Page 1

���� 2014




�������’� ���� ������


also inside


Top AUDIO picks


new novels to kick off your summer Tom Robbins’ raucous recollections

paperback picks p p PENGUIN.COM

The 9th Girl On a frigid New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis, a young woman is found brutally murdered—the ninth so far this year in a string of grisly slayings. Homicide detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska fear that it’s the work of a serial killer they call Doc Holiday, a transient who has brought his gruesome game to a new and more terrifying level. 9780451240569 • $9.99

Air Bound Airiana has always been aware that she can intuit revealing and illuminating “patterns” in the air around her—whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds, or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog. Her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered… 9780515154634 • $7.99

The Warriors Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson’s newest assignment is a welcome change of pace. Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan is a major stopover for planes in and out of Afghanistan, but his new job as safety officer is a pretty laid-back way to spend the next year. Or so he thought… 9780425271568 • $9.99

I Want to Hold Your Hand Seven years after losing her husband, Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready to move on. The memory of the sweet kiss she shared with Nolan Roberts hasn’t strayed far from her thoughts, but she also fears that pursuing something with him would mean betraying her husband’s memory. 9780425266779 • $7.99

Marriage Matters She barely has time to attend a wedding, let alone plan one, but Chloe has just caught the bouquet. So has her married mother… and her widowed grandmother. Now three generations of women are set to walk down the aisle in one wedding extravaganza. 9780425273685 • $7.99

The Accidental Duchess When Lady Lydia Alfreton is blackmailed over the shocking contents of a manuscript she once wrote, she must go to the most desperate of measures to raise the money to buy back the ill-considered prose: agreeing to an old wager posed by the arrogant, dangerous Duke of Penthurst. At least Penthurst is a man she wouldn’t mind fleecing—and she’s confident she’ll win. 9780515151312 • $7.99

The Widow’s Strike Racing against time to stop a global pandemic, Taskforce operators Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill follow the trail across Southeast Asia to the United States. But they soon learn that the enemy they face may not be the enemy they should fear… 9780451467669 • $9.99

The Shadow Tracer Sarah must abandon her carefully constructed life and take her daughter Zoe on the run. Using her knowledge as a skip tracer to stay off the grid, she must remain one step ahead of her pursuers if she is to stay alive, save Zoe, and bury the past once and for all. 9780451468000 • $7.99

A poignant new novel from New York Times bestselling author Karen White When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens—Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children. What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was. But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover herself—by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted them for generations.


9780451240460 • $25.95


JUNE 2014 B O O K PA G E . C O M




David Engledow’s Confessions of the World’s Best Father—a hilarious pictorial parody featuring his daughter, Alice Bee— is one of six terrific books included in our Father’s Day gift guide.

Meet the author of Vertigo 42


ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH The best-selling author celebrates the audiobook


TOM ROBBINS A spirited and hilarious memoir of a life framed by writing


COURTNEY COLLINS A female outlaw with true grit

24 EMMA HEALEY A friend’s absence stirs up secrets from the past

26 JOANNA RAKOFF A year in the life of a young literary assistant

29 CHILDREN’S PETS Picture books featuring our fuzziest friends


DEBORAH WILES A historical epic chronicles big change in ’60s Mississippi


CHRISTIAN ROBINSON Meet the illustrator of Gaston


Cover photo Š Dave Engledow from Confessions of the World’s Best Father

reviews 19 FICTION


What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins


I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum The Three by Sarah Lotz Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird China Dolls by Lisa See The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina HenrĂ­quez



The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn The Farm by Tom Rob Smith All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff


The Map Thief by Michael Blanding Perfectly Miserable by Sarah Payne Stuart American Spring by Walter R. Borneman

Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse The Good Spy by Kai Bird A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley The Phantom of Fifth Avenue by Meryl Gordon







Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

What’s on your summer reading list?

Get BookPage for your tablet. ĒĆĞ͚͙͘͜

A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W






Michael A. Zibart

Sukey Howard



Julia Steele

Allison Hammond



Lynn L. Green

Roger Bishop



Trisha Ping

Penny Childress



Joelle Herr

Elizabeth Grace Herbert



Cat Acree

Angela J. Bowman



Hilli Levin

Mary Claire Zibart




BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.

Public libraries and bookstores can purchase BookPage in quantity for distribution to their patrons. For information, visit or call 800.726.4242, ext. 34.

To advertise in BookPage, online at or in our e-newsletters, visit or call 800.726.4242, ext. 19.

BookPage is editorially independent and never accepts payment for editorial coverage.

Individual print subscriptions are available for $30 per year. Send payment to:


BookPage Subscriptions 2143 Belcourt Avenue Nashville, TN 37212


BookPage is also available on Kindle and NOOK newsstands.

All material Š 2014 by ProMotion, inc.







04 05 07 08 08 10 11 12

On the cover





What’s the title of your new book?

would you describe the book Q: How in one sentence?

Q: What three things make Richard Jury a good detective?

the most important storytelling lesson you’ve learned Q: What’s from Hitchcock?

Q: Do you have a fear of heights? Or any other phobias?

Q: What one thing would you like to learn to do?


Q: Words to live by?


VERTIGO 42 Prolific, versatile and extremely popular, mystery writer Martha Grimes has sold more than 5 million books since her first Richard Jury mystery was published in 1981. Her accomplishments earned her the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2012. The latest entry in her Jury series, Vertigo 42 (Scribner, $26, 336 pages, ISBN 9781476724027), is a nod to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Vertigo.


A ‘bloody’ book battle In our 21st-century world, it seems disarmingly quaint that an entire printing of Dubliners was destroyed in 1912 for being obscene because James Joyce dared to use the colloquialism “bloody.” In the ensuing years, high-minded censors in both Britain and America continued to attack Joyce’s work, striving to keep his magnum opus, Ulysses, out of the hands of readers. Conventional minds were shocked by the book’s candid depictions of sexual and scatological matters and the “filthy” language Joyce used to portray them. The censors had the upper hand at first, but their campaign ultimately backfired, as the legal challenge to publish and distribute Ulysses transformed the culture and the laws that had tried to control it. In The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses, Kevin Birmingham provides an exhaustive and compelling account of the battle to suppress Joyce’s big blue book. A specialist in the history of literary obscenity, Birmingham combines the well-documented story of Joyce’s personal struggle to write what many consider the greatest novel of the 20th century with the no less dramatic, but lesser-known, stories of the many brave advocates who risked money, reputation and even criminal prosecution to share it with the world. Key among these were the eccentric champion of modernism, Ezra Pound, and the New York finance lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, who exerted his clout in the cause of modern art. Birmingham emphasizes, though, that it was three singularly determined, liberal-minded women who played central roles in the Ulysses publication story, a remarkable fact given the era and the scandalous nature of the material. Harriet Weaver was a decorous British cotton heiress, and publisher of The Egoist, who became an early believer in Joyce’s talent and would provide incalculable financial support to the itinerant writer. Her American counterpart, Margaret Anderson, edited the avant-garde journal The Little Review and bravely published each chapter of Ulysses as Joyce completed it. Her efforts would land her in court on obscenity charges, and the case, which she lost, would provide the linchpin on which censors later hung the ban-

ning of the novel in book form. Another American, Sylvia Beach, founder of the now-legendary Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, would famously dare to publish Ulysses in 1922. Hers would be the only openly available edition for more than a decade, routinely smuggled into the U.S., until a landmark 1933 court case allowed Bennett Cerf and Random House to publish the first authorized American edition. The story Birmingham recreates is populated with many of the major literary forces of the age—Yeats, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Woolf—reminding us how, at the outset, Joyce’s work was both revered and reviled. “These days,” he writes, “Ulysses may seem more eccentric than epoch changing, and it can be difficult to see how Joyce’s novel (how any novel, perhaps) could have been revolutionary. This is because all revolutions look tame from the other side. They change our perspectives so thoroughly that their innovations become platitudes. We forget what the old world was like, forget even that things could have been another way.” Joyce was an iconoclast in the true sense of the word, smashing the revered, staid, idols of Victorian letters. That his work managed to do much more than even his wildest ambitions might have hoped for—shaking the very foundations of established mores and redefining the very notion of obscenity—surely pleased the savage spirit of the great Irish writer. Sadly, as Birmingham reminds us, Joyce’s belated victory did less for him in his lifetime than it has since done for us.


Penguin Press $29.95, 432 pages ISBN 9781594203367 eBook available


Selected from nominations made by library staff across the country, here are the 10 books that librarians can’t wait to share with readers in June.


Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey Harper, $25.99, ISBN 9780062309662

In this captivating mystery, a woman with dementia launches a search for her missing neighbor— and unearths another unsolved disappearance. BookPage review and Q&A on page 24.

SUMMEr listening!


Crown, $27, ISBN 9780812992892 In 1938 San Francisco, three very different women form an enduring friendship that sustains them through challenges and shifting fortunes. BookPage review on page 20.


read by kathleen m cinerney read by luke daniels

Grand Central, $26, ISBN 9780446578936 A Russian emigrée reinvents herself after arriving on the streets of Manhattan in 1913 in this decade-spanning fiction debut from the author of Kiss My Tiara.


“Preston never fails to deliver a first-rate thriller, and with Sowers providing the outstanding narrative, listeners are in for a non-stop and thought-provoking experience.” —Library Journal on Blasphemy

by Courtney Maum

Touchstone, $25.99, ISBN 9781476764580 Expat Richard embarks on a Quixotic quest to win back his French wife in this hilarious and heartwarming debut novel. BookPage review on page 19.

THE MATCHMAKER by Elin Hilderbrand

Little, Brown, $28, ISBN 9780316099752 Dabney is the best matchmaker on Nantucket, with 42 happy couples and counting—even if her own daughter won’t take her advice. But then Dabney’s old love returns to the island.

“Kathleen McInerney does a terrific job bringing the characters to life in this witty story.” —AudioFile on Ladies’ Night

read by scott sowers


Hogarth, $24, ISBN 9780804138819 The best-selling author of The Dinner returns with the darkly humorous tale of a cynical psychiatrist. BookPage review on page 23.

THE LOBSTER KINGS by Alexi Zentner

Norton, $26.95, ISBN 9780393089578 Inspired by the story of King Lear, this family saga chronicles a young woman’s attempt to preserve her way of life.

THE HURRICANE SISTERS by Dorothea Benton Frank

THE QUICK by Lauren Owen

Random House, $27, ISBN 9780812993271 This astonishing debut novel has the texture of a true Victorian suspense story as it follows a sister’s search for her missing brother. On sale June 17; look for a review in our July issue.

ROGUES edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Bantam, $30, ISBN 9780345537263 This collection of 21 original stories from some of the stars of speculative fiction includes an all-new Game of Thrones tale. On sale June 17. LibraryReads is a recommendation program that highlights librarians’ favorite books published this month. For more information, visit

read by robert petkoff

“Mr. Cunningham’s most original and emotionally piercing book to date.” —The New York Times

“Waters himself narrates, in a fast-paced conversational tone...often hilarious.” —Library Journal on Role Models read by the author


Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780062132529 Three generations of women are hiding very different secrets in Frank’s sun-soaked, Southern novel.

read by claire danes



“A BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED historical novel.... A tour-de-force murder mystery.... Heartbreaking romance...will tear your heart out.”

—The Washington Post


From the Author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls


“Tales that dazzle, confound, electrify.... REMARKABLE.” —The Chicago Tribune

A New York Times Notable Book From the author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake



Snappily written, observationally astute.... Genuinely moving.” —The New York Times Book Review

From the Author of Bridget Jones’ Diary

“EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX, stylistically sophisticated....


“There’s rich, there’s filthy rich, and then there’s crazy rich....


—The Washington Post

One of People Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year From the author of Commencement and Maine


A story about a quarrelsome family entangled with impossible ideals.”

life’s woes [as well] as a suggestion for how to make the whole deal more palatable.”

—The Washington Post

—The Boston Globe

A New York Times Notable Book From the author of The Fortress of Solitude

From the author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

—People Magazine


Now in Paperback and eBook Read excerpts, find reading group guides, and more at

Work[s] out who people really are, how ordinary lives can conceal extraordinary stories.” —The New York Times Book Review


columns New paperback releases for reading groups

GAIMAN’S MAGICAL JOURNEY Versatile and acclaimed author Neil Gaiman targets adult readers in his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Morrow, $14.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9780062255662), a spellbinding short novel set in England. The book’s middle-aged narrator, who remains anonymous throughout the tale, grew up in Sussex with some very odd neighbors—the Hempstocks: a witchy old woman, a little girl and her mother. When the narrator returns to Sussex many decades later, he finds the old


er to his older sons, Richard and Jamie. Richard hopes to become a screenwriter and lives in Los Angeles, while Jamie travels around the world documenting catastrophes. Their story has a few madcap elements, including a fake manuscript and a viral video, but at bottom, it’s a profound examination of family ties and the delicacy of human relationships. Gilbert’s depiction of Andrew as a reclusive, gruff author is spot-on, and his portrayal of sibling relations is sure to resonate with readers. A shrewd observer of humanity, Gilbert has crafted an engaging family story that fans of Franzen and Chabon will savor.


FAMILY BUSINESS David Gilbert’s widely acclaimed second novel, & Sons (Random House, $16, 480 pages, ISBN 9780812984354), is a masterfully constructed narrative about a New York novelist coming to terms with the passing of time. Andrew Dyer is adored by the reading public but leads an isolated life. Motivated by the death of an old friend, he’s eager for his three sons to forge a friendship with one another. His teenage son, Andy, whose out-of-wedlock conception proved the undoing of Andrew’s marriage, is half-broth-


An irresistible debut novel about family, love, friendship, and lobsters. “This big-hearted story about small-town Maine captivated me from the first page. Filled with humor and poetry…” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

An exploration of the artistic processes and lives of creative women from New York Times bestselling author Sena Jeter Naslund. “An incisive and keenly pleasurable novel.” —Booklist

Over the course of one year, in a charming cottage by the sea, eight people will discover love and remembrance, reconciliation and reunion, beginnings and endings in this unforgettable sequel to Georgia Bockoven’s The Beach House.

An extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine from New York Times bestselling author Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly. “A swift, soulful mix of love story and crime saga.” —Seattle Times

By Khaled Hosseini Riverhead $16, 448 pages ISBN 9781594632389




William Morrow Paperbacks

Book Club Girl


woman and mother at home, just as they were years before, unaltered. The girl, who was gone the last time he saw the family, remains absent. Looking back on his childhood, the narrator recalls his magical involvement with the Hempstocks, who are in reality formidable, ageless figures working to protect the world from an evil supernatural power. With typical skill and imaginative genius, Gaiman combines elements of mythology, mystery and fantasy in an irresistible story that his legions of followers will love. Richly atmospheric and wonderfully original, this is a tale from an author whose inventiveness seems to know no bounds.

