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AMERICA’S BOOK REVIEW

MAY 2017

inside: ‘Ove’ author returns A lifetime of reading Lehane’s thriller trap

elizabeth strout

Anything

Is Possible

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author explores the hidden dramas of life in small-town Illinois


contents

MAY 2017

columns 04 05 06 08 08 11 12 13

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Audio The Hold List Whodunit Cooking Lifestyles Book Clubs Romance Well Read

Elizabeth Strout returns to the characters of My Name Is Lucy Barton in her powerful new work of fiction, Anything Is Possible. Cover photo © Leonardo Cendamo

book reviews 18 FICTION

t o p p i c k : Salt Houses

features 16 25 29

on the cover

by Hala Alyan

Pamela Paul Mother’s Day Lauren Wolk

meet the author 13

Beartown by Fredrik Backman The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ’Round Midnight by Laura McBride There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon

23 NONFICTION

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

27 TEEN

t o p p i c k : The Pearl Thief

30 CHILDREN’S

t o p p i c k : Clayton Byrd

by Lynne Olson

31

( LI BRA RY J O U RN A L)

The new novel from the author of The Pilot’s Wife

A N I TA SHREVE

by Elizabeth Wein

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy The Duke of Bannerman Prep by Katie A. Nelson The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

t o p p i c k : Last Hope Island

meet the illustrator

“ABSOLUTELY STUNNING”

The Black Hand by Stephan Talty Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson Between Them by Richard Ford The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder and Samantha Cotterill Bubble by Stewart Foster Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

THE S TA R S ARE FIRE Who would you be if you could begin again? ★ An exquisitely suspenseful new novel

A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W ASSISTANT EDITOR

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

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Elizabeth Grace Herbert

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

ASSISTANT EDITOR

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

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Hilli Levin

EDITOR

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

PUBLISHER Michael A. Zibart

Lynn L. Green

Savanna Walker

DEPUTY EDITOR

EDITORIAL INTERN

Cat Acree

Lily Norton

Allison Hammond

ADVERTISING OPERATIONS Sada Stipe

CONTRIBUTOR Roger Bishop

PRODUCTION MANAGER Penny Childress

MARKETING Mary Claire Zibart

CONTROLLER Sharon Kozy

EDITORIAL POLICY BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured. BookPage is editorially independent and never accepts payment for editorial coverage.

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about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event and its devastating aftermath—based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history.

KNOPF

AnitaShreve.com

All material © 2017 ProMotion, inc.

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efS g ef g ef gistening! efg efg columns pring L efg efg efg efg efg “Funny, sad, insightful, clever, touching! I was immediately captivated.” —BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD

READ BY AN ALL-STAR CAST Cynthia Adler, Alan Alda, Bob Balaban, Christine Baranski, Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Katie Couric, John Henry Cox, Blythe Danner, Lena Dunham, Edie Falco, Tovah Feldshuh, Whoopi Goldberg, Gayle King, Diane Lane, Sandra Lee, Judith Light, Jenna Lyons, Audra McDonald, Janet Mock, Sheila Nevins, Rosie O’Donnell, Jean Richards, RuPaul, Liz Smith, Lesley Stahl, Gloria Steinem, Martha Stewart, Meryl Streep, Marlo Thomas, Lily Tomlin, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Diane von Furstenberg.

efg efg efg The must-have companion to Bill O’Reilly’s historic televison series Legends and Lies: The Civil War.

READ BY ROBERT PETKOFF

“This book is a marvel... equal parts gripping and haunting.”

—Celeste Ng, bestselling author READ BY THE AUTHOR

“Witty and completely absorbing...this novel is addicting and entertaining.”

—Jennifer Close, bestselling author

“Secrets and scandals in an Ivy League setting. What could be more riveting?” —Tess Gerritsen, #1 bestselling author

AVAILABLE FROM MACMILLAN AUDIO

4

AUDIO BY SUKEY HOWARD

Fatal attraction John Lescroart hasn’t left San Francisco, but he’s giving a sabbatical to Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky, the stars of his long-running crime series. In his latest standalone thriller, Fatal (Simon & Schuster Audio, 10 hours), read by Jacques Roy, he pairs his trademark genres—police procedural and courtroom drama—in an intriguingly different way. Beth Tully, a homicide inspector for the SFPD, and the strikingly beautiful, hap-

pily married Kate Jameson have been very close since their college days. When Kate confides that she’s obsessed with a man named Peter, a lawyer she met at a dinner party given by her husband’s law partner, Beth pleads with her to let it go. She doesn’t. Six months later Peter’s body is found floating in the Bay with an obvious gunshot wound. It takes Beth, who lands the case, a while to sift through the suspects and connect the dots that may implicate her best friend in a murder. Then this whodunit tilts and twists in a swirl of moral ambiguity, the inevitably disturbing consequences of marital infidelity and the strong bonds of female friendship.

and Finty Williams. Her story intertwines with the life of Jane, who might be called “the girl after,” and she, too, has just had a personal tragedy. In increasingly chilling “now” and “then” chapters, both women fall for Edward Monkford, the owner, obsessive perfectionist and acclaimed architect of One Folgate Street. Are Jane and Emma reliable narrators? Or, since the title has “girl” in it, do we have to find the kernels of truth under elaborate and deliberate lies? That’s the psychological game here, and it’s a doozy.

TOP PICK IN AUDIO

Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics was a phenomenon, a rare bestseller in the serious science category. Now with Reality Is Not What It Seems (Penguin Audio, 6 hours), he’s done it again, giving us an elegantly written explication of the “enchanting” landscape of current thinking on the quantum nature of time and space and its antecedents. Yes, the subject is difficult and esoteric, and yes, you may not grasp all the concepts (I must admit to listening twice), but you won’t regret taking Rovelli’s inTHEN AND NOW vitation to follow this extraordinary Finding a decent, affordable place intellectual journey. It starts with Democritus, who lived and wrote to live in London, like New York, is a Herculean task. When Emma and 26 centuries ago, the man who Simon hear that there’s an unusual, gave us an “immense vision”—a world made of atoms—“on which austerely elegant, super-high-tech the knowledge of a civilization house in their price range, they’re would later be built.” The journey intrigued. So what if One Folgate continues with Lucretius, Galileo, Street comes with a weird, probing Newton, Faraday and Einstein, questionnaire, a long list of rules of course, from classical physics and an interview. Emma, who was to today’s research on quantum brutally attacked during a recent gravity. Rovelli’s enthusiasm, his burglary, is all for it, while Simon is excitement about discovering the not so gung-ho. Emma is the “girl” true nature of things, is enhanced in JP Delaney’s debut thriller, The by Roy McMillan’s narration of this Girl Before (Random House Audio, 10 hours), performed by Emilia Fox mind-expanding audio.


BookPage e­ ditors share curated lists of the best books—old and new—on a variety of subjects. Feed your TBR!

Monster moms Manipulative, selfish and misguided mothers make for some of the most memorable characters in fiction. We’ve rounded up a few of our problematic faves just in time for Mother’s Day. These stories are guaranteed to make you a little more thankful for your own mom.

SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn Amy Elliot Dunne of Gone Girl wasn’t the first deeply disturbed female character to spring from the mind of writer Gillian Flynn. Her 2006 debut brought us the terrifying Adora Preaker. At first, Adora appears to be merely an overbearing Southern mom. But when Adora’s daughter, Camille, comes home to investigate the murders of two local girls, she realizes her mother may be even worse than she thought. Adora will bring her crazy to the small screen later this year in an HBO adaptation.

THE NIX by Nathan Hill A fairly extreme case of an absentee parent, hippie protestor Faye Andresen-Anderson abandons her son, Samuel, when he’s only 11 years old. She only reappears in his life decades later when he sees her on the news, throwing a handful of gravel at a conservative politician. This sprawling satire tells both Faye’s and Samuel’s stories, making painfully clear the impact Faye’s choices through the years have had on her son.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver

Top book club picks!

THE HOLD LIST

GINNY MOON Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon has finally found the forever home all foster kids are hoping for… so why is this 14-year-old so desperate to be kidnapped by her abusive birth mother?

When the birth of Eva’s son forces her to give up her career as a travel writer and move to a stifling suburb, she’s a halfhearted caretaker at best. Her son, Kevin, grows up to be a frighteningly intelligent, possibly sociopathic loner who relates to Robin Hood more than he relates to people. Shriver leaves it up to the reader to decide whether Eva is the only one to see Kevin for what he is, or whether his later horrifying actions stem from some serious mommy issues.

For fans of addictive, thrilling tales THE WATCHER Ross Armstrong

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple “Arrested Development” writer Semple’s beloved bestseller is a hilarious domestic comedy about a WASPy Seattle mom who finally snaps under the weight of her picturesque life. The agoraphobic and overwhelmed Bernadette up and disappears after a fundraiser at her daughter’s posh private school, leaving the family scrambling to track her down in time for their planned vacation to Antarctica.

