BookPage June 2018

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plus… Best new books for summer reading

JUNE 2018


Savory, Spicy & Sweet: Summer Reads to Satisfy Every Book Club Appetite The Lost Queen of Crocker County

You will swoon at the story line that will melt your heart like a big pat of butter on warm cornbread.

The Other Einstein

Much like potato salad, the story of Einstein’s first wife is a hearty concoction of smart and satisfying.

This Could Change Everything

Jill Mansell crafts the perfect summertime read like a berry parfait with endless layers of love, friendship, and redemption.

The Radium Girls

The rich historical narrative and awe-inspiring message is a lot like saucy pulled pork topped with tangy slaw.

The Paris Architect

This New York Times bestseller is constructed with lofty layers and delicious flavors like a towering seven-layer salad.

Enter to Win

Books for Your Book Club and a Backyard BBQ Picnic Basket!

JUNE 2018

A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W



13 features 11

book reviews



An industry insider dishes on audiobook trends


top pick : The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND JAMES PATTERSON A thriller with the presidential stamp of approval


top pick : Calypso by David Sedaris

SUMMER READING GUIDE Entertaining books for every reader



top pick : Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

FATHER’S DAY Books Dad will actually like





top pick : Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

At the roots, we are all connected


TOMMY ORANGE A stunning debut from a Native voice



The biggest books of summer


AL ROKER The human stories behind a natural disaster



CAROL TYLER Meet the author-illustrator of Fab4 Mania




A YA author’s most personal novel yet


JACOB GRANT Meet the author-illustrator of Bear’s Scare


columns 4 4 5 5


6 7 9 10


Cover photo credit David Burnett





Michael A. Zibart

Hilli Levin

Penny Childress



Julia Steele

Savanna Walker



Stephanie Koehler

Sukey Howard



BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Elizabeth Grace Herbert and select for review the best books published in a variety of categories. ADVERTISING OPERATIONS BookPage is editorially independent; only books we highly recommend Sada Stipe are featured. MARKETING

Cat Acree

Allison Hammond

Mary Claire Zibart




Lily McLemore

Roger Bishop

Sharon Kozy



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columns Just the facts At a time when hard-hitting journalism is under siege within the halls of power and, more insidiously, under threat of extinction because of the economics of the internet, Seymour M. Hersh’s memoir, Reporter (Knopf, $27.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780307263957), is a welcome tonic. A legend among investigative journalists, Hersh broke some of the most important stories of the last 50 years, and this engaging account of his career during the golden age of journalism is, not surprisingly, filled with colorfully told anecdotes of the art of getting the story. Hersh’s own origin story is right out of a Horatio Alger novel. The son of Jewish immigrants, Hersh grew up on Chicago’s South Side, working in his father’s store in a largely black neighborhood, playing or watching baseball when he could. After his father’s death, Hersh ran the family business while also attending the University of Chicago. After dropping out of law school, he kicked around at some inconsequential jobs before landing at the rough-and-tumble City News Bureau of Chicago as a copy boy and then a field reporter, and his rapport with the black community in the heavily segregated, openly racist city gave him his first taste of the importance of finding and respecting sources. He worked for The Associated Press in far-flung Pierre, South Dakota, before making it back to Chicago and then Washington, D.C. For all his talent and ambition, though, Hersh struggled to make his mark or land a job with a major paper. He even worked briefly as press secretary in Senator Eugene McCarthy’s anti-war presidential campaign. Then history intervened. While freelancing out of the National Press Building, Hersh got a vague tip about the court-martialing of a GI for killing civilians in South






A legendary cafe Vietnam. The story of what came to be known as the My Lai Massacre was being kept from the public by the military, and Hersh went to work with his usual dogged determination, tracking down the accused, Lt. William L. Calley Jr., who was under house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia. The chapters about uncovering the My Lai story, which took Hersh deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole that was the Pentagon’s waging of an unwinnable war, unreel like a tightly plotted suspense film. Unable to interest a major publication in the story, Hersh—with his trademark moxie—self-syndicated it. He went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, a rarity for a freelance journalist. Still, his dream job at the New York Times eluded him, and he went to work for The New Yorker. When he finally landed at the Times, he continued to report on Vietnam and foreign affairs until a new story took over the headlines: Watergate. Later, back at The New Yorker, Hersh covered the war on terror, consistently This is a calling out captivating the lies of the memoir Bush-Cheney White House that could inspire a new and bringing shocking revgeneration of elations about journalists. the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib to light. Hersh, who quotes the Times as calling him “scruffy, scrappy, stubborn, loud,” argues that his achievements have come not from his personality but from doing the work that is the essence of good journalism: a lot of reading, conducting interviews and finding the sources. The stories in his book bear out these claims. Reporter is a captivating memoir that could inspire a new generation of journalists—assuming they still have the financial support to find their stories and a place to tell them.

The River Cafe, the subtly swank, Michelin-starred London restaurant, celebrated its 30th birthday last year, but it still has all its original panache. Co-founders Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, with the aid of their head chefs, Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli, decided to honor the occasion with River Cafe London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant (Knopf, $40, 320 pages, ISBN 9780525521303), which revisits the first River Cafe cookbook, published in 1995. Now those iconic recipes are presented with the delectable patinas they’ve acquired from being refined over the years, plus more than 30 new creations. From antipasti to dolci, Raw Porcini

Salad to a Pear and Almond Tart, this is Italian food at its finest. Fresh and never fussy, these are the simple, sensational foods you’d eat in an Italian home. And River Cafe London is beautifully designed, featuring bold colors (check out the hot-pink edges and orange endpapers) and fabulous photos throughout. Just looking through it will make you smile.

GATHERING GO-TOS An arsenal of tried-and-true recipes for a weeknight quickie supper or a more elaborate weekend dinner party is essential for any home cook. These are the culinary rabbits we pull out of our chef’s hats, the dishes that save us when it’s late, when guests turn up out of the blue or when we want to make a familiar favorite. Most of us collect them, helter-skelter, through the years, but every once in a while a food pro who’s been pondering what becomes a keeper lets us in on their personally curated treasure trove. Jessica Battilana, a longtime recipe

developer and food writer, has done just that in Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need (Little, Brown, $32, 240 pages, ISBN 9780316360340). To rev up and revitalize your own repertoire, you can pick and choose from starters, mains and sweets—or you could just cook your way through Battilana’s admirable array of inviting, never-fail recipes like Avocado and Citrus Salad, Spaghetti Niçoise and a Perfect Tarte Tatin.

TOP PICK IN COOKING When Todd Richards was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, his parents and grandparents cooked food that wasn’t on the menus of “fine dining” establishments. So this self-taught, James Beard-nominated chef, who paid his dues in many well-known kitchens before getting national attention, did some deep soul-searching before he opened Richards’ Southern Fried in Atlanta, where he honors the cuisine of his family and ancestors in flavorful, inventive ways. Though the food he creates has its roots in African-American traditions, Richards has liberated himself from labels and “supposed to’s,” incorporating inspiration from around the world. In Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes (Oxmoor House, $35, 368 pages, ISBN 9780848754419), he shares his passion for Southern cuisine and culture, offering up traditional ingredients in traditional dishes, then riffing on them. You might start with Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks and Cornbread and end up with Oysters Poached in Collard Green Pesto on Cheese Crisps with Caviar. It’s soul-satisfying from beginning to end.


THE HOLD LIST Each month, BookPage editors share special reading lists—our personal favorites, old and new.

Keep it short and smart Summer is the perfect time to sit poolside with a thriller or the latest bestselling novel (turn to page 14 for our picks of the season), but the long days are also well suited for more contemplative nonfiction that will have you looking at the world—and yourself—a little differently. And no need to lug around a heavy tome: These slim books are packed with knowledge, but will slip easily into your beach bag.

SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS by Carlo Rovelli “Brief” is not an understatement—this book weighs in at only 96 pages. But don’t let its size fool you, as this introduction to modern physics is both informative and, I would venture to guess, far more entertaining than your high school physics class. No scientific background is needed to grasp Rovelli’s surprisingly poetic lessons about the cosmos, black holes and the mysteries of the universe.

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES by Peter Wohlleben It’s more than a whisper in the willows—trees are talking to each other, and Wohlleben, a German ecology expert, has the science to prove it. Within the forest, trees nurture the sick among them, care for their offspring and warn each other of danger. Wohlleben’s love of trees is apparent, and his book about the social lives of trees will no doubt inspire a deeper respect for our foliaged friends.

UPSTREAM by Mary Oliver Most readers know Oliver, now in her 80s, for her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, but she is also a writer of personal essays. In the 18 brief, elegant essays collected in Upstream, she contemplates life, the beauty and inherent poetry of nature, and her artist’s view of the world. This skillful collection manages to be both relaxing and revitalizing at the same time.

THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING by Elisabeth Tova Bailey The snail is not a creature people consider that much, excluding aggravated gardeners and farmers. Yet while bedridden, Bailey was amused to discover that a woodland snail had found its way onto her nightstand, where it promptly took up residence. From her bed, she grows fascinated by the amazing yet commonplace creature. Bailey’s lovely book about the unexpected beauty of the world will have you looking around for small, unobserved moments of grace in your own life.

THE RIVER OF CONSCIOUSNESS by Oliver Sacks In this posthumous collection, the neurologist and author Sacks, who died in 2015, holds forth on the big stuff: evolution, time, memory and the human experience. With candor and humor, he enthusiastically explores ideas in a delightful, approachable and profoundly enjoyable manner. Sacks’ infectious zest for life is alive on each page of this warm and generous book.


Create your color story In a creative slump? Need a pick-me-up? Open Brittany Watson Jepsen’s Craft the Rainbow (Abrams, $29.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9781419729003) and prepare to be dazzled by color. This craft book is packed with whimsical projects both modest and ambitious, from a party crown of paper straws and cupcake liner shoe clips to a balloon doorway arch and a boucherouite tissue-paper rug. But it’s also an ode to color, or as Jepsen writes, “an all-encompassing color experience.” For each color of the rainbow, there are fun facts and historical tidbits (did you know Santa’s suit was green prior to the 1950s?). Even more delightful is the way Jepsen measures the

indoors, in containers or on walls. Juicy color photos mix with bright illustrations, and the text consistently hits the elusive sweet spot of relaying technical information clearly and concisely with a friendly tone.


I’ve been poring over designer/ stylist Megan Morton’s It’s Beautiful Here (Thames & Hudson, $45, 240 pages, ISBN 9780500500958) for weeks. The book features color images of stunning residences, mainly in Australia, where Morton is based, with a few outliers. But It’s Beautiful Here feels refreshingly different from its brethren time it will take to complete each in the interior design coffee-table-book tribe, in part because project by the length of various TV Morton highlights homes that shows, movies and albums, and her media picks are paired in some boldly and often quirkily reflect their intriguing inhabitants’ perfashion to the theme of the craft sonalities. She also further reveals itself. Cue up a couple episodes the people behind the interiors of “30 Rock,” grab those striped drinking straws and your glue gun, through playful, pithy Q&A’s (“What is your house’s greatest and before you know it you’ll have laughed your way to a killer crown. fear?”) and her own introductory essays for each family and space. GROWTH MINDSET The verve of Morton’s writing Like the other books in this equals the alluring spaces in the month’s column, Grow. Food. Any- photographs that follow, and as where. (Hardie Grant, $29.99, 272 such, her intros are a critical facet pages, ISBN 9781743793770) has of each study. Occasionally you’ll personality and colorful spreads in come across an asterisk, a signal spades. (It also has a sense of huto turn to the back where “Tanmor, so I think authors Mat Pember gents and Random Threads” are and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon would revealed, such as one homeowner’s appreciate my pun.) Organized recipe for Miso Eggplant. Scattered into three main sections—“What throughout the book are wonderful Plants Need,” “Fruit & Veg to Grow” quips like “lock yourself in a loving and “Pests & Diseases to Know”— duel with color and just stay there,” the book is quite comprehensive. or bits of wisdom such as “the peoRead it cover to cover, and you ple in your house are much more should be well-equipped to tackle important than the house itself.” I the terrain of gardening in whatsuspect I’ll return to this book for ever way you fancy: in raised beds, inspiration for years to come.




There’s something wicked in this house If you’ve been pining away for a first-rate gothic murder mystery for the past 40-odd years since Agatha Christie’s passing, hie yourself to your local (or online) book vendor for Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Scout, $26.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781501156212). It has everything you’re looking for: a dreary Cornish manor house; a dysfunctional family with secrets in every closet; and a recently deceased matriarch who has made a startling pronouncement in her will. Meanwhile, in the seaside resort town of Brighton, Harriet “Hal” Westaway pursues a grifter’s existence. She gives tarot readings in a tiny kiosk, owes an increasing debt to a rapacious loan shark and hovers on the brink of insolvency. And then a letter shows up in her mailbox, announcing that she is a beneficiary in the will of her grandmother, Hester Westaway. Problem

is, Hal’s grandma was named Marion Westaway. Still, an inheritance, even a small one, may present a solution to her money problems— if she can pull off the deception. Atmospheric and twisting in a very Christie-like manner (manor?), The Death of Mrs. Westaway is

endless days of bliss and toasting to each other’s good luck in finding the perfect partner. Now picture the polar opposite of that ideal—infatuation bordering on obsession, coupled with a dark religious cult—and you will begin to understand the relationship of

guaranteed to keep you flipping pages well past your bedtime.

Toru Narazaki and Ryoko Tachibana, the star-crossed lovers in Fuminori Nakamura’s Cult X (Soho Crime, $27.95, 528 pages, ISBN 9781616957865). Tachibana has gone missing, and Narazaki is hot on her trail. He discovers that Tachibana was last seen in the clutches of a fringe religion dubbed “Cult X” by the Department of Public Security. Narazaki decides to expose himself to this religious group in order to find out what happened to Tachibana, but Cult X is more malevolent than his wildest dreams. Cult X was inspired by Aum Shinrikyo, the group responsible for the 1995 sarin attack in the Tokyo subway, but that is just a starting point, for Nakamura weaves in themes of personal commitment, politics, religion and much more. It’s not, however, for the faint of heart.

