” describing his diagnosis and struggle to make the best use of his remaining time. “Tell me three months,” he wrote, “I’d just spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d have a plan (write that book). Give me 10 years, I’d get back to treating diseases.” In the months before his death in March 2014, Paul managed to do all three. He received treatment, continued to perform surgery as long as feasible, spent precious moments with his wife and family, became a father for the first time, and wrote a thought-provoking memoir about his life, illness and mortality, When Breath Becomes Air. “He was working really hard,” recalls his widow, Lucy Kalanithi, a Stanford internist who met Paul while the two were in medical school at Yale. “He was suffering physically and of course emotionally. But he was very, very tough and thoughtful, and somehow coped and kept going.” She describes her husband as “unbelievably smart, and, to top
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR
By Paul Kalanithi
Random House, $25, 256 pages ISBN 9780812988406, audio, eBook available
it off, the funniest person I’ve ever met, while at the same time, soft-spoken and subtle.” The couple often sat or lay side by side during his illness and Lucy’s maternity leave, with Lucy sometimes reading Paul’s words as he wrote. His manuscript afforded the couple a natural opportunity to communicate about what was happening and how Paul was feeling. “It was exhausting, but we were having a really good time,” Lucy says. “It was very purposeful; we loved each other and we loved Cady [their daughter]. We knew that Paul’s time was limited and we were in pain . . . but it was kind of an amazing time. It’s a weird word to use, but also very fun.” Lucy notes that her husband was “uniquely positioned” to write this book, and that she, as a physician, was also uniquely positioned to help take care of him, along with their families and friends. “And it still took everything I had,” she says. In the book’s foreword, Stanford physician and author Abraham Verghese aptly describes Paul’s writing as “stunning” and “unforgettable,” noting: “See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to still live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words.” Paul thought deeply before he wrote, and then his words flowed; his wife recalls that he wrote his op-ed piece during an airplane flight. “He wrote very quickly,” Lucy explains, “and didn’t spend a lot of time going back over it, partly because he didn’t have a lot of time and he knew it. Literally, he was racing to finish.” The beauty of his prose is hardly a coincidence, because Paul earned graduate degrees in English, history and philosophy before turning to medicine. Early in the book he
declares, “I knew with certainty that I would never be a doctor.” Pages later, he eloquently traces his unforeseen career trajectory, explaining, “I realized that the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning, questions that all people face at some point, usually arise in a medical context.” Paul didn’t expect to face his own intersection so soon. Summing up his transformation from physician to patient, he writes: “Shouldn’t terminal illness, then, be the perfect gift to that young man who had wanted to understand death? What better way to understand it than to live it? But I’d had no idea how hard it would be, how much terrain I would have to explore, map, settle. I’d always imagined the doctor’s work as something like connecting two pieces of railroad track, allowing a smooth journey for the patient. I hadn’t expected the prospect of facing my own mortality to be so disorienting, so dislocating.” The book was nearly complete when Paul died. “One of the last things he said to me was ‘Please get this finished,’ ” Lucy remembers. She explains that all the words in the book are his: His editor occasionally supplemented his manuscript with passages written elsewhere in essays, his book proposal and lengthy emails to friends. Lucy also penned a powerful epilogue describing Paul’s last days in a sad but elegant coda to the book. “I’m not at all a writer like Paul was,” she admits. “But writing that epilogue—I just loved it. It was the most meaningful thing I’ve ever written.”
© SUSZI LURIE MCFADDEN
BY ALICE CARY
As she works part time at Stanford (planning to return full time in March), Lucy finds the grief process to be “unexpected and unpredictable.” She rejoices in every milestone of their daughter Cady’s life. “Paul would have loved that her first word was ‘dog,’ ” she says. “There are all these little things that are just so bittersweet because he’s not here.” When Breath Becomes Air closes with Paul’s heartbreakingly beautiful words to Cady, who brought him so much happiness during his dying days. “I’m so happy that he wrote it for her,” Lucy says. “That passage is my prized possession. I haven’t memorized it. I didn’t even try. I’ve just read it so many times.” In the midst of her grief, Lucy remains excited about the book’s publication. “I’m keeping a promise that I made to Paul, which feels really important and makes me feel purposeful.” “I’m very happy about sharing him with the world,” she adds. “This book will be on people’s bookshelves. I can’t believe it. Paul really wanted to be a writer. We worked so hard to make it happen.” Nonetheless, she can’t help but lament: “I’d give anything for you to be talking to Paul rather than me.”
BEHIND THE BOOK BY MARTINE BAILEY
The hand that feeds you
ow many times a week do you put your life in the hands of a cook you don’t know at all? Perhaps too often to count, in our restaurant-obsessed culture. The idea of a malevolent cook hidden down in the depths of the kitchen has always struck me as a frightening one. As Grace, one of the narrators of A Taste for Nightshade, says: “Do you honestly know whose fingers touched your food? Do you give a moment’s attention to the mind that devised its method and ingredients?” Grace’s adversary is a sinister cook who arrived in my head when my husband and I lived for nearly two years in New Zealand. When the Christchurch earthquake struck in 2011, my son Chris and his partner were working in the city and, though shocked and homeless, were thankfully unharmed. After a few frantic months, my husband and I joined them by way of a house-swap in a tiny town on the remote East Cape. By then I had news from my agent that my debut novel, An Appetite for Violets, was to be published, and she needed an idea for a second book. In my debut, I had written about a feisty, recipe-mad cook caught up in a murderous journey across 18th-century Europe. My research had led me to cross Europe, peruse recipe archives and cook historic
A TASTE FOR NIGHTSHADE
By Martine Bailey
Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 464 pages ISBN 9781250056924, eBook available
food in archaic kitchens. Now I stared out across the wild Pacific and wondered what to write next. I grew curious about what life must have been like on that isolated shore a few hundred years ago. Out across the Tasman Sea, the year 1788 had witnessed a remarkable experiment: the transplantation of Britons into the upside-down seasons and harsh emptiness of what we now call Australia. To clear overcrowded British prisons, 11 ships had sailed to Sydney Cove, carrying more than 1,000 convicts, marines and seamen. I was especially intrigued by Mary Broad, a Cornishwoman who escaped from Sydney’s prison colony by boat and eventually returned to England. But what if a storm had sent the escapees’ boat straight to where I stood in New Zealand? My a dopted town had been settled by Maori, a warrior-like people with rich mythologies and customs. Early contacts between Maori and European visitors had varied from friendly trading to violent attacks by both sides. A small number of European women were captured by Maori, and these harrowing accounts of lives forever changed were another influence on A Taste for Nightshade. Returning to England as a confidence trickster known as “Peg,” my devious cook whips up puddings, trifles and cakes for the sweetest of sweet tooths, but she secretly compiles remedies and aphrodisiacs to unleash a campaign of revenge. Wanting each chapter to be headed by an authentic recipe, I searched the archives until realization dawned that these would not have been written down. Instead I found remedies such as soporific Poppy Drops, with their hint of arcane knowledge, and Twilight Sleep, narcotic herbs once used by women
in childbirth. On my travels I also sampled Maori dishes cooked in a hot-stone hangi pit, grubs, sea snails, crocodile and kangaroo. Though never quite poisoned, my over-enthusiasm for sea-fresh fish soon made me sick from some unknown toxin that no doubt lurked in crustacean shells. Nevertheless, most of A Taste for Nightshade is set in my homeland setting of the Yorkshire moors, the shops and assemblies of York and London’s Golden Square. Like many migrants I felt like two people: the new adaptor trying to learn and cope, and the old self haunted by thoughts of “home” far across the globe. Reflecting this split, I wrote alternate chapters in the voices of my two main characters and developed sympathies for both women. By the end of the novel, I struggled over who should prevail: sensitive but privileged Grace, or Peg, the eternal underdog trying to claw out a decent life by means of her wits. In 2014 we were happy to return to England for the launch of An Appetite for Violets. When I started writing culinary mysteries, I had learned Georgian cookery with renowned food historian Ivan Day and was keen to return to his Cumbrian farm to learn advanced sugarwork. I have also tried historic re-enactment to familiarize myself with a tinderbox, write with a quill, pluck poultry and cook on a fire. Not all of my cookery has worked out—however long I boiled wheat frumenty, it was always as
hard as pebbles! Now I have become fascinated by tiny sugar ornaments, such as a doll-sized bed to be placed on a bride-cake and a tiny cradle and swaddled baby. Just as we might treasure the cake topper from a wedding or christening cake, these were powerfully symbolic foods, beautiful but also fragile, lifeless and ultimately edible. I still love the poetry of historic recipes, but this time I wanted to tell a different, darker truth—about quackery, seduction and taboo foods, and the extraordinary trust we reveal when we eat food made by a stranger’s hand. Martine Bailey combines 18th- century recipes, clever mystery and thrilling historical detail in A Taste for Nightshade. After young criminal Mary Jebb is condemned to seven years of transportation to Australia, she vows to seek revenge on Michael Croxon, the man who sent her there. When Mary returns to England, she is hired as a cook by Michael’s naïve wife, Grace, which sets into motion an entertaining game of double-dealings and fraud. Bailey lives in Cheshire, England.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS B Y LY N N G R E E N
Targeted self-help solutions for building a better you
nyone entering the new year with a list of resolutions needs advice on how to kickstart their commitment to personal change. We’ve looked at stacks of new self-help books and chosen six of the clearest, most practical guides to help you meet your goals, whether it’s a fitter physique or a more adventurous life. If your resolution is to be more active: Consider the sensible and achievable plan outlined in Younger Next Year: The Exercise Program (Workman, $10.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9780761186120). Building on their popular series, Chris Crowley and physician Henry S. Lodge devote the bulk of the book to the “whys” of exercise: why it works (the science) and why we should do it (the benefits). By the time you get to the actual exercises in chapter nine, you’ll presumably be so fired up you’ll plunge right into the “25 sacred exercises” of strength training. Pair those with the “magic bullet” of aerobics and you’re on your way. If you need more motivation, ponder this: People who do some kind of aerobic activity regularly have a 40 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Central Life & Style, $28, 240 pages, ISBN 9781455533985). “Today” fitness correspondent Jenna Wolfe breaks the big task of weight loss into 30 small chunks that seem doable, from drinking 20 sips of water as soon as you wake up to making at least three of your everyday activities more challenging (for example, when you’re watching TV, get up off the couch and do a quick exercise during each commercial break). Yes, some of the 30 changes are harder than others, but Wolfe’s helpful tips and tricks will give you added impetus to succeed.