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden Evil stepmothers and fairy tales are a classic combo. In this enchanting tale rooted in Russian folklore, rebellious young Vasya attempts to hide her magical abilities from her spiteful stepmother and the strange priest she brings with her. Both want Vasya out of the picture. Vasya must find a way to thwart her stepmother’s plans to either marry her off or confine her to a convent in this literary fantasy.

For fans of heartfelt women’s fiction ANY DAY NOW Robyn Carr

Do we have a story for you!

BookClubbish.com

@BookClubbish

5 17_085_BookPage_BookClubbish_May_Rev1.indd 1

2017-03-17 1:44 PM


Discover summer’s most shocking thriller from the coauthor of THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE

TENSE AND RIVETING “A

thrill ride.” —Sara Blaedel, bestselling author of The Forgotten Girls

“THE BOOK’S TWISTY CONCLUSION WILL SHOCK AND GRATIFY.” —Publishers Weekly

ON SALE

5/2/17 SOHOCRIME.COM 6

columns

WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY

A spy game during the Cuban Revolution It’s 1958, and Cuba is a wildly popular tourist destination. Ernest Hemingway holds court in his home outside the capital; tailfinned and chromed cars cruise along Havana’s Malecón; but talk of revolution is beginning to spill over into the cities, threatening the lucrative casinos and the tourist industry at large. Among the U.S. spy community, there is suspicion that Cuba-based CIA agent Toby Graham has grown sympathetic to Castro, a decidedly un-American move—especially when the CIA is clandestinely supporting Batista. They’ve been sending weapons his way, some of which are inexplicably showing up in the hands of Castro’s rebels. Enter career academic George Mueller, the reluctant once-and-future spy hero of Paul Vidich’s fast-paced novel The Good Assassin (Emily Bestler, $25, 288 pages, ISBN 9781501110429). He has known Toby since college, and if anyone can get to the bottom of this, it will be George. But does he really want to? After all, American policy visa-vis Cuba is notoriously corrupt, and Toby and George share a history of camaraderie and a mutual respect. Duplicity, intrigues within intrigues and a fat fistful of surprises abound in one of the best recent additions to the world of espionage fiction.

BEHIND NAZI LINES The spy theme continues with William Christie’s A Single Spy (Minotaur, $25.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781250080813), a wickedly suspenseful novel of intelligence and counterintelligence, opening in 1936. The protagonist is Alexsi Smirnov, a Russian double agent with no real loyalty to anyone but himself. In all fairness, he should owe no allegiance to his handlers, who gave him the choice of prison or becoming a mole in prewar Nazi Germany. His cover is that of a high-ranking Nazi official’s long-

lost nephew, and in that guise he remains for seven years, until he is recruited by the Abwehr, the wartime German intelligence agency. This plays right into the Russians’ schemes, never mind that it firmly places our hero in a no man’s land that is equal parts chessboard and minefield. And then comes the Tehran Conference, where Allied leaders will gather to plot their next moves in the war, unless the Gestapo can count on Alexsi to pull off the Grand Troika of assassinations: three world leaders in one go. His-

tory, atmosphere and suspense— it’s all here, and then some.

THE LEGACY OF AN OUTLAW Retired lawman Bob Lee Swagger has had quite the career. G-Man (Blue Rider, $27, 464 pages, ISBN 9780399574603) is the 10th in Stephen Hunter’s popular series, and nowadays Bob professes to be comfy resting on his laurels. His wife knows different. She doesn’t want him to go back into law enforcement, but she has this crazy idea that he should write a book. He is at first dismissive of the notion, but when a strongbox full of his grandfather’s possessions (a well-preserved .45 automatic, assorted memorabilia dating back to 1934 and cryptic directions to a unidentified treasure) is unearthed on the old family property, Bob has a starting point for a book. Or, if not a book, at least the sort of investigation that will get him out from under his wife’s feet for a time. Bob knows very little about his grandfather, Charles Swagger; the man died before Bob was born, and Bob’s father never talked much about the old man. The chapters alternate between the present day and Charles’ cop work during the gangster era of 1930s Chicago. The

tension is palpable, helped along by the shifting of time and two generations of Swaggers, in all their swaggering (and sometimes staggering) glory.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY The Thirst (Knopf, $26.95, 480 pages, ISBN 9780385352161) is the 11th installment in Jo Nesbø’s award-winning and critically acclaimed suspense series featuring Oslo cop Harry Hole. It is, in many ways, a look back at Harry’s One Failed Case. The one that got away. Every police detective has one story like this, and a modern-day wave of killings is certainly stirring up some frightening ghosts for Harry, as it bears striking similarities to his failed case that refuse to be ignored. The killer is hightech, targeting users of the popular dating app Tinder (clearly an idea whose time has come). With several of his demons at least momentarily at bay, Harry is married as happily as a recently tormented man can be, and life is more or less on an even keel. Except for the nightmares about the One Failed Case. Oh, and there is the small matter of his corrupt boss (and longtime nemesis), Mikael Bellman, who summons Harry to spearhead the Tinder murder investigation—not with any interest in solving the crimes, but rather to further Bellman’s political aspirations. If you’re looking for a straightforward police procedural, look elsewhere. Like the novels that preceded it, this installment is long on character development, atmosphere and nuance, but the path from the crime scene to the resolution is convoluted with a capital C. That said, the series has sold some 30 million books, so clearly Nesbø’s style has been resonating with lots of folks since day one.


summer �eading starts Now N EW I N PAPERBACK FRO M hARPER What lover of literature hasn’t dreamed of going back in time to meet Jane Austen? Kathleen A. Flynn brings this dream to life.

If your guilty-pleasure reads include elite boarding schools, secret societies, murder, and scandal, this one’s for you.

— Lauren Belfer

— Kirkus

author of A Fierce Radiance

Richly layered . . . cleverly crafted with a beguiling heroine amid sumptuous scenery.

A universal comingof-age story for both mother and daughter.

— Booklist

author of Just Kids

— Patti Smith

The literary equivalent of the When Harry Met Sally line, ‘tell me I’ll never be out there again’.

A romantic tale with a heart and a brain—and a mystery that will keep you turning the pages.

— JoJo Moyes

— W Magazine

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

@harperperennial

d I s C O V E R G R E at a U t h O R s , E X C l U s I V E O F F E R s , a N d M O R E at h C . C O M

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columns

COOKING

LIFESTYLES

BY SYBIL PRATT

B Y S U S A N N A H F E LT S

Fabulous fusion The Palomar restaurant in London’s Soho, named the best place to eat in Britain by GQ and Tatler magazines in 2015, serves up a unique blend of dishes influenced by Northern Africa, the Levant and Southern Europe, with a smattering of Ashkenazi treasures. The restaurant’s creative director, Layo Paskin, and chef, Jerusalem-born Tomer Amedi, have collected

some of the restaurant’s recipes in The Palomar Cookbook: Modern Israeli Cuisine (Potter, $35, 256 pages, ISBN 9780451496614). Despite its subtitle, this isn’t a Jewish cookbook, per se. Paskin and Amedi’s restaurant and cookbook are a celebration of many marvelous traditions, mixing in contemporary riffs on traditional dishes like Pork Belly with Ras el Hanout, Dried Fruit & Israeli Couscous and Labneh Kreplach Tortellini. You’ll find a vibrant Yemeni chili and cilantro paste, Moroccan Oysters with Harissa and an extra-mellow Hand-Chopped Chicken Liver, along with Tahini Ice Cream with Fig Brûlée. These recipes are fun, inspiring and daringly doable.

SUPER SEASONAL Joshua McFadden has “the soul of a farmer” and the instincts of a fine, inventive chef, tempered with an understanding of a home cook’s constraints. Employing McFadden’s visionary approach to vegetables, readers will learn how to produce perfectly seasoned seasonal produce. To keep you in sync with the nuances of the growing cycle, he divides the year into more than four seasons so you can “cherish” each vegetable at its very best. Summer, with all its glorious abundance, has three sections, hence the title of his beautifully produced debut cookbook, Six

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Artfully arranged Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables (Artisan, $35, 384 pages, ISBN 9781579656317). It’s spring now, the perfect time to put mounds of raw, lightly dressed English peas on cheese-topped toast. Early summer stars tender, grated beets with pistachio butter, followed by a midsummer’s bounty of PanSteamed Broccoli and Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers and late summer’s Sautéed Corn and Tomato Conserva. Fall features Brussels sprouts, raw or in an elegant gratin, and winter brings us earthy, mellow veggies touched with sweetness. Then we can start all over again.

TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS Armchair eating is as pleasurable as armchair traveling. And when you have a gorgeously illustrated guide to your culinary destination that allows you to recreate some of the sumptuous dishes detailed, that armchair might end up at the dinner table. But, even if you could take a magic carpet to London, you might not get a table at the sizzling-hot restaurant Chiltern Firehouse. No worries. We now have the transporting, tantalizing Chiltern Firehouse: The Cookbook (Ten Speed, $50, 320 pages, ISBN 9781607749929) by famed chef Nuno Mendes and revered hotelier André Balazs. You can linger over these 101 recipes or try your hand at sweet, savory, spicy Crab Doughnuts, revelatory Ibérico Pork with Chard Miso and Zucchini, Turbot with Seaweed Hollandaise or Truffled Eggs. Don’t forget to start with one of their mixologist’s more than memorable potions, like a Black Cherry Manhattan or a Firehouse Sazerac, and end with a show-stopping Frozen Apple Panna Cotta.