BAD LOVE We all long for a romantic relationship without conflict—

TRAITOR SPY CRIMINAL THREE STRANGERS RISKING EVERYTHING TO RESIST THE NORTH KOREAN REGIME “Extraordinary . . . smart, sophisticated, suspenseful—and important.”


—LEE CHILD “A superior thriller, deftly plotted and richly human.”





Private detective Charlie Parker has made a career of battling supernatural foes—not quite as powerful as Dracula or Baba Yaga but certainly imbued with an innate evil. In turn, Parker has become something of a legend himself. In John Connolly’s 16th Charlie Parker book, The Woman in the Woods (Emily Bestler, $26.99, 496 pages, ISBN 9781501171925), the intrepid PI accepts an assignment to find a missing child, which should be a fairly low-key job. But an Englishman named Quayle is also on the

hunt. He believes that the child is the key to finding the location of The Fractured Atlas, a book that will change the course of the world in favor of the dark side. Quayle is accompanied by a young woman named Pallida Mors (whose name is Latin for “pale death”), and together they make a formidable and lethal team, murdering their way across the Midwest in anticipation of their inevitable showdown with Parker. The Woman in the Woods is creepy, character-driven to the max and quite capable of making you suspend your disbelief in the supernatural for a while.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY Bruno, Chief of Police, is high on the short list of literary characters I would like to know (or be). He is a great home chef, charming to women (without even a bit of arrogance about it), a loyal friend, a clever investigator and a lifelong resident of the Périgord region of France. I even like his dog. This time out, in Martin Walker’s A Taste for Vengeance (Knopf, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780525519966), Bruno, newly promoted to a position of authority that reaches far beyond his small village of St. Denis, must look into a double murder with Irish Republican Army (IRA) connections. The IRA, you say? Didn’t they die out years ago? Apparently not, and once they have served their sentences, they are free to live anywhere in the European Union, even on Bruno’s home turf. And when the murder victims turn out to have a background in the intelligence community, the case takes on even greater international implications. Everything that Bruno readers love is present and accounted for: horseback rambles through the verdant Dordogne countryside; recipes so artfully presented you can almost smell the herbs; and, of course, the romance, which is never far from the main stage whenever Bruno is nearby.


New York Times Bestselling Author

Waves of passion Nalini Singh pens another thrilling love story in her Psy-Changeling series with Ocean Light (Berkley, $27, 416 pages, ISBN 9781101987827). Bowen Knight is saved from certain death by water changelings at a hospital that’s hidden deep in the ocean. A living experiment, Bowen is given an

artificial heart and a chip in his brain that may shield him from telepathic interference—but also may kill him at any moment. Even under this shadow, he can’t escape his fascination with the underwater settlement’s cook, Kaia Luna. Kaia is fascinated in return, even though she’s sworn to never fall for a man who lives on dry land. More obstacles face the pair and threaten the fragile cooperation between their people. Readers can step confidently into this complex realm, trusting the details to wash over them until they are deeply immersed in Singh’s exciting world of fascinating characters and self-sacrificing romance.

SECOND CHANCES Too Wilde to Wed (Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062692467), the latest Georgian historical romance by Eloisa James, features a reader-favorite trope—the governess heroine. Miss Diana Belgrave used to travel in lofty circles and was once engaged to a duke’s heir, Lord Roland Northbridge “North” Wilde. But she ran away from their engagement, and a heartbroken North left to join the army. When he returns, he finds Diana living in his family’s castle, along with a child whom society suspects he fathered. Battle-weary and far wiser, North must manage this simmering scandal as well as his resurging

feelings for Diana. Isolated from society, they get to know each other without the camouflage of the embroidered garments and powdered wigs of their earlier courtship, and find themselves more suited than their younger selves could have guessed. Members of the irresistible Wilde family visit throughout the book, and their insouciant response to gossip make them the relatives anyone would want in their corner. North and Diana are a delightful couple to root for in this delicious and witty love story.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE Contemporary romance fans will find all the emotional drama they could ever want in The One You Can’t Forget (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9781492651437) by Roni Loren. Divorce lawyer Rebecca Lindt is scarred inside and out from the shooting she survived in high school, but she doesn’t let that stop her from striving for success. Then she’s rescued from a mugger by a sexy, charming man—whose ex-wife Rebecca represented in their divorce. But Wes Garrett doesn’t hold that fact against her. He messed up his marriage as well as his life. But now he’s on a better path and heading up an after-school cooking program. He hadn’t been looking for a relationship, but he’s not willing to walk away from the gorgeous attorney. Wes and Rebecca feel like real people with very real problems— overcoming their pasts, figuring out what they want to do with their lives and managing family expectations. Cheering them on to well-deserved happiness is a treat.

A searing Lords of the Underworld tale by New York Times bestselling author GENA SHOWALTER, featuring a beastly prince and the wife he will wage war to keep.

The Darke∂

WARRIOR Pick up your copy today!

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e p a Ehscca p t iv a t i n g wit s l e nov

“A sumptuous novel.” —Elin Hilderbrand

“One of my favorite authors, Hannah Tunnicliffe transports you to Paris and the French countryside.” —Mia March, author of The Meryl Streep Movie Club

A Washington Post Best Book of the Year A New York Times Critic’s Top Book of the Year “All of her books are worth reading, but Sullivan’s latest, about the divergent life paths of two Irish immigrant sisters, may be her very best.”

“The story proves as cleverly witty as its title. It’s filled with high jinks both terrorizing and hilarious.”


“Revel in the descriptions of the Irish landscape, the snippets of poetry ... and the satisfying—and surprising—story of love.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune


—USA Today

“There is no end to the pleasure that may be extracted from these books.” —The New York Times Book Review


Read excerpts, print reading group guides, find original essays and more at




New in paperback The truth is stranger than fiction in American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land (Liveright, $15.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781631494512), a hypnotic work of journalism by Monica Hesse that was one of the best books of 2017. In 2012, a series of arsons in downtrodden Accomack County, Virginia, put the locals on edge. Old,

abandoned buildings—and there were plenty in Accomack County—were targeted, and in the end approximately 70 were destroyed. When Charlie Smith, a mechanic with a police record, was convicted of the arsons, he plead guilty, and Hesse, who reported on his hearing for the Washington Post, decided to delve more deeply into his case. Hesse learned that Smith’s girlfriend, Tonya Bundick, a mother of two fighting to make ends meet, had assisted with the fires. Set against the backdrop of a community in decline, the tale of Smith and Bundick’s relationship and the repercussions of their crimes make for a captivating page-turner. A gifted storyteller, Hesse delivers a compelling portrait of Accomack County and the lovers who tried to burn it down.

WONDROUS AND STRANGE Set in mid-1800s Peru, Natasha Pulley’s The Bedlam Stacks (Bloomsbury, $16, 352 pages, ISBN 9781620409695) is a bewitching blend of fantasy and history that readers will find hard to resist. Merrick Tremayne, a former opium smuggler for the East India Company, is homebound in Cornwall thanks to a wounded leg. When peculiar things begin to happen on his property (a statue inexplicably moves, for one thing), he decides to join an expedition to Peru to

retrieve cinchona bark, which contains quinine—a necessity for treating malaria. In the mountainous regions of Peru, Merrick meets with more wonders when he and his mysterious guide Raphael arrive at the remote enclave of Bedlam, where statues move and the barrier between life and death is a simple line of salt. Pulley blends fact and fiction with ease, bringing real-life explorer Sir Clements Markham into the narrative and delivering lush descriptions of South America. Ambitious in scope with an appealing protagonist at its center, Pulley’s novel is a delightful excursion.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Written with humor, compassion and a remarkable understanding of the female heart, The Almost Sisters (Morrow, $15.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780062105721) by Joshilyn Jackson tells the story of a graphic novelist named Leia Birch Briggs. At 38, Leia is unmarried and unexpectedly pregnant after a one-night stand at a comic book conference (he was dressed as Batman—can you blame her?). Leia has yet to share the big news with her conservative family, but she soon finds her affairs overshadowed by other happenings. Leia’s stepsister, Rachel, is dealing with a marriage on the rocks, and Leia’s grandmother, Birchie, is sliding into dementia. When Leia arrives at Birchie’s Alabama home to help, she discovers that her family has a secret that could change her life forever. A rewarding work of fiction that explores race, gender, the complexities of kinship and the challenges of letting go, Jackson’s novel is sure to get book clubs talking.

Fresh Book Club Reads FOR THE SUMMER THE ENDLESS BEACH by Jenny Colgan

An enchanting novel of a woman who makes a fresh start in a remote Scottish island—only to discover life has more surprises in store for her.

THE ALMOST SISTERS by Joshilyn Jackson

“A book only Joshilyn Jackson could have written…she deftly combines such unexpected subjects as superheroes, single motherhood, race, and the impact of long-buried secrets.” —Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author


by Beatriz Williams An enchanting blend of love, suspense, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Florida.


“Wiley Cash reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world.” —Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author

t @Morrow_PB t @bookclubgirl f William Morrow f Book Club Girl



“Scottoline illuminat[es] the landing strip of revelations and truths in a deliciously slow and intense way.” —The Washington Post READ BY MOZHAN MARNÓ AND JEREMY BOBB

READ BY JANUARY LAVOY READ BY GABRA ZACKMAN “Narrator Henry Leyva keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.” —AudioFile on The Precipice READ BY HENRY LEYVA

“We’re in a new Golden Age of suspense writing now, because of amazing books like Bring Me Back.” —Lee Child





Death of a deacon The Punishment She Deserves (Penguin Audio, 23 hours), Elizabeth George’s 20th Lynley Novel, performed by master narrator Simon Vance, is classic George—a sinuously nuanced novel of stylish prose and clever dialogue. This time, the handsome, aristocratic, impeccably mannered Inspector Lynley of Scotland Yard doesn’t get into the action for quite a while, but Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers—scrappy, sartorially chal-

lenged but ever diligent—is there from the get-go, uncomfortably accompanied by Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, who’s never had any use for her. They have been sent to the medieval town of Ludlow to investigate how the police handled the death of an accused pedophile and Anglican deacon who died while in their charge. The police say it was a suicide, but the deacon’s influential father vehemently disagrees, and Havers becomes certain it was murder. Lynley, urged on by his loyal sergeant, finally gets involved, and together they tease out the truth. It’s a long listen that’s worth every minute.

ing about Italy. Scottie thinks her new husband is in Italy to sell Ford tractors to the local farmers, and Michael thinks Scottie is a total innocent with a hefty inheritance. As they get to know each other, everything changes. Michael actually works for the CIA and is trying to stop a Communist takeover in Italy while harboring his own personal secret, and Scottie, who was pregnant when she met Michael, doesn’t have a dime. Can they cope with these startling revelations? Hang on, it’s a good ride with a surprising finale.


Spending time with Commissario Guido Brunetti—wandering the labyrinthine Venetian calli, stopping for a quick coffee or a bite of his wife’s fabulous meals—is the perfect way to celebrate Audio Month. Brunetti makes his 27th appearance in The Temptation of Forgiveness (Recorded Books, 10 hours), Donna Leon’s latest addition to her deeply atmospheric, brilliantly written mystery series. INNOCENTS ABROAD And as always, the incomparable An unlikely love story, an oddball David Colacci gives Brunetti and espionage caper set against Cold every other character the very voice Leon intended. Devoted War shenanigans, a charmingly authentic portrait of a small fans know that it’s not unusual Tuscan town and an irrepressible for Brunetti, as an aficionado of Greco-Roman classics, to ponder leading lady I’d really like to hang justice, morality and the ambiguout with—all this and more tangle together in Christina Lynch’s debut ities of life, all of which come into novel, The Italian Party (Macmillan play when, shortly after ProfessorAudio, 10.5 hours), read by Edoardo essa Crosera tells Brunetti about her teenage son’s drug use, her Ballerini, who spikes his narration with a lilting Italian accent. It’s 1956 husband is found in the street with severe head injuries. Brunetti’s when Scottie and Michael, a very staunch colleagues, whom I was attractive young American couple, arrive in Sienna. Just married after glad to get to know a little better, a quickie romance, they barely help in connecting the seemingly know each other and know nothunconnectable dots. Bravi!



Listening up is heating up: An audiobook publisher’s insights




hat do runners, quilters, dog walkers, cooks and people unwinding at the end of the day all have in common?

They are among the 24 percent diobooks listened to twice as many of Americans who listened to an audiobooks in the past 12 months audiobook in the past year—that’s as nonpodcast consumers. a 22 percent increase over the At Macmillan, we have been exprevious year. With this increase perimenting with this intersection in listeners, more titles are being of podcasts and audiobooks. We published: In 2012, just over 16,000 published Mac Rogers’ sci-fi drama, titles were published; by 2016, that Steal the Stars, as an audio-first title, number had surged delivered as a podto more than 50,000. cast; we are publishWhether you’re ing the audiobook looking for psychoof How to Be Yourself logical suspense, by Ellen Hendriksen, history, memoir or the host of Quick a self-improvement and Dirty Tips’ popbook, you should ular podcast “Savvy be able to find it in Psychologist”; and audio form. next September we We’ve long known will publish Sadie by that audiobooks Courtney Summers, are a great friend to a novel that feamultitaskers, helptures a podcast in ing the miles fly by alternating chapters on a long commute throughout the Author Candice Fox meets narrator or providing enterbook. We will be reEuan Morton backstage at Hamilton. tainment while exerleasing the first four cising or doing chores, but one of episodes of the podcast separately the most interesting recent trends before the audiobook is published. is the number of people reporting With the rise of audiobooks, that they listen to audiobooks to authors are increasingly engaged in relax—that is, they listen when their productions. Lisa Scottoline they are not doing anything else. likes to have professional actors We spend so much of our days in read her fiction, but she and her front of screens, it can be a relief to daughter, Francesca Serritella, head close your eyes and have someone into the studio to record their essay tell you a story. The surge in home collections. Candice Fox traveled to speakers may also be contributing New York to meet Euan Morton, the to this trend. According to a survey narrator of her novel Crimson Lake, from NPR and Edison Research, backstage at Hamilton, where Mor16 percent of Americans now ton spends his evenings playing have a “smart” wireless speaker. King George. Steve Berry created Thirty percent of owners say their a “Writer’s Cut” commentary for smart speaker is replacing time his audiobooks with behind-thespent with TV, and 71 percent are scenes information, and his longlistening to more audiobooks since time narrator, Scott Brick, appeared getting a smart speaker. with Berry on his book tour. Audiobook listeners are also Whether you’re an author, a nargetting younger, as 48 percent rator or a fan, it’s an exciting time of frequent audiobook listeners to be a listener. are under 35. Listeners often also Mary Beth Roche is the president and publisher enjoy podcasts. Respondents who at Macmillan Audio. consumed both podcasts and au-

Download a FREE audiobook sampler of great family listens at Also available in hardcover and eBook formats.