If your resolution is to manage your money:
Use your cash on hand to buy a copy of The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated (Portfolio, $25, 256 pages, ISBN 9781591847687). Authors Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack argue that the best If your resolution is to financial advice for most people lose weight: would fit on a 3-by-5-inch index Check out Thinner in 30: card. The tenets of their 10-point Small Changes That Add Up to Big system are surprisingly simple but Weight Loss in Just 30 Days (Grand effective: Saving 10 to 20 percent of your income, paying your credit card balance in full each month and making the maximum contribution to your tax-advantaged retirement savings plans are at the top of the list. The index card system started with Pollack, a public health professor at the University
of Chicago who faced financial problems as a result of overspending, under-saving and accumulating costly debts. He put his family on sound financial footing with the new regimen, and the step-by-step guidelines in this book can help you follow the same path to financial freedom.
If your resolution is to be more giving: Explore the philanthropic ideas in Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day (Tarcher, $14.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9780399172458). Jennifer Iacovelli, who has worked for nonprofits and writes the blog Simple Giving Lab, argues that we can all help to make the world a better place by incorporating giving into our daily lives. You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg to make a difference—even small donations or simple gestures of support can have an impact. The author offers six “models” of giving: everyday acts of kindness; traditional philanthropy, such as donating your time or money to charity; shopping with a conscience; taking action on issues you’re passionate about; giving as a business model; and “giving it forward” by inspiring others to give when you do. Whether you’re holding a door open for a stranger or donating to the Red Cross, you’re demonstrating your concern for others. One satisfying note: Psychological studies have shown that giving not only helps others but ourselves, making givers both happier and healthier.
If your resolution is to live more mindfully: You’ll be intrigued by the suggestions in 52 Small Changes for the Mind (Chronicle, $16.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781452131672) by wellness expert Brett Blumenthal.
He offers one small change you can make each week to improve your mental well-being and explains how each step will help you feel less stressed and more content. During Week 1, for example, readers are advised to “Put pen to paper” and start a personal journal. The act of recording your feelings will leave you “calmer, happier and more capable of moving past negativity.” Other weekly recommendations include: sip green tea, silence your inner critic, say yes to new experiences and spend more time outside. Attractively designed and well-organized, this inspiring volume is a pleasure to browse and peppered with thought-provoking quotes. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says, “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
If your resolution is to live your dreams: Pick up a copy of Gin Sander’s The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 302 pages, ISBN 9781492609803). Sander’s goal is to help each of us pursue a “well-lived life,” full of rich ideas and adventures. “Participate in life, rather than observe or drown in the dreaded feeling that it’s just passing you by,” she advises. Since the well-lived life means different things to different people, she encourages readers to define their own terms for a bucket list and to think creatively about living their wildest dreams on a budget. (Travel with a group, crowdsource your project or do volunteer work at a desired destination.) The ideas listed are wide-ranging and fun to daydream about, from having dinner in a Napa Valley wine cave to ordering a pair of custom-made shoes. Before you write down your own list, the author recommends setting the mood with a glass of wine and a scented candle and letting your mind run freely. Whether it’s running a marathon or starting a humanitarian movement, adventure is right around the corner.
HEALTH & NUTRITION BY SHEILA M. TRASK
I read the (health) news today, oh boy
ealth news: It’s everywhere. Our smartphones, televisions, friends and relatives are all standing by with updates on the latest research, though we’re often left more confused than ever. Luckily, several new books by doctors, scientists and nutrition experts take us much deeper into the science behind the headlines so we can make informed decisions about promoting and protecting our health.
Shall we start with the good news or the bad? It’s up to you in journalist Jeff Wilser’s entertaining analysis of the health claims we hear every day. Depending on which side of his lively book you start with, you’ll get The Bad News About What’s Good for You, or, alternatively, The Good News About What’s Bad for You (Flatiron, $19.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781250063809). Wilser takes on topics from breakfast to retirement and challenges the conventional wisdom. Eat breakfast, lose weight? Maybe, Wilser finds, but most studies don’t bear that out. Think retirement will bring freedom and adventure? Possibly, but it’s also linked to higher risks of depression, divorce, stroke and heart attack. Wilser’s background as a writer for publications as diverse as The Chicago Tribune and GQ serves him well here, as he shares pop culture anecdotes and hard science side-by-side, with equal parts sincerity and humor.
TURNING THE TABLES ON FAT Though Wilser touches on the surprising news that some fats are, in fact, good for you, physician Steven Masley and nutritionist Jonny Bowden devote their full attention to the topic in Smart Fat: Eat More Fat. Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now. (HarperOne, $26.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780062392299). Although a generation of Americans grew up hearing that margarine was better than butter and that carbohydrates should form the foundation of our food pyramid, that wasn’t necessarily good information, Masley and Bowden write. Their astute survey of the situation delves deeply into
the question of what fats really do to our bodies and how certain “smart” fats might do much more good than harm. The science here is comprehensive but never boring; the authors write clearly and elegantly, leaving space for interesting “smart fat facts.” (Did you ever stop to think that there are no vegetables in vegetable oil, only grains and seeds?) Practical plans follow the scientific explanations. A 29-day menu, meal-by-meal advice and “diet” recipes that sound like no diet you’ve ever been on—beef stew, anyone?—round out this informative and useful volume.
OUR PREHISTORIC LEGACY Of course, we don’t have conscious control over everything that affects our health; many traits have been passed down for generations and persist even though they’re no longer useful in the modern world. That’s the fascinating concept behind Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us (Little, Brown, $28, 352 pages, ISBN 9780316236812) by Lee Goldman, head of Columbia University Medical Center. The habits that lead us to develop obesity, hypertension, mental illness, heart disease and stroke may have once been valuable to
the continuation of the species. Some of Goldman’s examples seem like common sense—humans are designed to eat whatever’s in front of them, because not so long ago the next meal was far from a sure thing—but others are surprising. For instance, he makes a convincing case that our attraction to salt was once useful for staving off dehydration, but now serves mostly to raise our blood pressure. You may have never thought about how protective Paleolithic blood-clotting plays out in modern times (think heart disease and stroke), but this world-renowned cardiologist explains it plainly and suggests an important role for medicine in bridging the gap between our lifestyle and our genetic heritage.
SELF-HELP SOBRIETY One thing our ancestors were not prepared to deal with was the prevalence of alcohol in everyday life. It’s something most adults today have to contend with, and something that gets many of us in trouble. Here with The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home (Atria, $28, 592 pages, ISBN 9781476792958) are Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul
series, and Dave Andrews, an experienced sobriety coach. Using positive psychology and systematic instructions, the authors guide readers through each of the 30 days of their program. It might be daunting to see how much work is involved in getting and staying sober, but the upbeat tone of the book, along with a generous sprinkling of quotations and cartoons, makes it seem not only doable, but enjoyable. Don’t expect “how I hit rock bottom” stories here, but rather inspirational reports from folks who have beaten alcoholism. Canfield and Andrews cover the biology behind addiction, but their focus is on empowering people to overcome it.