There are books about flowers, and then there are beautiful books about flowers—and Handpicked (Abrams, $24.95, 160 pages, ISBN 9781419723896) is squarely in the second category. Every detail makes this a rich sensory experience, from the creamy linen spine and embossed cover to the lush photographs that are a study of light, dark and color. Sought-after

Brooklyn floral designer Ingrid Carozzi prefers asymmetrical designs and likes to pair her blossoms with nontraditional containers, such as old tin cans (she loves the typography, which adds “character and a sense of where and when”), old jars, boxes built from salvaged wood and vases spiffed up with a bit of gold paint. You’ll learn the lingo—“­gestural ­element,” “blender,” “special note”—and tricks and tools of the trade, plus “recipes” for some of Carozzi’s signature arrangements.

are easier to come by than you might assume. Next he provides a rundown on tools, with two carving essentials being the hook knife and straight knife. The projects that follow build in complexity, from an eating spoon to other utensils, boards and bowls. Special finishes— faceting, scorching and ebonizing—are also covered, as is the critical skill of tool sharpening. As Bainbridge explains, a ready blade cutting wood should sound like “fresh snow crunching underfoot.”

TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES

In 2010, the artist Julia Kay ended a project she began three years prior: creating a daily self-portrait. “I was ready to stop putting myself in every picture, but I wasn’t ready to stop drawing every day,” she writes in Portrait Revolution (Watson-Guptill, $22.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781607749967). Out CARVE YOUR MARK of that ending came Kay’s collabSpeaking of beautiful books, orative “Portrait Party,” a virtual gathering of artists on the phoHeirloom Wood (Abrams, $24.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9781419724763) to-sharing site Flickr. Participants boasts many aesthetic features submitted images of themselves from which other members creatsimilar to Handpicked in its presentation of woodworker Max ed portraits. Some 50,000 portraits Bainbridge’s guide to carving func- later, we have this collection of tional small objects for the home. the most interesting specimens, Like Carozzi, Bainbridge is relative- compiled from more than 1,000 members representing more than ly new to his craft, having started three years ago with “a book, some 55 countries. The portraits are YouTube videos, and a large box of grouped by medium (everything band-aids.” These pages reveal the you can imagine, including an advantages that Bainbridge’s back- iPhone Walkmeter app!), style and theme, with a following chapter ground in fine art and spirit of determination brought to his lifelong on featured artists, plus tips for portraiture and creating your own interest in wood. Bainbridge first explains the selection and sourcing portrait party. You may never think of his medium: Only hardwoods about faces—or portraits, or the will do for carving, such as birch, a sharing of art and inspiration—the go-to for Bainbridge. Usable pieces same way again.


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ulled, chopped, or sliced, pork butt is the foundation of Southern barbecue. We’ve traveled to some of the Barbecue Belt’s best restaurants and smokehouses to get the pros’ secrets for making delicious BBQ at home. Because no ‘cue plate is complete without “all the fixin’s,” we include lots of patronsanctioned sides and desserts too. One thing is for certain…this book will change the way you cook, smoke, grill, and eat, but be warned: Your own butt may suffer in the process.

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NEW PAPERBACKS

spring reading

T FEC R E P FOR

“Fabulous.... Will carry you away.... Enchanted Islands is a many faceted jewel. It’s a spy thriller, a survivalist memoir, and a portrait of a marriage.” —Chicago Tribune

“An endearing chronicle of female friendship.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Engrossing....Thrilling....

“One of the wildest, funniest Hiaasen novels yet.”

Does for botany what Oliver Sacks’s essays did for neurology, what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology.”

—Daily News (New York)

—The New York Times

“Darkly funny, unapologetically crazy, and more Florida than a flamingo eating a Cuban sandwich while singing a Jimmy Buffett song.”

“A smart, enthralling, and winning debut.” —Cheryl Strayed

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR The New York Times, NPR, Slate, Entertainment Weekly, and more

—NPR Books

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER

“Brilliantly written…. Outstanding....

Stephanie Danler’s first novel, Sweetbitter, is the Kitchen Confidential of our time.” —Gabrielle Hamilton, The New York Times Book Review

“A heady first taste of self-discovery, bitter and salty and sweet.” —Entertainment Weekly

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF GREAT READING The beloved bestselling novel and one of the original Oprah’s Book Club picks is now available in a special 20th anniversary edition

“Astonishing…. Will keep readers up all night until the last page is turned.” —Washington Post Book World “Superbly crafted and astonishingly powerful…. Will thrill readers.” —People

Also available in eBook VINTAGE

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

ANCHOR


columns

BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE

The mother lode The Nix (Vintage, $17, 752 pages, ISBN 9781101970348), Nathan Hill’s smart, darkly humorous debut, is the tale of Samuel Andresen-Anderson, an unmotivated English professor who was once a successful writer. Samuel’s mother, Faye, walked out on the family when he was a kid, and he hasn’t seen her since. When she’s charged with a surprising crime

involving a politician—an act that attracts the attention of the national media—Samuel is more than a little surprised. Portrayed as a revolutionary, the Faye of today is nothing like the conventional woman he knew years ago. Samuel’s life takes an unexpected turn after he decides to help his mother—a choice he hopes will result in material for a new book. As he delves into Faye’s background and finds out more about her, he comes to realize that he never really knew her at all. Hill navigates between the past and the present with skill, presenting scenes from Faye’s life in the 1960s that are richly authentic. This is a timely, resonant novel from a writer on the rise.

FAMILY MATTERS Commonwealth (Harper Perennial, $16.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780062491831) has it all—a compelling plot, convincing characters and an insightful approach to story­telling. Spanning 50 years, Ann Patchett’s poignant exploration of family relationships opens in the 1960s, at a party in California, where Bert Cousins—drunk and dauntless—breaks up the marriage of Beverly Keating. The two go on to tie the knot and settle in Virginia, forcing their combined group of six stepkids into a new

living situation. Patchett chronicles the ways in which the domestic reconfiguration influences family members, including Beverly’s daughter, Franny. When Franny shares the story of her early years with her lover, the novelist Leon Posen, he uses it as the foundation for his new book—a runaway hit that makes the family face up to its past. This exploration of the risks of romance and the consequences of rash acts makes for a captivating read. With this novel—her seventh and most autobiographical—Patchett continues to prove that she’s one of the best writers working today.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS One of the most acclaimed debuts of 2016, Yaa Gyasi’s ­Homegoing (Vintage, $16, 320 pages, ISBN 9781101971062) is a powerful novel that chronicles the lives of Effia and Esi, two lovely half-sisters who aren’t aware of one another, and whose fates in 1700s Ghana are drastically different. Effia is sold by her father to British governor James Collins, who takes her to a castle where she leads a comfortable life. Esi, meanwhile, is kept in the castle’s dismal dungeon waiting to be shipped as a slave to the New World. The contrast between the women’s lives creates a compelling reading experience. As the novel progresses, Gyasi introduces new generations of the sisters’ families, working up to modern-day Harlem. Demonstrating remarkable facility as a writer, she shifts scenes and eras with ease. This is an important debut that will provide book clubs with plenty of talking points.

Fresh Book Club Picks for Spring

Goodnight From London

by Jennifer Robson “A fascinating, compelling tale of a determined young journalist in World War II London who not only observes but experiences firsthand the harrowing effects of the Blitz—and discovers love when she least expects it.” — Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

“Secrets lie behind every loop, slant, and swirl of The Day I Died, Lori Rader-Day’s compelling story of a handwriting analyst searching for a lost boy. Richly written, complex, and imaginative.” — Susanna Calkins, Macavity Award-winning author

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

“This is an important story, sensitive and unflinching, of two childhood friends and their indelible bond.” — Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of The Golden Son and The Secret Daughter

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah

Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling psychological thriller.

@Morrow_PB

@bookclubgirl

William Morrow

Book Club Girl

11


An indomitable governess… A brooding Highlander… A forbidden affair…

columns

“Warm, witty and decidedly wicked— great entertainment.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens

Pick up your copy today!

www.HQNBooks.com www.JuliaLondon.com

before—construction business owner Deacon Fox. They manage to keep things polite, but when Deacon and Loretta keep running into each other, they find that their old chemistry is not so manageable. Soon the pair is a couple again, and Deacon begins helping out with home repairs and Loretta’s daughter. Deacon quickly forgives Loretta for his past wounds, but she struggles to let go of her guilt and worries that she’s losing her treasured independence. While working through everyday trials and tribulations, can they find their way to becoming a family? Burton’s latest is a smile of a story.