READ BY POPPY MILLER The hilarious new audiobook from the New York Times bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It




“Center...transforms the story of a family tragedy into a heartfelt guide to living the fullest life possible.” —Publishers Weekly

“We get to be flies on the wall as the mother-daughter team fights, makes up, and hurls barbs just like you and your mom.” —O, The Oprah Magazine


From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky comes a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

“[The Summer I Met Jack] offers an alternate Kennedy family history that will leave readers wondering whether America knew the real JFK at all.” —Kirkus Reviews




Available from Macmillan Audio

cover story


Homeland security


earned it. JP: And not afraid to show in a couple cases that they were flawed.

hite House thrillers have been a staple of the suspense genre for decades, and many films and television projects have added to their number. But none have done so with an actual president doing the writing.

Former President Bill Clinton and bestselling novelist James Patterson have collaborated to write The President Is Missing, a political thriller following a president and his team trying to stop a cyberterrorist plot. When radical mercenary Suliman Cindoruk designs a catastrophic internet virus targeting Americans, the only people standing in the way of its activation are two former allies of the terrorist and President Jonathan Duncan. To make things more stressful, Bach, a cold-blooded assassin, is determined to take out the president. Author Roy Neel (President Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff) speaks with both remarkable authors about their partnership and the project. Roy Neel: You’re both storytellers. How did you get started writing The President Is Missing? James Patterson: We have a mutual agent, who thought it would be a great idea to do a book together. But Mr. President, you should tell the story. President Bill Clinton: I thought it was a great idea, but I didn’t think Jim needed my help to be a successful writer. JP: One of the things that was important to me was that it not come across as a James Patterson novel, but a Bill Clinton and James Patterson novel. I can make stuff up. I have a good imagination, but the president has been there. You just can’t find that authenticity in any thrillers or novels today. People read political thrillers, watch “24” or “Homeland” or some other television show about terrorism and think, “Well, that was entertaining, but it’s unrealistic.” BC: I like those shows, but one of the things that struck me is that we’ve wound up with the worst of both worlds. When it came to the real threats, when politicians were

out killing people, it’s kind of jaded them about everybody who’s in this business, which I think is also misleading. JP: One of the things we’d like to communicate with the book is just how serious and tense and difficult this job [of president] is. In between “Saturday Night Live” and some of these shows like “House of Cards,” which start getting crazy, we stop taking that job seriously. If we don’t, anything can happen when we start talking about who should be the next president. The President Is Missing deals realistically with the burden of presidential decision-making. President John Duncan can bring in unlimited advisers during this crisis, but in the end, it’s all on him. Mr. President, you must have channeled that experience in creating the character. BC: I tried to. I also tried to show how important it is to have the right people helping you in that situation, and how dangerous it is if you don’t. I don’t know how many times you were there, Roy, when Al Gore and I would talk about some security issue, and he’d actually go get the original intelligence data and review what the CIA had written. It matters: what you do and how it affects people. Mr. President, you faced this issue during your time in office, as cyberterrorist technology was in its infancy. And now, we see almost daily events where corporate and government networks are compromised, with data stolen from millions of consumers. Not to mention the Russian interference into the 2016 election and reports of state-supported computer hacking from North Korea and China. BC: Roy, you were in the White House with me 21 years ago when I issued the first executive order to set up a special group on cyberse-

curity. We made a good beginning, but we had no idea then what the almost limitless possibilities were for mischief and trouble. I don’t think we’ve done enough about it. Maybe one of the things that will come out of this book is the heightened interest in the issue. JP: There are two chapters where Augie [a Suliman protégé] talks to the assembled group about what can happen. I think they are two of the scariest thriller chapters ever written, because they lay out what can happen. And we’re not prepared for it. So as the president said, this is a little bit of a warning shot for the country, because we’re not prepared. I can recall sessions in the Oval Office that played out a lot like those in The President Is Missing. I heard your voice in so much of the fictional President Duncan. In the opening chapter there’s a great thrashing of an opposition speaker of the House who is a thorn in the president’s side. That must have been fun for you to write. BC: I got tickled about that. JP: That was fun. To the point that the reader is going to say, “Come on, this isn’t going to happen.” But we show how it did happen and why it would happen. BC: We really worked on all that. Not just to be authentic about physical settings and established procedures, but really how the decision-making process really works when it works well, and when it breaks down. You’ve created many strong women in key roles in this book— Carrie, the chief of staff; Liz, the FBI director; and others. Is there a message there? BC: Each of these women was qualified. That was really important to me. Intelligent and able. I wanted to make the point that this was an empowerment group. Nothing was given to them—they

Mr. President, it must have been liberating to write in a fictional medium about so many things you’ve worked on and been concerned about for so long. BC: Yeah, I loved it. You know, I’m a big fan of mysteries and thrillers. I consume a lot of them, including a large number of Jim’s books. I always wanted to write one, but I never got around to it. I felt a lot of confidence working with Jim. He’s a good storyteller and knows how to get from A to B. I loved the whole process and loved working with him. I loved the fact that he would say we needed more on this or that. And I could say, “It wouldn’t happen that way, it would happen this way.” JP: What I hoped to do here was to write the best thriller ever written about a president. And I knew I had an advantage because I’d be working with the president, who, as you said, is A) a great storyteller, and B) knows what goes on in that office. I’ll leave it up to readers about whether we compare to Advise and Consent or Seven Days in May or The Manchurian Candidate. Roy Neel was President Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and longtime chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore. He is the author of the political thriller The Electors.


By President Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Little, Brown and Knopf, $30, 528 pages ISBN 9780316412698, audio, eBook available





I know what you read last summer


hrills, laughs, romance, drama—you know what you want out of a beach read. But just because you know what you want doesn’t mean you’ve found it yet. Based on what you read last year, we’re recommending eight new beachy books to fill your long summer days.



Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. You relish bad-girl thrillers fueled by toxic friendships, bad choices and exclusive parties.

The beach, of course, where you’ll dine al fresco, wander through an art gallery and casually infiltrate the lives of the obscenely wealthy.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: Social Creature (Doubleday, $26.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780385543521) by Tara Isabella Burton. In this deliciously dark novel, single white female Louise is 29, flat broke and feels like she has utterly failed at achieving her New York City dream of becoming a famous writer. Enter 23-year-old socialite and bohemian glamour girl Lavinia, bursting with youthful joie de vivre, boundary issues and seemingly unlimited funds. Their intense friendship blossoms into a glitzy NYC bender that includes designer drugs and copious selfies in increasingly over-the-top settings, including ultra-expensive hotel bars, secret literary parties, costume balls and seedy, bottle-service-only sex clubs. Louise is old enough to know that everything that goes up must come down, and her descent is glorious fun.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “I want to remember this forever. Until the day I die.”

RECOMMENDED VACATION: The Big Apple. Catch Hamilton, stay up all night on a Manhattan rooftop, and ride the Staten Island Ferry for free at dawn.


.................... LAST SUMMER, YOU READ:

A screwball historical novel like Christopher Moore’s The Serpent of Venice. You’re looking for an armchair escape that also engages your brain.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: The Judge Hunter (Simon & Schuster, $26.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9781501192517), a hilarious combination of historical adventure and bromance by acclaimed author Christopher Buckley. Hapless Balthasar “Balty” de St. Michel can’t seem to hold a job in swinging 1664 London, but his diabolical brother-in-law has hatched the perfect scheme: Send Balty to the New World in order to chase down some regicides on the lam. But Balty isn’t cut out for life in New England and only survives the first week thanks to a mysterious (and often murderous) secret agent of the crown known as Huncks. High jinks quickly ensue as Balty unwittingly blasphemes his way through Puritan society and Huncks attempts to covertly start a war with the Dutch. This is a Larry Davidesque tale for the history buff, filled with delightfully off-putting characters and read-through-your-fingers moments of situational comedy.



“But you might fall in love with New England. . . . They say a man can be anything he wants to be there.”

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand or any novel set by the ocean that revolves around women on the verge of something life-changing.


THIS SUMMER, TRY: The High Season (Random House, $27, 416 pages, ISBN 9780525508717), the debut adult novel from YA author Judy Blundell, who has a gift for depicting issues of love and class in jaw-dropping, gorgeous prose. Museum director Ruthie Beamish rents out her magnificent beach house every summer. But when socialite Adeline Clay moves in for the season, Ruthie’s life begins to deteriorate—from her job to her self-respect to her fraught relationship with her estranged husband. Ruthie knows it’s not Adeline’s fault, but she increasingly views the other woman as a symbol of everything she’s missing. Additional storylines follow Ruthie’s social-climbing employee, Doe, and her teenage daughter, Jem, but the book begins and ends with Ruthie, whose interior state is rendered with remarkable insight. Blundell’s empathetic attention to tiny relational shifts makes every moment of connection feel magical.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “Summer was a forever season, and held no pain.”


A New England town with your bestie—ideally somewhere with a rowdy historical pub crawl.

.................... LAST SUMMER, YOU READ:

An entertaining deep dive into culture like The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: Planet Funny (Scribner, $26, 320 pages, ISBN 9781501100581) by Ken Jennings, whom you may remember from his record-breaking run on “Jeopardy” or his bestselling books like Brainiac. Humor is difficult to study—it’s hard to define, it’s different for everyone, and it changes over time. But it’s also incredibly important in today’s world, whether you’re making a flight safety video, trying to land a date or attempting to get into politics. Jennings has penned a highly entertaining yet genuinely scholarly look at the evolution of humor— from ancient Sumerian fart jokes to Andy Kaufman’s absurdist humor

SUMMER READING GUIDE and internet cat memes. This book will have you analyzing everything around you, because these days, everybody’s a comedian.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “One of the worst qualities of a Roman jokester, according to Cicero, was that he used jokes ‘brought from home’ instead of ones made up on the spur of the moment.”

RECOMMENDED VACATION: A road trip with someone who won’t mind that you’ll be spouting off funny facts and cracking jokes for the majority of the vacation. Just don’t bring any from home.

.................... LAST SUMMER, YOU READ:

An intense technothriller like Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz. You’re looking for suspense that makes the pages fly by as quickly as those beautiful summer days.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: Exit Strategy (Hanover Square, $26.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781335016928) by debut novelist Charlton Pettus. Wealthy scientist Jordan Parrish is on the brink of losing everything, so he makes the call to Exit Strategy, a secret organization that squirrels away high-profile criminals, crooked politicians or anyone who has reached the end of the line. They fake your death and give you a new face and life, and you can never contact your old family ever again—at the risk of their deaths. When Jordan begins to regret making the call, he starts asking questions: Was it really his choice, or did someone nudge him in the direction of Exit Strategy? As Jordan works his way back to his old life, the result is a fast-paced joyride with cool tech, hot romance and high-stakes adventure.

she belonged.”

RECOMMENDED VACATION: The Pacific Northwest, where you can marvel at the power of nature.

.................... LAST SUMMER, YOU READ:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes or any story that makes you feel the full depth of human emotion.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: How to Walk Away (St. Martin’s, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9781250149060), the latest uplifting novel by Katherine Center. This bittersweet romantic comedy covers all your heart’s bases: familial love, romantic love and, most importantly, self-love. The unthinkable happens to Margaret Jacobsen: Her fiancé, Chip, proposes to her while they’re flying high in a little white Cessna; when Chip tries to land the plane, he loses control, and they crash. Margaret wakes up in the hospital, badly burned and unable to use her legs. And the hits keep coming: Chip barely visits; Margaret’s physical therapist is morose and difficult; and Margaret’s estranged sister has returned after three years, dredging up long-buried family secrets. But lovable Margaret is enviably tough, and through all the trauma and change, she maintains a great sense of humor.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “It’s the trying that heals you. That’s all you have to do. Just try.”

RECOMMENDED VACATION: A getaway with your closest girlfriends to a picturesque cabin, where any drama or pain will be met with understanding and love.



“In a while you’re going to be somewhere far away, new town, new life, new you.”



A book that made you laugh while also speaking to some deeper truths about femininity and aging, like I Thought There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley.

As far away from home as you can get.

.................... LAST SUMMER, YOU READ:

The latest action-adventure thriller from Clive Cussler or Stuart Woods.

THIS SUMMER, TRY: Gale Force (Putnam, $27, 384 pages, ISBN 9780735212633) by award-winning author Owen Laukkanen. When the cargo ship Pacific Lion founders off the coast of Alaska, it provides a multimillion-dollar opportunity for salvagers like McKenna Rhodes. After her father’s death at sea, McKenna left the deep-sea salvaging business, but retrieving the ship’s cargo would yield a profit she can’t pass up. And so she gathers her father’s old crew on her tugboat, Gale Force—but what they don’t know is that a stowaway was aboard the Pacific Lion with millions of dollars stolen from the Yakuza. The thrills come as hard and fast as a hurricane, and readers will love the brave female lead.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “She was happy, at least, to have escaped the city. The water was where

THIS SUMMER, TRY: There Are No Grown-Ups (Penguin Press, $27, 288 pages, ISBN 9781594206375) by Pamela Druckerman. In this “Midlife Coming-of-Age Story,” the fresh and witty Druckerman (Bringing Up Bébé) makes sense of life after the big 4-0, settling into her home in Paris with her husband and children, figuring out what “age-appropriate” clothing really means, grasping the French woman’s philosophy of aging and truly becoming comfortable with herself. Druckerman’s funny yet deeply insightful essays ring true, and they will no doubt have you nodding your head in appreciation, because yes, someone out there really gets it.

YOUR SUMMER INSPIRATION: “You know you’re a fortysomething parent when you’ve decided that swimming counts as a shower.”

RECOMMENDED VACATION: The nearest pool, or if you can’t get that far, a bathtub will do. Just make sure someone else is watching the kids. Visit to read a Q&A with Pamela Druckerman.