Khaled Hosseini’s beautifully crafted third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, opens in 1952 in Afghanistan, where Saboor, a poor man struggling to survive, sells Pari, his 3-year-old daughter, to a wealthy couple. As subsequent sections of this powerful novel reveal, Saboor’s actions directly affect the family members who follow him, including his young son, Abdullah, who is torn apart by the loss of Pari. Hosseini tracks the repercussions of Saboor’s decision across five decades, as the action shifts outside of Afghanistan to France, America and Greece. He weaves many different plot strands into this remarkable narrative, controlling them all with remarkable skill and clear intent. A poignant tale of generational ties and the inescapable bonds of kinship, this is an impressive follow-up to Hosseini’s previous books, The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007).

Summer’s Hottest Paperbacks







For the greater good It’s happening all over: Folks are making things not only for the pleasure of it, but also to raise social consciousness, resist injustice and work together to build a community. They are making things to make things happen. The movement has been captured in Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism (Arsenal Pulp Press, $24.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781551525341), a richly illustrated compendium of voices brought together by editor Betsy Greer. The book is part manifesto and part philosophical inquiry. Best of all, it presents a peaceable army of crafters (“Craft Cartel,” “The Wom-

An American in Paris

particular situation, considering every horticultural angle, from soil and light to rainfall and seasonal blooming. Possible issues with zoning and city ordinances are taken into account, and we learn a range of possibilities for “culinary and medicinal uses.” The intelligence of this author shines most in her strong statements about “Partnering with Nature.” If you’re going to redeem your hellstrip, you’ve got to know what corner of earth you’re living on: which plants will grow best and actually help restore the ecosystem, which your human community has inevitably undermined. That’s the way to build a heaven on earth, right in your front yard.

An active player in the farm-to-­ table renaissance who spent 13 years at Chez Panisse, professional cook and baker David Lebovitz packed up a few treasured items and moved to Paris, where he’s lived for the past decade. A wonderful storyteller and master recipe writer, Lebovitz captures the essence of his Parisian years in his scrumptiously illustrated My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories (Ten Speed, $35, 352 pages, ISBN 9781607742678). These 10 years have seen big changes in the Paris food scene, where a talented band of younger chefs are recasting French cuisine, looking to


TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES en of the Adithi Collective”) who have taken to the streets, schools, hospitals and government building plazas to Occupy (yes!) a new place in the cultural landscape. Through interviews with a broad array of artisans with unique artistic visions, we learn how crafting can transform public spaces, inspire young people to make their own things and (wait for it) make the world a better place. Too good to be true? No! Instead, too true to be good. These makers of things are wicked! They are subversive, outraged and ready to make trouble in the most beautiful ways.




For most homeowners, that strip of grass in front of the house out by the street is just a place we try to keep our neighbors’ dogs from pooping on. Now there’s a book that goes way beyond dealing with that problem, offering a life-enhancing project that can grow and grow. In Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb (Timber Press, $24.95, 296 pages, ISBN 9781604693324), Evelyn J. Hadden lays down an urban renewal’s worth of options for turning your boring green spaces into veritable miniature habitats, bursts of floral color that are self-contained and mutually thriving. Hadden provides detailed instructions on how to select the best option for your

Author Tai Moses recognizes that we already inhabit heaven on earth and that it is teeming with animal “angels” who are far more at home here than we are. What we must do is honor the sacredness of the place and accept our stewardship of it by making room for our wild neighbors, who were here before we were. In Zooburbia: Meditations on the Wild Animals Among Us, Moss writes, “Ultimately, zooburbia is more than a place; it’s a state of mind, a lovely consequence of daily contact with living things.” The book is enlivened by Dave Buchen’s delightful linoleum block prints, which capture the book’s tone of playful reverence and close observation. Dog and horse, deer and mole: these are the flesh-and-blood spirits who attend Moses’ writing, metamorphosing her first-person essays into a radiant collective consciousness. We live in a zoo without cages. Moses’ book is a keeper.


Parallax Press $14.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781937006679


his personal favorites, from Texas Caviar on Navajo Fry Bread, Cowboy Shrimp on Jalapeño Grits, Panhandle Vegetable Stew and Fearing’s own take on dishes from Texas-Style Chili to Banana Pudding with Caramelized Apple Fritters. And with Fearing’s tips on cooking with smoke and grilling, your Smoked Brisket and Deep-inthe-Heart-of-Texas Barbecue Chicken will win you custom-made boots and a Stetson of your own.

its humbler roots while embracing food from around the world. Always influenced by where he lives, the 100 recipes Lebovitz gives us here celebrate the exciting food scene in today’s Paris: Green Olive, Basil and Almond Tapenade; a no-muss-nofuss Counterfeit Duck Confit; Baked Eggs with Kale and Smoked Salmon; a savory Butternut Squash Crumble; and a Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse that will leave you speechless with delight.

DEEP IN THE HEART Texas cookbooks are proliferating like zucchini in August. I’m not sure why, but I am sure that Dean Fearing’s The Texas Food Bible (Grand Central Life & Style, $30, 256 pages, ISBN 9781455574308) is among the most elegantly illustrated and accomplished. Fearing—the award-winning, CIA-recognized “Pioneer of American Cuisine,” who was chef at the famed Mansion on Turtle Creek for 20 years before opening Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas—knows his way around fine cooking and Texas culinary tradition. So, you get just the right amount of both here. He starts out with a tour of the Texas Pantry, with recipes for the sauces, salsas and gravies, dressings (oh, that Smoked Chile Aioli), vinaigrettes, spice mixes, pickles and chutneys. Then come

Steven Raichlen, America’s grilling guru, is also a man for all culinary seasons. And he wants his male buddies out there to follow his lead. Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys is his MANual and MANifesto, the one cookbook that the male of the species needs to achieve cooking literacy and the requisite practical savvy. With stepby-step instructions and photos, Raichlen teaches guys (OK, gals can sneak a peek) to prepare great-­ tasting food for themselves, their partners, their family and friends, and how to choreograph memorable meals from shopping to cleanup. The more than 300 fabulous recipes range from a golden MileHigh Pancake to Peruvian Ceviche, a classic Carbonnade de Boeuf, Soba with Spicy Peanut Sauce and a super-sophisticated Dark and Stormy Float. Raichlen’s students will learn to shuck oysters, use a blowtorch on oatmeal or salmon, garnish caviar, make Crispy Kale, truss a chicken, roast a leg of lamb, carve a turkey and shake a martini. A perfect Father’s Day, graduation or birthday gift, and a great way to make any guy man enough to forget takeout and take on the kitchen.

MAN MADE MEALS By Steven Raichlen Workman $24.95, 640 pages ISBN 9780761166443 eBook available


40 Years of Ideas,

40 Years of

A special thank-you sweepstakes for our loyal booksellers and librarians

To celebrate our 40th anniversary,

we’re going back to where it all began.

Enter for a chance to win! • One grand prize trip to London for two (a $5,000 value)

• Ten runners-up will receive a London travel prize pack

DK 40 Years of Ideas Grand Prize Trip to London Sweepstakes Enter for a chance to win: A three-day, four night trip to London, with winner’s choice of airfare and accommodations for two. Winner will be reimbursed for purchase of airfare and accommodations up to $5,000.00 total. Winner is responsible for any expenses not expressly included in the prize description, including travel to and from the airport in the United States, travel insurance, travel within London, meals, beverages, gratuities and any additional hotel expenses such as telephone calls, incidentals and upgrades or other charges that may arise. Winner is responsible for obtaining all necessary visas and passports/travel documents for international travel. Ten (10) runners-up will recieve aLondon travel prize pack (ARV=$150). No purchase necessary. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, who are employed in the bookstore/bookselling/library industry, age 18 or older. Sweepstakes begins May 27, 2014. Entries must be received no later than November 30, 2014, 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 6, 2014. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited by law.



Enter at



columns Two fun and fearless tales of women who don’t just cross the lines between pleasure and control…they tangle them up!



The flavor of love Self-avowed singletons first get together as friends-with-benefits in Gimme Some Sugar (Zebra, $6.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781420132854) by Kimberly Kincaid. In the midst of a nasty divorce, chef Carly di Matisse left New York City to run a restaurant at a resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When a storm damages her cabin, Jackson Carter comes to the rescue, though morning-averse Carly doesn’t much appreciate the sounds of hammers and saws so early in the day. But it’s difficult for her to ignore the sexy builder’s hard body, and it’s not long before

mourning his first love. Her sudden disappearance 20 years ago sent him into a destructive spiral, and a frightening discovery at Trinity’s house threatens to drag him under again, while also shining light on an evil that’s been hiding in the town’s shadows. Though some closure comes at the story’s end, there is more to the mystery that will be revealed in subsequent books in the series. A spooky house and hints of wicked deeds add up to an atmospheric, chilling tale.


Trade Paperback


Both stories are also available separately as ebooks.


they move past witty banter to wicked kisses. Neither is looking for long-term romance, however, so they merely enjoy companionship and no-strings-attached sex. When a family crisis causes Carly to need support, Jackson steps up and proves himself to be the kind of man who could renew her faith in love. But Jackson’s past makes him think it’s dangerous to have such strong feelings, and so he turns his back on Carly and all she has to offer. Will he change his mind? Smokin’ love scenes and well-drawn secondary characters (as well as recipes!) create a fun summer read.


Twice the fun…and twice the heat! Order your copy now! Available wherever books are sold on May 27.

A small town harbors heinous secrets in Deeper Than Need (St. Martin’s, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781250032409), the first book in Shiloh Walker’s new Secrets & Shadows series. Trinity Ewing and her young son, Micah, are hoping to make a fresh start in an older home she plans to rehab. Contractor Noah Benningfield is no hardship to work with—unless you count the distraction factor. The ruggedly good-looking guy is sexy as sin and seems to be the right man for Trinity. Should she trust this instant feeling? Noah can’t keep his thoughts from Trinity, either, though he’s spent years

Despite the dire circumstances of their first meeting, unlikely lovers fight their way to happiness in The Scoundrel’s Seduction by Jennifer Haymore. Undercover agent Samson Hawkins doesn’t flinch from his duty to protect his country. When he’s ordered to assassinate a traitorous aristocrat, Sam complies—then is horrified to discover that the man’s wife witnessed the act. To keep it secret, Sam kidnaps the beautiful Élise, Lady Dunthorpe, and awaits further instructions. Élise isn’t sad her awful husband is gone. Not only was he verbally cruel to her, but she was also aware of his nefarious deeds and had been trying to get the evidence to expose him herself. She doesn’t want to be some stranger’s prisoner, however, even though the strong, handsome Sam treats her with respect. When they realize they’re in danger, they go on the run, finding in each other heated desire, then love. Will they live to enjoy it? Readers will get caught up in this story filled with action, passion and characters deserving of their happy ending.


Forever $8, 416 pages ISBN 9781455523351 eBook available




Reporting the truth from D.C.’s streets

AN AUTHOR TO WATCH In the opening pages of Charlotte Link’s psychological thriller The Watcher (Pegasus, $25.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9781605985596), Carla Roberts is having one of those “don’t unbolt that door” moments that precede the audience’s screams at horror movies; you just know something bad is in store for her. Link doesn’t let readers stew for long, as she addresses the subject in no uncertain terms: “At that point [Carla] did not have long to live, but her powers of imagination could not

but seemingly just the catalyst for further murders. Samson Segal, the titular voyeuristic “watcher,” ticks all the right boxes as suspect of choice: jobless, check; dweebish, check; obsessive, check; motive/opportunity, check and check again. Thing is, he says he didn’t do it, and he is about to become part of an oddball coalition to unearth the identity of the real killer (be prepared for a surprise). Link has sold some 15 million books in Germany alone, and if The Watcher is any indication, she is poised for the bestseller list on this side of the pond as well.

WHAT WE SAW Another impressive German import features multiple narrators, ranging in age from 8 to 86. Each of them has only a piece of the story to tell, and it’s left to the reader to assemble those pieces into a plausible whole. Compounding the issue is the fact that none of the narrators are what you would call natural-born storytellers, but are rather like eyewitnesses interviewed for a TV newscast segment. This is the format for Andrea Maria Schenkel’s wildly original tale of homicide most foul, The Murder Farm (Quercus, $22.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9781623651671). There are no cops, no interrogations, no descriptions of clever police work or forensics—just a stark, stripped-down narrative of an unthinkable crime, capped off with a surprising, even shocking, finish. The Murder Farm has broken sales records in the author’s native

Germany, and it is easy to see why. I can pretty much guarantee you have never read anything like it.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY It’s 1953 in Jo’burg, South Africa. Apartheid is in the ascendant, and nobody is more aware of that fact than Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper, whose identity card classifies him as “European,” but who is in reality “Mixed Race,” a secret that could destroy his career. In his latest adventure, Present Darkness, Cooper is on loan from the Durban police force, and it appears that his primary role is to lend credence to a massive police frame-up of a young man accused of murder. It happens, however, that the accused is the son of a Zulu police officer to whom Cooper owes his life. Cooper harbors another secret, one he holds closer to his vest than his racial identity: He maintains a sporadic but ongoing internal dialogue with the spirit of his old wartime sergeant-major, a dour Scotsman who materializes unbidden inside Cooper’s head during times of stress. This time, the sarcastic Scot minces no words as he explains Cooper’s good-guy role in the murder investigation: “Your presence made the search credible. You killed off any stink of corruption.” Though the stink may be masked for the moment, the underlying causes are well within olfactory range, and Cooper’s the man to expose them. Malla Nunn’s books have it all: fast-paced, intricate storylines; an exotic setting in a dangerous era; a deeply flawed hero; and an Oscar-worthy cast of supporting characters.


Atria $16, 352 pages ISBN 9781451616965 eBook available

Painting by Elizabeth Mayville

let her see what would happen to her that night.” With a lesser writer, I might be put off by the author-omniscient foreshadowing of things to come, but Link executes it superbly, trusting her skills as a deft spinner of suspense rather than relying on cinematic shock tactics. Carla’s killing is not the end (well, it is for her),

“UnforgEttaBLE” —Jami attenberg, author of The Middlesteins

“a novEL [of] coUragEoUS LovE anD UnfatHomaBLE HEartBrEak.” —BookLIsT, (starred review)

“BEaUtIfUL … it introduces us to vibrant lives, to heartbreaking choices, to the tender beginnings of love, and to the humanity in every individual.” —esmeralda santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican

“PaSSIonatE, PowErfUL… a trIUmPH” —ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk



By page nine of Neely Tucker’s debut novel, The Ways of the Dead (Viking, $27.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780670016587), I felt an affinity with war-weary reporter Sully Carter, beginning when he launched into a diatribe about his employer-provided mobile phone: “It’s supposed to be like a perk. What it is? It’s like one of those electronic tether anklets they put on parolees.” He further cemented our budding relationship on the following page with his wry observation about filing a news story: “Anybody who can’t file drunk . . . oughta turn in their [expletive deleted] press card.” (Note: I deleted the expletive, not Sully, whose “expletive-delete” function seems to be permanently on the fritz.) And what a story this is: Someone has just killed the daughter of the chief judge of the federal court, leaving the body to be found in a D.C. Dumpster. Three suspects present themselves, neighborhood black kids who hassled the girl in a bodega earlier on, but Sully suspects that the three are guilty of little more than testosterone swagger, not of brutal murder. And so he begins to dig. The Ways of the Dead is a tense and gripping crime novel of race and power, but its true magic lies in the dialogue, which is textured and nuanced in the manner of Elmore Leonard, James Crumley or George Pelecanos. This is a very fine debut indeed, and one that begs for sequel after sequel.