NEW BEGINNINGS A woman starts her life over in Any Day Now (Mira, $26.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780778319917) by Robyn Carr. Encouraged by her big brother, Sierra Jones travels to Colorado and settles in a cabin at Sullivan’s Crossing campground, picking up part-time work to pay the bills. She’s left behind a troubled past, and this new place seems perfect for her—clean air, friendly locals and a chance to bond with her brother and his pregnant wife. She’s beginning to truly like herself and isn’t interested in dating, until she crosses paths with hunky

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B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY

Day by day Small-town romance is sweet and sexy in Jaci Burton’s Love Me Again (Berkley, $7.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780399585074). Single mom Loretta Simmons returns to Hope, Oklahoma, with her daughter, determined to show her how to be independent and strong. She buys a ranch, opens a bookstore and is happy with the life she’s building when she encounters the man whose heart she hurt 12 years

His clan’s future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul?

ROMANCE

2017-03-14 12:29 PM

firefighter/ paramedic Conrad Boyle. He’s attracted, she’s attracted, but they’ve both made bad choices before, so they try not to start a romance. But this couple can’t stay away from each other, and when Sierra’s old troubles catch up with her, she must ask for help— something she finds new and scary. But rewards can be found in change, and as Sierra and Conrad learn to trust each other, a happy future looks possible. Peopled with very human and well-defined characters, this is a heart-fulfilling read.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE Amanda Quick offers an engrossing and entertaining mystery/ romance set in 1930s California in The Girl Who Knew Too Much (Berkley, $27, 368 pages, ISBN 9780399174476). Fledgling reporter Irene Glasson finds herself in the middle of a murder as she chases down a lead about an up-andcoming movie star, who is currently residing at the famous Burning Cove Hotel in Southern California. This brings her to the attention of the glamorous hotel’s enigmatic owner, former magician Oliver Ward. As more deaths pile up, the pair decide to work together despite their wariness—their pasts have made them reluctant to place their faith in others. But as they dodge danger and gather clues, Irene and Oliver find themselves of like minds and hearts. Suspects and sinister happenings still stand in the way of a happy-ever-after, and the pair must unravel more than one mystery before they can rest easy. The Girl Who Knew Too Much is stylish fun and a great escape.


WELL READ BY ROBERT WEIBEZAHL

the title of your new book? Q: What’s 

Troubled genius In a world that loves to place everything in neat categories, Ernest Hemingway has always been designated an unabashedly “male” writer, his “man’s man” persona part of the legend. It comes as little surprise then that Mary V. Dearborn’s insightful new biography, ­Ernest Hemingway (Knopf, $35, 752 pages, ISBN 9780307594679), is the first written by a woman. As such, Dearborn—known for previous biographies of Norman Mailer and Peggy Guggenheim, among others—brings a fresh perspective to a well-documented life. Dearborn pointedly looks beyond the legend. While it includes all the requisite details of Hemingway’s storied life—the love affairs, the feuds, the wars (real and emotional)—that shaped the writer in all his complexity, her portrait is a largely psychological one, seeking both the impetus for his distinctive fiction as well as the roots of the failures in his personal life. “At some point in the unfolding of his brilliant career, a tragedy began to take shape,” Dearborn writes. “Ernest seemed to find it difficult to give and receive love, to be a faithful friend, and, perhaps more tragically, to tell the truth, even to himself.” This last inability may have served him well as a storyteller (at least at the start), but less so as a man. Hemingway’s father was a doctor—who, like his son, eventually committed suicide—and Hemingway grew up in comfort in the suburbs of Chicago during a golden age of white, middle-class mobility. The shiny, privileged upbringing was, in retrospect, tarnished by a self-centered mother and a depressive father. Dearborn explores how these seminal relationships would shape Hemingway’s views of both women and men throughout his life. Hemingway grew to hate his

meet ABBI WAXMAN

mother, and throughout his relations with women, the four-time married writer both loved and never fully understood the female sex. Critics of his work often have pointed to the thinness of his female characters. Dearborn’s study goes deeper, tracing a fascinating trajectory from sensitive, innovative young writer to the late-in-life caricature of his macho public image. Two central ideas drive this elegantly written biography. One is Hemingway’s perennial need, established at a young age, to strive for perfection. He needed to have things under control in order to write. This necessary control abandoned him in his last years, precipitating his mental decline and suicide. The other pervasive theme is the mental illness that seems to have haunted his family. “Mental illness coursed through the Hemingway family like one of the rivers Ernest wrote about with such beautiful economy, its incessant, implacable force pausing only in small eddies, where Dearborn illness cursed pointedly individuals,” looks beyond Dearborn writes with lyrical the legend. insight. “It took and continues to take the form of cycles of mania and psychotic depression; alcoholism and other additions; and suicide. . . . More important, the river carried as it rushed along artistic talent, even genius, as well as extraordinary personal charm.” There have been scores of biographies of Hemingway, some written by friends, some by academics, some by family members. Dearborn’s is the first full-scale biography of the Nobel Prize-winning American writer in 15 years, and it is a worthy addition to the canon—a splendid reassessment that shores up the genius while removing some of the faulty bulwark that has long supported the myth.

Q: Describe the book in one sentence.

are your three favorite things about Lili, the young Q: What  widow at the heart of your novel?

Q: How do your gardening skills compare with Lili’s?

have three kids, three dogs, three cats and seven chickens. Q: You  Do they all get along?

an Englishwoman, what do you find most surprising about Q: As life in Los Angeles?

Q: Words to live by?

THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS In Abbi Waxman’s witty and poignant debut novel, ­The Garden of Small Beginnings (Berkley, $16, 368 pages, ISBN 9780399583582), a young widow tries to find a new path in life—with the help of her quirky sister and a handsome gardening instructor. Originally from England and a former advertising copywriter, Waxman lives with her husband and three children in Southern California.

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cover story

ELIZABETH STROUT

The heart and soul of an emotional spy

E

lizabeth Strout is both a maker and a master of messes, and seemingly, the bigger the better. On the phone from her Manhattan apartment, she discusses the close connections between her new book, Anything Is Possible, and her acclaimed 2016 novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton.

In the latter, during hospital visits in New York City, patient Lucy Barton and her mother gossip about people from their rural hometown of Amgash, Illinois. Anything Is Possible contains nine short stories about many of those characters (including Lucy herself and a family named Nicely). As is the case with Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, the thickly interwoven strands of these stories lend the collection the emotional weight of a novel. Asked about a genre label for her work, Strout says, “I think—” and after a pause, continues, “they’re books of fiction.” The author lets out a wonderful laugh, which she does often, adding, “You know, the truth is, I don’t really care what they are. That’s what’s so funny. They’re just— they’re books. “I do think my brain works in this certain way,” she says, explaining that as she jumped back and forth from book to book and story to story, “I realized this was a big old messy tapestry.” As in literature, as in life. In a

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

By Elizabeth Strout

Random House, $27, 272 pages ISBN 9780812989403, audio, eBook available

LITERARY FICTION

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story called “Mississippi Mary,” the title character observes: “But this was life! And it was messy!” The complexity and disorder intrinsic to both life and art are precisely what drives Strout, who with the stroke of her pen paints sharp portraits of the intriguing divides between an individual’s public facade and his or her inner thoughts and private actions. (You might even call this the Olive ­Kitteridge Effect.) “When you think about it,” Strout acknowledges, “we don’t ever know what it’s like to be another person. Oh, my God, that kills me so much.” And you can tell it does, deeply. “Seriously,” she says. “We don’t know. We never know. We can only be in our own head and see things through our own set of eyes our entire life. I recognized that when I was young. I think I’ve spent my life trying to imagine what it would be like to be another person.” Her quest has by no means been easy. “I listen and I watch and observe and I do everything I can. Everybody has that inner piece to them that’s their private view of the world, and I’m always trying to get in there.” At one point in her youth, Strout toyed with the idea of being an actress, yet another form of inhabiting another persona. Her mother, a high school writing teacher, frequently gave her notebooks as she grew up in Maine and New Hampshire. An avid reader, Strout studied English at Bates College and got a law degree at Syracuse University. But practically on her first day of work as a lawyer, she knew she’d made a mistake. “I was just so bad at it,” she remembers. “It was horrifying.” Strout lasted six months, then began teaching English at a community college in Manhattan and writing in her spare time. A full-time writer now for a number

of years, Strout wrote many of the stories in Anything Is Possible at the same time that she was writing Lucy Barton. “I’m always making a mess on my table,” she explains, “just writing different scenes and pushing stuff around. I’m a very, very messy worker. There were times when I would think, ‘Oh, here’s the Pretty Nicely Girls; let’s see what they’re up to.’ And I would pull a piece of paper toward me and put some scenes down about them.” Before committing words “When you to computer, think about Strout begins by writing it, we don’t longhand, ever know explaining, what it’s like “It gives me to be another the sense of earning the person.” sentence, and what I mean by that is the physicality of it. Writing has always seemed to me to be a very physical job.” Because Lucy is a writer, Strout contemplated having her be the author of these stories, perhaps having them appear in the same book as Lucy’s story. She abandoned the idea, however, realizing that Lucy’s distinctive first-person voice is too different from the third-person omniscient narration of the stories. Meanwhile, Strout simply continued to write. “I don’t write anything in order,” she admits, “I don’t write a book in order; I don’t write the story in order. I never ever write anything from beginning to end.” At some point, of course, there has to be order. How does that happen? “You know,” she answers, “that’s a really good question. How does the book itself finally take shape? And