A solution to the age-old conundrum


ather’s Day comes but once a year, and boy are we lucky for that. With ties going out of style thanks to tech billionaires (they’re all wearing hoodies now), the gift choices are slimmer than ever. Fortunately, as is so often the case, books can come to the rescue.

FOR THE SPORTS FAN When it comes to sports, the “what-if” possibilities are endless. Mike Pesca has assembled 31 of them in Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History (Twelve, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9781455540365). His list might not match yours, but it’s still a fun exercise and a highly readable departure from traditional sports literature. Pesca, host of the Slate podcast “The Gist,” keeps his readers on their toes with a different author for each scenario, so an earnest “What If the National League Had the DH?” is followed by a whimsical “What If Nixon Had Been Good at Football?” (The verdict: still a president, but no Watergate.) Other authors bolster their arguments with charts (“What If Major League Baseball Had Started Testing for Steroids in 1991?”) or, in the case of “What If Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton’s Pass Hadn’t Gone Awry?,” 38 footnotes. The contributors are a multitalented lot, including actor Jesse Eisenberg, radio host Robert Siegel and journalist/historian Louisa Thomas. The contributors are a multitalented lot but each one embraces the task with gusto, inspiring readers to come up with some “what-ifs” of their own.

FOR THE BIG READER You probably know Michael Chabon as a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, but he’s also an acclaimed essayist. His first collection, Manhood for Amateurs (2009), was subtitled “The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son.” This time around,


with Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces (Harper, $19.99, 144 pages, ISBN 9780062834621), he’s produced seven essays, all dad-oriented. The centerpiece, “Little Man,” recounts a trip to Paris Fashion

Bill Murray in the 1980 film. They saw it as an example of the Hollywood studio system destroying their masterwork. But gopher or no gopher, Caddyshack, a slobs-versus-snobs tale set at a country club

Week with his youngest and most individualistic child, Abe. (Chabon was on assignment for GQ, where the essay originally appeared.) The essay is not about finding common ground, as is often the case in such essays where father and son are poles apart, but rather Chabon’s happiness that his son has finally found “your people.” The remaining essays are shorter and peppered with humorous insights, particularly “Adventures in Euphemism,” which has Chabon trying to read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to his children without uttering a certain word. Chabon’s relationship with his own father, of course, does not go unexamined, and again he zigs where others zag, taking care not to be overly sentimental.

golf course, became a cult classic, rife with quotable lines and fondly remembered scenes. Film critic Chris Nashawaty tells the behindthe-scenes story in an entertaining fashion, starting at the very beginning with the founding of the National Lampoon, which served as a springboard for Doug Kenney, who co-wrote the classic Animal House and co-wrote and produced Caddyshack. In fact, Nashawaty doesn’t start recounting the actual filming of the movie until well past halfway through the book. No worries though, as readers will enjoy the backstories of writing, casting and the cocaine-fueled shenanigans of Murray and his pals, including Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Kenney, the real star of the book if not the movie.



A cute gopher popping out of his hole adorns the cover of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story (Flatiron, $26.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781250105950). This is ironic, because the makers of the film hated the last-minute addition of the animatronic gopher that bedeviled

The genre of graphic literature has grown past just comic books and the newspaper funny pages, and Michael Kupperman,whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and Marvel comics, is deadly serious in All the Answers (Gallery 13, $25, 224 pages, ISBN 9781501166433). This black-and-

white graphic memoir is perfect for dads who grew up reading comic books and are looking for something with a bit more weight to it. It tells the story of the author’s father, Joel Kupperman, who became famous as one of the stars of the 1940s and ’50s radio and television show “Quiz Kids.” The elder Kupperman subsequently became an author and professor of philosophy, but he retreated from public life as an adult. Spurred by his father’s diagnosis with dementia, Michael coaxes him into talking about his experiences in the public eye and how they shaped his life as an adult. In the process, father and son have some frank exchanges. The son learns how to be a better father as a result of the failings of his own dad, who was perfect in math, perhaps, but not so perfect in the challenges of marriage and family life. Kupperman’s simple, stark drawings add to the somber mood of the book and enhance readers’ understanding of its haunting story.

FOR THE JOKESTER So Dad thinks he’s funny, eh? He likely has nothing on Tom Papa, whose Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas (St. Martin’s, $26.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9781250144386) is a collection of essays with laughs on every page. The aptly named Papa, a father and head writer for the radio variety show “Live From Here” (formerly known as “A Prairie Home Companion with Chris Thile”), has a one-liner for every family situation, from Facebook (“a class reunion every day”) to owning a cat (“like dating a supermodel”). The book is organized by topics (wives, grandparents and so on), so skip around if you like, or simply read straight through for an extended look at Papa’s twisted but ultimately sunny (well, no more than partly cloudy) vision of family life. If you’re lucky, it lines up with your own.


For the love of trees


ife, death, love, loneliness and grief are the building blocks of Jon Cohen’s wondrous new novel, along with nonstop action, humor and a broad cast of characters whose actions converge like a perfectly crafted jigsaw puzzle. Undergirding everything in Harry’s Trees is the belief that “the ordinary world is extraordinary, all the time, for everyone.” That guiding principle becomes a recipe for magic that remains firmly rooted in reality, notes Cohen, speaking by phone from his home outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Harry Crane is a U.S. Forest Service analyst who literally can’t see the forest for the trees. This paper-pushing bureaucrat spends his days “in a building utterly bereft of wood,” longing for the smell of pinesap. Although his wife, Beth, urges him to quit and work in a local arboretum, Harry settles for buying a lottery ticket each week and yearning for a stroke of good luck. Instead, misfortune strikes. After urging her husband to forget his lottery ticket “just this once,” Beth is killed in a freak accident while waiting for Harry. In the aftermath, as Harry tries to find his way past grief and guilt, his world collides with that of a nurse, Amanda Jeffers, and her 10-year-old daughter, Oriana, who are reeling from the


By Jon Cohen

Mira, $26.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780778364153, audio, eBook available


sudden death of their husband and father, Dean. After they meet in a forest deemed enchanted by the fairy tale-loving Oriana, Harry begins living in an elaborate tree house built by Dean before he died. “The call of a tree and the childhood beckoning of a treehouse— that’s interesting to me,” Cohen says. “Everybody’s got a special tree, whether currently as an adult, or a tree from childhood.” He goes on to describe a mulberry tree at the end of his boyhood street that was overgrown with honeysuckle and made for a great nest. “I’ve had all sorts of trees,” he adds. “Still do.” Cohen sets his novel in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, where Cohen and his wife once owned a small farmhouse and barn. The property and nearby landmarks provided inspiration, especially for a picturesque library where a beloved librarian, Olive, lends Oriana a strange handmade book called The Grum’s Ledger. This fairy tale about an ogre-like creature becomes pivotal to an amazing cascade of events. Throw in the fact that Oriana wears a red coat and Harry has an evil brother named Wolf, and you’ve got yourself a grown-up fairy tale. Almost. “There’s not a single thing in there that can’t happen,” Cohen observes. “The world is imbued with a little magic. But I made darn sure that there were real-world explanations for what seem like magical events.” Grief is the force that unites Harry, Amanda and Oriana, and as Cohen explains, “Again and again, reality-based people are ready for magic. I truly believe that when you are in love or when you grieve, you cross a line and see the world in an altered way.” It’s no accident that both a librarian and a nurse are major players in Harry’s Trees. Those

two details help explain Cohen’s unique career trajectory. He was raised by a children’s librarian mother and an English professor father who was a renowned Herman Melville scholar. “It was a world immersed in books,” he recalls. “You would think I would go right to writing.” Ironically, he didn’t write in high school or college. “Not a single story,” Cohen says. He earned an English degree at Connecticut College, but after working as a hospital orderly during a college gap year, he made an “I truly believe unexpected move and that when you obtained a are in love second degree in nursing. or when you “That ignited grieve, you everything,” cross a line Cohen says. and see the “My 10 years as a registered world in an nurse—workaltered way.” ing on a cancer ward and then ICU/CCU—that turned me into a storyteller. “My job was to help people in crisis,” he elaborates. “So many personalities, so many ways to cope, so many intimate and amazing details. So much life. [It was] narrative, action, a ticking clock, something at stake—all right there in a hospital room. And that’s the way I write—something is always happening, constant momentum.” This surgically precise narrative style is what makes Cohen’s writing so readable. And his plot is exactly like an operating room—controlled chaos that leads to a carefully planned outcome. In his time off from the hospital,



Cohen finally began writing stories. He eventually wrote two novels (Max Lakeman and the Beautiful Stranger and The Man in the Window), received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and left medicine. Nonetheless, he feels that nursing became his muse, and each of his novels features a nurse. But this nurse-turned-writer had yet another career change up his sleeve. After his novels were optioned for movies, he taught himself screenwriting with help from a book titled Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger. He caught the attention of director Jan de Bont (Twister, Speed), which led to Cohen writing the screenplay for the 2002 blockbuster Minority Report. “I was happy to have the experience and very lucky,” Cohen says. “It’s nice to have my name on the poster.” Although he describes his screenwriting adventures as “a lark and an oddity,” Cohen always approached the experience pragmatically: “It helped pay some of the bills, but I treated it very rationally and saved the money. I didn’t buy a Jaguar.” With Harry’s Trees, Cohen has returned to his writing roots. He’s a novelist once more, writing “the one and true voice that I do over and over again—the small, decent guy overwhelmed by events.”




Native in the city


uring one of several research forays for his brilliant first novel depicting contemporary experiences of urban Native Americans, Tommy Orange discovered Gertrude Stein’s famously misunderstood quote about Oakland, California: “There is no there there.” Why was that important? “She was talking about how the place where she had grown up— Oakland—had changed so much that it was no longer recognizable,” says Orange during a call to his home in Angels Camp, California, not far from Yosemite Valley. Orange, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, was born and raised in Oakland. “I didn’t immediately know this was going to be the title. But there was so much resonance for Native people—what this country is now compared to what it was for our ancestors. The parallels just jumped out at me.” Set in Oakland, There There follows the intersecting lives of 12 contemporary Native Americans as they prepare for the Big Oakland Powwow. Some, like young Orvil Red Feather, want to connect with Native traditions. He discovers Indian dance regalia hidden away in the closet of his aunt, Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield, a mail carrier who as a child was part of the Native occupation of Alcatraz Island, but who now “wants nothing to do with anything Indian.” Orvil has


By Tommy Orange

Knopf, $25.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780525520375, audio, eBook available



taught himself to dance by watching videos on YouTube. Octavio Gomez, an alienated young Native American, sees the powwow as an opportunity to rob businesses to pay off drug debts. He is close with his uncle Sixto, who at one point tells him, “We got bad blood in us. . . . Some of these wounds get passed down.” And then there is Dene Oxendene, the character who is perhaps closest in experience to Orange himself. A graffiti artist of mixed heritage, Dene tremulously applies for—and receives—a grant to collect the oral histories of Oakland’s Native people. “I actually got a cultural arts grant from the city of Oakland to do a storytelling project that never existed but for the fictional version in this novel,” Orange admits, laughing. Orange, who is now 36 and a recent graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ MFA program, did not grow up reading fiction or wanting to be a writer. He played professional indoor roller hockey until the sport died out, and he has a degree in sound engineering. “There weren’t many job prospects,” he says. “People with stars in their eyes who wanted to end up in big studios had to be willing to fetch coffee and clean toilets, so we were told.” So Orange got a job at a used bookstore. “At the time, I was reading to find meaning,” he says. “I was raised religiously, Christian evangelical. My dad was into the Native American Church, which is the peyote church. Both of my parents were intensely into God. But none of that was for me. I was reading to figure out what it all did mean to me. I found fiction first through Borges and Kafka. I was actually eating a doughnut on a break, reading A Confederacy of Dunces, when I realized what a novel could do. In that singular

moment, I became obsessed. Once I knew what a novel could do, I wanted to do it.” Orange first imagined There There around the time he and his wife, a psychotherapist whom he met when they were both working at Oakland’s Native American Health Center, conceived their now-7-year-old son. “I was driving down to LA with my wife, and it just popped into my head all at once,” Orange says. “I knew I wanted to write a polyphonic novel and have all the characters converge at a shooting at an Oakland powwow. Growing up in Oakland, “I wanted to [I saw] that find a way to there were no portray the Native-people-living-inway Natives the-city-type experience novels. They history.” were all reservation-based. That made me feel isolated. If I was reading about Native experience, it had nothing to do with my experience. So my idea was to have a mix of the contemporary with the traditional, an urban feel, with echoes of violence and the continuation of violence in Native communities.” One of the animating questions for all the novel’s characters is what being Native American means today. Orvil, for example, alienated from his heritage, anxiously Googles, “What does it mean to be a real Indian?” “For a long time,” Orange says, “a real Indian meant someone who does not exist anymore. We’re going through a period right now as a people, wondering—because there are 575 recognized tribes, each with its own language and way of thinking—are we doing harm



against Indian identity by talking about us as one people? But at the same time, we’re probably more alike than we are different.” Which is why the idea of powwows is so symbolic for Orange. He didn’t grow up going to powwows. But later in life, he was on the Oakland powwow committee. “The reason it works so well for Native people living in the city is that it is intertribal. All these tribes come together to do one thing together. It’s a marketplace, but it’s also where we see each other as Native people. It’s an intensely visible, communal space, with people coming together, dancing and singing the old ways.” Orange says it was very important for There There, a novel with many characters and voices, to be a readable book. “It’s an elusive thing,” he says. “Native people, I think, have a skeptical view of history, the way it’s taught and the way it’s understood by the average American. There’s a certain burden to inform correctly. I wanted to find a way to portray the way Natives experience history. And I wanted to find a way to do it in a compelling and, again, readable way.” In There There, Orange has succeeded in doing just that. It’s a compelling read, a stunning tour de force and a display of Orange’s impressive virtuosity.