Stock market stealth When it comes to explaining the inner workings of Wall Street, making its most complex, highly technical machinations understandable to a financial dummy like me, nobody does it better than Michael Lewis. In Flash Boys (Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99, 10 hours, ISBN 9781442370272), read by Dylan Baker with perfect pitch and pace, Lewis dissects the world of high-frequency trading, while telling the incredibly compelling

of one of the community’s wealthiest men. Drawn to the story by her own background— her mother abandoned her Christian father and her at birth to return to her Brooklyn Hasidic family—and baffled by the NYPD’s reluctance to question the ultra-Orthodox, Rebekah digs into the brutal murder herself, trying to get answers and beginning to understand this tightknit, insular community that has intrigued her from afar. I can’t wait for the next in this series.

TOP PICK IN AUDIO story of a bunch of young men who decided to take on these traders and their predatory activities (if you own any stock, you’re part of the prey). Brad Katsuyama, a nice guy working for the very nice Royal Bank of Canada, realized years ago that the stock market had become “a black box whose inner workings eluded ordinary human understanding.” We get to know him and his brilliant comrades who willingly give up huge salaries to understand that black box and right a system that’s been rigged for the benefit of insider high-frequency traders at the expense of ordinary investors. You’ll root for the good guys and pray that there aren’t more undiscovered plots hovering on the financial horizon.




Invisible City (Macmillan Audio, $29.99, 8 hours, ISBN 9781427239549), Julia Dahl’s taut, suspenseful debut crime novel, excellently read by Andi Arndt, has it all: an appealing, smart new hero with a fascinating backstory; an oddly exotic setting right in the heart of Brooklyn; an inside look at tabloid journalism; and a cast of very well-drawn characters. When a woman’s naked body is found hanging from a crane in a Brooklyn scrap yard, Rebekah Roberts, a 23-yearold Floridian now a stringer for the New York Trib—a tabloid much like the New York Post, where Dahl worked—is sent to cover the story. “Crane Lady,” as the Trib calls her, turns out to be Hasidic and the wife

Nancy Horan’s debut novel, Loving Frank, was such a striking success that many fans wondered if her second could live up to it. But it does, and does so in spades. Under the Wide and Starry Sky, wonderfully realized in this audio by Kirsten Potter, is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage and of the two unique people who lived it. In 1875, feisty, darkly pretty Fanny Van de Grift Osborne left her womanizing husband in California and took her three children to Europe to study art. Just after losing her youngest son, she met Robert Louis Stevenson, 10 years her junior, chronically ill and utterly determined to be a writer. They fell in love, and the rest is not history. It’s a deeply moving, little-known story that Horan recreates and reimagines with graceful authenticity and emotional nuance. In an unusual and adventurous life, they wandered across Europe, America and the South Seas for Stevenson’s health, Fanny gladly making a home wherever they went and standing by her charming, brilliant man as nurse and nurturer, passionate lover and staunch literary critic. You won’t want to leave them.


Random House Audio $50, 17 hours ISBN 9780307576538


What makes the perfect audio reader?


ecause June is Audio Month, we asked beloved author Alexander McCall Smith to share his thoughts on why he loves the medium. Every author must fear the adaptations of his or her work. I know people who have looked on with amazement as movie directors have changed their books out of all recognition, imposing new characters, different locales and different endings. Such is the allure of the screen that vandalism of this nature seems to be accepted by authors as an inevitable part of the process. Rarely, if ever, will authors stand up to a movie director or producer in full flight. They should, but don’t. But if movies present good reasons for an author to be afraid, the same cannot be said of audiobooks. In my view, just as movie people are sometimes difficult and unreasonable, audiobook people are the unsung heroes and heroines of adaptation, always polite, always helpful and always willing to bring out the author’s vision in the finished product. As a result, I have never heard a single author complaining about what audiobooks have done to his or her story—quite the opposite, in fact. Of course I am biased: I really like audiobooks. I love listening to a good reader and a good text, and never begrudge the hours that I spend in the company of these recordings. In some cases I have listened to a particular recording time and time again, such is the pleasure I derive from a good reading. An instance of this is an audiobook I have of Somerset Maugham’s short stories. I have listened to one of these stories—“The Outstation,” a splendidly claustrophobic tale of two colonial officials at one another’s throats in a remote river station—five or six times. The reader, a well-known American actor, might not have been the first choice to do a story by a British author writing about British characters, but his reading is so magnificent, so measured and beautiful, that it is hard to imagine anybody doing it better. When it comes to the recording of the audio versions of my own books,

I have had the good fortune to have publishers who seem to take infinite pains to get just the right reader for the task. The job of reading the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels was given to Lisette Lecat, a South African-born actress who now lives in the United States. Lisette’s performance over the course of the 14 novels that currently make up the series has been flawless, and she has, for many people, become the voice of my Botswana heroine, Mma Ramotswe. I have also been extremely lucky with the readers of my other series—every one of them, I feel, sounds just right. What is it that makes a reader perfect, as Lisette Lecat is? I think that the most important quality is intimacy in the voice. A good audiobook reader must sound as if he or she is reading to you, the listener, and not addressing a much wider, less personal audience. An audiobook should sound like the bedtime stories we listened to as children—stories that are addressed to us and to nobody else. That is the most important requirement, even if there are others. These include the ability to do different voices for different characters. That is something that I admire greatly in a good audiobook reader. I was fortunate enough to have Hugh Laurie read on my Portuguese Irregular Verbs series. In those books he managed to be three totally credible different German professors. He later became much more famous with “House,” but I hope he returns to recording audiobooks one day. Anybody can act on television—rather fewer can do a brilliant audiobook. Please come back, Mr Laurie: I shall willingly write you further books! Alexander McCall Smith is the author of more than 60 books for adults, teens and children. The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café, the 15th installment in his best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, will be published later this year.

WHAT KIND OF LISTENER ARE YOU? Audiobooks are great to listen to while doing other things. Whether it’s exercising, crafting, traveling, cooking, or gardening, we have audiobooks to complement any activity!


Fitness Enthusiast


Family Travel


Gardener & Cook


cover story


Six terrific books to give to dear ol’ Dad this year



he challenge of finding an appropriately awesome present for Father’s Day can get more difficult with each passing year. A tie? Too tedious. Cologne? Cliché! This month, skip the tired traditions and surprise Pop with one of these newly released books.


If you know an overtaxed rookie dad who could use a good laugh, get him Confessions of the World’s Best Father (Gotham, $18, 176 pages, ISBN 9781592408894) by photographer Dave Engledow. In this clever send-up of perfect parenting, Engledow—a gifted clowner—casts himself as the quintessential distracted dad whose misguided attempts to care for his toddler daughter, Alice Bee, provide the subject matter for a collection of skillfully composed photos filled with parental no-nos: Engledow bathes Alice Bee in a washing machine, looks on as she swills a beer and allows her to play with some questionable toys—an electric knife, a pizza cutter, the list goes on. Engledow digitally manipulated the pictures, so there was no real threat involved, which explains why he’s able to regard the sight of his daughter in danger with unfailing and comical cluelessness. Each grittily realistic photo is accompanied by hilarious commentary from Engledow, who appears to possess a quality every dad should have: the ability to laugh at himself. Engledow’s playful approach to domesticity is shared by Jason Good, author of This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists (Chronicle, $14.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9781452129211). A stand-up comic and father of two, Good has created an amusing itemized guide to family life, with lists inspired by some of the most important facets of fatherhood. The book opens with a chapter called “Preparedness,” which

provides 23 options for defense against a “toddler attack,” and proceeds onward to critical topics like “The Seven Stages of a Tantrum.” Good also lists tips on traveling with kids (“Go ahead and be one of those weirdos who brings a pillow on the airplane.”) and gives a rundown of the things hard-pressed parents shouldn’t feel guilty about (“Pretending to be asleep. Pretending to be deaf.”). Freshman While Mom’s away, Dave Engledow feeds daughter Alice Bee, along with cats Elliott and Katje. fathers will find a kindred Reprinted with permission from Confessions of the World’s Best Father. spirit in Good, who writes from the heart about the rearing of kids, aka the “tiny people unworthy of a precisely observed Ever (Grove, $24, 272 pages, ISBN who have no idea that they’re slowly memorial from the author, who also 9780802122742) by Ben Blatt and killing us.” tackles matters of greater gravity Eric Brewster. Fresh out of Harvard, in this masterful collection. There Blatt fantasizes about a baseball FOR LITERATURE LOVERS are literary interludes, including binge: watching a game at every Big brief evaluations of Moby-Dick and League stadium in America in only Perhaps the papa you’re shopping Catch-22; trips abroad, with pieces 30 days. A math whiz, he creates an for is the tweedy type—a haunter of on Paris, London and Machu Picalgorithm for the trip and lets his libraries and lifelong English major. chu; and political perusals in which computer set the course: a 22,000If so, he’ll welcome the receipt of Buckley applies his inimitable wit mile journey via car. Blatt’s plans But Enough About You: Essays (Sito subjects such as Afghan warlords aren’t solidified until his buddy Eric mon & Schuster, $27.50, 464 pages, and the Bush Sr. administration. Of Brewster—who hates baseball— ISBN 9781476749518), the new and particular interest to bibliophiles: signs on for the excursion. With their long-overdue anthology from Christhe author’s revealing appreciations new book, Blatt, now a staff writer topher Buckley. Featuring the same of late colleagues Joseph Heller and for Slate, and Brewster, co-author sly humor and sophisticated turns Christopher Hitchens. of the best-selling The Hunger of phrase that made Wry Martinis Pains: A Parody, offer up a funny, (1997), his previous collection, a FOR SPORTS FANS compelling narrative about their bestseller, this wide-ranging book breakneck journey and the experishowcases Buckley’s rare ability to Fathers who follow baseball can infuse obscurities (bug zappers, clock some extra innings this season ence of loving sports to distraction. From New York’s Yankee Stadium lobster bibs, alarm clocks) with with I Don’t Care if We Never Get to Seattle’s Safeco Field, they take comic—and near cosmic—sigBack: 30 Games in 30 Days on the turns at the wheel, sleep in parking nificance. Nothing, it seems, is Best Worst Baseball Road Trip

S ol dier . S ummoner . S aint. in the final bat tle, who will riSe? lots and survive on “slimed and sugared ballpark food.” It’s the trip of a lifetime—and every sports fan’s secret dream. For dads who prefer the Beautiful Game to America’s Favorite Pastime, there’s Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer (Times, $28, 304 pages, ISBN 9780805098488) by journalist George Vecsey. One of soccer’s earliest advocates in this country, Vecsey writes with expertise and flair about the otherworldly plays, volatile personalities and sticky politics that make the game so fascinating. As a columnist for The New York Times in the 1980s, he had to persuade his editors to let him cover a sport that was still obscure in the States. They sent him to Spain for the 1982 World Cup, setting the course for decades of action-packed reportage. Among the notable Cups Vecsey covers: Italy, 1990, in which the United States participated after a four-decade hiatus and “difficult genius” Diego Maradona loomed large; and Germany, 2006, the year Wayne Rooney and Renaldo (he of the “tinted tufts and supercilious smirk”) famously butted heads. Vecsey’s delight in soccer culture is palpable, and he makes his audience—even the reader who isn’t smitten with the sport—care, too.

The fierce conclusion to

t h e G r i S h a t r il o G Y by New York Times–bestselling author

l eig h b a r dug o H “ t r iump hant . . . this third book is an epic quest.” —Kirkus, starred review

“ un l ik e anY t hinG i ’ ve e ve r r e ad.” —Veronica Roth, New York Times–bestselling author of the Divergent series

“ me S me r izinG . . . Bardugo’s setup is shiver-inducing, of the delicious variety. This is what fantasy is for.” —The New York Times Book Review


Visit to read a Q&A with Dave Engledow.


th e G r i s h atr i l o g y.c o m #RuinandRising

Henry Holt


Whether he entertains culinary aspirations or simply likes to engage in experimental eating, the dad on your gift list is sure to savor The World’s Best Spicy Food: Where to Find It & How to Make It (Lonely Planet, $19.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781743219768). This globe-trotting volume touches down in some of the world’s most flavorful locales, including Thailand, India and Morocco, to get the inside scoop on the best—and zestiest—local cuisines. There are dishes for every taste and temperature level, from sizzling exoticisms such as Singapore’s Devil’s Curry to familiar favorites like Five-Alarm Texas Chili. Designed to appeal to the reader’s sense of adventure as well as his appetite, the book brims with decadent photos, heady recipes, and tasty tips from today’s top food writers. Perfect for fire-eating fathers, whether they like a little or a lot of hot.


From #1 New York Times bestselling author

comes this summer’s most anticipated sequel!

Susan Wiggs returns to sun-drenched Bella Vista, where the land’s bounty yields a rich harvest… and family secrets that have long been buried.

“This is classic Wiggs, with its emphasis on the strength of family and friends, and a landscape integral to the plot.” —Publishers Weekly on THE APPLE ORCHARD

The Beekeeper’s Ball

is the second book in the Bella Vista series.

Available June 24.

Now available in paperback, April 29!



Crazy wisdom from a messy life


om Robbins had no intention of writing a memoir. “I was conned into it by the women in my life,” he says with a laugh during a call to his home in the small town of La Conner, Washington.