© LEONARDO CENDAMO

INTERVIEW BY ALICE CARY

oh boy, you know, the truth is I don’t really know. After I have so many scenes, I begin to see connections between the scenes, and I think, ‘Oh, OK. Here we go. This is this, and this is this. And now let’s start at the beginning, and figure out what the reader needs at the beginning.’ “What I do remember about every book is a sense of—not panic— but, close to panic at some point for a few weeks or even a couple of months—of trying to figure out how do I pull it together? Where’s the line going to be to connect the entire thing?” To make the connections, Strout doesn’t use aids like timelines or family trees. While writing her second novel, Abide with Me, she tried putting packing paper on her wall and charting the book’s progress with a magic marker. “It just didn’t work,” she remembers. “I thought, this is foolish, so I took it down.” What seems to help is walking around her apartment and talking out loud, saying things like “I get it, I get it,” or “No, no, no.” Strout concludes, “I’m not a writer who goes, ‘Oh well, these voices come to me, and I just write them down.’ I’m perfectly aware at all times that I am writing a story and that I’m making these people up and that I have to figure things out.” Unlike her first four books, mostly set in Maine, Lucy Barton and Anything Is Possible focus on an imaginary Midwestern town. “It never occurred to me that they


“Ginny Moon is a brilliant debut.” would be in Maine,” Strout notes. “As I was playing around with Lucy, I right away saw that she would be in the Midwest. I just saw that there was sky, sky, sky. There’s sky in Maine, but it’s a different kind of landscape altogether.” In the story “Sister,” Lucy returns to Amgash for the first time in 17 years, reuniting with her sister Vicky and her brother Pete. As Strout and I discuss these characters, it feels as though we’re catching up on mutual friends. I note, for instance, how fastidiously Pete cleans his filthy house, waking with nightmares in anticipation of Lucy’s arrival. “Poor boy,” Strout says, her voice filled with compassion. “Poor man. He’s a man, but I think of him as a boy.” The story is mesmerizing, with siblings provoking each other as only siblings can. When Lucy announces that she hasn’t visited for so long because she’s been “very busy,” Vicky snaps back: “Hey, Lucy, is that what’s called a truthful sentence? Didn’t I just see you on the computer giving a talk about truthful sentences? ‘A writer should write only what is true.’ Some crap like that you were saying.” As we delight in Vicky’s spot-on jab, I remark that all kidding aside, Strout is masterfully adept at creating believable characters. “I’m so glad to hear that,” Strout responds. “That’s my aspiration, always—to try and convey a truthful emotion.” Her secret? Whenever she sits down to write, she takes note of whatever she happens to be feeling and attempts to instill that emotion into her fiction. “I finally realized that if I take this and use it on any level, then my writing will hopefully have a heartbeat.” Later she comments, “One of the really fun things for me when I write—it’s one of the best things in the world—is that I love my characters. I don’t care what they do; I really do love them. And I feel for them. I don’t have the judgment for them that other people would— and should—because I’m just making them up. So, I love them.” She laughs, adding, “They’re just people.”

—GRAEME SIMSION,

New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project

See the world differently. “Surprising, funny, heartbreaking.” —EOWYN IVEY,

Pulitzer Prize Finalist and bestselling author of The Snow Child

“Ginny [makes you] turn those pages at breathless speed.” —MARGOT LIVESEY,

New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The most heralded debut of the year!

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2017-03-21 9:38 AM


features

PAMELA PAUL INTERVIEW BY AMY SCRIBNER

Behind the scenes with a bookworm

W

hile working a dead-end job in my mid-20s, I spent several hours setting up an Excel spreadsheet in which I listed every book I could think of that I’d ever read, starting with The Wind in the Willows. I devotedly logged each subsequent book into that spreadsheet until sometime around age 28, when I lost track of it in the shuffle of changing jobs. I’ve since moved on to an app that allows me to continue my obsessive book tracking, but I still think wistfully of that spreadsheet and the books it contained. So My Life with Bob, the new memoir by New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul, resonated deeply with me. It would be a ridiculous understatement to call Paul an avid reader. Whether highbrow Russian literature or V.C. Andrews’ incest-laced Flowers in the Attic, she reads with gusto. And she records it all in Bob, her “Book of Books,” a well-worn journal in which she’s listed every book she’s read for 28 years. Paul first wrote about Bob in a 2012 Times essay; turning that essay into a book was not an easy decision. “There was a huge amount of trepidation and fear,” she admits, speaking by phone from New York City. “I didn’t actually think of it as a memoir, and it was only when I read something that said, ‘Pamela Paul to write a memoir,’ that I

MY LIFE WITH BOB

By Pamela Paul

Holt, $27, 256 pages ISBN 9781627796316, eBook available

MEMOIR

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thought, oh my God, I’m writing a memoir. “It’s so personal. I’m usually very cautious writing about myself. I have a great amount of admiration for those who say, damn it all, I’ll write what I want. It’s very brave, but the journalism I’ve always done is feature writing, where people I interview are voluntarily participating; they’re in it of their own volition. It felt odd to me to be writing not only about myself but the people in my life.” Paul’s previous books—By the Book; Parenting, Inc.; Pornified; and The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony—are investigative looks at different aspects of social and consumer behavior. In My Life with Bob, in contrast, she is her own subject. Her chapters focus on key books in her life, from The Grapes of Wrath to The Secret History, and her reflections on what those books mean to her and what they say about her. “The first outline was 64 chapters!” Paul remembers. “It was really sad to cut out books; each book I cut out was like cutting out a chapter of my life in a way. It was hard to think about what books captured my intellectual life and my internal life and my social life, where I was in my life at a given moment.” My Life with Bob catalogues Paul’s journeys—both literal and metaphorical—including her time teaching English in Thailand and her early years in the New York publishing world. In one of the most poignant chapters, Paul writes about reading with children, and that sudden jolt of realization when your children no longer want to read whatever you hand them. “The ability to choose one’s own books becomes slightly less satisfying when you realize your own

children have that power, too, and they insist on reading about rainbow fairies or killer cats,” she writes. In the Paul household, books play a pivotal role. “I’m obsessed with the idea of what makes a reader,” she says. “Part of it with our kids was total deprivation of any other type of entertainment. We’re horrible, terrible parents. No TV, no video games; we barely have computers for the kids. The idea of entering into a narrative in which you are actively constructing and contributing to that narrative is something that you have to learn to do. I get it—I love TV and movies, too, and in a way it’s a lot easier on the brain because you’re not conjuring up images in your brain of what characters look like. “So I joke about deprivation, but it’s really enormous abundance. My kids have a lot of books. We regularly have to go through and purge.” Even with the lure of technology, Paul believes books will remain central to our culture and that it’s up to parents to help imbue that interest in young readers. “If you have fresh fruit but you also have candy, the kids might eat the fruit, but they’re gonna eat a lot of candy,” she said. “One thing I find very comforting is that for young people especially, real books—paper books—continue to be more popular than eBooks. For young children, it’s about having that tactile experience and being in the lap of a parent looking at something together.” She may be the editor of the New York Times Book Review, but Paul is anything but a book snob. She reads widely and deeply, admitting in My Life with Bob that she hated The Catcher in the Rye (she thought Holden Caulfield was a jerk) and

loved Nancy Drew. Sometimes, she writes, we choose books as voyeurs of others’ misery. She recalls reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich during the summer after her freshman year of college, drawn to Holocaust reading “like many other morbid kids with Jewish ancestry.” And sometimes we choose books based on a recommendation. Which, by the way, Paul resists when possible, as she describes in another thought-provoking chapter. My Life with Bob is a love story about books, and it will be irresistible to bookworms who recognize that what you read reflects who you are. Paul’s writing is warm, revealing and elegant, and at times, quite funny, such as when she’s too engrossed in The Hunger Games to realize that her newborn son isn’t latching on properly while nursing. “Once I put the book down, I returned to my resting emotional state of maternal guilt,” she writes. “My lunatic years of turbo lactivism, nursing my children until they were weaned, were tainted not by formula but by the competing desire to read while they fed.” My only quibble—and it’s a tiny one—is that Paul includes just one tantalizing photo of one page of Bob in her book. Did she ever consider reprinting Bob in full as an appendix? “Oh no,” she says with a laugh. “That would be like hanging out my laundry.”


reviews

FICTION

T PI OP CK

lingering effects often ignored in the all-too-similar accounts of sexual violence we read in the news almost daily, wherever we live. —DEBORAH DONOVAN