LIFELONG NUTRITION What we really want to know, of course, is indicated in the title of Michael Greger’s book, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease (Flatiron, $27.99, 576 pages, ISBN 9781250066114), written with Gene Stone. Greger may not be able to promise actual immortality, but as a physician, author and keeper of the popular website NutritionFacts.org, he is qualified to draw connections between the foods we eat and the diseases we do or do not develop. Meticulously well documented, Greger’s guidebook provides evidence on everything from the pesticide-Parkinson’s connection to the role of antioxidants in breast cancer prevention. Gregor also offers up friendly tips, like his favorite smoothie recipe and a turmeric tutorial. Follow his advice and you may not live forever, but you’ll almost certainly live a healthier life.
RETIREMENT BY JULIE HALE
Rule your retirement: smart strategies for the easy life
t’s never too early—or too late—to start planning for retirement, and the inspiring books below can show you how. These practical reads will help you manage your money and make a successful shift to the next stage of the game if your career is coming to a close. Get ready to face the future with confidence.
Both the high-level exec and the bottom-rung recruit will benefit from Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci’s How to Retire with Enough Money and How to Know What Enough Is (Workman, $12.95, 112 pages, ISBN 9780761186137). Ghilarducci, a retirement-security expert who teaches at the New School for Social Research, starts by laying out the cold, hard facts about Americans and retirement: Most of us have less than $30,000 squirrelled away for our post-working lives, while a third of us have no savings at all. About half of the middle class will hit poverty level upon retirement. “This isn’t just a personal
problem,” Ghilarducci says, “it’s a national problem.” Moving beyond the bleak statistics, Ghilarducci shows readers how to improve their long-term prospects. A critical first step is determining the amount of money you’ll require come retirement time—about 70 or 80 percent of your current income. For readers who need to get on sound financial ground before they can start strategizing for retirement,
Before you get down on bended knee…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes!
Available now in print and ebook.
Ghilarducci supplies “a road map to change.” She addresses the here-and-now problems (credit
with tips on how to get out from under the burden of debt, how to set and live by a budget, and how to find the daily momentum that’s required for long-term saving. Best of all, he encourages readers to stop thinking of retirement as a terrible finality and start viewing it as an adventure. “Retirement is not just the rest of the story,” he says, “it can be the best of your story.” Inspiring, indeed.
MINDSET IS EVERYTHING
card debt, car loans) that often prevent us from thinking about the future and reveals smart ways to trim everyday expenses. A yes-youcan spirit prevails throughout this brief, handy guide. Ghilarducci’s concise, cut-to-the-chase advice makes planning for the future seem (dare we say it?) easy.
MOTIVATION FROM A MASTER Financial advisor Chris Hogan is a sought-after speaker on matters related to retirement and life planning, and the energy he brings to these topics in person is palpable on the pages of Retire Inspired (Ramsey Press, $24.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9781937077815). Both a pep talk aimed at those who feel unprepared for retirement and a practical guide to money management, Hogan’s book addresses the concerns we all harbor in a tone that’s refreshingly positive. Throughout, Hogan shares family and sports anecdotes (he was once an all-American football player), as well as stories about his clients. The result is a spirited, engaging read filled with smart suggestions on how to get serious about saving. Hogan takes a decade-by-decade approach to retirement strategy. Beginning with readers who are in their 20s and working up to those in their 60s and beyond, he lays out detailed plans for each age group,
Whether you’re toying with the idea of retirement or have already taken the big step, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Happy Retirement: The Psychology of Reinvention (DK, $19.95, 224 pages, ISBN 9781465438119), a thorough, accessible volume that’s packed with tips on how to prepare for and savor the years that lie ahead. Created with input from Dr. Kenneth S. Shultz, an expert on the psychology of retirement, the book considers the practicalities of leaving the workforce, providing information on issues like financial planning and healthcare, but it also goes in-depth on the mental and emotional repercussions that come with the conclusion of a career. Constructed on a foundation of solid research, the book offers guidelines on preparing for life away from the office (start by asking yourself “The Big Four” questions: What will I do? How will I afford it? Where will I live? Who will I share it with?) and provides advice on making a smooth transition. The volume is chock-full of ways to stay happy and purposeful (how about mentoring an up-and-comer at your old company?). Featuring bold colors and nifty graphics, this engaging book covers all the bases, from choosing the right retirement date to saying goodbye to colleagues. It’s a must-have manual for anyone contemplating a departure from the working world.
T PI OP CK
perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. This, the book tells us, is what happens to the innocent. It’s all very dark and greasy—and enjoyable. —ARLENE McKANIC
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
Mother-daughter memories REVIEW BY ALDEN MUDGE
It is impossible to explain fully the beautiful, haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton. Magic? Genius? Certainly much of its power arises from the mesmerizing voice of Lucy Barton, teller of this tale. And much of it comes from the details of the story she slowly unfolds. Another piece of the explanation surely lies in the gaps in Lucy’s story that we readers must bridge with our own empathy and imagination. Still, My Name Is Lucy Barton is much larger and far more resonant than the sum of these parts. The story begins with Lucy, now a published fiction writer, remembering a time, 20 or more years ago, when she was felled by an undiagnosable disease, a sort of visitation of sickness, and ended up in a By Elizabeth Strout New York City hospital for a prolonged stay. She was anguished to be Random House, $26, 208 pages separated from her two young daughters and her somewhat distant ISBN 9781400067695, audio, eBook available husband. Then, her mother, whom Lucy had not spoken to in years, came from Illinois to stay with her at the hospital. Their loving, gossipy LITERARY FICTION conversations evoke conflicting emotions and vivid, if often understated, memories in Lucy about her and her siblings growing up in abject poverty, in a household rife with mental illness and abuse. The lifelong effects of that emotional and economic impoverishment, even for Lucy, the successful sibling, infuse her story in unexpected ways. Toward the end of the book, as Lucy begins to write about the visit from her mother and her childhood memories, a writing teacher tells her: “People will go after you for combining poverty and abuse. Such a stupid word, ‘abuse,’ such a conventional, stupid word. . . . This is a story about love.” My Name Is Lucy Barton is indeed about love, or really, the complexity of misshapen familial love. It is also a story of lasting emotional damage and resilience, and a writer’s commitment to the truth. The novel is also full of keen observations about how childhood travels forward into adulthood. Strout, who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge, has written a profound novel about the human experience that will stay with a reader for a long, long time.
THE GUEST ROOM By Chris Bohjalian Doubleday $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780385538893 Audio, eBook available POPULAR FICTION
Once in a while, a reader needs to dive into a book that makes her feel just a bit unclean. The book doesn’t have to be trashy—and Chris Bohjalian’s latest, The Guest Room, is much too well-written and psychologically astute to be close to trashy—but the author must have no compunction about
dropping the reader into the muck and leaving her there. This Bohjalian certainly does, with glee. The bad stuff comes early. Richard Chapman, a mild-mannered investment banker, allows his sleazy brother, Philip, to throw a bachelor party at Richard’s house in a tony New York City suburb. This predictably sordid affair takes a nightmarish turn when the bodyguards of the barely legal strippers are murdered in view of the guests. Because, see, these strippers aren’t strippers at all, but Armenian sex slaves—and the cue-ball-headed, no-neck bodyguards are their Russian overseers. The point of view alternates, and Richard; his wife, Kristin; their daughter, Melissa; and an enslaved girl dubbed Alexandra by her
captors all get a chance to tell the story. Richard has no idea what to do with himself. Kristin is freaked out—not so much because people were slaughtered in her house, but because her husband almost had sex with a girl half their age. Melissa is frightened and bewildered, which is perfectly OK because she’s 9. This, the book says, is how people who thought they had it made come unmade. But consider what Bohjalian, author of the bestseller Midwives, does with the hapless Alexandra. She is the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such
MR. SPLITFOOT By Samantha Hunt HMH $24, 336 pages ISBN 9780544526709 eBook available GOTHIC FICTION
It’s easy to dismiss “spoiler alert” people for obsessing over what’s in a story rather than caring about how that story is actually told. Then a book like Mr. Splitfoot comes along, and you realize that this is a case where the spooky details matter—not because of something as shallow as “spoilers,” but because you’ll want to savor every fiendish bit of this book. With her latest novel, Samantha Hunt has delivered a gothic tale that’s both deliciously creepy and emotionally satisfying, combining supernatural intrigue and thematic weight. The novel opens with the story of Ruth and Nat, two orphans living in a kind of extremist cult who learned to channel the dead with the help of a con man and then discovered something dark. Years later, Ruth’s niece Cora becomes unexpectedly pregnant, and her Aunt Ruth appears to lead her on a mysterious journey across New York. Aunt Ruth’s life, and the purpose of her quest, are the stuff of deep, dark, luscious mystery, and this journey leads us to the heart of the novel and its gloomy secrets. Hunt’s confidence in her story propels the book from page one, a task made all the more impressive when you consider the murky waters it traverses. Mr. Splitfoot is about the divide between the natural and the supernatural, between faith and reason, and in the hands of a storyteller like Hunt—an Orange Prize finalist and a winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” prize—the novel
reviews becomes something truly special. If you’re a lover of rule-breaking ghost stories, spoiler alert: Mr. Splitfoot is for you. —MATTHEW JACKSON
THOMAS MURPHY By Roger Rosenblatt
Ecco $24.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780062394569 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
The story of an aging poet transplanted from Ireland to America as a young man, Thomas Murphy is itself pure poetry. Roger Rosenblatt’s return to fiction after several memoirs, including two moving books dealing with the aftermath of his daughter’s sudden death, is a brief but lovely rumination on one man’s irresistible impulse to savor life’s riches, even as losses mount and the ravages of age take their relentless toll. Five decades after leaving the tiny island of Inishmaan (population 160) for New York City, Murphy finds himself facing eviction from his Upper West Side apartment and pressure from his daughter to seek medical attention for what she believes are the early stages of dementia. Dismissive of these threats to his independence, he prefers to live by the motto, “You never crash if you go full tilt,” devoting his days to crafting simple poems and sharing his love of verse with a small group of homeless people in a church rec room. Even Murphy is surprised by the unexpected turn his life takes when a young man he meets in a bar presents him with a bizarre request: to deliver the news to the man’s wife, a blind woman, that her husband suffers from a terminal illness. That chance encounter opens into a tender, if unconventional, love story that Rosenblatt shares with grace and insight. The novel’s principal appeal lies in the fresh and striking stream-of-consciousness voice of its protagonist. Murphy’s zest for
FICTION life shines in every anecdote and observation, but it is tempered by his consciousness of time’s passage, reflected in the deaths of his wife and best friend and in his vivid memories of the harsh, beautiful world he left behind in Ireland. Rosenblatt has always demonstrated an affection for the play of words on the page, and in Murphy he’s created the perfect character to showcase that facility for language. Thomas Murphy is an invigorating example of what it means, in the words of its protagonist, to “walk through the landscape of a life.” With a character as distinctive as this clear-eyed poet by our side, it’s a rewarding journey.