“They had been pestering me to write down the stories that I’d been telling them—bidden and unbidden—over the years. I wrote 20 pages and showed it to them, thinking that would shut them up. But it had the opposite effect.” Bless the women in Tom Robbins’ life! They forced him into committing to paper Tibetan Peach Pie, a book that in conversation Robbins calls “an account of my personal pursuit of the marvelous” and in print carries the subtitle “A True Account of an Imaginative Life.” The book is both of these—and more. Robbins, as fans of novels like Another Roadside Attraction (1971), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976), Jitterbug Perfume (1980) or Villa Incognito (2003) know, has a Trickster spirit. He performs a sort of verbal-spiritual-comedic magic on the page. He characterizes his philosophical outlook, formed in part from his interest in Japan and Zen Buddhism, as “crazy wisdom and sacred mischief.” “When I was in Japan,” he explains, “I got to have an audience with a famous Ninja, quite an old man. His house was full of Mickey Mouse memorabilia. This is true of the wisest people I have encountered in my life. They have all had this sense of playfulness. I think I was more or less born with it. It’s



particular lyrics or by Jim Morrison’s style. It was such a cathartic experience that it loosened up something in my creative process. Almost instinctively I wrote the review. And then I thought, this is the way I want to sound from now on.” Robbins’ first published novel, Another Roadside Attraction, became a kind of anthem of ’60s (or early ’70s) youth culture. “In that novel,” Robbins says, “I attempted not to write about the ’60s but to recreate the ’60s. In order to do that, I had to reinvent the novel, because the traditional novel moves from minor climax to minor climax to major climax, up an incline plane. But that didn’t lend itself to capturing that period with any depth or truth.” That novel captured the zeitgeist so successfully that to this day people assume that Robbins writes while stoned and that his sensibilities are trapped in the ’60s. These assumptions make Robbins laugh. He writes in the memoir that he is a slow and deliberate writer who avoids even mild stimulants while working and that the concerns of his novels have moved further forward into issues of contemporary life than the outdated views of his critics. Robbins’ beautifully profligate prose is labored over one sentence at a time. “If you’re a professional, you show up every day,” he says. “Sometimes the muse shows up and sometimes she doesn’t. But at least she knows where you’ll be at 10 o’clock in the morning. She doesn’t have to look for you in the bars or along the beaches.” However, for the genre of fiction and the genre of memoir, Robbins waits on slightly different muses. About writing fiction, Robbins says, “I am one of the rare breed of writers who believes that the best part of writing is creating situations in which language can happen. I have

to surround the act of writing with an aura of surprise and terror. So I take my research and imagination and my sense of humor and my vague feelings of where I want my day to go and pack them into my little canoe and push out onto the vast and savage ocean and see where the current takes me.” Of this memoir he says, “I’m not inventing situations, I’m dealing with facts. The challenge for me was to keep the language lively and unpredictable, while remaining faithful to the facts.” In July, Robbins will turn 82. That hardly seems possible given the antic energy of Tibetan Peach Pie. Wikipedia and the Library of Congress can’t believe it either— they assert that Robbins is 4 years younger. “Wikipedia,” Robbins wryly notes, “is the fountain of youth. They obviously know more about me than my mother.” These days Robbins goes to yoga and pilates classes, travels with his wife Alexa, and still shows up on time for his muse. In other words he stays connected with the women we must thank for his new memoir. “I’ve had a messy life,” Robbins admits. “But in the tangle, I think the silver thread of spirituality, the red thread of passion and, of course, the elastic and multicolored thread of imagination have constantly run through it. And all of that is bound together with the inky thread of writing.” That’s a self-assessment that sounds just about right.


By Tom Robbins

Ecco, $27.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062267405, audio, eBook available

maintaining a fixed eye on the ultimate seriousness of life, but refusing to take events and, particularly, yourself too seriously.” This energy and perspective also infuses Robbins’ memoir. Beginning as a child growing up in North Carolina and Virginia in the 1930s, Robbins writes that he was possessed by a seemingly inborn bohemianism and a “congenitally comic sensibility” that led his mother to lovingly refer to him as Tommy Rotten. He had a wandering, freedom-seeking spirit. He spent time in a military boarding school (where in a Robbins quixotic effort he foolishly calls his re-entered a colorful new burning dormemoir “an mitory), time at Washington account of and Lee Unimy personal versity (where pursuit of the Tom Wolfe, a marvelous.” founder of new journalism, was a big man on campus), and time in the U.S. Air Force in Korea (where he taught techniques of weather observation). He had four short marriages early in adulthood and, since 1987, a long one. He was an early, enthusiastic adopter of LSD and describes the first time he tried it as “the most rewarding day of my life, the one day I would not trade for any other.” He writes about, among many other events, encounters with Timothy Leary and Charles Manson and trips to far-flung regions of the world. But Robbins also had an early love of words and stories. He won prizes—even in Air Force story-writing contests—for his fiction. He became a journalist. He was an art critic and music critic for underground newspapers in Seattle. And then he went to a concert by The Doors. “It was so unlike any rock concert that Seattle had seen to that point. It just blew everybody away. I was in almost a traumatized state, an ecstatic trauma, when I went back to my house and up into the attic and sat down to write the review. It wasn’t that I was influenced by






A lawless woman on the run


m I really going to tell a story from a dead-and-buried baby’s point of view?” Courtney Collins asked herself, early in the writing of her stunning debut novel, The Untold.

The author was a year into a fictionalized portrait of real-life Australian female outlaw Jessie Hickman. And to be perfectly honest, the story just wasn’t working. “I felt very much in service to Jessie,” Collins recently told BookPage from her home in Victoria, Australia. “I wanted to give voice to her life, so I tried to write a first-person narrative from her point of view. And it was a spectacular failure. After all, I didn’t even know if Jessie was literate, let alone well-spoken, and here I was putting poetic musings into her mouth. It just didn’t seem authentic.” So Collins did what any good MFA graduate would do: She gave herself a writing assignment. “I decided to write a letter to Jessie from her dead baby. And out of that came a strong voice that I could really travel with. Out of that crisis came the book’s true narrator.” The Untold is a difficult novel to pin down. On the one hand, it’s a classic Western: a lone ranger, a horse and life on the lam. On the other hand, it’s a decidedly modern take on gender, marginalization and the impossibility of freedom. The book begins in 1921. In a mountain-locked valley deep in the Australian bush, 26-year-old Jessie is on the run. Her crimes include cattle-stealing, armed robbery and, oh




By Courtney Collins

Amy Einhorn, $26.95, 288 pages ISBN 9780399167096, eBook available


yeah, killing her husband. Plus, she’s just given birth to a child she can’t keep. Think that’s intense? Within the few first pages, Jessie also slits the baby’s throat and rides off into the wilderness. “Once I made the decision to tell the story the way I told it, really owning this voice seemed like the greatest risk,” says Collins. “Still, I thought it was important that I wasn’t constrained by Jessie’s ‘likeability.’ She’s not compassionate or maternal—and, in a “As I wrote, I way, that was freeing. As a learned that storyteller, I the greatest had to really act of selfless let it rip.” Collins hails love is to want from the refreedom for mote Hunter someone else.” Valley where the novel takes place. And though she moved to Sydney as a young woman, she grew up hearing stories about the region’s famous “Wild Lady Bushranger.” As Collins tells it, the real Jessie Hickman was sold to the circus at a young age and had a successful career as a trick horse rider. But after the troupe fell on hard times, Hickman became an outlaw, rustling cattle and evading the authorities. She was arrested several times (“The fact that she committed so many crimes was helpful for research,” Collins admits. “She was well documented in police gazettes.”) and was later blackmailed into marrying one of her employers. Several years later, Hickman’s house burned down and her husband suspiciously disappeared.You can probably guess who became the prime suspect. This amazing true premise is where The Untold begins. But Collins uses these facts as a springboard for her own writerly inventions. Of course, there’s the dead baby narrator, who forgives his mother’s desperate act—but she has also created two memorable foils to Jessie’s wild abandon. The first is Jack Brown, an Aboriginal horse-wrangler and Jessie’s secret lover. The second is

Sergeant Andrew Barlow, a heroin-addicted lawman tasked with bringing her to justice. Both men want to rein Jessie in, to capture her. But as the novel progresses and they come closer to their mark, each begins to wonder at the value of his quest. “When writing this book, the question I grappled with was, Can a woman be free?” Collins explains. “And as I wrote, I learned that the greatest act of selfless love is to want freedom for someone else.” The conflict between love and freedom is nothing new—we’re in solid John Wayne territory here. But what complicates Collins’ narrative is the people she’s chosen to zero in on: a woman, a black man and a drug addict. “In Australia, we have a dominant history, which is very much told by white settlers,” Collins says. “But I’ve always been more interested in alternative histories— histories told by aboriginals, by migrants, by women.” She laughs. “Maybe it’s because I went to Catholic school, and my education about these types of people was extremely moderate.” Still, Collins is clearly indebted to the tradition she’s subverting. “I’m a sucker for a Western,” she admits. “I love the idea of the lone rider and his relationship with the land—what it means to be the outsider. But I don’t think it needs to be cowboys battling Indians. There’s something about loneliness and landscape that’s really at the core of it.” Collins’ literary influences range from Cormac McCarthy and Patrick DeWitt to Zora Neal Hurston and Carson McCullers. Much like her



idols, she’s deeply attuned to sound and poetics. “I do not know death as a river,” she writes, early in The Untold. “I know it as a magic hall of mirrors.” Later, she describes a woman in labor as moving “like a snake sliding out of old skin.” But she’s quick to assert that it’s more than lyricism that compels her. “It’s the way characters are pitted against the world and the way they hold their form. That’s what I most admire when I read my favorite books.” Collins is currently hard at work on a sophomore effort—this one about a peeping tom who walks the streets by night, peering in on strangers’ intimacies. She can hardly conceal her excitement when talking about the project—“I’m a full-time writer now!”—but she concedes that the process is often grueling. “It’s that bricklaying thing,” she elaborates. “Turn up to it every day and lay something down. After all, writing isn’t a sprint; it’s a different kind of endurance.” So how does she balance that day-by-day endurance with the thrill of publishing a highly acclaimed first novel? “Really my motto is just to serve my work when I’m doing it, and to live well when I’m not.” Solid advice, for writers and outlaws alike.




A life lived through touch alone

Little, Brown $26, 480 pages ISBN 9780316242905 Audio, eBook available



The best historical fiction offers readers a new look at a well-known subject, or illuminates an episode or individual that has been lost to history. Playwright Kimberly Elkins achieves the latter in What Is Visible, a strikingly original debut novel about Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person to communicate through finger spelling. Born in New Hampshire in 1829, Laura Bridgman lost all her senses except for touch by the time she was 2 years old. She was sent to Perkins Institute as a child, where, under the tutelage of founder Samuel Gridley Howe, she was taught to read, write and communicate through a manual alphabet of letters tapped into her hand—a system that years later, she taught a poor Irish orphan named Annie Sullivan. Bridgman was a celebrity of her time; she was regularly featured in Perkins’ Exhibition Days, and there was even a Laura Bridgman doll. After Charles Dickens wrote about her in his American Notes, she received international acclaim and was conBy Kimberly Elkins Twelve, $25, 320 pages sidered one of the most famous women of the 19th century, second only to ISBN 9781455528967, eBook available Queen Victoria. Yet few people know about her today. Elkins follows Laura from her teenage years at Perkins through adultHISTORICAL FICTION hood. Elkins’ Laura is temperamental, intensely focused—perhaps because her modes of communication were so limited—and blessed with a sharp wit. Though Laura is the primary narrator, her story is also told by the brilliant but controlling Howe, with whom Laura had a complex relationship; his wife, the poet Julia Ward Howe; and Laura’s teacher, Sarah Wright, from whom she was tragically parted too soon. It unfolds against a background rich with progressive and social causes, from women’s suffrage to abolitionism. What Is Visible marries historical research with lyrical and sometimes starkly honest writing, creating an intriguing novel about an educational experiment that touches issues of gender, philosophy, religion and history. Elkins may occasionally venture into undocumented areas, such as Laura’s sexuality, but her choices are informed and have emotional depth and resonance. What Is Visible is a Visit to read convincing portrayal of a uniquely interior world and the deeply human need a Q&A with Kimberly Elkins. to feel and connect, despite the body’s limitations.



Richard Haddon has screwed up royally with his wife, and he’ll do anything to get her back. Richard, a British contemporary artist, met his near-perfect French wife while enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design. From the moment he spotted Anne-Laure de Bourigeaud, Richard was convinced that she was the woman for him. Shortly after they married, Anne be-

show. Richard, meanwhile, is determined to demonstrate his remorse and regret in the hope of recovering what the couple once had. The basic plotline of this story—a couple falls in love, one cheats and then they struggle to determine what comes next—isn’t unusual. But in I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, first-time novelist Courtney Maum has crafted the story of a relationship so believable, so realistic that readers will be left wondering until the last minute whether the couple will reunite. Maum, whose years in France (and marriage to a Frenchman) color the book, is a brand strategist and humor columnist. But the razor-sharp writing and character insights of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You suggest that readers have much to look forward to from this talented storyteller. —CARLA JEAN WHITLEY


Touchstone $25.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781476764580 eBook available

came pregnant, and their relationship served as the inspiration for one of Richard’s greatest paintings, “The Blue Bear.” But seven years have passed, and while Richard hasn’t fallen out of love with his wife, his gaze has certainly wandered. So too has his focus on art; while Richard once used his art as a statement, he has now resorted to commercial paintings—and has sold “The Blue Bear,” which once meant so much to the couple. As his first solo show opens in a Parisian gallery, the distance between Richard and Anne is noticeable, although he’s the only half of the couple who knows the full extent of his dalliance. Anne seems to be patiently waiting for her husband to return his focus to their marriage. When she uncovers Richard’s relationship with an American, though, Anne sends her husband packing and resolves not to let her sadness

In this fascinating and deeply creepy novel by South African author Sarah Lotz, four commercial flights go down on the same day. Everyone on board perishes except three children: a British preteen named Jess; an American boy named Bobby; and a Japanese boy named Hiro. The children are uninjured, but their personalities have changed. Just one other person survives, albeit briefly: Pamela Donald, a middle-aged Texan who lives long enough to record a mysterious message on her phone. Her pastor, Len Vorhees, who has been trying to break into the big leagues of televangelism, uses the message to start a new cult of “Pamelists,” who believe the three surviving children signal the apocalypse. Rapture Fever is soon spreading around the nation. Trailed by religious zealots and under intense media scrutiny, the orphans and their new caregivers are forced into seclusion, even as the children’s behavior grows more unsettling. Is it the result of surviving a harrowing disaster, or something else? The Three is nifty in part because it is a book within a book. Investigative journalist Elspeth Martins has searched out everyone remotely connected to the crashes: the paramedics who responded to the crash in Africa; the prostitute sleeping with Pastor Len; Bobby’s grandmother, who suspects that Bobby has somehow eased his grandfather’s severe Alzheimer’s. The novel is at its eerie best with the transcription of voice recordings by Jess’ Uncle Paul, who slowly descends into madness as he tries to determine what’s wrong with his niece. Lotz has honed her writing skills as a screenwriter and YA author, and here she spins a tail of disaster and fanaticism that is both entertaining and scarily realistic. The Three is the


reviews real deal: gripping, unpredictable and utterly satisfying. —AMY SCRIBNER


Knopf $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780385350112 eBook available