STILL LIVES By Maria Hummel


Don’t forget about me

Counterpoint $26, 288 pages ISBN 9781619021112 Audio, eBook available SUSPENSE


Imagine a world in which shadows are more than simple physical phenomena that occur whenever light strikes a surface. What if our shadows were the guardians of all our memories and the core essence of who we are? What kind of darkness might descend upon the earth if one day people’s shadows suddenly began to vanish without an explanation, taking with them biographical details and threatening to unravel reality? This is the terrifying premise of Peng Shepherd’s outstanding and unforgettable The Book of M. Our guides to this dystopian future are Ory and his wife, Max, who have quarantined themselves in a mountain lodge in Virginia while the mysterious plague of shadowlessness gradually sweeps across the By Peng Shepherd planet. Despite all their safeguards, Max has recently lost her shadow, Morrow, $26.99, 496 pages and it is only a matter of time before she begins to lose herself. In an ISBN 9780062669605, audio, eBook available attempt to stave off her forgetting, Ory gives Max a tape recorder to act as a repository for her memories. However, one day Ory returns from a DEBUT FICTION scavenging trip to discover Max gone, prompting him to venture into a savage, chaotic world on a desperate and foolhardy mission to reunite with her. Even if the day should come when Max no longer remembers him, Ory knows he will never be able to forget or give up on Max. Shepherd has constructed an exceedingly thoughtful and clever story that is perfectly paced and intricately plotted, producing a narrative filled with a genuine sense of urgency, thrilling twists and jaw-dropping revelations. Instantly absorbing, The Book of M is a scary, surprising, sad and sentimental story that will be deeply felt by readers while capturing their imaginations and hearts. Readers shouldn’t be surprised if the only times they can bear to put this book down are when they feel the need to confirm that their shadows are still firmly intact.


Scribner $27, 304 pages ISBN 9781501191763 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION

Nick Dybek’s haunting, vividly cinematic tale is set in rural France after the horrific World War I battle at Verdun, where almost a million men died. Each of Dybek’s three central characters has a tie to the site of the carnage—beginning in 1921 with Tom Combs, a young American ambulance driver working for the church, collecting remains from the battlefield to be placed in a huge ossuary, which will eventually hold the remnants of 130,000 French and German

It’s hard to know where an artist’s persona ends and her art begins, and this has never been truer than in the case of the mysteriously disappeared Kim Lord, the central figure in Maria Hummel’s spellbinding new novel, Still Lives. It’s also somewhat true of Hummel herself: The award-winning poet (her collection House and Fire won the APR/Honickman Prize in 2013 for best first book) worked at the perpetually cash-strapped Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and her novel’s protagonist, Maggie Richter, finds herself in a similar job at a similarly underfunded museum. When Lord goes missing on the biggest night of her life—an A-list museum opening featuring her photographs, in which she portrays famous murder victims—speculation runs wild. Is it a publicity stunt? Or are more serious forces at foot? When Maggie’s ex-boyfriend (now Lord’s lover) falls under Dybek’s story then moves from soldiers. Tom diligently carries suspicion, Maggie’s journalistic Verdun to Bologna, where a year out his macabre assignment, even instincts kick in, taking her places as he ponders how to tell those later Sarah and Tom meet again— the cops can’t go and unwittingly searching for their missing loved both drawn by reports of an amputting her life in peril. ones that “the shelling was so nesiac patient in a mental hospital No doubt comparisons to Raywho may be Lee Hagen. There they incessant during the battle that a man’s remains might be buried and encounter Dybek’s third enigmatic mond Chandler’s best work will rain down upon Still Lives, dotted unburied and blown a mile into the character, Paul Weyerhauser, an distance and buried again?” HunAustrian journalist who has his own as it is with trenchant observations of LA and the human condition. dreds of bones are found every day, wartime backstory—and a reason Like Chandler, Hummel is capafor questioning the amnesiac. “mangled and unmatched.” ble of limning out a ripping yarn The narrative leaps forward to It is there that Sarah Hagen replete with high fashion, high comes, searching for her husband, Los Angeles in the 1950s, where finance and high society. These are Lee, who was in the American Field Tom and Paul meet unexpectedly at a funeral. Each has his memories the mean streets through which Service and went missing in 1918. of Sarah and their time together in our heroine travels, though slightly Perhaps to ease her evident stress removed from the glitter and the Italy—memories viewed through from a long and fruitless search, nastiness. And not unlike another different lenses and clouded by Tom tells her he met Lee in Aixmaster of the mystery, Erle Stanley les-Bains while Lee was on leave. time. Dybek’s poignant tale of the Gardner, Hummel includes an harsh realities of war juxtaposed Tom and Sarah begin an intense intellectually satisfying Perry Mayet brief affair—she is immersed in with a dreamlike love story will son moment that also provides an grief, and Tom feels guilty over his linger with readers in the same manner as Michael Ondaatje’s The interesting twist. lie. She leaves Verdun to continue It would be damning with faint her quest, and Tom moves on to a English Patient. job as a journalist in Paris. — D E B O R A H D O N O V A N praise to call Still Lives a con-




Big books of summer


don’t know how they do it—bestselling authors who deliver satisfying reads year after year. Among this season’s surefire bestsellers are two terrific novels from masters of their genres.

Stephen King’s The Outsider (Scribner, $30, 576 pages, ISBN 9781501180989) opens with every parent’s worst nightmare: Elevenyear-old Frankie Peterson is found raped and mutilated in a Flint City park. Detective Ralph Anderson is sure he has a slam-dunk case—it’s as airtight as he’s ever seen. The crime scene is dripping with evidence pointing toward beloved youth baseball coach Terry Maitland. Eyewitnesses recall seeing Maitland around town before and after the crime. Yet an alibi soon emerges that mystifies local authorities: At the time of the abduction, Maitland was at a work event miles away from Flint City. He’s even on video, and his fingerprints are found at his hotel. King peppers The Outsider with the kind of eerie, nightmarish details that only he can conjure: a man with a melted face and straws for eyes who appears in a young girl’s bedroom; a pile of clothes found in a barn, stained black; and an abandoned cave where twin boys once died. Can a man be in two places at once? Of course not. King’s creepy, exquisitely crafted, can’t-put-it-down tale offers a shocking possibility, one that stuns hardened law enforcement officials and threatens to destroy an entire community.

MIDDLE-AGE MAZE A totally different kind of terror envelops Kate Reddy, the Brit who won the hearts of millions of working mums in Allison Pearson’s smash debut, I Don’t Know


How She Does It. In the wise and sparkling follow-up, How Hard Can It Be? (St. Martin’s, $27.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781250086082), Kate faces the horrors of menopause and raising teenagers. After years tending to kids and aging parents, Kate must now re-enter the working world to support her family. Her husband, Richard, is nursing a serious midlife crisis, having quit his job to spend most of his time cycling—or more precisely, buying expensive cycling equipment. Kate takes a midlevel position at the financial fund she set up a decade before, reporting to a man who was born the year she started college. “I recognize his type immediately,” Kate says. “Self-styled hipster, metrosexual, spends a fortune on scruffing products and Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment.” Navigating the pitfalls of age discrimination, Kate soon demonstrates the kind of hustle that made her a financial star years before. Readers may wish she could show such moxie in her home life: Kate’s daughter uses a social media mishap to manipulate Kate into doing her homework; Kate’s son steals her credit card; and Richard, well, he makes a decision so horrible that one hopes he forgets to wear a helmet on his next bike ride. How hard can it be? Pretty damn hard, Kate learns. But with great friends, a steely core and a clever mind, Kate shows that women can launch themselves off the mommy track and back into the world.

reviews tender for best beach read of the year—like calling Pablo Picasso a really good painter—but Still Lives is both that and so much more. —T H A N E T I E R N E Y

BEARSKIN By James A. McLaughlin

Ecco $26.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780062742797 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION

Part thriller, part crime novel, part dreamscape, James A. McLaughlin’s Bearskin refuses to be contained. The bears on the Appalachian nature preserve overseen by Rice Moore, the novel’s on-the-run main character, need protection from hunters—much like Rice. He is used to being alone and operating outside the law, having fled from a drug cartel in Arizona. Rice is thankful for a break from the guns and violence of drug-running, but the bear poaching he encounters in his mountain refuge might be more than he can handle—and he finds help in the most unlikely of suspects. The book begins with Rice’s prison sentence in Arizona and traces his tumultuous journey from confinement to hard-won freedom. Rice is employed to survey and maintain the Appalachian preserve, but the discovery of bear carcasses—as well as the story of the previous caretaker’s tragic departure—trigger in Rice a desire for revenge. In homemade camouflage, Rice spends more and more time on the mountain, watching for bear hunters and becoming like a bear himself. Wonderfully lucid prose in the climactic middle section starkly conveys Rice’s descent into a wild existence: “Hysteria fluttered like a moth in the back of his throat.” When Rice is attacked, the previous caretaker and other mountain people—including an ex-soldier turned criminal, a locksmith, a reclusive beekeeper and hillbilly brothers working their way into a nefarious biker gang—play

their parts to bring about old-fashioned justice. Smart and sophisticated, with animals both wild and domestic acting as metaphors, Bearskin is a gritty, down-home tale told with brute force. Rice is a memorable, reluctant hero for both his community and the animals in his charge. —MARI CARLSON

Visit for a Behind the Book essay from James A. McLaughlin.

KUDOS By Rachel Cusk

FSG $26, 240 pages ISBN 9780374279868 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION

In the trilogy of intriguing novels that she completes with Kudos, Rachel Cusk has routinely subverted essential ideas of narrative and storytelling. Each book is made up of a series of monologues about both intimate and public concerns, which are delivered by passing characters and filtered through the lens of a deceptively impassive witness (a writer, Faye, whose sketchy personal details align closely to Cusk’s own). On first encounter, the novels seem to have very little plot (arguably, the second book, Transit, has the most), but far from random, their episodic forward momentum makes them curiously hard to put down. In Outline, Faye travels to Greece to teach a writing course, and in Transit she moves back to London, newly divorced, to renovate a flat. The third book finds her attending two writer’s conferences, each in an unidentified European location at once faceless and unique. Kudos might be seen as Cusk’s response to Brexit—the specter of that controversial decision hovers over the novel, which in part is about impossible choices we must all eventually make about staying or leaving. There are also ripples of other contemporary discontents—the encroaching dissatisfaction of once-privileged

FICTION white men, the perennial gender divide and the death of literature in our postliterate world. On one level, Cusk lampoons the insular literary world, with its intellectual puffery and self-congratulatory prize giving (i.e. kudos), as she deviously exiles Faye to far-flung backwaters. But Cusk, like Faye, refuses to undermine the seriousness that lurks beneath the sometimes inappropriate, sometimes self-important, often uncomfortable observations of those she meets. “The human situation is so complex that it always evades our attempts to encompass it,” one characters says, and ultimately this truth is what Cusk tirelessly seeks to circumvent. In the end, one can’t help but hear echoes of E.M. Forster’s elusive advice: Only connect. —ROBERT WEIBEZAHL

A PLACE FOR US By Fatima Farheen Mirza SJP for Hogarth $27, 400 pages ISBN 9781524763558 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION

gains traction when Amar is bullied at school around 9/11. He is also involved in a forbidden romance with Amira Ali, the daughter of a well-respected local family whose eldest son died in a car accident. Overshadowing all these events are the parameters of a deeply traditional Muslim culture—arranged marriages, the differing set of standards and expectations for men and women, the pressure for academic achievement—and the looming sense of being an “other” in American society. Immigrant novels often center on conflict and the juxtaposition between Old World values and modern Western culture. In seeking a better life for their children, Layla and Rafiq must contend with this and the effect it has on their family. A Place for Us resonates at the crossroads of culture, character, storytelling and poignancy. —J E F F V A S I S H T A


Algonquin $26.95, 352 pages ISBN 9781616206253 Audio, eBook available FAMILY DRAMA

A Place for Us has been guaranteed a certain amount of prerelease publicity as the first novel under actress, producer and designer Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth. The author, Fatima Farheen Mirza, is a 26-year-old graduate of the highly respected Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The novel concerns itself with the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family living in California. The opening scene is the wedding of eldest daughter Hadia. The bride’s prodigal brother, Amar, has returned after an absence of several years, and the reasons for this absence unfold in ensuing chapters. Hadia and Amar, along with sister Huda, are the children of Layla and Rafiq, and the interior lives of these characters are explored in continually shifting timelines. Early on, these multiple points of view and the seeming lack of plot make the story confusing, but A Place for Us

In Southernmost, novelist Silas House tells the story of Asher Sharp, a young preacher living in rural east Tennessee with his wife, Lydia, and their adolescent son, Justin. After a violent flood tears through their town, Asher provides shelter for a gay couple despite the religious conservatism of the area. Asher’s generosity is influenced in part by the immense guilt that remains from rejecting his gay brother, Luke, many years prior. Lydia immediately scorns Asher’s act of charity. His church congregation does the same. These acts of rejection cause a disconnect between Asher’s moral and religious principles, leading to a crisis of conscience that upends his life. His congregation removes him as pastor, and he leaves his wife. Asher’s moral conversion is further complicated by the fact



One of the Best Books of the Year

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The New York Times Bestselling


“BREATHTAKING . ” —San Francisco Chronicle

“DREAMLIKE . ” —The New Yorker


An absolute master storyteller and bafflingly good writer.” —Los Angeles Times

B W. W. NORTON Independent publishers since 1923


reviews that his zealot wife is awarded full custody of Justin. Fearing the loss of his sensitive son, Asher kidnaps Justin, and the two head for Key West, Florida, in search of freedom and new understandings—and in search of Luke. Southernmost is a well-crafted work that is both emotionally and philosophically resonant. Using detailed imagery and rich dialogue, House allows readers to witness how the transformation of one’s moral foundations, no matter how noble, can disrupt a person’s sense of community and security. It is also a story of freeing the self from the captivity of our various societal structures. House’s depiction of the contemporary South is vivid, accessible and incredibly enchanting, even during the book’s darkest moments. His complex characters quarrel with popular preconceptions and stereotypes of the region. The South of Southernmost includes areas that are inflexibly governed by dogma, while other spaces allow for autonomy and growth. Southernmost is a remarkable meditation on faith, morality, loss and love—a transcendent work that has the power to entertain, educate and heal at the same time. —LANGSTON COLLIN WILKINS


Mulholland $27, 432 pages ISBN 9780316561686 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION

A title like A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising suggests a story that is way cool, with lots of spine-chilling action and armies of vampires and vampire slayers. Of course, we think we know who wins in the end. But Raymond A. Villareal’s novel doesn’t quite work like that. His tale is a little disturbing, and that’s a good thing. It functions somewhat as an allegory: The vampires are the 1 percent and everyone else is, well, everyone else.