cast of characters that keeps the tale moving at a brisk pace, even after Paul’s early departure from the narrative scene. This is a dark story of a dysfunctional crew, from the cantankerous family patriarch and his young wife, the religious and submissive Mrs. Askew, to the horsey debutante and seductress Patricia Culver and Paul’s fragile soul mate, Leigh. Without spoiling the ending of this compelling page-turner, it can be said that Tarkington’s impressive first novel achieves every author’s goal: Once you start reading, you can’t stop. And as an added bonus for Neil Young fans, Tarkington’s riveting tale provides plenty of classic rock riffs, too.
—KAREN ANN CULLOTTA
ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART By Ed Tarkington
Algonquin $25.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781616203825 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
THE PORTABLE VEBLEN By Elizabeth McKenzie
Penguin Press $26, 448 pages ISBN 9781594206856 eBook available POPULAR FICTION
A reader need not be a disciple of rock legend Neil Young to find that Only Love Can Break Your Heart strikes a nostalgic chord. But for those of us who appreciate Young’s immense musical gifts, Ed Tarkington’s debut novel will likely prove twice as harmonious. In many ways a classic comingof-age story, the novel also digs deep into the loamy depths of the modern Southern Gothic genre, circa 1970s. Tarkington’s novel unfolds from the perspective of its young narrator, Rocky, whose older brother and hero, Paul, is the quintessential teenage bad boy. When Paul’s bitterness toward the boys’ father leads to a reckless act of defiance that places Rocky in peril, the brothers become geographically estranged, but never divided at heart. Years later, a crime divides their hometown but brings them back together. The small Virginia town of Spencerville is filled with an eclectic
That one of the recurring characters in The Portable Veblen is a squirrel tells you much about the experience of reading Elizabeth McKenzie’s clever second novel. Veblen, the 30-year-old protagonist who chats with the squirrel, describes herself as an “independent behaviorist,” translates for the Norwegian Diaspora Project in her spare time and “still favored baggy oversized boy’s clothes.” This novel is like vegetables cut on a bias: slightly skewed, pleasing to look at, and, thanks to its skilled chef, a joy to consume. Veblen is named after Thorstein Veblen, the early 20th-century economist who “espoused anti-materialistic beliefs,” and is, like her namesake, a nonconformist. She lives alone in a bungalow in Palo Alto, but has fallen in love with Paul Vreeland, an ambitious young neurologist. Although they’ve known each other for only three months, they plan to marry. And Paul has another plan: He’s
developing a device that will help medics perform emergency craniotomies on the front lines. Paul’s device isn’t ready for the field yet, but the Department of Defense is interested, as is Cloris Hutmacher, a Tesla-driving pharmaceutical heiress. As Paul decides whether to enter into business with a firm that is the antithesis of Thorstein Veblen’s writings, he’s also grappling with his hippie parents and an emotionally challenged brother. Veblen’s side of the family presents challenges, too, most notably her mother, a hypochondriac who keeps a typed list of her medical history behind a ceramic bowl filled with pinecones and presents the list to Paul when they’re introduced. The Portable Veblen has extraneous plot points, but for the most part, this is a funny and well-written novel about family, love and the perils of misplaced ambition. Adding to the experience are the many photographs wittily distributed throughout: Next to the paragraph in which Veblen’s stepfather offers her a chicken burrito is a tiny photo of a stuffed tortilla wrapped in foil. When you know what you’re doing, as McKenzie does here, to go against the grain is no bad thing. —MICHAEL MAGRAS
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Elizabeth McKenzie.
FALLEN LAND By Taylor Brown
St. Martin’s $25.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781250077974 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
In the final year of the Civil War, 15-year-old horse thief Callum meets a girl who changes his life forever. Both he and the girl, Ava, are orphans—Callum is from Ireland and hasn’t seen his family in years, and Ava’s father and brother were casualties of war. After Callum’s band of marauders finds
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reviews Ava in her crumbling, dilapidated home and threatens her, Callum sets out to rescue her, leaving the group of pillagers behind and stealing their leader’s horse as transport. Soon the two find themselves pursued across the savage, war- ridden wilderness by a ruthless slave hunter, with a bounty on their heads. With dreams of making it to Atlanta, if not the Florida coast, Callum and Ava barrel headlong through the bleak, cold landscape with little food and protection, pushing through disappointment after disappointment with the hope that peace lies just around the corner. Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast and has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco and western North Carolina, where much of Fallen Land is set. Filled with metaphor, poetic imagery and rich descriptions, Fallen Land is a beautifully written chronicle of love and hardship, following two people who are meant to be as they fight their way through a world seemingly set against them.