SALT HOUSES

Scattered to the wind REVIEW BY LAUREN BUFFERD

By Claire Cameron

Salt Houses is a dazzling debut about four generations of the Yacoubs, a Palestinian family originally from Jaffa. Told from multiple points of view, the novel offers a unique perspective on Arab displacement, assimilation and the very notion of home. At the same time, it puts a human face on a conflict that many of us need to better understand. The Yacoubs were relocated from Jaffa to Nablus before the novel even begins. The story opens in 1963, 15 years after this first relocation and just as Salma is reading the future in coffee grounds on her daughter Alia’s wedding day. Though Salma tries to soften the message she detects, it soon becomes clear that the family will experience further displacements. After the Six-Day War (1967), they are forced to leave By Hala Alyan their home. Salma joins extended family in Jordan, and Alia and her HMH, $26, 320 pages husband, Atef, relocate to Kuwait where they raise a family. After SaddISBN 9780544912588, eBook available am Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the family scatters once again; this time the grown children of Alia and Atef, now with families of their DEBUT FICTION own, disperse to Paris, Boston and Beirut. Palestinian-American author Hala Alyan, who is also a practicing psychologist, balances the ordinary joys and burdens of family life with the deeper clashes of culture and homesickness that occur as the Yacoubs spread across the globe. Whether she is depicting the stormy marriage between Alia and Atef or their daughter Widad’s concerns over her stepson’s interest in the more extreme practitioners of Islam, Alyan serves her story well through precise, almost poetic language and empathy toward her characters. Though the novel is not overtly political, both Alia and Atef are haunted by memories of Alia’s brother, Mustafa, who died in an Israeli jail. But nostalgia is an indulgence they can ill afford. Transience is their way of life, and resilience is their legacy to their children. Salt Houses speaks to the specificity of the Palestinian diaspora, but it also mirrors the experiences of immigrants and exiles all over the world, making it very much a book for every reader.

BEARTOWN By Fredrik Backman

Atria $26.99, 432 pages ISBN 9781501160769 Audio, eBook available

LITERARY FICTION

Fredrik Backman’s heralded debut novel, A Man Called Ove, was a surprise bestseller that rose steadily in worldwide sales after its initial rejection by all but one publisher. Beartown is Backman’s fourth novel, the tale of the eponymous village on the edge of a forest—probably in Backman’s native Sweden—where ice hockey is the favored sport. Actually, it’s the

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only sport. Hockey is what keeps this small, declining community alive, especially this year, when the junior team is headed for the national semifinals. The team revolves around Kevin, its 17-year-old star who got his first hockey stick when he was 3. He’s surrounded by a loyal band of teammates, each of whom would do anything for their captain. Backman deftly portrays how all of Beartown is invested in the future of the hockey club, and this loyalty is reflected in the lives of the general manager and the club’s coaches. Peter is the GM, an ex-professional player who returned to Beartown with his wife, Kira, and their two children after a brief NHL career in Canada. Sune, his childhood mentor and now the A-team coach, is about to be fired

THE LAST NEANDERTHAL Little, Brown $26, 288 pages ISBN 9780316314480 eBook available

LITERARY FICTION

Neanderthal kills bison. Neanderthal eats bison. Bear eats bison carcass. Birds clean carcass. Worms spread carcass remains. Rain washes remains into river. Algae grows, fed by decomposing bison. River fish eats algae. All life is connected. Girl knows this cycle well. One of the last Neanderthals, Girl understands that every step of a hunt affects not only her family but also the animals that surround them. They, too, are animals, and they have respect for their role in the cycle. In the present day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale believes Neanderthals recognized their interconnectivity, but the scientific world isn’t buying into her ideas. It’s a thrilling moment, then, when Rose and replaced by the younger, highly uncovers Neanderthal and human competitive coach of the illustriskeletons lying side by side. They’re positioned as though the two died ous junior team—and as the novel opens, the club’s board is asking Pe- staring into one another’s eyes. Modern humans cling to the idea ter to break the news to his friend. This is the first hint of a schism, that Neanderthals were a lesser many years in the making, between species, and that’s why Homo sathe townsfolk: those who believe piens prevailed. Rose is convinced hockey’s purpose is to teach its her discovery not only places the players lifelong values, and those two in the same time period, but who view the club as the key to the also suggests Neanderthals even town’s very survival. interacted with humans. This quiet, deceptively simple In The Last Neanderthal, Claire story suddenly implodes when Pe- Cameron expertly intertwines Girl’s ter’s 15-year-old daughter, Maya, is and Rose’s stories. Though they are raped. She said/he said arguments separated by 40,000 years and exist cause rifts between young and old, in almost wholly separate worlds, newcomers and old-timers—even the women are bonded. They face between members of the same their bodies’ sexual maturation family. Backman traces the impact and capability to create life. They’re of this one violent act, not just on challenged by the expectations Maya and her family, but on all the and limitations of being a woman inhabitants of Beartown­, and the in their respective times. In turn,


FICTION Cameron challenges the reader to consider his or her own existence. This is an engaging tale that celebrates the search for life’s meaning and its quotidian nature.

experienced similar, although less dramatic, challenges after adopting an autistic teenager, who helped inspire this tremendous debut novel. —KAREN ANN CULLOTTA

—CARLA JEAN WHITLEY

SINCE WE FELL GINNY MOON By Benjamin Ludwig

Park Row $26.99, 368 pages ISBN 9780778330165 Audio, eBook available

By Dennis Lehane Ecco $27.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780062129383 Audio, eBook available

SUSPENSE

DEBUT FICTION

It is the rare debut novel that reveals a writer of such immense talent as to achieve a dazzling literary home run the first time up to bat. Such is the case with Benjamin Ludwig’s Ginny Moon, an extraordinary coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a 14-yearold protagonist with autism. Ginny’s disability isn’t even the most formidable challenge facing this plucky young heroine, who has survived the horrors of living with her violent, drug-addicted mother, Gloria, as well as a sad trail of failed foster care placements. Ludwig’s novel begins as Ginny has finally found solace in the “Blue House” with her “Forever Parents,” a courageous young couple who, despite their determination to be the teen’s salvation, soon realize that they have signed up for more struggles than they anticipated. When Ginny becomes obsessed with reuniting with her birth mother and her beloved “baby doll,” her adoptive parents and school officials alike must struggle to keep the teen safe from her impulsive and methodical, albeit well-intentioned, behavior. Despite the novel’s sobering subject matter, including child abuse, kidnapping and the realities of living with an autistic child, Ludwig has interjected his often-heartbreaking narrative with laugh-outloud observations from Ginny, who loves Michael Jackson and displays a wicked sense of humor. In a letter to his readers, Ludwig explains that he and his wife

Dennis Lehane has a gift for discerning beautiful ruins amid the shattered lives of his characters. He has bewitched us with this cutting spell in novel after novel, from Gone, Baby, Gone to Shutter Island. With Since We Fell, he’s done it again, weaving a piercing thriller out of secrets, paranoia and what life can become when darkness is the only thing that stirs you anymore. Rachel Childs grew up surrounded by the secrets of her mother, and so she grew obsessed with the truth. When that pursuit of truth led to a successful journalism career, an on-air panic attack tanked it, rendering her a virtual shut-in until she found a husband who could stabilize her life with love and seemingly supernatural understanding. Just as Rachel is beginning to find her footing again, a chance sighting on a Boston street shatters everything she thought she knew about her life, sending her into a web of secrets that even her powerful journalistic mind couldn’t prepare her for. The right storyteller can forge trust with readers, a bond that allows the tale to go anywhere. Lehane wields that talent masterfully. His confident, precise prose makes you lean in until you want nothing more than to know his heroine completely, only to be surprised as the thriller trap snaps shut. With Since We Fell, Lehane further cements his reputation as one of our finest crime writers, forging an unforgettable character and then driving her deep into

page-turning thriller territory with the deft hand of an old master. This novel will please longtime Lehane fans and new readers alike, leaving them wanting more of his beautiful darkness. —MATTHEW JACKSON

SAINTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS By J. Courtney Sullivan

Knopf $26.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780307959577 Audio, eBook available

FAMILY SAGA

J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest novel opens with a brief but shocking scene, in which tragedy and family secrets tumble forth with urgency. It is 2009 and Nora Rafferty—the matriarch of an Irish-Catholic clan living in the Boston area—is on her way to the hospital. The emergency has something to do with her troubled oldest son, Patrick. Once Sullivan (author of the bestsellers Maine, Commencement and The Engagements) has set this stage, Saints for All Occasions jumps back to 1950s Ireland, when Nora was just 21 and about to leave home with her more playful sister, 17-year-old Theresa. The pace of the book becomes more leisurely as Sullivan conveys the rhythms of family life in Ireland and the difficulties of the sisters’ voyage to the states, which may remind readers of Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. Once the sisters are settled with family in Boston, the narrative shifts from the late 1950s, when Nora and Theresa both begin dating and make a fateful decision, to 2009, when Nora and her children must confront the far-reaching consequences of this decision. Sullivan captures the nursed grievances and festering wounds of sibling rivalry, not to mention the finer touches—for better or worse—of Irish-Catholic life. The comprehensive portraits of the Rafferty children and their decidedly more bourgeois 21st-century problems may be a bit extensive for some readers. But the tensions

simmering under the surface are raw, lending explosive power to the conflicts once they detonate. Particularly well done is Sullivan’s portrait of Theresa and her unlikely path to a life she could not have envisioned when she left Ireland. Saints for All Occasions is a complex and honest portrait of a very American family—stumbling through the present because they never made sense of the past. —T O M D E I G N A N

NO ONE CAN PRONOUNCE MY NAME By Rakesh Satyal Picador $26, 400 pages ISBN 9781250112118 Audio, eBook available

LITERARY FICTION

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce the inspiration behind the title of Rakesh Satyal’s second novel, No One Can Pronounce My Name. Having grown up with a name that can be a tongue twister for white Americans, Satyal understands the bewilderment and frustration of his Indian-American characters all too well. Drawing on his own experiences in Middle America, Satyal follows up his award-winning debut, Blue Boy, with an extraordinarily compassionate work of fiction. Taking readers into the suburbs of Ohio, Satyal chooses an otherwise unremarkable setting to tell a story that is anything but. He introduces us to Harit, a middle-aged bachelor who ineptly works in a department store by day and dresses up in his deceased sister’s sari at night. We also meet Ranjana, a stifled mother who secretly reads romantic thrillers and dreams of publishing her own stories while worrying her husband is having an affair. Finally, there is Prashant, a Princeton student who is struggling with unrequited longing for an Indian classmate, not to mention his desire to switch his major from chemistry to English literature, but he fears disappointing his parents.