FICTION In Villareal’s world, vampirism is the result of a plain old virus— though there’s nothing plain about a virus that imparts superhuman speed and strength, a greatly lengthened life span, infertility and the obligation to drink human blood and stay out of the sun. Like the vampirism of folklore, the condition is passed along via a bite, a practice that the vampires, who call themselves Gloamings, are reluctant to talk about. But that’s pretty much the only thing they’re modest about. Determined to take over the world, they’re choosy about who they “recreate.” The lucky few tend to be rich and powerful. Folks from the 99 percent are exsanguinated before their bodies are dumped in roadside ditches, or they’re kept on “farms” as a ready blood supply. Villareal brilliantly and stealthily examines how Gloamings have abandoned being human. Amoral in ways that normals can’t comprehend, the Gloamings only act to advance their situation. This might mean donating blood to sick children, getting Gloaming-friendly legislation passed or murdering political opponents or anyone who’s in their way. These creatures use the levers of government, society and religion to get what they want. And a lot of people fall for it. This becomes the new normal. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an unsettling book. It’s also a warning. —ARLENE MCKANIC

US AGAINST YOU By Fredrik Backman

Atria $28, 448 pages ISBN 9781501160790 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION

Fredrik Backman’s engrossing fifth book is a sequel to Beartown, his 2017 novel set in a small town on the edge of a Swedish forest. As Us Against You opens, Beartown’s future is threatened: first by the possible closure of its only factory, and second by the bankruptcy

faced by the town’s hockey club. Hockey isn’t merely a game to the town’s inhabitants—their whole lives revolve around the Bears’ wins and losses. Beartown’s anxiety is further fueled by a major shift in the Bears’ team roster. After the rape of the general manager’s daughter, Maya, by a team member, as chronicled in Beartown, the team was torn apart. Some Bears abandoned the team and joined the Bulls from the neighboring town of Hed. Those who stayed in Beartown are some of the best players, but the remaining team lacks the size and experience of the Bulls. Backman’s latest saga focuses on the first hockey season following the schism, brilliantly portraying the way each magnetic character copes with the hatred and violence that has engulfed these two small towns as their teams prepare to do battle. Maya struggles to move on from her traumatic experience, constantly aware that many blame her for the team’s demise. Her best friend, Ana, carelessly reveals that their friend Benji, one of the team’s best players, is gay. Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, constantly face backlash from a town that blames their report of Maya’s rape for the team’s problems. Vidar, the younger brother of one of the town bullies, is mysteriously released from a detention camp to be the Bears’ goalie. Ramona, a widow who runs the local bar, lovingly supports the pack of “hooligans” who resort to violence in support of their team. The new Bears coach is a woman, an ex-professional player who struggles to gain the acceptance of the town and her players. And lurking in the background is a Wizard of Oz-like figure—a politician trying to manipulate the team and factory to enrich his own pockets. Backman stirs this volatile mélange of disparate characters until the inevitable explosion occurs, leaving Beartown sadder but perhaps wiser than before. His depiction of this small town will resonate especially with readers who struggle with the racism, homophobia and misogyny that exist in their own communities.

A resourceful, resilient teen heroine is at the heart of Meghan MacLean Weir’s propulsive debut novel. Demure and obedient, 17-year-old Essie has played the perfect preacher’s daughter for years—she’s the youngest of the brood that makes up “Six for Hicks,” a hit reality TV show starring her family. But now Essie is pregnant, and she won’t name the father. As the novel opens, Essie’s image-first mother is debating whether to arrange an abortion or secret adoption, or somehow try to pass off her grandchild as her own. Essie, however, has other plans: After all, what gets better ratings than a wedding? Essie already has her eye on a groom: Roarke Richards, an athletic high school senior. The two barely know each other, and Roarke is skeptical—but once he realizes the deal includes enough money to save his parents’ business and pay for his dream college, he’s in. As Roarke and Essie try to sell their sudden wedding as a fairy tale and not a shotgun, the reader (and Roarke) gradually realizes that there’s more to Essie’s story (and her plan) than it first appears. Weir, a doctor whose first book was a memoir about her pediatric residency, doles out the details of Essie’s past slowly but steadily, gaining a momentum that keeps the pages turning. As a pastor’s daughter, Weir is also adept at using the language of evangelical life, lending an authenticity that takes the book beyond a Duggar-family pastiche. The tentative trust that grows between Essie and Roarke gives The Book of Essie emotional depth, and the questions at its center have a surprising moral weight. Readers will root for Essie through every twist and turn of her story.


—T R I S H A P I N G

THE BOOK OF ESSIE By Meghan MacLean Weir

Knopf $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780525520313 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION




Life’s a beach and then you die

FSG $27, 336 pages ISBN 9780374103118 Audio, eBook available CURRENT EVENTS


If you’re ever stuck in an elevator or airport, just pray for David Sedaris to appear. Time passes quickly with this national treasure of a storyteller. Reading Calypso, Sedaris’ latest collection of essays, is like settling into a glorious beach vacation with the author, whose parents, siblings and longtime boyfriend, Hugh, feel like old friends to faithful readers. Family gatherings at Sedaris’ North Carolina beach house are featured frequently in this collection of 21 essays, and at the Sea Section (his chosen moniker for his beach house), games of Sorry! become delightfully vicious and the clan gets gleefully nosy when James Comey is said to be renting 12 doors down. Another favorite topic, not surprisingly, is aging. Sedaris, 61, observes that sometimes life at the beach feels like a Centrum commerBy David Sedaris cial, and soon enough, he and his siblings will join the seniors they Little, Brown, $28, 272 pages ISBN 9780316392389, audio, eBook available see zooming by on golf carts. “How can that be,” he asks, “when only yesterday, on this very same beach, we were children?” ESSAYS While Sedaris is laugh-out-loud funny in his brilliant, meandering way, it’s his personal reflections that will stay with you. He writes of his sister Tiffany, who killed herself in 2013, admitting that he asked his manager to close the door in her face the last time he saw her. He describes scattering the ashes of his late mother in the Atlantic Ocean, writing, “My mother died in 1991, yet reaching into the bag, touching her remains, essentially throwing her away, was devastating, even after all this time.” Sedaris laments how he and his family never confronted his mother about her drinking, and he worries over the health of his 94-year-old father, who can’t be talked into moving to a retirement home. Sedaris freely shares all, explaining, “Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived and reduced the schoolhouse to ashes. Happiness is harder to put into words.”

IN SEARCH OF MARY SHELLEY By Fiona Sampson Pegasus $28.95, 368 pages ISBN 9781681777528 eBook available BIOGRAPHY

The cultural impact of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is undeniably huge. It’s difficult to think of a book that has been adapted, copied or parodied more than this 1818 novel. But if you ask anyone about its author, you are likely to receive a blank stare. Some might be able to identify her as the wife of Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, but little else is generally

known about the young, almost girlish author who took up Lord Byron’s challenge to “write a ghost story” during literary history’s most consequential slumber party. In Search of Mary Shelley is Fiona Sampson’s attempt to pin down this elusive woman. It’s not a conventional biography; instead of trying to reconstruct every stage of Shelley’s life, Sampson focuses on key episodes that provide essential clues to understanding the author. Each episode is like a tile in a mosaic, beautifully crafted and essential to Shelley’s complex portrait. Or, given Sampson’s status as one of England’s pre-eminent living poets, perhaps it is more apt to say that each chapter is like a stanza, resulting in a poetic exploration of one of the most influential novelists in English literature.

Wracked with guilt for causing her mother’s death, who died shortly after giving birth to her, rejected by her adored father upon his second marriage and passionately in love with the feckless and narcissistic Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley was practically doomed to sacrifice her happiness, reputation and talent in service to others. She suffered the deaths of all but one of her children, the humiliation inflicted by her faithless husband and many betrayals by supposed friends. Yet she somehow managed to write Frankenstein, a novel that continues to engage and challenge readers. Sampson’s biography illuminates a woman whose genius enabled her not only to survive but also to triumph. —DEBORAH MASON

The grim story Eliza Griswold tells in Amity and Prosperity will seem familiar to readers who know the tale of New York’s Love Canal or have read Jonathan Harr’s prize-winning book A Civil Action. Griswold’s penetrating story explores the consequences of our nation’s ill-advised zeal for exploiting abundant natural resources and features rapacious corporations, inept—if not complicit—regulators and hapless victims in a small Pennsylvania town. Hapless, that is, until they hire an unlikely hus-


“Magnificent...A remarkable, noteworthy biography of an American literary icon.” —USA Today


Swept away




ith Ruthless Tide, Al Roker offers a riveting account of the 1889 Johnstown Flood, one of the worst disasters in U.S. history, and shines a light on the human causes behind this tragedy.



Why did you decide to write about the 1889 Johnstown Flood? This was one of those stories that you hear about in weather folklore, but I didn’t really know the full story. When I started to look into it, I was blown away by its complexity and its underlying layers of class, wealth and power in this country. Nature alone was not responsible for the flood. Can you expand? The Johnstown Flood was a confluence of events: severe weather, a disregard for proper engineering and proper planning, and a disregard for the environment and the people living within it who are less fortunate. Were you surprised by the seeming callousness of the elite society in the face of the disaster? Do you think such upper-class indifference still affects matters today? I don’t think you have to be a student of societal problems to see that, in many instances, class differences and total disregard for those less fortunate still exist today. And we are seeing a rollback of the protections for environmental and societal issues at a rapid pace. It’s only a matter of time before another natural disaster brings destruction and misery because of the elimination or relaxation of those rules put in place over the years to protect people. Clara Barton’s Red Cross faced its first real test in Johnstown after the flood, and many doubted that the organization would be effective in providing relief. How do you think this played out? I think that expectations were low for Clara Barton and her organization’s success, and in a way, that worked to her advantage. She was able to work in and around the establishment to really get things done. And once she started to achieve results, her momentum added to her success. Lending greater historical reality to the event, you write about the thieves, scammers and exploiters who preyed upon the survivors. Is that something you felt the overall record needed? Anytime there are human disasters, it follows—just like night follows day—that there are those who will exploit, prey upon and take advantage of those less fortunate or people thrust into a horrible situation. We’ve seen it time and time again after hurricanes, floods or tornadoes. It’s just interesting to note that it’s not just a modern phenomenon. Tom L. Johnson, who worked to make public transportation free as Johnstown recovered, was a revolutionary urban planner ahead of his time. What intrigues you about people like Johnson and Barton? In the face of human tragedy and natural disasters, people can be changed forever and can rise to great heights when called upon. Tom L. Johnson went from being a somewhat callous pursuer of wealth to a believer in the greater good for his fellow man. Clara Barton helped expand an organization that to this day is synonymous with help and healing.


reviews band-and-wife legal team to help them seek justice. Most of the action unfolds in and around the small town of Amity in southwestern Pennsylvania. Beginning in 2010, Griswold made 37 trips to the region to report the story, and she focuses her careful investigation on nurse Stacey Haney and her two children. The Haneys’ farmhouse is located downhill from a pond containing waste products from the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which is used to extract natural gas from the underlying shale deposit. The Haneys’ worsening financial and health problems eventually drive them to lawyers John and Kendra Smith, partners in a small, local law firm. Though the Smiths’ dogged efforts in the face of fierce resistance from gas producer Range Resources and other defendants yielded only mixed results for the Haneys and their neighbors, they were able to creatively invoke Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, successfully using it for the first time in an action against polluters. Griswold’s sobering book is yet one more in a growing roster of works that detail the price some members of American society have been forced to pay to serve the convenience and comfort of their fellow citizens.

and killing 2,209 men, women and children. By supplying plenty of detail, Roker brings the reader so deeply into the moment (it took about 10 seconds for most of Johnstown to be utterly destroyed) that you can almost hear the water’s roar and feel the thundering crashes as rooftops and locomotives banged into buildings ripped from their foundations. Roker makes it clear that this disaster was created by humans. A frequent recreational retreat for wealthy members, the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club in Pennsylvania resisted any local concerns about the club’s dam, which was built to create a private lake. Stocking the lake with premium fish was more important than relieving water flow. Landscapes were deforested in the name of industry, but without trees, the hillsides had no resistance against flooding. Worries were ignored, warnings went unheeded, and bad decisions trumped the advice of those who knew better. Today, one may think we are environmentally aware enough to ensure that such a catastrophe could never happen again. But one must ask if any lessons have been learned. Consider, for example, the levees and Hurricane Katrina—and remember the Johnstown Flood. —PRISCILLA KIPP



Morrow $28.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062445513 Audio, eBook available HISTORY

Al Roker, co-host and weather anchor of NBC’s “Today,” vividly re-creates the tragedy of the Johnstown Flood in Ruthless Tide. In what he calls an “unnatural disaster,” 20 million tons of water hurtled past a failing dam and into a Pennsylvania valley on the afternoon of May 31, 1889, tossing animals and trees, crushing houses

LIFE IN THE GARDEN By Penelope Lively Viking $25, 208 pages ISBN 9780525558378 Audio, eBook available ESSAYS

You need not be a devoted gardener to enjoy this slim, lovely volume from the consistently superb Penelope Lively. Life in the Garden is an ode to “chocolate earth in our nails,” as Virginia Woolf said. Lively has been a voracious gardener her entire adult life, and it shows in her nearly encyclopedic knowledge of gardening. Yet this is not a traditional gar-

NONFICTION dening book. You won’t find tips for slug removal, growing roses or mulching. And thank goodness for that, because Lively has so much more to say about the relevance of gardens. In literature, Lively points out, a garden often sets the backdrop for a scene, like the gardens of Edith Wharton’s novels, or becomes a character in its own right, as in the children’s classic The Secret Garden. She writes about the fundamental absurdity of gardens, of trying to impose order on nature, a losing battle if there ever was one. And she compares the charms of urban gardens—she currently lives in a London townhouse—with the sprawl of suburban and rural ones. Lively’s trademark British wit makes several delightfully acidic appearances, but Life in the Garden is also at times almost unbearably poignant, coming as late as it does in the life of the wonderfully prolific author. “We are always gardening for a future; we are supposing, assuming, a future,” she writes. “I am doing that at eighty-three; the Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ I have just put in will outlast me, in all probability, but I am requiring it to perform while I can still enjoy it.” —AMY SCRIBNER


Norton $27.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780393285321 eBook available HISTORY

tory—who spring to life in Robb’s new book about a desolate border tract known as the Debatable Land, the oldest territorial division in Great Britain. While the Debatable Land itself is only 13 miles long, the region is a site of legend, conflicts, battles and mystery. In digging up its history, Robb covers a large swath of time. But in true cyclist fashion, the telling is not rushed but leisurely: The author stops to show us points of interest and sights along the way. We learn about the terrain, the wind and the seasons as we accompany Robb on research trips by bicycle, or even as he passes a band of Scottish sheep while scrunching through the snow to his mailbox. This intimate portrait of the land helps us imagine its colorful past of rebellious clans and border raiders. In this way, readers become part of this erudite historian’s own process of discovery. Robb doesn’t end his exploration in the distant past. Instead, he ventures into the 21st century, when the Brexit vote has raised the possibility of a new referendum on Scottish independence. For Anglophiles, history lovers and, yes, cyclists, The Debatable Land is a journey worth taking.


the title of your new book? Q: What’s

Q: Describe the book in one sentence.

have the Beatles had an Q: Why enduring appeal?

did you learn about yourself while illustrating your Q: What old diaries?

there any other bands that influenced you at a Q: Were young age?