FICTION the group is far from seamless, Miranda finds herself connecting with the bleak and barren beauty of her surroundings. However, when an act of unspeakable violence is perpetrated, it unleashes a cycle of destruction and devastation that not all of them will survive. With The Lightkeepers, Geni has crafted a novel filled with wideopen spaces and also a creeping claustrophobia. The setting takes on the role of a character, and the Farallons are masterfully brought to life on the page through Geni’s luminous prose. There is a soothing, hypnotic quality to Geni’s writing—and an unexpected tenderness, too, one that belies the thick sense of malice and increasing sense of dread that swirls about Miranda’s island home. Though some of the plot points are predictable, the story is rife with satisfying surprises, in large part because of the successful air of uncertainty that surrounds Miranda’s narration. Riveting from beginning to end, The Lightkeepers is unsettling in all the best ways. —STEPHENIE HARRISON
THE LIGHTKEEPERS By Abby Geni
Counterpoint $25, 340 pages ISBN 9781619026001 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
Thirty miles off the coast of California sit the Farallon Islands. To visit them is to feel as though one has cast aside the constraints—and comforts—of civilization. At best, these shores of shale and rock have been ungenerous to humans trying to eke out a living; at worst, they have proven deadly. In Abby Geni’s dazzling debut, The Lightkeepers, a young photographer named Miranda joins a small band of biologists who study the birds, sharks and whales that migrate annually to the islands to mate and spawn and, in some cases, die. Though her integration into
THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND By Katarina Bivald Sourcebooks Landmark $16.99, 400 pages ISBN 9781492623441 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
There is power in words. A book requires its reader to fill in the blanks, to imagine a world into being. Sometimes, that world is grander than reality. That’s always appealed to Swedish bookstore clerk Sara Lindqvist. Books are better company than most people, and they’ve taken her to the most amazing places. The words of Sara’s pen pal, elderly Amy Harris, also appeal to Sara’s imagination. The two struck up a friendship over an exchange of letters and books, and Amy invited Sara to visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, to explore the town
and fit in plenty of reading. Sara is in. Unfortunately, she arrives just after Amy’s funeral. Suddenly, Sara is slapped with a reminder that truth isn’t always as interesting as fiction. Sara finds comfort in Amy’s books and becomes determined to draw the townspeople into the world of words. She uses Amy’s collection to launch Oak Tree Bookstore, which becomes a Main Street hub, drawing visitors from beyond Broken Wheel. With every book she sells (or lends), Sara comes closer to finding purpose and a home in a place she didn’t expect to belong. In The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, Swedish author Katarina Bivald beautifully illustrates the relationship between a reader and her books. Sara once used books as a barrier, but she comes to learn how exchanging stories can connect people—and finds that sometimes, life can surpass even your favorite book. —CARLA JEAN WHITLEY
THE STARGAZER’S SISTER
him chart the skies. She also cooks, cleans, handles his records and keeps the household accounts, while managing to become an accomplished astronomer in her own right. When William decides to marry—it is not coincidental that his betrothed has inherited a sizable estate—Caroline finds herself on her own for the first time in her life, faced with deciding who she is. The Stargazer’s Sister is a lovely addition to Carrie Brown’s works of historical fiction. Brown brings the true story of the Herschel siblings to life in exquisite detail and deftly explores what it meant for Caroline to be an intelligent woman far ahead of her time. —AMY SCRIBNER
THE CHILDREN’S HOME By Charles Lambert
Scribner $24, 224 pages ISBN 9781501117398 Audio, eBook available SUSPENSE
By Carrie Brown
Pantheon $25.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780804197939 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION
Caroline Herschel’s prospects as a plain, poor and pox-scarred woman in 19th-century Germany are not good. Living in a cramped home surrounded by siblings and an affectionless mother, her only saviors are her brilliant older brother William—who moved to England—and her loving but sickly father, who after attending the wedding of a neighbor’s daughter wails to Caroline, “Oh, my dear. You are neither handsome nor rich. What is to be done?” After Caroline sends her attractive, eccentric brother a letter in which she pleads, “Save me,” he brings her to England to serve as his assistant. An astronomer of growing renown, William teaches Caroline (he calls her Lina) to help
British author Charles Lambert’s latest, The Children’s Home, is like a strange dream in which you can’t quite tell if you’re awake. Morgan, its disfigured, 20-something protagonist, lives isolated in his powerful family’s sprawling home. His estranged sister sent a housekeeper to live with him, and soon after, children began arriving. They appear with no backstory—one, in fact, materializes out of thin air—and Morgan and the housekeeper, Engel, become parents of sorts. The resulting story is a weird, poignant journey reminiscent of Calvino that explores fear, power, revenge and redemption. When one of the children falls ill, Dr. Crane enters the scene. He befriends the young hermit and becomes a fixture at the house. When government agents arrive inquiring about rumors of “strays” living there, Crane speaks for Morgan, who is afraid to let strangers see his face. As Morgan and Crane observe strange, some-
FICTION times frightening, behaviors in the children, eerily related discoveries are made in attic trunks and in Morgan’s grandfather’s books. Eventually, circumstances force Morgan to balance his fear of being seen against his concern for the children’s safety. Lambert’s story is addictive, although readers looking for concrete answers to its riddles may be disappointed. But while the book leaves many mysteries intact, its potent, often brutal, images have a lasting power. Things feel just a notch off in this world, like a walk through a quietly disturbing dream. It stays with you after, like that dream, trying to tell you something gravely important. —SHERI BODOH
THE PAST By Tessa Hadley
Harper $26.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062270412 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
Tessa Hadley is an alchemist, transforming everyday life into the stuff of brilliant fiction. In previous stories and novels, like 2014’s Clever Girl, the British writer has captured the beauty, messiness and irony of family life, especially marriages. Her new novel, The Past, keeps to the domestic sphere, examining the lives of four adult siblings who gather at a country house for the summer. Ostensibly, the vacation is to decide whether or not to sell the vicarage, the gracefully decaying home where the four were raised by grandparents after their mother’s death from breast cancer. Sisters Harriet, Fran and Alice are also curious about their brother Roland’s third wife and eager to visit with teenage niece Molly. Kasim, the son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, tags along and also takes an interest in Molly. Meanwhile Fran’s children, Ivy and Arthur, run wild, spy on the young couple and make an unsettling discovery
in an abandoned cottage in the woods. Dignified, quiet Harriet, the oldest of the sisters, relishes her private time but soon finds herself responding to one of the house guests with a passion that even she can’t contain. There is not a lot of action in The Past. The sisters gossip about their new sister-in-law. They play cards and drink gin, watch the growing flirtation between the two young adults and, together with their brother, wonder how long they can hold on to the vicarage—and if they even want to. But just as sure as mold is growing in the long unused pantry, past arguments and unresolved jealousies and resentments have been quietly building. The present resonates with the secrets the past holds. Hadley’s prose is irresistible and gorgeous. Descriptions of the land around the vicarage and cottage ring with a poetic intensity, and she richly evokes the sounds and smells of the outdoors: the bird calls, the wind, the summer rain moving through grasses and trees. Her thoughtful observations regarding the inner world of her characters and the outer landscape of their surroundings make this latest effort a novel of remarkable skill and scope. —LAUREN BUFFERD
fortune-seekers.” They have come for their jobs, or their husbands’ jobs; for six months, a year, maybe three years or more. And they have no idea what to expect from their temporary new home. Mercy, 27, is a Korean-American woman who has been trying to make a “new start” in Hong Kong for three years. She was raised in a cramped apartment in Queens and graduated from Columbia, a “fancy college with fancy kids who showed her a different world.” She is having trouble finding a steady job and is not yet feeling comfortable in her role as one of the few single expats. Margaret Reade also arrived three years ago, following her husband, a higher-up with a U.S. multinational. On the surface they are living the enviable, seemingly perfect expat life, but they have suffered a recent loss, and Margaret is finding it nearly impossible to move on.
Hilary and her husband, David, have been in Hong Kong for eight years, and she has been trying to become pregnant ever since their arrival. Her marriage has “cooled into politeness,” but she’s hoping a child might help. In Hong Kong’s insulated atmosphere, the paths of these three women manage to cross in intricate and unexpected ways. As they tell their stories in alternating chapters, Mercy, Margaret and Hilary become so familiar, the reader seems to have met them before. We know them not just superficially but are privy to their inner thoughts, frustrations and dreams. Like Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah, Lee is a perceptive observer of her compelling characters and brings them vividly to life in this moving novel. —DEBORAH DONOVAN
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Janice Y.K. Lee.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
Presents the First Book in Her New Scandal & Scoundrel Series
By Janice Y.K. Lee Viking $27, 336 pages ISBN 9780525429470 Audio, eBook available POPULAR FICTION
Three American women become ensconced in the cultural mélange of Hong Kong’s expat community in Janice Y.K. Lee’s absorbing, character-driven novel, following 2009’s The Piano Teacher. The author, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, opens her novel with a spot-on description of that sprawling city’s expat contingent— the Chinese, Irish, French, Koreans and Americans—“a veritable UN of
“Spellbinding... Comedy, action, secrets, and love: this book has it all.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Publisher Picks for 2016 The Anatomy of a Calling
Inside the O’Brien’s
Lissa Rankin [Rodale Books]
Shelly Fisher Fishkin
[University Press of New England]
The Food Lab
Sweets & Treats with Six Sisters’ Stuff
J. Kenji López-Alt [W.W. Norton] 9780393081084 $49.95
100 Recipes Everyone Should Know
Six Sisters’ Stuff
America’s Test Kitchen
[Boston Common Press]
Illuminae Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The Shameful State
[Knopf Books for Young
Sony Labou Tansi
[Indiana University Press]
The Nonsense Show
Full Moon at the Napping House
Kevin Henkes [Greenwillow Books]
Audrey and Don Wood [HMH Books for Young
Readers] 9780544308329 $17.99
Penguin’s Big Adventure Salina Yoon [Bloomsbury Children’s] 9780802738288 $14.99
Why? Crispin Boyer [National Geographic Kids] 9781426320965 $19.99
Alphabet Trains Samantha R. Vamos [Charlesbridge] 9781580895927 $14.95
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A THOUSAND NAKED STRANGERS By Kevin Hazzard
THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING
Traversing the sceptered isle
Scribner $25, 288 pages ISBN 9781501110832 eBook available MEDICINE
REVIEW BY EDWARD MORRIS
In The Road to Little Dribbling, as in all of Bill Bryson’s travel books, you can be assured of two constants: first, that your guide is a sensualist who immerses himself (and thus, the reader) in all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes he encounters on his wanderings; and second, that along the way he will spot surprises, incongruities and contradictions that he obligingly transmutes into laughter. On this pilgrimage, he invites us to join him as he zigzags the length of Britain, from Bognor Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north. (There is, by the way, no Little Dribbling.) This is not a walking tour, although Bryson is often afoot. At other times he resorts to rail or car. Whatever his vehicle, he takes us to dozens of visit-worthy places we might otherwise never have heard of. Among these are the ancient, man-made Silbury Hill, a 10-story By Bill Bryson earthen mound near Avebury, and the equally puzzling prehistoric Doubleday, $28.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780385539289, audio, eBook available stone towers (or “brochs”) in Glenelg, Scotland, whose purpose has yet to be fathomed. TRAVEL “There isn’t anywhere in the world with more to look at in a smaller space,” Bryson asserts, noting that Britain has 26 World Heritage Sites and 600,000 known archaeological sites. No detail seems too tiny to escape his eye. In Wales, he notices that the main story on the front page of the local newspaper that reported Dylan Thomas’ death was not about the young bard’s passing but rather about the “mysterious disappearance of a farm couple.” Bryson’s wry wit abounds. He describes a particularly slow train as “rigor mortis with scenery” and observes that a town in which he finds no charm was “bombed heavily during the Second World War, though perhaps not quite heavily enough.” The history of the Scottish highlands, he reflects, is “five hundred years of cruelty and bloodshed followed by two hundred years of way too much bagpipe music.” Could one hope for a better traveling companion?