FICTION voices of the girls are convincing. The American presence in Okinawa remains controversial, whether because it desiccates a vibrant island or because soldiers there occasionally go berserk and assault the locals. Above the East China Sea provides welcome context to the news reports from an island whose pivotal place in global power politics remains mostly unexamined. —KENNETH CHAMPEON



By Lisa See


As the United States exits two protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s easy to forget that nearly 100,000 defense-related Americans remain in Japan, a country with which the U.S. ceased hostilities nearly 70 years ago. The American bases occupy about one-fifth of Okinawa, an island unfortunate to have served as a rampart for the Japanese mainland during the war and as an aircraft carrier for the Americans after it. Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird attempts to bridge the gap between these two phases in Okinawan history. Luz is a modern American army brat, in Okinawa because of her gung-ho military mother. In her crass way, she tries to navigate global transience and her own mélange of ancestries. The other narrator is Takimo, a wartime Okinawan teen convinced that Japan is invincible and that her emperor is divine. She is forced to suffer all manner of privation on the road to disillusionment with the imperial cause. That these two eventually become connected Hollywood-style may go without saying. But the contrasts between them are fascinating. During World War II the Americans were hardly innocent of demonizing the Japanese, but Takimo reminds us that the demonization went both ways. Luz, for her part, gets a schooling in East-Asian ancestor worship and filial duty that helps her better accept her mother’s idiosyncrasies and the premature death of her soldier sister. Once herself an American in Okinawa, Bird knows her subject; the novel displays keen appreciation and sympathy for the Okinawans and their culture. The prose could benefit from more showing and less telling, as the cliché goes, but the

Random House $27, 400 pages ISBN 9780812992892 Audio, eBook available


Chinese-American author Lisa See has made her mark in the realm of historical fiction by melding her well-researched historical sagas with strong female characters linked either by birth, as in Shanghai Girls (2009) and Dreams of Joy (2011), or by lifelong friendship, as in her breakout book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005). In her ninth book, See explores the Chinese community in San Francisco, where three young women meet on an evening in 1938 as they audition for spots as dancers at the glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee has fled from an abusive father in Plain City, Ohio, where her family members were the only Chinese she had ever seen. She becomes lost in the maze of Chinatown, and is rescued by Helen Fong, the only daughter in a very traditional family. Her father expects her to marry soon and become a traditional Chinese wife and mother. At the audition, the two meet the flamboyant Ruby Tom, a young Japanese woman passing as Chinese. She loves glitter, she tells her new friends, and she wants to become famous. The three are hired to dance at the Forbidden City, and soon each one becomes a star—while at the same time vowing to support one another through good and bad. See traces the lives of these three memorable women through chapters told in their alternating voices, drawing the reader into their

struggles, their romantic adventures and their backstories, which are only gradually revealed. As the story reaches World War II and then beyond, the women face racism, as well as more challenges in their personal lives and their careers. See’s compelling story of these three resilient women—connected by fierce loyalty, as well as one act of betrayal that threatens that bond— is backed by meticulous research into the Chinese-American nightclub era, making her portrayal of this little-known period in history all the more memorable. —DEBORAH DONOVAN


Dial $27, 400 pages ISBN 9780679643654 Audio, eBook available


uncovering long-buried secrets that will bring her to a new understanding of the factors that shaped her. The Rise & Fall of Great Powers builds up steam slowly—the first half lays the groundwork for the revelations to follow—and readers might initially find the jumps in time and ever-mounting number of questions frustrating and confusing. This simply means, however, that when all the pieces do fall into place, it is all the more satisfying. Rachman has crafted a story in which the quiet moments are just as important as the loud ones and nobody is exactly as he or she first appears. Readers would be wise to approach this book like they would a maze: Getting a little lost along the way is practically guaranteed, but it’s also part of the fun. With The Rise & Fall of Great Powers, Rachman has produced a meaty novel that isn’t afraid to ask big questions or take risks; the result is a story that is both thoughtful and thrilling. —STEPHENIE HARRISON

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS Following the success of his critically acclaimed debut, The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman returns with an ambitious new novel, The Rise & Fall of Great Powers. Along with a plucky protagonist named Tooly Zylberberg, Rachman whisks readers away on a whirlwind jaunt around the globe, through the waning days of the 20th century and into the dawn of the 21st. We first meet Tooly in a quiet little town in Wales, where she owns a charming bookshop on the path to bankruptcy. As is soon made clear, Tooly has a past full of secrets she is reluctant to share and, if she is being perfectly honest, portions of which are a bit of mystery even to herself. Her peripatetic childhood is all a bit of a blur; a ragtag band of characters who are little more than strangers—including conmen and Russian bookworms—form the closest thing to a family that she has. After leaving so many people and places over the years, Tooly is perfectly content to keep her past behind her. But when an old love manages to track her down, Tooly is sucked back into a life filled with people she never thought she would see again. In order to unlock the puzzle of her own life, Tooly embarks on a journey around the world,

By Cristina Henríquez

Knopf $24.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780385350846 Audio, eBook available


In these heady days of immigration non-reform in the United States, it is worth recalling that much of this nation’s territory was once the property of Mexico, and that many immigrants have fled violence whose source can be traced to America, whether through military aid, drug demand and interdiction or flat-out invasion. One such family is the subject of Cristina Henríquez’s illuminating novel The Book of Unknown Americans, a kind of anti-census in which the statistics of Latino immigration are run backward to reveal individual struggles. The Toro family has fled from Panama, invaded by the United States in 1989. They end up in Delaware, where they help foster a community of fellow Latinos. These include the Riveras, Mexicans who have come north to provide special education for their teenage daughter, Mari-

Your book club’s next incredible read!

One woman's impossible journey…

Discover a riveting tale of two sisters, set in the intoxicating world of New York City during the Roaring Twenties.

Available now. From the critically acclaimed authors of

I’ll Be Seeing You

“Engaging, charming and moving.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on I’ll Be Seeing You Pick up a copy today and visit for discussion questions and more!

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But suddenly Lauren finds herself trapped in Lost, a town filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. She'll have to figure out what she's missing— and what she's running from— if she ever wants to leave….

Discover The Lost, the first novel in an arresting new trilogy from award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst.



bel. She had fallen from a ladder back home and was consequently afflicted with brain damage. Her father finds degrading work picking mushrooms, while her mother Alma struggles to learn English and stomach bland American food. Despite her condition, Maribel manages to charm young Mayor Toro, who finds her beauty reason enough to be patient with her halting speech and unusual behavior. But their parents’ relatively conservative values conspire to confound the young lovers’ devotions, ultimately with tragic consequences for the entire community. It’s less Romeo and Juliet than a post-9/11 Latino American Beauty, set in the thick of the Great Recession, which caused many Latinos to doubt America’s long-term attractiveness. Suffice it to say that gun violence isn’t unique to Latin America, or to Latinos. While Henríquez’s focus is these two families, each chapter is told in the first person by many individuals, using a technique exemplified by Faulkner. But this is hardly


FICTION avant-garde literature and is all the more engrossing for that. In its style and themes, it recalls the writings of Jhumpa Lahiri, though from the perspective of a very different class. Clearly Henríquez’s main interest is her characters, all of whom, however officious or self-pitying, are sympathetic. Whether by intention or accident, her only two flat and sinister characters are white. The Book of Unknown Americans is ultimately a hopeful book about the pursuit of happiness, whatever the source of the misery left behind. —KENNETH CHAMPEON

THE LOST By Sarah Beth Durst

MIRA $14.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780778317111 eBook available


The socks we say the dryer ate, coins forgotten in the couch cushions, an engagement ring, a home, family, even a life. What if all the things we lose, the mundane and the important, were waiting to be returned? What would we do if we found ourselves in the place that they end up? Such is the inspiration for The Lost, Sarah Beth Durst’s imaginative first novel for adults. Her disillusioned protagonist Lauren Chase is running from the reality of her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Driving off into the desert one day instead of to work, Lauren gets caught up in a freak dust storm and summarily deposited in the town of Lost. Here, foreclosed or abandoned homes of various styles sit side by side; the last pieces of pie are served at a celestial-themed diner; and stray dogs and kids roam about. Like the town’s other inhabitants, Lauren is unable to leave until she discovers what she has lost. For that, she needs the help of the enigmatic Missing Man, who has inexplicably disappeared—a fact that many of the town’s residents blame on Lauren. Claire, a young girl who carries both a teddy bear and a knife, befriends Lauren and convinces Peter, a brooding young man known as the Finder, to help her. The three form a family of need.

Durst, the author of several YA novels, knows how to captivate readers. As the first in a planned trilogy, more questions are left unanswered than resolved in The Lost, though the author unfolds her fast-moving tale in a beguiling way. The world Durst has envisioned is often disturbing and bizarre, but at times surprises with its beauty and poignancy.  —MELISSA BROWN

LOST FOR WORDS By Edward St. Aubyn

FSG $26, 272 pages ISBN 9780374280291 eBook available


Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost for Words is a breezy, yet biting satirical novel about the internecine intrigue that unfolds behind the scenes of a major book award that is clearly a thinly disguised version of the Booker Prize. St. Aubyn, whose own novel, Mother’s Milk, was shortlisted for that honor, writes in the great pithy British tradition of David Lodge and Muriel Spark, infusing a deceptively lighthearted surface wit with more trenchant intent. The committee for the prestigious Elysian Prize (funded by a multinational that, among its many controversies, genetically modifies crops by crossing vegetables with animals) is headed by Malcolm Craig, a backbench MP hoping to raise his public profile. The rather ragtag team of judges includes a popular newspaper columnist, an actor, an Oxbridge academic (who, no doubt rightly, believes she is the only member who knows anything about literature) and the ancient prize committee chairman’s erstwhile secretary/ mistress, who now writes popular thrillers. None bothers to read more than a handful of the hundreds of books submitted, embracing titles to which they are already predisposed. The inevitable alliances form amid polite quarrels. The proceedings reach a fever pitch, albeit in a restrained, polite English manner, as the longlist becomes the shortlist and the winner proves difficult to decide. No one

is spared as St. Aubyn skewers the literary “elite” and aspirants alike. In one typically sly development, one of the presumed frontrunners, literary star Katherine Burns, is not even in the running. An editorial assistant mistakenly sent in the manuscript for a cookbook instead of Burns’ novel (the cookbook, viewed as a postmodern experiment in narrative, makes the list). Delightfully entertaining, Lost for Words nonetheless casts a cold eye on the very nature of awards, and questions whether they in any way reflect the quality and permanence of the art they ostensibly celebrate. —ROBERT WEIBEZAHL

THE FARM By Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central $26, 368 pages ISBN 9780446550734 Audio, eBook available


It can be perilous to venture into well-trodden subgenre territory, even if you have the talent that Tom Rob Smith demonstrated with his suspenseful Child 44 trilogy. With his fourth novel, The Farm, Smith is venturing into the territory of Scandinavian thrillers, which first caught international fire thanks to the fiction of the late Stieg Larsson. It’s a field associated with deep, dark family secrets, long-buried crimes and shocking revelations. In The Farm, Smith manages to simultaneously deliver the goods promised by this subgenre and also something completely unexpected. The result is a thriller you shouldn’t miss. When his parents sell their London home and relocate to a remote farm in his mother’s homeland of Sweden, Daniel is convinced they’re headed for a quiet retirement. Then he gets a call from his father informing him that his mother has had some kind of mental breakdown, that she’s imagining awful things. He’s prepared to go and tend to her, until he gets another call from his father, this one telling him his mother has checked herself out of the hospital and disappeared. The next call is from his mother,

FICTION and it’s even more alarming than his father’s news. Daniel’s mother claims his father can’t be trusted, that he’s part of a terrible conspiracy in their rural Swedish district, that he’s been seduced by a powerful farmer into doing something horrible. Daniel’s father insists his Tom Rob mother is mad. Smith Daniel’s mother insists his father weaves a is a monster. satisfyingly Caught between juicy web of them, Daniel deception in has no choice but to go to The Farm. Sweden himself and investigate what’s really happening. From the very first page, The Farm has all the trappings of a thriller with a deep, dark conspiracy at its heart, but Smith isn’t content to stick to formulas. Through a first-person narrative that allows us to view this drama through Daniel’s always engaging eyes, he weaves in and out of secrets and truths, sins and redemptions, crafting a thriller that weaves a satisfyingly juicy web of deception and is also an unpredictable page-turner. It’s a rare thing to see an author so completely embody the trappings of his genre and also surprise the reader, but Smith achieves it with The Farm. Child 44 fans as well as those looking to get lost in an immersive thriller will find this a gripping read.

Allison Weiss is a doting mother to her 5-year-old daughter, Eloise, and a devoted wife to her handsome husband. She’s also a blogger and developer for a website that has taken off overnight. As she struggles to keep everything going, Allison begins to abuse pain pills she was given for a back injury in a “Jump & Pump” workout class. Before she knows it, Allison is taking so many pills a day that she has to resort to hiding money from her husband to buy them illegally online. In today’s world, blogs, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets serve as online “brag books” for people to portray seemingly idyllic lives. Weiner puts into words the pressure many women feel to maintain a Facebook-worthy life—which means being a supermom as well as a supportive spouse who “leans in” at work, maintains a pre-baby body and throws a nightly meal on the table that would make Julia Child swoon. While struggling for sobriety, Allison tries to convince herself she’s not as bad as the addicts around her. She got her pills from a doctor, not on a street corner, right? All of Weiner’s books are entertaining, emotional and funny, but her latest is a truthful snapshot of the high-functioning addict. All Fall Down asks whether it is possible to take the online reels of other people’s perfect lives and view them for what they are—just part of the story. —ELISABETH ATWOOD


ALL FALL DOWN By Jennifer Weiner

By Laura McBride

Simon & Schuster $25, 320 pages ISBN 9781476738963 eBook available

R EADS from

Avon Romance



Crown/Hogarth $24, 400 pages ISBN 9780804138819 Audio, eBook available



Atria $26.99, 400 pages ISBN 9781451617788 Audio, eBook available


along from page one. In chapters featuring alternating voices of the novel’s primary characters—no small literary feat—we hear the stories of Avis, a middle-aged woman whose husband has recently left her; Roberta, a tireless champion of homeless and abused children; Bashkim, an Albanian immigrant boy in the third grade; and Bashkim’s pen-pal Luis, an Iraq War army veteran who is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington. Clinging desperately to memories of better days, Bashkim’s struggling immigrant family faces formidable challenges in their new American homeland. The troubled patriarch drives a decrepit ice cream truck, barely paying the bills and forever lamenting the injustice that led to him spending time in an Albanian prison. Then a routine traffic stop escalates into a gut-wrenching tragedy that links the disparate stories. Flashbacks convey bleak depictions of life during wartime, and a seemingly unending string of bad luck follows many of the characters in this bittersweet tale. In spite of this, We Are Called to Rise pays homage to the words first penned by poet Emily Dickinson that serve as its title, reminding us that one’s courage and character are often writ large during the darkest of days.