Q: What were some inspirations for the book’s illustrations?


ROUGH BEAUTY By Karen Auvinen Scribner $27, 320 pages ISBN 9781501152283 Audio, eBook available

Q: Words to live by?


In 2010, historian and author Graham Robb and his wife found themselves at the railway station in Carlisle, in the far northwest part of England near the Scottish border. They had just purchased a house in the area. But the move didn’t herald long, exploratory car trips. Instead, the couple brought only their bicycles. On their journeys, they meet people like Wattie Blakey, an elderly mole catcher, just one of the many characters—some from his-

Poet Karen Auvinen’s memoir, Rough Beauty, opens on a beautiful March morning, when Auvinen, out delivering the mail on her rural Colorado route, notices the deep blue of the sky, the signs of early spring and smoke from a fire—a fire that turns out to be her own house burning. She’d recently settled outside the Rocky Mountain town of Jamestown, but now, Auvinen can only watch as firefighters

FAB4 MANIA In 1965, cartoonist Carol Tyler was 13 and madly in love with the Beatles. In Fab4 Mania (Fantagraphics, $29.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781683960614), her heartfelt memoir of Beatles fandom, Tyler illustrates her own teenage diary, joyfully capturing the days leading up to the Beatles’ Comiskey Park concert in Chicago while paying tribute to 1960s American youth culture. Born and raised in Chicago, Tyler now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and teaches at the University of Cincinnati.




978-1-62354-530-7 HC $24.99

work to contain the fire, which destroys everything she owns. Auvinen then drops back to detail her difficult adolescence: an abusive dad, an impassive mom, a peripatetic childhood. But she dispatches with her youth quickly, focusing instead on the years that followed the devastating fire and describing life at the edge of the wilderness. “Up on the mountain, summer was easy,” she writes. “The world was green and glorious. Aspens clacked in the breeze and hummingbirds whirred across meadows gone crazy with wildflowers. Mornings dawned open and wide blue, but by noon, the sky blackened and thunder rumbled.” As she describes her patchwork of jobs, her friends and a relationship gone bad, Auvinen paints a picture of quirky Jamestown, home to 300. She works part-time as a cook at Jamestown’s Mercantile Café and tries to help her aging mother, who has begun a slow

decline. Auvinen isn’t afraid to show her own prickly character or her loneliness. But the heart of this memoir is her relationship with her rescue dog, Elvis, a Husky mix with a penchant for wandering. As Elvis nears the end of his life, Auvinen finds a new (human) relationship and her own happy ending. —SARAH McCRAW CROW

NO ASHES IN THE FIRE By Darnell L. Moore

Nation Books $26, 256 pages ISBN 9781568589480 eBook available MEMOIR

Love is a complicated matter. That’s true for anyone, and it’s a concept Darnell L. Moore has wrestled with throughout his life.

Acclaimed journalist and former African National Congress spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen traces the spiritual components of Mandela’s life.

“Illuminating and an essential addition to studies of Mandela’s life and work.”

—Booklist July 18, 2018, marks Mandela’s centenary.

Available June 19, 2018

Moore was born into tough circumstances as the child of two black teenagers in Camden, New Jersey. What his large and close family lacked financially, they made up for in love. But Moore struggled to love himself. He recognized his attraction to other men at a young age, and he found it abhorrent. Homosexuality didn’t fit with his idea of acceptable black masculinity. Moore pushed down his feelings with a tough attitude and attempted to hide from the world with a series of girlfriends and sexual encounters with women. It didn’t work. When he was 14, neighborhood boys suspected him of being gay and attempted to set him on fire. The fire didn’t light, but the bullying left emotional scars. In No Ashes in the Fire, writer and Black Lives Matter leader Moore recounts decades of running from his true self. His lyrical reflection reveals a teenage boy in search of his family story—and a young man who ran from it. “As long as I wasn’t a clone of my dad, I thought, there was no need for her to complain,” he writes of his emotionally manipulative relationships with women. “I hadn’t yet realized I was his son, his likeness, an ellipsis extending his presence into the world.” Moore describes years of self-loathing and the drugs, then religiosity, he used to mask his desires. He faces his biases against certain people, such as black femme men, and in doing so he realizes—and invites the reader to recognize—that justice means freedom and equality for all. —CARLA JEAN WHITLEY

GOODBYE, SWEET GIRL By Kelly Sundberg Harper $26.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780062497673 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR



Kelly Sundberg’s memoir of domestic violence brilliantly records

the shock, physical and emotional pain and, perhaps most poignantly, the confusion of abuse. The same man who could proclaim his love for Sundberg and their young child was also capable of verbally and physically assaulting her. As a young woman, Sundberg longed for safety, and she found it with her warm, funny husband, Caleb. But eventually, he became the man most likely to kill her as cycles of abuse, regret and reconciliation became shorter and more intense. This confusing experience (sometimes called “gaslighting”) is one reason why women stay with their abusers, especially if they have become isolated from friends and family. Because of its subject matter, Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival might seem difficult to read, but Sundberg’s crystalline prose and insightful narration lighten the reading experience. Sundberg captures the slow, terrifying evolution of her relationship: how a few red flags and a frightening episode of rage snowballed into brutal physical violence. She is careful (maybe too careful?) to balance her portrait of Caleb’s abuse with his good qualities, and she does not engage in self-pity. She provides an important record of how anyone could find themselves in an abusive relationship and lends understanding to the reasons they stay—and how and why she eventually left. Sundberg’s story is haunting, propulsive and, perhaps for some readers, familiar. Her wrenching memoir deserves to be read by a wide audience so that we can all learn to recognize the signs of domestic abuse. But Sundberg is also a talented writer with many more stories to tell: about her childhood in Salmon, Idaho, her experiences as a forest ranger and her difficult relationship with her mother. These narratives, hinted at throughout Goodbye, Sweet Girl, suggest a rich terrain of material for Sundberg to mine in future stories. I, for one, look forward to hearing more from her. —CATHERINE HOLLIS








Let the magic lead you REVIEW BY SARAH WEBER

As her 18th birthday approaches, Georgina is beginning to fear that she may be the first Fernweh woman in generations not to possess magical powers. But she tries to brush her nerves aside as she prepares for her last tourist season on her hometown island, By-the-Sea. Every summer on the island has been more or less like the one before, but then By-the-Sea’s iconic 300-year-old bird goes missing, a storm floods the island, and Georgina’s twin sister, Mary, begins leaving a trail of feathers in her wake. Georgina knows nothing will ever be the same. Katrina Leno’s latest novel, Summer of Salt, is a haunting comingof-age story tinged with magic and steeped in tradition in the vein of Shea Ernshaw’s The Wicked Deep and Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. The relationships between the novel’s strong female characters are By Katrina Leno particularly poignant: From Georgina’s blossoming romance with a HarperTeen, $17.99, 272 pages girl named Prue and the bonds between the Fernweh women to the ISBN 9780062493620, eBook available friendships that sustain them when the unthinkable happens, SumAges 14 and up mer of Salt is a profound and subtly feminist tribute to the power of female connection. FANTASY Leno’s whimsical prose is grounded by the dark events—both fantastical and all too real—that befall the island and its residents (young readers should be prepared to face issues of sexual assault), and the eclectic cast of well-developed characters is made familiar by the weight of the decisions they have to make as they learn the true meanings of love, sacrifice and magic.

FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE By Sandhya Menon Simon Pulse $18.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781481495400 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up ROMANCE

High school junior Twinkle Mehra’s ultimate dream is to become a great filmmaker. She also wants to leave behind the social stratum she’s dubbed “the groundlings” and carve out a place among the “silk hats,” where her former best friend, Maddie, and Twinkle’s longtime crush, Neil, are counted as members. When Neil’s geeky twin brother, Sahil, offers to help Twinkle shoot a film for the annual arts festival, she jumps at the chance. Sahil’s kindness, love of film and respect for Twinkle’s art soon have

her falling hard. But Twinkle’s goals thus far—making films, regaining Maddie’s friendship and winning Neil’s heart—have become so entwined that it’s hard for her to make room for a new goal and new possibilities with Sahil. Twinkle speaks out through her films, but is she seeing the world around her for what it truly is, or has her perspective become warped by long-held assumptions? In her second novel, Sandhya Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi) gives readers a spunky, smart but sometimes misguided heroine, a delightful romantic hero, a strong cast of secondary characters and a window into the world of amateur filmmaking. Narrated through Twinkle’s letters to her favorite female directors, From Twinkle, with Love will both resonate with creative young people and remind them to balance their search for art and truth with respect and empathy. —ANNIE METCALF

“[An] intricately plotted debut thriller!” —Publishers Weekly

DRIVING BY STARLIGHT By Anat Deracine Holt $17.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781250133427 eBook available Ages 13 and up FICTION

In Driving by Starlight, Anat Deracine’s noteworthy debut, 16-year-old Leena is the top student in her Saudi Arabian high school, but with her father in jail for sedition and no money in the bank, her future looks bleak. Just when she thinks she’s found her ticket out—Saudi Arabia’s first-ever all-girls debate competition, with a grand prize of a full ride to college—Leena’s blacklisted from the debate team. Unable to escape her father’s shadow, Leena is crestfallen. Heartbreak follows heartbreak

“Bold, unique, and completely original.” —Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts

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27 4/13/18 4:35 PM

reviews when Leena’s crush tricks her into betraying the confidence of her best friend, Mishail, and posts scandalous photos of Mishail online in an attempt to embarrass her high-level bureaucrat father. Realizing how much she and her friends need one another, Leena orchestrates an escape from Saudi Arabia for both Mishail and herself. The Saudi Arabia of Driving by Starlight is a haunting land of morality police, hyper-surveillance and hypocrisy. Against this background, it is no surprise that social commentary threads throughout Deracine’s novel. It is one thing to document the desperation of the hard-pressed, but Deracine also captures the hope and joy that nourish Saudi people in desperate straits. With a keen sense of drama and a gift for understated exposition, Deracine has blessed readers with an intriguing window into a part of the world most of us know very little about. —J O N L I T T L E

TEEN ready know the trajectory of Laila’s path: new teacher helps protagonist become a better writer. The reader would be correct, but only to a point, as author Riley Redgate (Noteworthy) surprises us with a heart-wrenching twist. Final Draft may be filled with the high school angst and self-discovery that’s expected of young adult novels, but the story is deliciously elevated by its emotional depth and Redgate’s snarky prose. With the book’s explorations of sex and some adult language, the publisher’s age recommendation of 13 and up may not be true for all, but Final Draf should be a must-have for high school libraries.


Delacorte $18.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780399553929 Audio, eBook available Ages 13 and up

By Riley Redgate

Amulet $17.99, 272 pages ISBN 9781419728723 eBook available Ages 13 and up FICTION

Laila Piedra is a senior in high school, facing down the final weeks before graduation, when everything in her life goes sideways. For years, she has enjoyed the encouragement of her creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, who is the only person with whom she shares her sci-fi stories. Writing and being with her three best friends is the entirety of Laila’s world. She doesn’t cause problems and she’s never been on a date, much less in love. But Laila is (mostly) happy. When Mr. Madison gets in an accident and is replaced by a prize-winning novelist, Laila isn’t prepared for the avalanche of changes. Readers will think they al-


—J I L L R A T Z A N

Beatrice Hartley has been unable to find normalcy ever since her boyfriend, Jim, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a quarry outside their elite boarding school. While searching for answers, Beatrice attempts to make amends with four former friends. But a freak accident soon finds the group trapped in the Neverworld, a realm in which the same day repeats endlessly . . . and will continue to do so until the quintet can agree on one member who will return to the world of the living. The others will die. Imagine living the same day an infinite number of times and being trapped for centuries in the moment between life and death. That’s what happens in the Neverworld, where storms rage, strange birds nest in dead trees and black mold lies just below clean-looking surfaces. While some in the group delight in the mayhem, Beatrice remains the stereotypical good girl. But as the friends put aside their

herrings to keep readers hooked to the very end. A fast-paced and unnerving novel, Aftermath is a top-of-theline read with nothing less than silver-screen potential. —ANITA LOCK

ALWAYS NEVER YOURS By Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka Penguin $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780451479846 eBook available Ages 14 and up ROMANCE

—J E N N I F E R B R U E R K I T C H E L



differences (and their debauchery) to investigate Jim’s death in earnest, secrets and deceptions begin to multiply. And the Neverworld begins to break down. Drawing on ideas and imagery reminiscent of The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and the movie Inception, Marisha Pessl’s first work of young adult fiction (after her adult novels Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Night Film) is spooky, smart and satisfying. Clear your calendar to read this in one sitting, and then, when it gets under your skin, immediately turn back to the beginning and read it again.