THE SOUND OF GRAVEL By Ruth Wariner
Flatiron $27.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781250077691 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
Like so many teenage girls, Ruth Wariner and her friends used to spend hours back in the 1980s dreaming and talking of future romances. But despite living in a fundamentalist “plural marriage” colony in Mexico that had broken away from the Mormon church, most of them did not hope for a polygamous future as a “sister wife.” They knew all too well what that meant.
With an unsparing eye for all the details, Kevin Hazzard takes readers on a chaotic ride through a city’s crack houses and road carnage, a hospital’s turbulent mental health ward and still-smoldering scenes of domestic violence. In A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, a gripping account of his 10 years “running” ambulance calls in Atlanta, Hazzard evolves from neophyte (terrified he might harm instead of help) to true believer (total professional) to burned-out paramedic wise enough to know it was time to quit. There’s the patient who dies because medics allow him to walk to the ambulance instead of insisting he go on a stretcher. There’s the victim who loves his wife even though he ends up nailed to a wall (literally), and the baby born at a mere 23 weeks of gestation, whose beating heart is visible through his tragic consequences. Wariner was her father’s 39th translucent skin. There’s this: Narchild; her mother, 17 when she Wariner loved her siblings and can really can raise the dead. And married, was the fifth wife of “the friends, but suffered from misthis: Firemen and medics can get in prophet.” When Wariner was a treatment, poverty and a truncated each other’s way. baby, her father was killed by assas- education as her family hid in Yet Hazzard is no gleeful voyeur; sins sent by his brother in a bloody plain sight from the puzzled but the respect he accords his patients feud over control of the colony. Her apparently clueless authorities. All and many—though not all—of his stepfather had four wives, none of her frantic efforts to end her step colleagues imparts a kind of honorwhom he could afford to support, father’s abuse were stymied by her able dignity to this work. “Lives are mother and their church. and Wariner’s upbringing was in the balance,” he says, “and it’s Wariner takes us inside this rene- just us.” He admits his addiction to horrific. In The Sound of Gravel, gade community as only a survivor the adrenaline rush from an incomWariner describes her childhood and eventual escape in vivid, could. She writes with particular ing call, senses when his empathy heartrending detail. beauty about her brothers and begins to feel more like apathy, and sisters, innocent children living Her mother, Kathy, loving but chooses to leave before he becomes sad, deprived lives because of their what he calls a Killer, a medic indifin thrall to her ghastly second parents’ folly. Her fears for them husband, Lane, had 10 children, ferent to the fate of his patients. three with disabilities. They lived finally drove 15-year-old Wariner Hazzard has been, in other to flee to the U.S., where she built in cramped, primitive conditions words, just the kind of human bein their Mexican settlement, large- a better life for the family with the ing you hope would come to your ly supported by the welfare fraud intelligence, fortitude and compas- rescue. His story may well inspire Kathy committed on frequent trips sion that are evident throughout others to take a chance on this vital back to the U.S. Lane was abusive her impressive memoir. but often overlooked vocation. and incompetent, ultimately with —ANNE BARTLETT —PRISCILLA KIPP
reviews STORIES I TELL MYSELF By Juan F. Thompson
Knopf $26.95, 288 pages ISBN 9780307265357 eBook available MEMOIR
No relationship is more fraught than the one between father and son; the son is always trying to please his father, and the father is feeling guilty about whether he loves his son enough. Now imagine that your dad is a gonzo journalist who has famously hung out with Hell’s Angels and loved his booze, drugs and guns. In Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson, Juan F. Thompson lucidly and longingly tells us just what it was like being the only child of the notorious writer. Born in California, Juan moved to D.C. with his parents when his father was writing a book about the 1972 presidential campaign. The family eventually moved back to Aspen, where Juan grew up and watched his parents’ marriage fall down around him. Hunter Thompson was never a loving man, and Juan admits that as a child he feared his father and had very little respect for him. Eventually, father and son developed rituals, such as cleaning Hunter’s many guns, that cemented their tentative bond. Even so, Juan declares that in spite of his father’s talents as a writer, “in his daily life he was simply crazy . . . unpredictable, unreliable, unreasonable, given to sudden fits of rage.” After Hunter’s death, Juan still wonders what his father wanted from him, and he still tries not to let him down. It’s a heavy burden to carry, even as the young Thompson ponders the ageless questions: “What do fathers want most from their sons? Do we only want them to be happy? Do we want them to be like us? Do we want forgiveness? Do we want to be loved by our sons?” Juan never finds the answers to these questions, but his stories of
NONFICTION searching for them are powerfully affecting. —HENRY L. CARRIGAN JR.
LET THE PEOPLE RULE By Geoffrey Cowan Norton $27.95, 424 pages ISBN 9780393249842 Audio, eBook available POLITICS
even Roosevelt’s daughter called “somewhat cooked.” It wasn’t pretty, but that’s politics—then and now. —KEITH HERRELL
THEIR PROMISED LAND By Ian Buruma
Penguin Press $27, 320 pages ISBN 9781594204388 Audio, eBook available BIOGRAPHY
Here we are, well into the campaign for the 2016 presidential primaries, complete with televised debates, Twitter feuds and weekly sendups on “Saturday Night Live.” And who knew we had Theodore Roosevelt to thank for all this? Such education comes courtesy of Geoffrey Cowan in Let the People Rule, an entertaining account of how Roosevelt and his minions created and benefited from 13 primaries in the run-up to the 1912 presidential election—an election in which Woodrow Wilson ultimately prevailed over incumbent William Howard Taft and a back-from-retirement Roosevelt. Roosevelt battled Taft’s entrenched forces for the Republican nomination, championing “the right of the people to rule.” His success in the primaries made life difficult for Taft right up to the party’s convention in Chicago, but Taft’s network was too much to overcome. That’s when Roosevelt’s supporters famously walked out and had a convention of their own. Roosevelt admirers looking for a love letter to their hero had best look elsewhere, though. As Cowan makes clear, Roosevelt’s No. 1 objective was returning to the presidency, and he was willing to do anything to achieve that goal, such as repeatedly denying the rights of African Americans from the Deep South. Roosevelt’s charismatic personality notwithstanding, the real stars of Let the People Rule are the political operators—like the reporter who doubled as a campaign strategist or the clandestine organizer of a “draft Roosevelt” campaign that
refugees leave Nazi Germany and kept them safe in England. One of the most moving moments in the book occurs when Buruma names “the Twelve,” many of whom are still living today. —CATHERINE HOLLIS
SHAME AND WONDER By David Searcy
Random House $26, 240 pages ISBN 9780812993943 eBook available ESSAYS
Esteemed historian Ian Buruma turns his attention to a happy marriage in his elegant new book, Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War. While his grandparents might seem a more limited subject than his recent Year Zero: A History of 1945, this family love story is deeply intertwined with history. Using their correspondence during both the First and Second World Wars as his primary source, Buruma crafts a finely observed portrait of an assimilated Jewish family in England between the wars. In Buruma’s telling, Winifred and Bernard Schlesinger were “more English than the English.” Of German-Jewish origin, they came from distinguished, upper-middle-class families who prized education and classical music. Although they were not officially engaged until 1922, their mutual affection is clear from letters written as early as 1915. Buruma humorously depicts the strain of the long engagement on their powers of patience; once they were finally married in 1925, they joked of having to consult Roman frescoes for advice on sex. Despite their warm domestic life and five children (including film director John Schlesinger), the family’s encounters with anti- Semitism darken the peace and milieu in which they live. Bernard, a doctor, found himself blackballed from certain medical institutions; his frustration at this routine discrimination led to the most heroic act of the Schlesingers’ marriage. In 1938, the family helped 12 child
It’s hard to write about Shame and Wonder, albeit for good reason. David Searcy’s collection of 21 essays are unlike anything I’ve read before, though they feel achingly familiar. The subject matter is the stuff of everyday life, or an era just passed: comic strips, the prizes in cereal boxes, the craft of folding a perfect paper airplane. But woven through each essay is a haunting quality, humor and loss uncomfortably conjoined on the page. The book opens with “The Hudson River School,” in which Searcy’s dental hygienist tells him the story of her father, a Texas rancher who uses a tape recording of his infant daughter’s crying to lure a sheep-thieving coyote to its doom. Searcy is unseated by the tale and ventures out to meet the man and ask him about the story. It’s a genial exchange, but on the page it assumes the spaciousness of a haiku, eerie, wide-open and wild. The story of a trip to Turkey sponsored by a tourist organization is filled with the rush of scheduled activity punctuated by bottles of Orange Fanta, but on a coastal ride in a hired car, “[A]ll of a sudden there’s the water. There’s the blue you get in children’s paintings. Blue as that primordial blue you’ve had in mind since childhood.” The accessible tone of Shame and Wonder belies the depths these essays plumb. They come in peace, then sock you in the solar plexus. Read them; you’ll see. —HEATHER SEGGEL