Jennifer Weiner, the best-selling author of 10 novels, goes a bit darker with her new book, a story about the price some women pay in the pursuit of having it all. In All Fall Down, Weiner tackles a growing epidemic in our society: middleand upper-class suburban parents who abuse prescription medication to cope with their overworked and overstressed lifestyles.

With daily news headlines detailing the tragedies that can unfold when a battle-weary soldier returns home from war, Las Vegas author Laura McBride’s first novel, We Are Called to Rise, is hauntingly timely. Indeed, McBride’s pitch-perfect narrative of two broken young veterans, an imploding marriage and the heartbreak of a young immigrant boy unfolds quietly, with a plainspoken realism that beckons readers

The fun of reading Dutch author Herman Koch is his constant questioning of normal human behavior. His commentary on etiquette and the trappings of wealth is hilariously biting; it’s like standing next to the cynical party guest who keeps you laughing all night by mocking the pretentious host. And just like that funny guy at the party, Koch can go from companionable to creepy before you realize what changed. He did it in his stateside breakout book,



Past and present


ritish author Emma Healey may be only 29 years old, but she has created a poignant portrait of a woman with dementia in her luminous debut novel, which contains a double mystery.




Was there a specific inspiration for the character of Maud? Although my father’s mother, Nancy, has dementia and her experiences gave me ideas for some of the scenes in the book, it was my mother’s mother, Vera, who most influenced the character of Maud. Vera died in 2008, before I’d gotten very far into writing Elizabeth Is Missing, but her voice is very like Maud’s. In fact my mother recently rediscovered a tape recording of Vera, telling stories about her childhood, and I was surprised at how alike the two voices are: both slightly jokey, sometimes irritable, curious about people and full of detail. You are in your 20s—how did you get yourself into the mindset of a pensioner with dementia? I’m not sure I know, but that process was certainly the interest the book held for me. Writing as Maud was incredibly freeing, as I knew readers wouldn’t immediately assume her thoughts were mine or that her life was a thinly veiled version of my own. Similarly, you obviously weren’t alive in the 1940s! How did you research that part of the book? Part of that was down to the stories from Vera, which I’d written down during her lifetime, but I also read a lot of postwar British fiction, as well as nonfiction, published diaries and old newspapers. I watched old films (both feature films and Pathé newsreels) and spoke to anyone I knew who could remember that time.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that you were courted by publishers who wanted this novel. How did that feel? It was very strange indeed, overwhelming but brilliant. Like most new writers, I could only hope that one day one publisher might agree to publish one of my books; I couldn’t imagine several publishers all wanting to buy the first book I’d written. It was very difficult to decide on which publisher to go with— they were all lovely and well-respected and all had great ideas. In the end, I went with the publisher whose vision for the book most nearly matched my own.


Many authors are active on social media, but your stop-motion book videos on Vine are so unique! How does that creative outlet compare to writing? Thank you! My UK publishers told me about Vine, and as soon as they described the app I was keen to try it out. They are quite different. Writing is the thing that pervades my whole day—I’m always wondering how I might describe something or improve my understanding, I’m constantly trying to remember an eavesdropped conversation or an idea for a story. Whereas the Vines are spur-of-themoment and just for fun. They are wonderfully refreshing to make in that respect—taking a matter of hours rather than years. What are you working on next? While I was writing Elizabeth Is Missing, and struggling with the intricacies of the plot, I told myself the next book would be really simple and linear and I’d have it all worked out before I set down a single word. Now that I’m trying to begin the second book, I’ve found I have no facility for that, so I already have a very complicated novel plan. I’m still experimenting with voice at the moment, but I’m also, once again, exploring themes around memory and how the past and present interlink.

reviews The Dinner, when a simple meal turned twisted, and Summer House with Swimming Pool is no different: We watch as a happy family vacation grows complicated and dark. This time, our misanthropic narrator is Marc, doctor to the stars. His patients are artists, writers and actors who are co-dependent more than anything else, relying on Marc’s reassurance and attention more than his medical opinion. He spends his time counting the minutes until his patients leave and yawning his way through their performances. He’s not disillusioned by wealth so much as utterly bored by it. Or is he? One of Marc’s patients is Ralph Meier, a big, hulking actor who seems to get whatever he wants. The good doctor is both repulsed and intrigued by Ralph, and he’s obsessed with learning what makes him tick—to the point of borderline stalking the actor’s family on their summer vacation. Koch has assembled all the elements for a good summer thriller, but his style is a bit unsettling. Just when you begin to connect with the characters, he zooms wide and you lose focus. It’s fun to peek inside the windows of the rich, but it’s frustrating to be kept outside, and these characters never really let you in. They’re always hiding something, and just like in The Dinner, the real mystery here is the human condition. Summer House with Swimming Pool describes a world where hopelessly damaged people live perfect-looking lives, where all is not as it seems, and where the shadows overtake the sunshine. One thing’s for sure—Koch is not afraid to take us to the dark side. —C A R R I E R O L LWA G E N


Harper $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062309662 Audio, eBook available


Literature is replete with unreliable narrators, but you’ve never encountered an unreliable narrator like the one in Emma Healey’s mournful and luminous debut nov-

FICTION el, Elizabeth Is Missing. Maud Horsham isn’t remotely evil. She’s not pathologically dishonest, nor does she have some deep, dark secret to hide. Her unreliability comes simply from the fact that she’s elderly and her memory is failing fast. On top of this, she’s absolutely sure that her friend Elizabeth is missing. We learn that Elizabeth isn’t exactly missing, at least not in the way that Maud insists that she is. The person who’s missing is Maud’s adored older sister Sukey, and Sukey has been missing since World War II. Maud was a teenager then. Her present-day dementia makes her grief and longing for both women bleed into each other. Her past life is so dominated by Sukey’s disappearance that Maud’s memoDementia ries of her own happy enough can’t keep marriage and Maud from young mothtrying to find erhood barely register. her missing Other than friend in this this, Maud has lived an ordivivid debut. nary life in an ordinary English suburb. She’s like any other pensioner whose recall is getting dicey. She has a care­giver who drops by. Her daughter and granddaughter also look after her. Her son comes over from Germany to see her when he feels like it. Maud’s deterioration makes her sympathetic and exasperating by turns—the reader does wish she’d stop shouting and breaking things for no reason, stop getting lost and try to remember what she’s just been told a second ago. But it also makes her sad and a little funny, which she’s aware of. You figure that when she was a younger woman she was kind, plucky and resourceful. What’s truly astonishing about the book is that its author—a web administrator at the University of East Anglia—isn’t even 30 years old. How can she know what it’s like for a person to lose herself, bit by bit? How can her descriptions of World War II, with all the shabbiness and rationing and black-market intrigue, be so vivid? Of course, Healey is able to imagine and empathize on such a level because she’s simply a brilliant writer. Let’s hope we hear much more from her over the years. —ARLENE McKANIC



A young woman of letters BY JOELLE HERR

It was on a gray December day that 23-year-old Joanna Rakoff, nestled into her couch rereading Persuasion, received the call that she had gotten the job. Fresh out of grad school and without much of a game plan—aside from a deep-rooted desire to become a poet—Rakoff landed a position at one of the most storied literary agencies in New York City, one that represented such literary legends as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Judy Blume. In her absorbing new memoir, My Salinger Year, Rakoff (A Fortunate Age) recounts her time spent working as an assistant at what she simply refers to as “the Agency.” Even though it was the mid-1990s, the Agency office was a midcentury time capsule, where agents still smoked at their desks and there was nary a computer in sight, and a temple, where priceless first editions lined the endless shelves of books. After learning how to turn on her decades-old Selectric (that’s a typewriter, in case you By Joanna Rakoff didn’t know) and adjust the playback speed on her boss’ Dictaphone, Knopf, $25.95, 272 pages Rakoff learned that one of her duties would be answering the fan mail of ISBN 9780307958006, eBook available the Agency’s star client: the reclusive J.D. Salinger. MEMOIR The letters to Salinger were voluminous, deeply personal and passionate about his works. It didn’t take long for Rakoff to ditch the form-letter response and start composing thoughtful, personalized replies—in secret, of course. The formidable, top-brass agent she worked for (referred to as “my boss”) is part Miranda Priestly, part Amanda Farrow, and deeply devoted to protecting Salinger’s privacy and legacy. Naturally, there’s more to the book than just Rakoff’s job (and Salinger). There’s Don, her live-in socialist boyfriend with writerly ambitions of his own; there’s the striking contrast of making under $20k a year while living in a city and working in an industry that both revolve around vast amounts of wealth; there’s the universally relatable experience of being young and finding your own path in life. Told with effortless, pitch-perfect prose, My Salinger Year is a deeply moving but unsentimental coming-intoyour-own story that will keep readers thoroughly engrossed through the very last word.

THE MAP THIEF By Michael Blanding


In his heyday, E. Forbes Smiley III was larger than life, a man who excelled at virtually everything he set his hand to. Although his name smacked of sitcom pretentiousness, he was never the rich buffoon. Raised in a middle-class, well-educated family in New Hampshire, Smiley became a superb college student, an engaging conversationalist, a gifted woodworker and a generous and loyal friend.

the book is rich with historically important maps and maps that show the territories Smiley occupied during crucial periods of his life. One of the latter is a map of Sebec, Maine, a small town Smiley attempted to transform into his vision of an ideal New England village. This project alone is estimated to have set him back almost a million dollars. Initially, Smiley agreed to cooperate with the author in writing this book, but after giving two interviews, he withdrew, leaving Blanding to piece together the rest of the narrative through interviews with his friends, business associates and a growing throng of adversaries. Although this is a sad story brilliantly told, it hardly amounts to a tragedy. Though Smiley’s hubris led to his downfall, he emerges as such a versatile and resilient figure that one expects we will hear from him again. —EDWARD MORRIS



Gotham $27.50, 320 pages ISBN 9781592408177 Audio, eBook available


Ah, WASPs: Those guilt-ridden, uptight, real estate-obsessed traditionalists. In Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town, Sarah Payne Stuart captures the essence of this distinctive culture, tracing both her own childhood in Concord, Massachusetts, and the lives of some of Concord’s famous residents, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. Stuart shocks herself when, after years in “the Victorian house of my dreams, thirty minutes from Manhattan,” she and her husband Charlie decide to move back to Concord in a fit of adult homesickness. “Suddenly my best friends living nearby in the city, my fledgling career, and Charlie’s rise at ABC News meant nothing,” she writes. “Suddenly being cool and wearing a leather jacket while nursing my baby in a Greenwich Village restaurant meant nothing—next to the thought of my children floating toy boats on the Concord River while my mother and I looked on.” She and Charlie settle into one fixer-upper after another, sinking into debt while they raise their young family. Along the way, Stuart makes peace with her family’s history of repression, hurt and mental illness, and realizes the obvious parallels between her own family and other Concordians who have tried to rewrite their histories. (To wit: Despite Alcott’s cozy, seemingly autobiographical portrait of Marmee and her little women, Alcott’s real mother was a shrill martyr and her father a delusional freeloader.) Stuart writes honestly and lovingly about her aging parents, her childhood, money, the trials of parenthood and keeping her marriage afloat. In other words, everything. Perfectly Miserable is a gorgeously rendered portrait of modern life— and a reminder that some things never change.

Read a Q&A with Joanna Rakoff on the next page.

After college, he turned his considerable talents to the rare maps trade, and within a few years was an expert at it. His taste for the good life, however, and zeal for creating his own idealized surroundings eventually outstripped his legitimate income. So he began stealing and selling maps from university and public libraries in an increasingly feverish effort to stay ahead of his bills. He was caught in 2005 and served three years in prison before returning to his family in Martha’s Vineyard, where he has since scratched out a living as a landscaper, laborer and web designer. The Map Thief, Michael Blanding’s captivating account of Smiley’s career, also provides first-rate summaries of the histories of map-making and collecting, as well as vivid profiles of the principal players who aided Smiley and helped bring him down. Appropriately for such a story,

Riverhead $27.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781594631818 eBook available



A pivotal year


n her lovely new memoir, Joanna Rakoff takes readers on a tour of mid-1990s New York City—from the hallowed halls of an esteemed literary agency to the not-yet-gentrified streets of Williamsburg—as she settles in to her first real job.




What inspired you to write My Salinger Year ? Many years ago, when I was trying to make my way as a freelance magazine writer, I had coffee with veteran Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal. Somehow, we got to talking about my first job, and he said, “You need to write about this.” I was working on a novel at the time, so I just sort of laughed nervously, though I knew he was right. In 2003, I finally wrote a long essay on answering Salinger’s fan mail, and I was naively shocked by the response it got! Editors and agents contacted me, asking if I’d turn the essay into a book. But I was still working on that novel, and my agent pointed out, “Listen, if you write a book on Salinger before your novel comes out, you’ll be known as ‘the Salinger Girl.’ That’s not you. We don’t want that. Finish your novel.” I followed her advice. That novel, A Fortunate Age, came out in 2009. After Salinger died in 2010, I wrote another piece about working at the Agency. When I was approached, again, about turning the story into a book, I still hesitated. But then, one day, the first few pages sort of floated into my head. I sat down and pounded them out, and the narrative arc began to take shape. I said yes.


Did you consult any of your former colleagues at “the Agency” either while writing the book or later, to let them know it’s coming out? I did! Perhaps because one’s first job is such a formative experience, I stayed in touch with a good number of my co-workers from that time. The character known as “Max” in the book is one of my favorite people in the world, and I was glad for the excuse to sit down and talk with him about that time. I also had some long lunches with two of the assistants with whom I worked, and it was just fascinating to see what people remember and what they don’t. I heard through the grapevine that my old boss was “tickled” by that first essay I wrote, back in 2003, and I do hope it’s true! At the risk of sounding hokey: I wrote this book from a place of love and admiration. This is not a gossipy tell-all. Or a take-down. It’s not The Devil Wears Prada.