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reviews At first, these three strangers’ stories are separate, united only by the common thread of their mutual isolation. Geography, race and culture alienate them from the people around them, but even worse, it has estranged them from their own selves. However, their paths gradually intersect, resulting in relationships that force them to throw open the shutters on their sheltered lives and hearts. Ambitious in scope, No One Can Pronounce My Name dares to tackle life’s biggest questions, irrespective of nationality. Through a successful blend of pathos and humor, Satyal bravely explores themes of intimacy, identity and sexuality, asking his characters— and his readers—to closely examine the inalienable qualities that make us all human. With emotionally charged prose, he masterfully depicts the modern-day immigrant experience in a manner that is both deeply personal and universally relatable, transforming the foreign into the familiar. —STEPHENIE HARRISON

Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Rakesh Satyal.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE By Gail Honeyman Pamela Dorman $26, 336 pages ISBN 9780735220683 Audio, eBook available

DEBUT FICTION

In Gail Honeyman’s captivating debut novel, we meet Eleanor Oliphant, a 30-year-old single woman working at a downtown design firm in Glasgow, Scotland. This might seem like the perfect setting for a saucy lifestyle, but Eleanor is less Carrie Bradshaw and more Sophia Petrillo of “The Golden Girls.” From the outside, Eleanor’s regimented and lonely life—which includes sensible, black Velcro shoes and lots of vodka—might be construed as depressing and that of an outcast. But this is where

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FICTION Honeyman proves us wrong. For all her awkwardness and complete lack of friends, Eleanor is anything but sad or apologetic. Eleanor, in fact, is fine, and sometimes even shockingly hilarious in how she perceives the world. A change is due, however, when two unexpected incidents force Eleanor to mingle with the rest of the population. First, a love interest, in the form of a musician named Johnnie Lomond, jump-starts her fashion and vanity sensibilities. Second, Raymond, the nerdy IT guy at work, pulls her into various social obligations, despite her best efforts to avoid them. Hesitant at first, Eleanor eventually finds these interactions to be comforting and full of hope. But old demons are hard to shake, and Eleanor crashes hard into her old ways as she suddenly decides that joy and friendships are not things she deserves. Honeyman includes some horrific details that make up Eleanor’s past, but somehow they never feel burdening or despairing. Ultimately, this is a feel-good story that will make readers laugh and cheer for Eleanor as she learns that the past doesn’t dictate the future, and that happiness can be hers. This is a must-read for those who love characters with quirks. —CHIKA GUJARATHI

’ROUND MIDNIGHT By Laura McBride Touchstone $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781501157783 Audio, eBook available

FICTION

headlining act, a talented black singer. When the baby is born, Del takes it away, shattering June. Honorata is a young Filipina woman whose cruel uncle arranges her marriage to a rich man in Chicago. When she hits a slot machine jackpot during a trip to Vegas, she leaves him and starts a new secret life, taking care to cover her tracks so he’ll never find her. Coral is raised in a large, loving African-American family. She knows she’s different from her three siblings—her skin is markedly lighter—but her mother insists it doesn’t matter how Coral came to be a part of their clan. She searches for the truth of her heritage, ultimately stumbling across it in the most unexpected way. Engracia is a hotel maid, an undocumented worker from Mexico who is grieving the loss of her young son after a freak accident. She’s not sure whether she even wants to live—until she’s caught in someone else’s domestic drama and her next steps become clear. Each of these women is quietly extraordinary in her own way. As their stories unfold, we come to understand their bonds, through community, compassion and, in one case, blood. They are women of different eras, all doing the best they can with their own flawed choices and circumstances, all woven together in this jewel of a novel. Haunting and unpredictable, ’Round Midnight is the beautifully told story of how fates intertwine in ways we can’t plan. —AMY SCRIBNER

THERE YOUR HEART LIES By Mary Gordon

Four seemingly unconnected women’s lives intersect in ’Round Midnight, the moving new novel from the author of We Are Called to Rise. Readers first meet June, a beautiful but restless woman who owns the glittering El Capitan casino with her husband, Del, in dusty 1950s Las Vegas. She becomes pregnant and spends nine months praying it isn’t the child of their

Pantheon $26.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780307907943 Audio, eBook available

HISTORICAL FICTION

Mary Gordon has been writing compelling books about faith, love and family for four decades. In There Your Heart Lies, her eighth novel, she examines the ways

political idealism and religious fanaticism shape the choices of a privileged but naive Catholic woman in the mid-20th century. At 19, Marian Taylor breaks with her wealthy New York family after the death of her beloved younger brother and sails to Spain to join the forces fighting Franco. Assisting in hospitals, she meets a Spanish doctor, gets pregnant, marries him and just as quickly loses him to sepsis. Forced to live with his parents in rural Spain and surrender her baby to her domineering motherin-law, Marian becomes completely dependent on a family and a culture as rigid as the one she left behind. Only a friendship with Isabel, the village doctor, offers Marian sanctuary, as well as means to a possible escape back to the United States after a decade of misery. But Marian has long kept this part of her life secret. Now in her 90s and living comfortably in Rhode Island, it is only when she is diagnosed with cancer that she begins to open up about these experiences with her live-in granddaughter, Amelia. The intensity of Marian’s experience prompts Amelia to make a journey to Spain to reconcile her grandmother’s past with her own uncertain prospects. Gordon’s novels often feature personal dramas set against a backdrop of political or religious change, and here she touches on the violence of soldiers, clerics and citizens on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, as well as the kind of inflexible religious household in which Marian was raised. But There Your Heart Lies also depicts pleasure in the loving bonds between generations and in acts of generosity and selflessness between friends. Marian is a classic Gordon heroine—sheltered but passionate and loyal to a fault. In contrast, Amelia’s search for self cannot compete with the drama and urgency of Marian’s time in Spain. This is a historically satisfying novel and, when Marian is center stage, an emotionally satisfying one as well. —LAUREN BUFFERD

Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Mary Gordon.


From the creator of The Honest Toddler comes a fiction debut sure to be a must-read for moms everywhere.

“Freaking hilarious. This is the novel moms have been waiting for.” —Jenny Lawson,

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

“An honest, brilliantly funny novel.” —Kristan Higgins,

New York Times bestselling author

Before you pick up the laundry

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“Like Hidden Figures, The Radium Girls tells the story of women who made history…and sheds new light on a dark chapter in American labor history.” —Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author


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PRIESTDADDY By Patricia Lockwood

LAST HOPE ISLAND

Facing a common enemy

MEMOIR

REVIEW BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON

In the early hours of April 9, 1940, King Haakon VII of Norway was awakened by an aide shouting, “Majesty, we are at war!” The frantic and desperate flight of the Norwegian king and his government into snow-clad mountains and eventually to London is just one of the spellbinding stories in Lynne Olson’s masterful account of England in World War II, Last Hope Island. Olson, a former White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, has written three previous books about World War II, and she brings both a journalist’s eye and a novelist’s command of character and setting to this subject. Here, in addition to King Haakon, she brings to life the indomitable Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who kept her people’s spirits up through her energetic BBC broadcasts. Olson details the contributions of Polish pilots to the RAF and shows how couraBy Lynne Olson geous, ordinary Europeans participated in resistance efforts and in Random House, $30, 576 pages ISBN 9780812997354, eBook available secret escape networks to guide downed pilots back to England. Olson does not shy away from a sharp critique of England’s SOE, the Special HISTORY Operations Executive, a rival organization to MI6. Inept SOE officials failed to follow their own security protocols, even after radio operators tried desperately to communicate that their networks had been compromised. In a particular case in the Netherlands, this resulted in the tragic death of agents who were nabbed by the Germans immediately upon parachuting into a dark field. For American readers inclined to begin their World War II reading after U.S. entry into the conflict, Last Hope Island opens a fascinating trove of stories, characters and facts. The final chapters deal with postwar Europe. In this way, Olson’s book, 10 years in the making, not only helps illuminate the past but also serves as an insightful backdrop for today’s discussion of the future of 21st-century European alliances.