AFTERMATH By Kelley Armstrong

Crown $17.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780399550362 eBook available Ages 14 and up THRILLER

Kelley Armstrong’s latest YA novel is a gripping, plausible thriller influenced by real school tragedies, but with a twist. A mass shooting at a high school leaves four dead and 10 injured. Three years later, 16-year-old Skye Gilchrist reluctantly returns to the school that has haunted her dreams ever since. Skye’s brother was one of the shooters, and she shudders when she sees her one-time best friend Jesse Mandal walking down the hall—his brother was one of the victims. Armstrong’s dual narratives highlight two intelligent teens, desperately attempting to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. After reconciling due to a shared class, the pair begin to search for the truth about the dreaded day that changed their lives forever. Their efforts soon uncover cryptic texts and videos, leading to a mysterious fire and a break-in at Skye’s apartment. Armstrong’s crisp writing is replete with enough foreshadowing, cliffhangers and red

High school senior Megan Harper has always shied away from the spotlight. She loves the theater, but she wants to direct, not star. And Megan might be an incorrigible flirt, but she’s never been anyone’s true love. In fact, the many boys she’s dated have a history of finding their perfect matches right after they’ve dumped her. When Megan—whose drama school application requires her to have some acting experience— accidentally lands the lead role in Romeo & Juliet, she’s terrified, especially when it turns out she’s acting opposite her most recent ex, who’s now madly in love with her best friend. Consequently, Megan is eager to find her next fling—but maybe she needs to slow down and find someone who believes that even supporting characters deserve their own happy endings. Husband-and-wife writing duo Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka know of what they write—they met in high school while studying Shakespeare. Readers will relate to Megan’s exuberant voice and her endearing imperfections, as well as to the challenges of balancing complex families, academic ambition and (maybe) love, all while trying to put on a show. The course of true love never did run smooth—but, as in Shakespeare, navigating the rough parts is what makes for a funny, romantic and memorable story. —NORAH PIEHL



Reality looks very different today


avid Arnold is one of my favorite authors to run into at a Nashville literary event. Although he left Tennessee for the bluer grasses of his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, he’s still a regular face around town, and he’s often the most genuinely excited author in the room.

On the day of our chat, which is sadly via phone instead of at one of our favorite local record stores like I’d hoped, we’re exactly one month away from the publication of his third novel, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. When I ask how he’s feeling, I’m pretty surprised by his answer: “You know what’s funny about that?” he says. “I’m less excited and nervous with each book, and I’d say that’s a good thing. You have to move on. I feel very strongly that whenever someone asks what’s your favorite thing that you’ve written, it’s always the newest thing. I feel very strongly that Noah is my strongest novel. Noah is my most personal book in a lot of ways. I have never written an autobiographical character, and I don’t really plan to, but Noah would be the closest thing to that I’ll ever write.” You might be a big fan of Mosquitoland or Kids of Appetite, but Arnold’s latest, with its sci-fi-tinged


By David Arnold

Viking, $18.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780425288863, audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up


explorations of time and reality, is easily his most ambitious to date. Sixteen-year-old Noah Oakman seems to be living a pretty typical suburban life, even if it feels like his trajectory is a bit out of his hands. He’s a star swimmer being courted by college scouts (although he’s faking a back injury while he dreams of a life outside athletics), his parents are almost annoyingly in love, his doting sister idolizes him, and he’s so set on living a life of predictability that he has a self-imposed wardrobe— jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with David Bowie’s face. Noah’s starting to feel like he’s outgrowing aspects of his life, so he retreats into the things that bring him comfort: “Gilmore Girls” and YouTube rabbit holes. The only person who can pull Noah out of his reverie is his half-Puerto Rican gay best friend, Alan (whom Arnold admits is lovingly modeled after his own best friend, fellow author Adam Silvera). When Alan and his twin sister, Rosa, convince Noah to let loose at a high school party one night, Noah has a few too many drinks and lets a mysterious man hypnotize him. When Noah wakes the next morning, he finds himself with more pressing issues than his first hangover. Key details of his life have changed, and everything he’s accepted as fact and reality is turned upside down. “In 2010, my wife and I went on a cruise, and there was a hypnotist on the ship. When you’re on a cruise, you just go with it,” Arnold says with a laugh. “I remember him asking for volunteers, and thinking, what if someone went under and when they came out, everyone in their life was completely different?” The seed may have been hypnosis, but Noah’s story began taking shape when Arnold and his wife moved from Nashville to

Lexington. “We lived with my parents while we were looking for a house, so I literally wrote a chunk of this book where I did my homework in high school,” Arnold says. “So of course I’m going to write a story about a kid who looked like me when I was that age. Of course I’m going to write a . . . book about change when that’s the predominant thing going on in my life at the “In high school, moment.” Much I remember like Noah, feeling like I Arnold struggled was changing with some and no one existential else was.” angst during his teen years, although he had to figure it out without the added wrinkle of hypnosis and altered reality. “When I was a senior in high school, I remember feeling like I was changing and no one else was,” Arnold says. “The great secret is that everyone felt that way. That’s sort of what this book is about: a kid who feels like he’s changing, but no one else is, and no one else could possibly understand what he’s going through. Over the course of this one night, everything gets flipped. It’s almost a mirror image: Everyone in his life has an actual, physical change, and he’s the only one who hasn’t.” Although The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is pro-



pelled by a surrealist mystery that asks heady questions about how each of us experiences our own reality, Arnold keeps it all grounded by reminding readers that Noah’s most pressing struggle is simply growing up. “I did feel very strongly that I wanted to write a character whose struggles were completely internal. When the book opens, [Noah’s] feeling this low-frequency dread, and you’re kind of like, why though?” Arnold says. With whip-smart dialogue, fun pop-culture asides, endlessly endearing and fully realized characters and a hypnotic mystery, it’s no surprise that Paramount has already secured the film rights for The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. This fan, for one, would love Arnold to write the screenplay. “I would not be opposed to taking a crack at writing it . . . but if I had my preference, I would rather someone who knows what they’re doing do it,” Arnold says with a laugh. “Becky Albertalli [author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda] is my critique partner, and I’ve been able to see what she’s gone through. If it’s in the ballpark of Love, Simon, I’ll be thrilled.”


reviews T PI OP CK



Swim against the current REVIEW BY JULIE DANIELSON

A boy named Julián and his abuela hop on the subway, where he sees three glamorous women dressed as mermaids. Julián is transfixed; he loves mermaids. In the three spreads that follow, we are swept up in Julián’s reverie: We see the subway car become an ocean and fill with colorful sea creatures. They sweep Julián along until he’s a mermaid himself. Once home, the inspired Julián makes his own mermaid costume. The curtains become his dress, a fern becomes his hair and lipstick is applied. When Abuela enters the room, she takes it all in wordlessly, and Julián’s triumphant stance becomes one of a defeated boy, sure he’ll be shamed. Instead, Abuela brings Julián a string of pearls and By Jessica Love takes him to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, ushering him without Candlewick, $16.99, 40 pages judgment into a world of people like him. Julián parades exuberantly ISBN 9780763690458, eBook available with his fellow mermaids, knowing that Abuela, always by his side, Ages 4 to 8 recognizes and accepts him for who he is. Jessica Love’s vivid watercolor and gouache illustrations are made PICTURE BOOK even brighter by her decision to paint on brown paper; the richly colored palette pops off the pages, and abundant character is conveyed via the subtlest of facial expressions and body language. Also subtle—and terrifically poignant—is the eloquent encouragement of Abuela’s spare words. A book for the ages, Julián Is a Mermaid is going to make a big splash.

BRAVE ENOUGH FOR TWO By Jonathan D. Voss Holt $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9781250127488 eBook available Ages 4 to 8

Olive and her best friend, a stuffed owl named Hoot, are adventurers—or at least Hoot is. But when their latest escapade becomes more windy and rainy and woodsy than they’d planned, Hoot’s intrepidness fails, and it’s up to Olive to get them home again. Captivating and endearing, Jonathan D. Voss’ Brave Enough for Two gives readers a gentle and timeless message: It’s one thing to be bold and daring and seek adventure, but the friend who takes your hand when your own courage falters is also brave. Voss is well-acquainted with best-friend tales, having illustrated Sally Walker’s picture book biog-


Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Love. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press.

raphy Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-thePooh. While Brave Enough for Two is his first book as both author and illustrator, Voss writes with vast talent, lyricism and gentleness. With compassionate and slightly off-beat dialogue, Olive and Hoot’s world feels like a neighborhood next door to Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. Using unique perspectives such as a bird’s-eye view of a balloon ride and the catawampus angle of a capsizing basket boat, Voss skillfully captures big dreams, vast skies, frightening storms and the relief of returning home. Soft colors, sidebar sketches and full-spread adventure illustrations make every page turn unique and inviting. Brave Enough for Two is an instant classic, as is its enduring message of friendship and pluck. Any journey, big or small, is better with a friend by your side. But perhaps the biggest, grandest adventure of all is friendship. —J I L L L O R E N Z I N I


Illustrated by Katherine Roy

show the marine life these two explorers saw off the coast of Bermuda, with gatefold pages that dramatize their otherworldly descent and endpapers that perfectly highlight the excitement and danger at hand. Completing the package are several pages of historical notes, including one from Library of Congress librarian Connie Carter, who was one of Beebe’s assistants. And don’t miss Roy’s fascinating description of her quest for artistic authenticity, which involved everything from building a digital model of the bathysphere to shooting reference photos. Just as Barton and Beebe partnered to complete their bathysphere adventures, Rosenstock and Roy’s collaboration presents this story in a vivid, unforgettable way. Open these pages and dive right in! —ALICE CARY


Illustrated by Jonathan Bean Margaret Ferguson $16.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780823440078 eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE

When a girl is left on the steps of the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C., wearing a shirt adorned with a picture of a bicycle, the practical Sister Wanda names her Bicycle. Living with Sister Wanda and the mostly silent monks, 12-year-old When Otis Barton and Will Beebe Bicycle has found a contented exisdescended into the ocean’s depths tence, which reaches near perfecin their bathysphere on June 6, tion when she rescues a battered 1930, they became the first hubicycle, lovingly dubs it Clunk mans to see deep-sea creatures in and spends every spare moment cycling around town. Sister Wanda, their natural environment. Barton and Beebe’s adventure inside their worried that Bicycle has no friends, arranges for her to attend a friendcramped invention was a great leap into the unknown—one filled ship camp. Dismayed, Bicycle plots with life-threatening risks. out a cross-country route to San Caldecott Honor-winning author Francisco to see her cycling idol, Zbig Sienkiewicz, and slips away Barb Rosenstock does a phenomenal job of choosing just the right on trusty Clunk. Bicycle’s subsequent adventures details to bring this achievement brilliantly to life in Otis and Will have a modern fairy-tale charm. Discover the Deep. Katherine Roy’s She and Clunk encounter a succession of quirky yet good-hearted stunning, detailed illustrations Little, Brown $18.99, 48 pages ISBN 9780316393829 eBook available Ages 6 to 9

CHILDREN’S characters, such as Griffin, a Civil War-era ghost, and the chef Marie Petitchou. Each chapter captures a snapshot of Americana: Bicycle leads a horse to the finish line at the Kentucky Derby, is mowed down by pigs on parade in Missouri and crosses the Continental Divide. Readers willing to suspend disbelief and roll with the silliness are rewarded with an enriched understanding of America’s vast landscapes and more than a couple easy-to-digest life lessons. —DIANE COLSON


Illustrated by Anuska Allepuz Philomel $16.99, 208 pages ISBN 9780525515210 eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE

With flying fish that fling themselves onto the doorsteps of its rainbow-colored homes, Allora is a charming seaside town unlike any other. But this quiet and quirky town also has a heartbreaking past—one that brings together the characters of The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker. Thirty years ago, Alberto the carpenter lost his wife and three children to a plague that ravaged Allora. Alberto built five coffins—one for each family member he’d lost and one for himself. But Alberto survived. Now an old man, he notices that some food has suddenly gone missing from his home. He discovers that the thieves are Tito and Fia, a small, hungry boy and an unusual bird. After many weeks, Alberto befriends the pair and convinces them to live with him rather than in an abandoned shed on the outskirts of town. Tito reminds Alberto of his own children and his long-forgotten happiness, and he begins to teach Tito carpentry, how to read and how to grieve his dead mother—whom Alberto built a coffin for just weeks ago. When Tito reveals that he and his mother originally came to Allora

to escape his abusive father, Alberto is determined to protect him. With magical realism reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez, author Matilda Woods has crafted a tender tale about the power of kindness in light of tragedy, accompanied by magical illustrations from Anuska Allepuz. Woods’ simple yet beautiful prose is open, honest and bears the soul of each of her characters.


the title of your Q: What’s new book?

would you describe Q: How the book?

—J U S T I N B A R I S I C H


has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who

By Amy Makechnie Atheneum $17.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781534414464 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What


From debut author Amy Makechnie comes a small-town romp as remarkable as its titular character. Guinevere St. Clair has no ordinary life: Her mother can’t remember anything after the age of 13. But this unfortunate situation only seems to have increased Gwyn’s spunkiness. So when her father announces that the family will be moving back to their hometown of Crow, Iowa, in hopes of jogging her mother’s memory, Gwyn embraces the change. But soon she’s caught up in a mystery she didn’t anticipate and uncovering secrets from her mother’s past that she’s not quite sure how to deal with. Ready or not, Gwyn is about to learn that sometimes tending to feelings, both her own and those of the people around her, is more important than getting answers. Makechnie’s rural Iowa setting is populated with unique and memorable characters, and she takes on serious topics with honesty and grace, always balancing the sadness with enough love and laughter to keep hope alive. And overall, that’s what this story is about: maintaining hope for a better future when it seems impossible. Even if the better future you get doesn’t look exactly like the one you had in mind. —HANNAH LAMB

Q: Who was your childhood hero?

books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What

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

Q: What message would you like to send to young readers?

BEAR’S SCARE When Bear discovers cobwebs messing up his tidy home, he makes an even bigger mess looking for the culprit. Young readers will cheer when the artistic and helpful spider finally meets his housemate in Bear’s Scare (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781681197203, ages 3 to 6). Grant’s stylish illustrations are brimming with charming details. He lives in Chicago with his family.


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