Typewriters, Dictaphones—What was the single most bizarre practice that you encountered at the Agency? Oh, gee! How to choose! Perhaps the strangest, funniest little task came about when the Agency obtained a computer. One computer for the entire office, with one email account. I was allowed to use the computer purely for Agency business, including checking the Agency email, and printing out any pertinent notes for my boss, who would then dictate responses for me, which I would then type, on my typewriter, and after she approved them, retype them into the computer. How did your time at the Agency impact your development as a writer? In a way, working at the Agency made me a writer. All those letters to the Salinger fans? They lent me confidence and authority. They were my first real works! Somehow, writing as Joanna Rakoff of the Agency—rather than just plain old Joanna Rakoff—allowed me to be more bold and forthright, to jump off a cliff in the way you need to when writing. If you had to choose one adjective to describe your “Salinger Year,” what would it be? Transformative. Exhilarating. Fun. Visit to read more (That’s three. Sorry.) of our Q&A with Joanna Rakoff.

reviews AMERICAN SPRING By Walter R. Borneman

Little, Brown $30, 480 pages ISBN 9780316221023 Audio, eBook available


Who fired the first shot on Lexington Green on the morning of April 19, 1775, remains in dispute. Both the British regulars and the American rebels vehemently denied that it came from their side. What is agreed on is that after that first shot was heard, there was immediately sporadic and then volley fire from the British regulars. In June, there was the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill. While the result was indecisive, it was a self-proclaimed British victory at a staggering cost. The engagement was costly for the rebels as well, but they left no doubt that they were not about to give up. This was all-out war. Events during the first six months of 1775 were crucial to determining whether the colonies were to remain obedient to Great Britain or to become independent and form a more representative government. Walter R. Borneman’s superb American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution tells the story of that period in significant detail with descriptions of military engagements and legislative actions, but never loses sight of the personalities at all levels. To a great extent, Borneman relies on the original affidavits, correspondence and memories of the participants and views events from their perspective—before they knew what the outcome would be—giving us a remarkably fresh look at this transformative period. Among the colorful figures are two unlikely couplings. There was politically savvy Samuel Adams, a failed businessman and part-time brewer, and the wealthy merchant John Hancock. For their own reasons, having to do with money or lack of it, they worked for rebellion. A second coupling, the ambitious wheeler-dealer Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen, a frontiersman of bravado and bluster, teamed to capture Fort Ticonderoga. Lesser-known

NONFICTION figures who played important roles include John Derby Jr., who was entrusted with delivering early reports of the Lexington battles to moderates in Great Britain sympathetic to the rebel cause. Unknown to him, the person who was to receive these documents, Benjamin Franklin, had sailed for North America. But Derby reached the helpful Lord Mayor of London who helped to spread the rebel version of events before the official version arrived from General Thomas Gage. Borneman’s authoritative, carefully structured and very well written account often seems to place readers in the moment with events that changed the course of history. —ROGER BISHOP

TAKE THIS MAN By Brando Skyhorse

Simon & Schuster $26, 272 pages ISBN 9781439170878 Audio, eBook available


Fond looks back at profound dysfunction have become so commonplace, it’s a wonder there’s not a “crazy parenting” section in bookstores to help the next generation of memoirists get a leg up. At this point, crazy itself is not sufficient reason to publish. In Take This Man, Brando Skyhorse, who won a PEN/Hemingway Award for his first novel (The Madonnas of Echo Park), captures the details of his dysfunctional upbringing with note-perfect language and does so in pursuit of the truth about his family. Skyhorse was only 3 years old when his Mexican father abandoned the family. His mother, who was also Mexican, decided to assume an American Indian identity for herself and her son. Through five stepfathers and constant upheaval, Skyhorse struggled to mold a father figure out of the con men and failures his mother brought home. While she worked as a phone sex operator, he would be dispatched to drag one man home from a bar, or taken on an outing with another where, instead of riding bumper cars at an amusement park, he was left in the car outside a housing project while

NONFICTION undisclosed business was transacted inside. Despite the instability and verbal abuse, he clung to his mother and grandmother until college provided a means of escape. His emotional scars are just beginning to heal as he gets to know his father for the first time—and comes to grips with the realization that his mother’s claim of Native-American heritage was a fantasy. “My mother had so much pain to share that she had to invent people to hurt,” including a kidnapped daughter and a son who died at age 3, Skyhorse writes. This is a hard story to take in—a trip to visit the imaginary daughter leads to the revelation that his mother has placed an ad offering her young son for adoption—but it’s impossible to look away. Every hate and hurt on display here is balanced against an equally powerful love. Take This Man looks head-on at every character, including the author; it’s a brave and hopeful story. —HEATHER SEGGEL


Crown $26, 448 pages ISBN 9780307889751 Audio, eBook available


longtime contact Mustafa Zein were more than willing to tell his story. A devoted family man, Ames was also gifted with sharp intelligence, a love of Arabic language and culture, and the requisite patience and sensitivity that made him a very effective clandestine officer. This book is not only a fascinating character study of the man himself, but also a window into the skills Ames used to recruit agents and cultivate relationships with key political and military players. It describes in detail the CIA’s relationship with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, including the lengths the agency went to in an effort to protect key leaders of the organization and the ties Ames maintained with PLO security chief Ali Hassan Salameh, a crucial back-channel to Arafat, the PLO’s “chairman.” Bird also details Ames’ death in the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing, an attack that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. The Good Spy demonstrates anew all that was lost on that tragic day, and the consequences for those seeking peace in a war-torn region. —MARIANNE PETERS

A LONG WAY HOME By Saroo Brierley

Putnam $26.95, 272 pages ISBN 9780399169281 Audio, eBook available




Young Saroo loves his older brothers, especially Guddu, who at 14 is less and less at home. One night in 1986, Guddu comes back to his family’s poor village in India for about an hour, and 5-year-old Saroo can’t contain his excitement. When Guddu announces that he’s leaving, Saroo declares that he’s going off into the night with his older brother. And so begins Saroo Brierley’s great misadventure and his 25-year search for home, which he recounts dramatically in A Long Way Home. That night, young Saroo becomes separated from his brother and begins several days of searching, begging and riding the rails in an attempt to find his brother or get back home.

Grand Central $28, 400 pages ISBN 9781455512638 eBook available


In the middle of her otherwise fascinating story about reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, Meryl Gordon’s narrative suddenly flattens. The daily details of Clark’s life during this long period of seclusion are assembled from wan notes to almost-lost relatives, bank statements and legal correspondence, and the memories of the few close friends who received cards and phone calls—but never visits—from

Mrs. Clark. This flattening of narrative occurs because the subject of The Phantom of Fifth Avenue—the youngest daughter from the scandalous second marriage of robber baron William Andrews Clark—had almost succeeded in her desire to disappear. The last published photo of her was taken in 1928 during the honeymoon of her brief, ill-fated marriage. Some longtime members of the household staff in her 42room apartment on New York’s Fifth Avenue had rarely if ever seen her. A clearer picture of Clark emerges after she was admitted to Doctor’s Hospital for treatment of advanced skin cancer in 1991, when she was 84 years old. After multiple surgeries, she was successfully treated, but the eccentric Clark negotiated to stay in the hospital and hire private nurses for around-the-clock care and companionship. This set off an unseemly “cash crusade” at the hospital. Over the next 20 years, one of those nurses, who worked 12-hour shifts 365 days a year, would receive from the always generous Clark roughly $31 million, in addition to houses, cars and jewelry. The nurse, who had a genuine if manipulative relationship with her patient, stood to inherit even more when Clark, who resisted acknowledging her own mortality, was finally convinced to update her 75-year-old will. After Clark’s death, a nasty battle over her $300 million fortune was launched by descendants of her half-brothers and half-sisters, the side of the family she felt had grievously mistreated her mother. This very public dispute led to a cartoonish portrayal of Clark in the media. Extreme wealth and extreme eccentricity do sell, after all. Through her assiduous research—she conducted more than 100 interviews and plowed through boxes of documents seized during the court battle—and canny analysis, Gordon gives us, yes, Clark’s perplexing eccentricities and the ins and outs of the fight between family members and loyal-but-incompetent friends and helpers. But The Phantom of Fifth Avenue also offers a believable, sympathetic portrait of a vulnerable perfectionist with an artistic temperament, who, as one of Clark’s young helpers would say, was “a very special person from a different epoch.” —ALDEN MUDGE


On September 13, 1993, the day Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, several dozen CIA officers quietly gathered at the grave of Robert Ames in Arlington National Cemetery. While most of the world focused on the hope of Middle East peace, those at Ames’ grave paid tribute to an operative who may have made that peace possible, even though few knew what he had accomplished—not the presidents he served, not members of Congress, not even his own family. The Good Spy is Kai Bird’s engrossing biography of Ames, who served his country for decades in the Middle East. Bird, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer (American Prometheus), received no official help from the CIA, but found that dozens of retired operatives, Ames’ wife Yvonne and his children, and Ames’

Saroo eventually lands in Calcutta, where he joins the teeming masses of children scavenging for food, running from bullies and searching for a safe place to sleep through one more night. Turned over to the police by a kind teenage boy, he lands in an orphanage, where, for the first time in months, he has food and a clean bed. It’s not long before a family adopts Saroo, and on September 25, 1987, he flies to Australia to meet the Brierleys and begin his new life in a faraway land. He thrives as Saroo Brierley, excelling in sports and academics. Yet, several questions haunt him: Is his mother still alive in India? What about Guddu? How can he find his way back to his village, since he can’t remember the name of the place or where it’s located? In a development that made headlines around the world in 2012, Saroo is eventually able to locate his village, principally by poring over satellite images on Google Earth. He reunites with his family in India, yet never abandons his adoptive family in Australia. Instead, he writes that he “is not conflicted about who I am or where to call home. I now have two families, not two identities.” Though Brierley’s prose lacks polish, his story is undeniably moving and will appeal to any reader captivated by the pursuit of a dream that won’t die.



TEEN a superbly crafted story that feels emotionally honest and expansive despite its tightly written style. —NORAH PIEHL



Lights, camera, love REVIEW BY HEATHER SEGGEL

At just 18, Emi has parlayed a Hollywood internship into work as a production designer, a job for which she has natural talent. While prop shopping at an estate sale, she finds a letter from a deceased movie star that sends her and her best friend, Charlotte, on a quest to find the actor’s troubled granddaughter, Ava. Fate, love and vintage furniture collide in Everything Leads to You. Nina LaCour, author of The Disenchantments, has a true knack for pacing, moving the story along while incorporating generous pauses to allow the characters to watch one another and see how they live. That theme comes to the forefront here, as designer Emi’s idealized movie-set worlds crash into the reality of Ava’s homelessness. People often project a story onto others based upon what they initially see; Emi loses sight of that and almost misses out on true love in the bargain. Her plan is to craft a happy ending for Ava, who goes almost literally from rags to richBy Nina LaCour es. Instead Emi realizes, “She was never something waiting to be solved. Dutton, $17.99, 320 pages All she is—all she’s ever been—is a person trying to live a life.” ISBN 9780525425885, eBook available Everything Leads to You has fairy-tale qualities—the letter, the quest Ages 12 and up it inspires and, of course, the glitter-coated world of Hollywood. But it’s a FICTION fairy tale made up of the magic inherent to each of us: discovering what you’re good at and pursuing it doggedly; keeping friends and family close whenever it’s feasible; and trusting your heart to lead you where you need to go. Sometimes abandoning your vision of a happy ending is the key to having one after all.


Little, Brown $18, 240 pages ISBN 9780316230483 Ages 12 and up




Set on the beaches and back alleys of Los Angeles, The Prince of Venice Beach is the tale of a homeless runaway who lives an easy life off the grid—until his only means of income turns morally complex. Seventeen-year-old Robert “Cali” Callahan ran away from an endless cycle of foster homes when he turned 14. Over the years, he has remained under the radar while learning about the people, locales and vibes of Venice Beach, as well as offering his help to anyone who needs it. So when a private investigator shows up at his regular pickup basketball game, Cali plays it cool enough to land a well-paying gig helping the PI find another run-

away in the area. Cali goes on to get two more PI jobs, but he ends up falling for the subject of his third search—the mysterious, elusive Reese Abernathy. Cali wants to help Reese, but with rumors swirling about her mental instability and the true cause of her mother’s death, he faces tough decisions in the face of ethical ambiguity. The Prince of Venice Beach reveals the savagery and humanity of life on the streets, and provides insights into homelessness that few are able to capture. —J U S T I N B A R I S I C H

WE ARE THE GOLDENS By Dana Reinhardt Wendy Lamb $16.99, 208 pages ISBN 9780385742573 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up


Nell Golden has been waiting for this moment for two years. She’s fi-

nally about to start high school with her beautiful older sister, Layla. Nell and Layla have always been close, and Nell is sure their bond will only grow deeper once they attend the same high school parties and play on the school’s varsity soccer team. But as soon as the school year starts, Nell feels Layla pulling away. She has some suspicions about what’s going on with her older sister, but she can’t talk about them with anyone, especially not the one person she needs the most—Layla herself. As Nell makes her way (and sometimes stumbles) through her freshman year, she feels as if she’s missing the mentor and guide she assumed Layla would be. Meanwhile, she is dogged by her fears for Layla and haunted by the memories of two brothers who were destroyed by their own secrets. Ultimately, Nell must decide what would be the bigger betrayal: revealing Layla’s secret or keeping it. Dana Reinhardt excels at creating complex, realistic family relationships and placing strong, provocative themes in the midst of engaging coming-of-age stories. We Are the Goldens is no exception; it’s

By Gail Giles

Candlewick $16.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780763662677 eBook available Ages 14 and up


Developmentally disabled teens Biddy and Quincy have just graduated from high school. Biddy’s been living with her grandmother, and Quincy with various foster families, but now they need jobs and new living arrangements. A team of counselors arranges for the two graduates to share an apartment above a local widow’s garage. At first, Quincy and Biddy resent each other’s company, and mixed-race Quincy isn’t sure how she feels about interacting with a white landlady. But their strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and soon all three discover a sense of family and belonging that’s long eluded them. Like other books in the emerging “new adult” category, Girls Like Us tackles issues like transitioning from school to work, paying bills for the first time and negotiating chores and boundaries with roommates. (There’s no consensual sex, although characters grapple with the lasting effects of sexual assault.) In alternating first-person narrations inspired by author Gail Giles’ longtime work with special-education students, Biddy and Quincy talk openly about their feelings, fears and daily struggles and triumphs. Sections are short (sometimes as brief as a paragraph or a single sentence), and the girls’ language is realistically simple. This highly readable story is a welcome addition to a growing literature about teens with mental and physical challenges. Echoing the characters in John Green’s seminal YA novel The Fault in Our Stars, these two newly independent teens know that their disabilities aren’t their fault—and aren’t the only factors that define who they are. —J I L L R A T Z A N

children’s books


Mom, can I keep it?


omewhere around a child’s fourth birthday, the whine begins. At first it’s a soft sound, the gentle “aww” whenever anyone walks by with a puppy or friendly dog, and the begging grows with every cat video that pops up on any website. It hits a fever pitch when someone—a neighbor, a relative— gets a puppy or a kitty or a goldfish. Soon, you give in and get a pet. Thank goodness there are some new picture books that are almost as lovable as your new responsibility.