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN INTERVIEW BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
A mother’s time-traveling legacy
e’ve all had that moment when we realize our parents had a life before us, but it’s safe to say that in Alexandra Bracken’s exciting new YA novel, Passenger, 17-year-old violin prodigy Etta Spencer’s epiphany about her mom is more astonishing than most. As the story begins, Etta finds her mother, Rose, hard to connect with at best. But after a sudden, supremely shocking series of events, Etta realizes there’s a lot more going on behind her mother’s stoic demeanor than she could’ve imagined. Rose is a time traveler, which Etta learns after discovering she’s a time traveler, too. Following said shocking events, Etta wakes up on a wooden ship, surrounded by oddly dressed men with old-fashioned accents. One of them is a handsome, highly capable young seaman and freed slave named Nicholas Carter. Upon deducing that no, this isn’t weird performance art, and she’s definitely not in present-day New York City anymore, Etta struggles to accept her new reality—which is occurring in the 1700s on the Atlantic Ocean. She discovers that Rose has been on the run from a power-hungry, wealthy old man named Cyrus Ironwood who wants her to return something he believes she’s stolen. Etta embarks on a bizarre, mystifying, dangerous
By Alexandra Bracken
Disney-Hyperion, $17.99, 496 pages ISBN 9781484715772, audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up
new chapter of her life, searching with Nicholas for the stolen object as they travel through centuries and continents. Her understanding of her place in the world broadens and evolves as she discovers more about her mother’s past and its repercussions for her own future. “I’ve loved history my whole life,” Bracken says during a call from her Virginia home, but for a long time she had “an idealistic view of time travel. As I’m getting older, I’m realizing that [women would be] subjected to the standards of an era, and time travel wouldn’t be a joyful thing for people unless they go into the future.” Etta, her mother and other female time travelers are just as savvy as men when finding portals, dodging pursuers and the like, but Etta still contends with outdated views of women as she travels into centuries past. And the powerful, time-traveling Ironwood family still adheres to antiquated and classist views of station and bloodlines, despite their extraordinary ability to visit more modern, egalitarian times. Equally compelling is Nicholas’ situation. He’s also under the megalomaniacal thumb of the wealthy Cyrus, yet is highly respected by his colleagues and moves freely through time and geography. He is determined to break free of Cyrus once he and Etta fulfill their dangerous quest—if that’s even possible. “Slaves were victims of history, but I didn’t want Nicholas to have the opinion he was a victim,” says Bracken. “I wanted him to be very self-sufficient, and ultimately the person who’s saving himself, with none of the white-savior complex.” This is just a fraction of the goings-on in Passenger, which is densely and deftly packed with all sorts of thrilling events and memorable characters. As each chapter
closes, readers will certainly wonder where—and when— Etta and Nicholas will end up next. And how did Bracken end up here, at age 28 with six books (and counting) to her name? After publishing her debut, Brightly Woven, in 2010, Bracken published four more books over the next five years, including her bestselling Darkest Minds trilogy, all while working in children’s publishing in New York City. When she was tapped to write a middle-grade Star Wars movie tie-in, Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, she admits to being a bit nervous— Star Wars fans are known for their passion and protectiveness—but ultimately felt very welcomed by the community. “A dad came up to me after a panel [at a pop-culture convention] and said his daughter will be so excited to see a girl’s name on the cover,” Bracken says. Bracken was also a bit apprehensive about a certain aspect of Passenger: Etta’s budding romance with Nicholas. “I was so nervous to make the jump to this book because it’s so different from the Darkest Minds series,” she says. “The romance is definitely really different. But if I did the same kind of story and characters over and over again, I’d be bored, and readers would be bored.” There’s no chance of that with Passenger. Bracken’s rules for time travel are fun to encounter and untangle, and the far-flung centuries and locations—Bhutan, the U.K. and Syria, to name a few—are rich with vibrant detail. Etta’s determination to carry out her mission,
have a relationship with Nicholas (she’s not averse to kissing him first, should her mood dictate) and use her powerful gift for good makes her a symbol of potential positive change, while also pitting her against those who want to keep things the same. And that’s all we’ll say about that, lest we spoil the complex, multilayered, time traveling, globetrotting fun. In terms of her own future, Bracken has big things—and a lot of writing—ahead. The second book in the Passenger duology, Wayfarer, is due out in 2017. And the day before she spoke with BookPage, her four-book deal with Disney Publishing was announced, including a new series for middle graders, a standalone YA novel and one more hush-hush book. “It feels like a dream,” Bracken says. “But if I ever stop writing and don’t sell another book, I’m really proud of the little stack I’ve put out into the world.” That stack’s going to keep growing for now, and Bracken’s glad to know what lies ahead. “It’s really exciting to be gainfully employed for the next four years!” she says. And really exciting for her readers, knowing there are many more wildly inventive, eminently entertaining books to come.
reviews T PI OP CK
WHEN MISCHIEF CAME TO TOWN
Free to be silly REVIEW BY JULIE HALE
Refreshingly old-fashioned: There’s no better way to describe When Mischief Came to Town. Standing in contrast to the futuristic sagas and sci-fi series that abound nowadays, Katrina Nannestad’s richly detailed story of an orphan named Inge, set in 1911 in Denmark, has an antique air that’s irresistible. After her mother dies, 10-year-old Inge goes to live with Grandmother on her farm on the Danish island of Bornholm. Her new life is nothing like the one she led with her mother in Copenhagen, where they had an apartment and servants. Grandmother, a prickly, inaccessible sort with dark eyes “pressed like raisins into her wrinkled face,” soon has Inge working in the stables and cleaning the kitchen—tasks that she tackles good naturedly. But her playful, spontaneous spirit By Katrina Nannestad seems to attract trouble. Inge sings the wrong songs in church, talks to HMH, $16.99, 192 pages the jam spoon and sometimes makes a mess of her chores. The starchy ISBN 9780544534322, eBook available adults on the island—including elderly twins Olga and Tina PedersAges 9 to 12 en—don’t know what to make of her lively ways. MIDDLE GRADE Will the farm ever feel like home to Inge? Although her mischievousness makes Grandmother “grumble like an ogre,” the answer is yes. Filled with moments of high humor, this delightful tale introduces a heroine readers are sure to love. Nannestad’s book has all the makings of a classic.
SOLVING THE PUZZLE UNDER THE SEA By Robert Burleigh Illustrated by Raúl Colón
Paula Wiseman $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9781481416009 eBook available Ages 4 to 8 PICTURE BOOK
In the opening of this spirited picture-book biography, young Marie Tharp declares her love of maps. It’s a passion that comes honestly: Her father makes soil maps for farmers, and she follows him as he draws, often holding his pads and pencils. As a result of his work, Tharp’s family travels a great deal, and her love only intensifies. After graduating from college, Tharp is met with the limitations placed on female scientists during the 1940s. But she persists, growing curious about the terrain of the ocean floor and working with a colleague to map it using sound
waves. Her research leads to the confirmation of plate tectonics. Robert Burleigh’s writing is intimate, almost chummy. Just before he tells readers about Tharp’s discovery of the deep rift running along the mid-Atlantic ocean floor, which offered proof of continental drift, Burleigh writes simply: “But there was even more. Listen.” It’s as if he’s present with readers, drawing us in with his own wonder for her work. He knows that Tharp changed the way people looked at the Earth, no small feat indeed. And his reverence for her accomplishments makes the story even more compelling. Raúl Colón’s illustrations accentuate Tharp’s curiosity; in many of the opening spreads, we see her from behind, always staring out— at her father at work, at a map on the wall in school and at the ocean, wondering why science wasn’t yet free of discrimination against women. After Burleigh’s charge for readers to stop and “listen,” readers find a beautiful wordless spread, showing a vessel at sea
with a glimpse of what the ocean floor looks like beneath it. It’s an inviting story of gender equality and one of science’s brightest minds. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N
“being” a tree rather than climbing one can be isolating. The color red plays an important role in these muted scenes, from pointing out key words to creating typical mime gestures (pulling a rope, riding a bicycle, walking down stairs, etc.). Red dotted lines emphasize Dennis’ feelings of being invisible in a “box” or standing on the other side of a “wall.” But when lonely Dennis kicks an imaginary ball, a girl named Joy catches it. Together, there are no walls, only mirrors (mime style, of course). As Dennis and Joy “row” a boat and laugh with jazz hands, their actions speak louder than words. Their behavior is so contagious that soon other children are “jumping rope” with them. Salina Yoon’s clever story demonstrates that acting is fun, but being a friend is even better. —ANGELA LEEPER
Salina Yoon goes Behind the Book on BookPage.com.