TROUBLEMAKER If you are trying to stave off the pet pleas, Naughty Kitty! (Orchard, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN

9780545576048, ages 3 to 5) might fit the bill. Coming on the heels of his hilarious Silly Doggy!, Adam Stower outdoes himself with this tale of kitten ownership gone bad. Starting on the end pages, the careful reader will notice some hints of things to come: A striped orange tiger has gone missing, but Lily is much too excited about her new gray kitten to think about that. She wished for a dog, but the kitten is nevertheless quite cute and cuddly—even if he can’t do any tricks. The minute Lily’s back is turned, things go wrong. The runaway tiger sneaks in, makes a huge mess and goes on his way, leaving Kitty to blame. This scene repeats until the little kitty “saves” Lily from the neighbor’s dog, which is clothed in an orange striped sweater. There’s nothing more fun than being in on a joke, and your lap-listener will love discovering all the sneaky ways Stower has included hints of the tiger’s presence. Who knows— your young reader might be so distracted by the joke, she might forget that she wants a pet. Maybe.

CONE OF SHAME Puppies Mister Bud and Zorro are back in Mister Bud Wears the Cone (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 48 pages, ISBN 9781442480889, ages 4 to 8). If you have not yet given in and gotten a pet, Carter Goodrich’s hilarious dog stories will test your resolve. This time, a hot spot on Mister

Bud’s back is wreaking havoc on Zorro’s schedule and making Mister Bud miserable. When their owner has to leave, Mister Bud has to wear the cone. Adults know how unhappy dogs are when they have to wear the cone, but children will understand Zorro’s glee: Now he can eat all the treats and play tricks on his visually impeded friend. When Mister Bud accidentally smashes a lamp, Zorro waits in anticipation for the owner’s return; he just knows that Mister

Illustration from Mister Bud Wears the Cone. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster. Bud is in trouble for sure! These two dogs have so much personality that adults and children alike will have trouble resisting them. Who can choose a favorite? Not me. Uh-oh—now your child will want two pets!


Take some gray felt, pipe cleaners, cotton, beads and nylon thread, plus quite a lot of sewing and gluing and talent, and you, too, could create amazing books like Maggie Rudy. OK, you couldn’t do any such thing, but you can snuggle up to I Wish I Had a Pet (Beach Lane, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781442453326, ages 4 to 8, on sale July 1) and revel in the world that Rudy has created. This time, her main character is a little girl mouse, clad in a yellow calico dress with a purple sash. Clearly, she wants a pet. But which one? She considers all the possibilities, small and large, from roly-polies, beetles and bumblebees to birds, frogs and turtles. Each spread is a marvel of a little mouse world where young children will want to explore all the details. Through these amazing scenes, Rudy offers wise advice about pet ownership: Get a pet that suits your style, is not too big, doesn’t make you sneeze or is too fierce. You can play with your pet, but it is not a doll. You have to care for it by cleaning it, making it comfy, feeding and watering it. Pick up after it when it makes a mess; exercise it; and teach it tricks. It will be hard to resist the call for a pet after reading this treasure to your pet-starved youngster.




Freedom comes to Mississippi REVIEW BY ANGELA LEEPER

Following Countdown, Deborah Wiles’ tale about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the first book in her Sixties Trilogy, Revolution spotlights the Freedom Summer of 1964. During this volatile time, black and white volunteers from four major civil rights organizations joined efforts to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, at the time one of the country’s most racist and dangerous states. These “invaders” have been strategizing for months, but for 12-year-old Sunny Fairchild, it all begins the night she and her new stepbrother sneak into their Greenwood, Mississippi, whites-only swimming pool. They’re not expecting company, especially not Raymond, the “colored boy” with high-tops. At first Sunny doesn’t understand the uproar when she hears about integration, civil rights and voting registration. Don’t blacks have their By Deborah Wiles own churches, restaurants and schools? She witnesses white students and Scholastic, $19.99, 544 pages black citizens being berated and jailed for even attempting to register to ISBN 9780545106078, eBook available vote. When the hatred turns violent and affects her own family, Sunny realAges 8 to 12 izes that doing what’s right often means taking risks. MIDDLE GRADE Readers get the true flavor of this tumultuous and groundbreaking summer as Sunny catches the latest Hayley Mills movie and her parents listen to Walter Cronkite report on the escalating war in Vietnam. But what sets this book apart from other historical fiction is the wealth of photographs, quotes, profiles and song lyrics on topics that range from President Johnson and the three murdered Freedom Riders to Willie Mays and Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali. For today’s children, these events will be just as much of an awakening to equality as they are to Sunny.


Dial $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780803739932 eBook available Ages 3 to 5




The co-creator of the best-selling Ladybug Girl series brings readers an entertaining tale of sibling camaraderie, starring three bears who live by the sea. Their story, a classic hero’s journey (home, adventure and home again), is one of excitement, danger, a little bit of mischief and lots of understated humor. The three bears head out one day after knocking over their mother’s favorite blue seashell. (Naturally, they were after the honey, high on the mantelpiece.) If they can replace the shell, Mama will never know. They set out in a boat, passing other bears and finally meeting a “big, salty” captain of a bear, who tells them they’ll find what they’re looking for—but only if they look in the right place. He describes a faraway

island, shaped like a “lumpy hat,” so that’s where the siblings go. Even though the bears search the island, the watery world below (look for Soman’s impressive ability to personify an octopus), and nearly every spot on their way there, they are unable to find a beautiful blue shell. Grumpy and argumentative, they head back home. As they step ashore, where a solemn and towering Mama waits, they find a shimmering blue shell. It turns out that home is the “right place,” after all. Mama forgives them, but to keep things from getting too cloying, Soman closes the book with the very funny, matter-of-fact statement that they “didn’t get any dessert.” Soman’s illustrations, showcasing all the blues and teals of a seafaring journey, are at turns majestic (the churning waters of a storm at sea) and laugh-out-loud funny (searching for seashells on a mountaintop, as a disgruntled ram humors them). Many story elements and illustrations call to mind other classic stories (Where the Wild Things Are and Moby Dick, to name two). This one utterly charms. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N


Philomel $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780399164057 eBook available Ages 8 to 12


It is true that Lisa Graff’s latest book, Absolutely Almost, brings to mind someone else’s work, but not because Graff is in any way imitative—she’s far too brilliant to sound like someone else. Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, “Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?” and now I have the perfect offering. Like Wonder, Absolutely Almost is the story of a boy struggling to fit in. Unlike Auggie, however, Graff’s protagonist Albie doesn’t have any noticeable problems; he just cannot succeed at school. Reading is hard. Math is impossible. So much so, in fact, that he can no longer attend private school.

His busy parents are not happy. Albie, who now has to adjust to fifth grade in public school, is definitely not happy. A reader might hope for a magic answer: Does Albie have a learning disorder? Will the new nanny fix everything? Something will make it all better, right? Maybe. At the end of Wonder, Auggie was still Auggie—a kid with problems, both ordinary and extraordinary. Albie is also just a kid trying to find his way. Graff has an uncanny ability to sound exactly like a 10-year-old boy, which allows the reader to feel the “almost” that Albie confronts every day. Graff almost won the National Book Award for A Tangle of Knots; here’s hoping she gets a big award soon. Like Albie, she deserves it. —J E N N I F E R B R U E R K I T C H E L

THE NIGHT GARDENER By Jonathan Auxier Amulet $16.95, 368 pages ISBN 9781419711442 Ages 10 and up


From the title of Jonathan Auxier’s fascinating, original (and more than a little creepy) version of a Victorian ghost story, one might suppose that The Night Gardener is, like The Secret Garden, a sweet, perhaps a bit sentimental, coming-of-age story. And while the novel does share some elements with the classic tale, including orphans (Molly and her little brother Kip); a creepy mansion; spoiled children (Penny and Alistair Windsor); and somewhat magical growing things, The Night Gardener is decidedly darker—in the most delicious and delightful way. When Irish orphans Molly and Kip arrive to work at the Windsor estate, they find a family out of sorts, a father in financial trouble, curious muddy footprints and, of course, a mysterious room at the heart of the house. As Molly and Kip seek to free the Windsors and themselves from the malevolent presence that stalks the family, they find unexpected sources of courage and allies, including an old storyteller. This is exactly the sort of scary, spooky story kids love. —DEBORAH HOPKINSON




The big picture


nspired by the author’s own childhood in Mississippi in the ’60s, Revolution is an unforgettable story of big changes—for a nation and for the two young characters at the heart of this book.

Why did you choose to tell the story of the Freedom Summer through the eyes of a white character, especially one who isn’t initially a firm believer in civil rights? I chose to tell the story as I witnessed it in 1964. I was a white kid in Mississippi in 1964, and I didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t be called a “believer” in civil rights per se, as I didn’t know what that meant. Children have a finely honed sense of justice and fairness, however, and I knew something was wrong and unfair, although I couldn’t articulate it. At first, when “everything closed”—the pool, the rollerskating rink, the ice cream place, the library, the movie theater—all I could think was, now I won’t be able to do these things—how unfair! I hadn’t realized that there were kids my age who had never been able to do these things, because of the color of their skin. I always say this was the summer I began to pay attention. When I wrote Revolution, I wanted Sunny to have such an awakening. I wanted her to begin to pay attention. I wanted her to expand her thinking, and thereby her world. Everything she hears, sees and experiences serves that awakening. You don’t shy away from depicting the violence directed at blacks and the whites who are trying to help them. Why do you think it’s important for Sunny to observe this violence firsthand? I need the reader to observe it! Sunny and Raymond are the eyes and ears of the reader, and through them the reader experiences Freedom Summer, as well as what it’s like to grow up with hopes and dreams within a loving family; what it’s like to weather storms together, to be scared together, to face hatred and change together; what honor and dignity look like; what it’s like to not understand what’s happening in your world, to seek out answers.

What would you say to young readers who want to make a positive change in the world? Ask questions. Pay attention. Educate yourself. Find your people and stand for what you believe in. In Revolution, Sunny is almost 13 years old, and she makes a difference. Raymond, who is 14, certainly makes a difference as he learns to work in his community, learns to channel his frustration and anger, and learns that his dignity has no price. He teaches Sunny this, too, without saying a word to her. This is how we make a differVisit for more ence, one choice at a time, over and of our Q&A with Deborah Wiles. over again.

GASTON Christian Robinson is the illustrator of Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson, which was nominated for the 2013 NAACP Image Award, and Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powel. His vibrant acrylic illustrations give life to Kelly DiPucchio’s tale of an odd puppy out in Gaston (Atheneum, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781442451025). Robinson lives and works in San Francisco.


The articles and photographs never overwhelm the story, but rather provide glimpses of the historical backdrop. How should young people approach these documentary materials? They serve as a way to look at the larger world while the more intimate story plays out in the book. As writers and readers, we often look at a story—especially historical fiction—as happening in one small pocket of the historical world, when in reality so much is happening that’s important to a story, that defines it. The Beatles coming to America in 1964 is a defining feature of Sunny’s life and friendships, and I want you to see it. I want to see it, as I am such a visual learner and reader. I teach writing in schools, where I tell students and teachers about the awakening moments for me as a writer, when I learned that I could access the whole world in telling my story—an outer story and an inner story, if you will.





Dear Editor: I am curious as to the origin of the word mutt, meaning “a dog of mixed breed.” C. T. Warren, Massachusetts Tracing mutt back to its origins involves many centuries and two additional species, one with four legs and the other with two. We begin with moton, a word ultimately of Celtic origin (it is related to the Welsh mollt, meaning “a ram”) that was used in Old French to mean “a sheep” and “the flesh of a sheep used for food.” Borrowed into Middle English as motoun with these senses at about the beginning of the 14th century, the word eventually came to be spelled mutton. Its “sheep” sense had fallen into disuse in English by the end of the 19th century, but its “food” sense, of course, continues in use today. By the late 18th century, the word muttonhead was being used as a slang term to express a sentiment similar to that of today’s

meathead. It wasn’t until about 100 years later that the shortened form mutt first appeared, originally with the sense “a stupid or foolish person.” Its use in referring to dogs followed soon afterward. It occurs not only as a synonym of mongrel, of course, but also as a generalized term of abuse for any dog.


Dear Editor: Why is the word calico used for both a cloth and a spotted animal? E. B. Euless, Texas The cloth we call calico was first made in Calicut (now Kozihkode), a small town on the southwestern coast of India. Calicut weavers made such cloths as long ago as the 11th century, but they were not introduced into Europe until the 1500s, when trade between India and Europe increased. It was then that English speakers started calling the cloth calico after the Indian town where it originated. By the 1800s, people were comparing

the spotted coats of animals with the printed designs on calico cloth, and calico gained its “spotted coat” sense.


Dear Editor: A friend recently moved a large kitchen cupboard from her old family home to her new house. She called it a Hoosier. Can you tell me the origin of this name? Does it have anything to do with Indiana? G. H. Burlington, Vermont The Hoosier cabinet—a freestanding, multi-purpose kitchen unit made of wood or enameled metal—was a new concept for the home at the turn of the century. Its appearance coincided with the elevation of housework to a science called “home economics.” The cabinets were touted for their efficiency—“proved by laboratory tests”—in eliminating the need for numerous trips to the cellar and pantry. “With this up to date kitchen cabinet in her home the

housewife can enjoy hours and hours more of leisure,”proclaimed the 1927 Sears catalog. The name does indeed come from the nickname for Indiana —the Hoosier state. The Hoosier Manufacturing Company, based in New Castle, Indiana, began selling its cabinets in the 1890s. A number of other Midwestern companies, most of them also in Indiana, soon began making the cabinets. They were extremely popular throughout the U.S., and even overseas, in the early 1900s, during which time the name Hoosier became the popular name for them all. Only the Hoosier company itself, of course, could refer to one of its cabinets in advertisements as a Hoosier, as in this ad from 1910: “You don’t have to feed it, or house it, or teach it . . . the Hoosier is it.”

Send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102

Test Your Mental Mettle with Puzzles from BANANA PEELS



There is one letter that when added to all of the four-letter

Add a

words below can be used to form new five-letter words. Find

below and then rearrange the

letters EXCEPT

the letter that works for all four words, add it to each word,

letters in each word to form a

the ones that

and then rearrange each set of letters to form a new word.

new seven-letter word.

appear in the bunch below, fill in

For example, L can be added to ROADS, WEARY, EPICS and

to each of the words


Using any

the blanks to form three new words.





MORE BANANAGRAMS! and other Bananagrams titles are available wherever books are sold. BANANAGRAMS is a registered trademark of Bananagrams Inc. | WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

BookPage June 2014  

Book Reviews, Author Interviews

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you