THE TURN OF THE TIDE By Rosanne Parry Random House $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780375869723 eBook available Ages 9 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
BE A FRIEND After a devastating tsunami strikes Osaka, Japan, Kai Ellstrom’s parents send him to stay with Bloomsbury $17.99, 40 pages family in Oregon until their city stabilizes. Kai barely remembers ISBN 9781619639515 his father’s brother and family, including his teen cousin Jet, and Ages 3 to 6 awkwardness persists until Kai and PICTURE BOOK Jet discover a common interest: Dennis’ closet appears normal, their fathers’ boat, the Saga. Kai and why not? He’s an ordinary boy. and Jet decide to sail the Saga in But items in his open wardrobe— the same race their fathers did as black-and-white striped shirts, teenagers, but they’re unaware of white gloves and a picture of Marthe unexpected challenges that cel Marceau—suggest more. And await them. why not? He also expresses himself Rosanne Parry’s The Turn of the Tide offers middle-grade readers a in extraordinary ways. By adding white face makeup, Dennis bewindow into the dangerous lives of comes a mime. While others show bar pilots. Much of the setting centers on the Columbia Bar, a treachand tell and play, Dennis is happy to mime what he has to say. But erous coastal region infamously
By Salina Yoon
CHILDREN’S known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” While lacing her third-person narrative with all things maritime, Parry includes one real character in her well-defined fictional cast: Captain Deborah Dempsey, the first woman to pilot the Columbia Bar and Jet’s personal heroine. Parry builds tension between Jet’s secret bar pilot aspirations, Kai’s familial struggles and Jet and Kai’s relationship, all while accelerating toward the Treasure Island Race. As well as a glossary and recommended resources, the book includes a personal message from Captain Dempsey to young mariners. This is an endearing story of courage and determination from the award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd. —ANITA LOCK
LIZZIE AND THE LOST BABY By Cheryl Blackford
HMH $16.99, 192 pages ISBN 9780544570993 eBook available Ages 9 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
At the start of World War II, more than 3.5 million people were evacuated from British cities to the countryside. But it wasn’t until Cheryl Blackford began writing Lizzie and the Lost Baby that she realized her father had been sent away from the embattled city of Hull in Yorkshire, where she was born. Although she now lives in Minnesota, Blackford draws on her love of rural Yorkshire in her warmhearted debut novel for young readers. Ten-year-old Lizzie and her world come alive with sparkling details, from the blackedout windows of the train that takes Lizzie and her little brother, Peter, to safety in the countryside, to the potted meat sandwiches their mother has packed for them. Everything is new and strange in Swainedale, the fictional village where the evacuees are sent, and Lizzie feels less than welcome. Here readers meet Elijah, a Gypsy boy trying to cope with local preju-
dice and to bring in money to help his mother and sisters, including baby Rose. But when Elijah is pressured into making a mistake that puts Rose in jeopardy, Lizzie and Elijah are brought together in unexpected ways. This is a well-told story of two young people making difficult choices on their own. Though the setting and situation may be new to American children, a helpful glossary defines unfamiliar terms. —DEBORAH HOPKINSON
GOING WHERE IT’S DARK By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Delacorte $16.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780553512427 eBook available Ages 10 and up MIDDLE GRADE
Public speaking tops the list of the most common fears, followed closely by claustrophobia and the fear of the unknown. The latest heart-pounding novel from Newbery Award winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Shiloh) taps into these fears in very real ways. Small seventh-grader Buck stutters and suffers from bullying at the hands of his peers, even as he pursues a path of self-improvement and tries to reduce his stutter. He and his best friend, David, spend their spare time secretly exploring the caves of Northern Virginia, where they dream of finding a never-before-entered cave. Their fun explorations end when David moves away, but Buck continues to search, ultimately finding an opening that leads far underground. But Buck breaks the cardinal rule of caving by exploring this new fissure by himself, and readers will find themselves holding their breath as Buck struggles to free himself from the tunnel. Cavers use the term “going down in” for descending deep into a cave. Readers will enjoy “going down in” this book, traversing Buck’s aboveand belowground worlds, right up to the story’s intense climax.
Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s Cockatoo, Too (little bee books, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781499801026, ages 3 to 6) is a hilarious read-aloud book, full of clever wordplay and the adorable antics of cockatoos and toucans (sometimes in tutus), rendered in bright, bold watercolors. Murguia lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her two daughters and her dog, Disco.
—LORI K. JOYCE
BY THE EDITORS OF MERRIAM-WEBSTER
Dear Editor: Can you tell me when people first started calling the whiteness in the night sky the Milky Way? F. A. Massillon, Ohio The earliest known uses in English of both the words Milky Way and galaxy are found together, in the following lines from a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer called “The House of Fame,” written sometime before 1385: “Se yonder, loo, the Galaxie, / Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, / For hit ys whit.” (See yonder, lo, the galaxy, which they call the Milky Way, because it is white.) These lines make it clear that Milky Way was a term popular in England before that time, though how early is impossible to say. The idea of the whiteness of the Milky Way being similar to that of milk is considerably older than the English language, however, for galaxy is borrowed through Latin
from Greek galaxias, a derivative of gala, meaning “milk.” Not until the 19th century was galaxy used as a generic term for other star systems as well as the one in which we live, and to distinguish our galaxy from others the name Milky Way has proved useful.
BENDING THE LAW
Dear Editor: Where does the word shyster come from? M. I. Bartlett, Illinois The earliest known instance of shyster in print occurred in 1843, in the pages of The Subterranean, a New York City weekly that concerned itself with the goings-on in and about the Tombs (the city jail) and the local courts. Among the favorite targets of the muckraking paper’s publisher and chief writer, Michael Walsh, were the unlicensed and unprincipled men who haunted the courthouse,
pretending to be lawyers. After lambasting them as pettifoggers, Walsh was approached by one of them—a Cornelius Terhune—who asked that the masters of pettifoggery not be lumped together with the amateurs. Terhune dismissed these lesser practitioners as shiseters (Walsh’s spelling; he also used shyseters). Terhune’s epithet was probably derived from the German vulgarism Scheisser, which literally means “one that defecates.” Walsh’s repeated use of shyster (his final spelling) in The Subterranean led to the adoption of the word by other newspapers.
Dear Editor: What is a normal school and how did it get that name? L. P. Griffin, Georgia Normal school is a name that was once widely used for a college devoted to teacher training. Most
teaching of educators is now carried out in a school of education within a larger institution. Normal school is a translation of the French term école normale, meaning a school that was intended to serve as a model for other teaching schools. This use of normal traces back to Latin. In Latin, norma was the word for a carpenter’s square, the tool that ensures a carpenter can regularly reproduce corners and edges that are straight and form right angles. Norma also had the extended meaning of “standard” or “pattern.” Similarly, normalis, the Latin adjective formed from norma, had the literal meaning “forming a right angle,” and by the Late Latin period the extended sense “according to rule.” It is from this meaning that we derive most of the English senses of normal. Send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102
Test Your Mental Mettle with Puzzles from 399 Games, Puzzles, & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young.
All the answers in this word definition game contain either the word play or the word time. 1. Where kids go to swing and seesaw.
2. Punch this, if you want to get paid.
8. As Gershwin wrote, this is when “the livin’ is easy.”
9. Additional time worked . . . and the pay earned for additional time worked.
3. Scott Joplin’s musical milieu.
All the answers in this game sound as if they’re just one letter long. Sample clue: The plural of “is.” Answer: R (“are”). 5. Pod legume.
1. The Caribbean or Mediterranean.
6. Honey-maker. 2. Seeing orb. 7. Pool or billiards tool. 3. Late comedian/actor Danny. 8. Earl Grey.
10. A script written for the movies.
13. Sporting term for a series of games that decides a championship.
7. An enclosure for babies so they don’t crawl off and get into trouble.
14. To treat something as less important than it really is.
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6. A type of glass case, often found in jewelry stores.
12. Printed program handed to theatergoers before a performance.
5. A break taken by basketball players . . . and by naughty children who need a little cooling off.
9. Female sheep.
4. Be indebted.
1. C (sea) 2. I (eye) 3. K (Kaye) 4. O (owe) 5. P (pea) 6. B (bee) 7. Q (cue) 8. T (tea) 9. U (ewe)
11. Charts with train or bus schedules.
1. Playground 2. Timecard (or time clock) 3. Ragtime 4. Playboy 5. Timeout 6. Display 7. Playpen 8. Summertime 9. Overtime 10. Screenplay 11. Timetables 12. Playbill 13. Playoffs 14. Downplay
4. A promiscuous, often wealthy, male.
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12/3/15 9:43 AM
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