THE BLACK HAND By Stephan Talty HMH $28, 320 pages ISBN 9780544633384 Audio, eBook available

TRUE CRIME

On the day of Joseph Petrosino’s funeral, the New York City mayor declared a public holiday. Everything shut down; a quarter-million people lined the streets to mourn his passing, as six black horses pulled his hearse in a procession from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the cemetery. Many readers are now asking themselves: Who on earth was Petrosino? Little remembered

today, he was a hero more than 100 years ago—the first Italian police detective sergeant in the U.S. and the face of the national crusade against an extortion-and-kidnapping crime wave perpetrated mostly by Italian criminals against law-abiding fellow immigrants. Author Stephan Talty focuses on that crisis, at its height from 1903 to 1914, in his exciting narrative The Black Hand. The Black Hand, a loosely affiliated collection of criminal gangs, terrorized Italian immigrants by extorting businesses, kidnapping children for ransom, blowing up buildings and killing the uncooperative. Most victims were too frightened to seek help, and the police and politicians were largely uninterested until the problem spread into nonimmigrant neighborhoods. But Petrosino, an incorruptible, opera-loving tough

Riverhead $27, 352 pages ISBN 9781594633737 Audio, eBook available

guy, fought back with his “Italian Squad” of cops, who developed modern investigative techniques. During this era, Italian Americans had to overcome vile discrimination by native-born Americans. Talty’s writing is wonderfully evocative in capturing the complex immigrant experience of hope, fear, pride and bewilderment. He doesn’t stray into current events, but the parallels with contemporary political concerns are unmistakable. The first law allowing the deportation of immigrants who have criminal records in their home countries was passed in 1907, in direct response to the Black Hand. The organization was finally stamped out—but Petrosino lost his life in the struggle. —ANNE BARTLETT

Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Stephan Talty.

Some people are born to write, and one of those people is Patricia Lockwood, who knew at age 6 that she would be a poet. In the final chapter of Priestdaddy, her debut memoir, Lockwood—whose poem “Rape Joke” won her a Pushcart Prize in 2015—marvels at her own forcefulness: “On the page I am strong, because that is where I put my strength.” In this brilliant and heartbreakingly funny book, the poet returns to her childhood home and offers the story of her unconventional Catholic upbringing and her larger-than-life parents. Lockwood’s father, believe it or not, is a Catholic priest who converted to the faith after he was married. In such circumstances, there is a celibacy loophole, and Lockwood and her four siblings grew up on rectory grounds in St. Louis and Cincinnati, which Lockwood loyally refers to as “the worst cities in the Midwest.” When she became a teenager, she fell in love on the internet and ran away to marry Jason, which, miraculously, turned out to be a great decision. In adulthood, however, the couple fell on hard times and found themselves moving back in with Lockwood’s parents—her guitar-strumming, boxer-shorts-wearing, holy and emotionally aloof father and her paranoid, accommodating and lyrical mother. Surrounded by the vestiges of her childhood, Lockwood begins thinking anew about identity, place, religion, girlhood and poetry—always poetry. This is a book that will transport the reader deep into Lockwood’s zany and appealing point of view. The sheer authority of the prose will occasionally take the reader’s

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breath away. To say I could not put the book down does not do it justice, nor would quotations from the dozens of pages that struck me as beautiful and unforgettable and weird. Do yourself a favor and read this memoir. — K E L LY B L E W E T T

ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY By Neil deGrasse Tyson Norton $18.95, 224 pages ISBN 9780393609394 Audio, eBook available

SCIENCE

When staring up at a starlit night, who doesn’t wonder how the universe began, how the stars were born or how we happen to be here on Earth? These questions have

existed since the beginning of time, but only recently have we been able to find any of the answers. Yet the answers, which are being discovered with dizzying speed, are not easily accessible to the general public. Everyone has heard of the big bang and Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but precious few of us have the time to learn the science behind them. Happily, in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson answers our questions about how the universe ticks—without the painful mathematics. Perhaps no one has done more to educate the nonscientific community about the universe than Tyson. As director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, an author and a popular television personality, Tyson is, for many, the face of astrophysics—and for good reason. He is passionate about astrophysics and wants everyone else to be,

too. This book, a compilation of 12 essays he wrote for Natural History magazine, is infectiously enthusiastic, humorous and, above all, accessible. Tyson is able to convey complicated concepts with clarity. Ultimately, reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is both a humbling and exhilarating experience. Compared to the vast and expanding universe, we are tiny, irrelevant specks. But at the same time, by encouraging us to take a cosmic perspective, Tyson also reminds us that everything around us and in us—the Earth, the elements, perhaps even life itself—originated in space. We truly are made out of stars. —DEBORAH MASON

BETWEEN THEM By Richard Ford

Ecco $25.99, 192 pages ISBN 9780062661883 Audio, eBook available

MEMOIR

IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO! Available May 9, 2017

• www.imaginebooks.net

In a four-decade career that includes a Pulitzer Prize and an impressive body of critically acclaimed novels and short stories, Richard Ford has never produced a work of nonfiction. With Between Them, a tender, deeply appreciative memoir of his parents, he impeccably remedies that gap in his résumé. What’s most extraordinary about these concise reminiscences—his mother’s written after her death of cancer in 1981 and his father’s some 55 years after the heart attack that killed him in 1960—is how Ford transmutes the utterly ordinary lives they describe into art. When Arkansas natives Parker Carrol Ford and Edna Akin met in a Hot Springs, Arkansas, grocery store in 1927, perhaps they envisioned lives of excitement and great accomplishment. They certainly never anticipated the 16 years it would take their only child to arrive. They passed those 16 years in a pleasant, nomadic life;

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Parker was a traveling salesman for a laundry starch manufacturer in seven Southern states, and Edna was his traveling companion. In recounting the quotidian details of his family’s life—the purchase of a new car or a first house in the suburbs—Ford makes little attempt to invest those events with any larger significance, but his gentle stories of his life in Jackson, Mississippi, are suffused with gratitude. “I was fortunate to have parents who loved each other and, out of the crucible of that great, almost unfathomable love, loved me,” he recalls. “The fact that lives and deaths often go unnoticed has specifically inspired this small book about my parents and set its task,” Ford writes. His parents would be proud of the honor he’s paid in this work to their humble, decent lives. —HARVEY FREEDENBERG

THE FACT OF A BODY By Alexandria MarzanoLesnevich

Flatiron $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781250080547 Audio, eBook available

MEMOIR

During a summer internship in Louisiana in 2003, Harvard law student Alexandria Marzano-Les­ nevich heard about a case involving a pedophile who murdered a 6-year-old boy in 1992. When she watched the recorded confession of Ricky Langley, she writes that it “brought me to reexamine everything I believed not only about the law but about my family and my past.” Marzano-Lesnevich lays out that re-examination in her unusual and riveting book, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, in which she interweaves the story of Langley’s crime with her own personal trauma. The author, the daughter of two lawyers, grew up in a New Jersey family that was loving but refused to look back at the past. Problems


NONFICTION such as her father’s depression and the death of Alexandria’s triplet baby sister were rarely, if ever, discussed. Marzano-Lesnevich, however, couldn’t stop looking back. Her grandfather sexually abused her and her sisters, and her parents tried to bury this fact. Later, they tried to ignore her anger. Despite this and other challenges, including tumultuous years spent dealing with undiagnosed Lyme disease and an eating disorder, MarzanoLes­nevich made a “Hail Mary pass to the future” by enrolling in Harvard Law School. Marzano-Lesnevich’s triumph is in the way she simultaneously tells her story and Langley’s, showing how in both cases the past haunts the present, and how facts, memories, guilt, responsibility and forgiveness can be impossibly hard to pinpoint or fully understand. Her recounting of her grandfather’s abuse is a haunting exposé of what it feels like to be a victim. And while Langley will spend his life in prison, her grandfather, she writes, “got away with it.” The author tells Langley’s story by reconstructing scenes based on court documents, transcripts, media coverage and even a play based on the case. She also relies heavily on the “creative” part of creative nonfiction—a method some may question—layering her “imagination onto the bare-bones record of the past to bring Langley’s past to life.” Both stories are gripping enough in their own right to fill a book; Marzano-Lesnevich’s artful entwining enriches them both. —ALICE CARY

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON By David Grann

Doubleday $28.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780385534246 Audio, eBook available

AMERICAN HISTORY

According to the Osage American Indians, when May’s full moon

shines and the Earth warms, taller plants overtake April’s tiny flowers, “stealing their light and water” until they die. This is bestselling author and journalist David Grann’s fitting metaphor for what befell the Osages in Oklahoma, beginning in May 1921. His thoroughly researched account, Killers of the Flower Moon, is a chilling tale of unfettered greed, cruel prejudice and corrupted justice. When the U.S. government drove the Osages from their territory in Kansas to northeastern Oklahoma, no one knew about the rich oil deposits below the surface of their new land. Soon the oil would make the Osages incredibly rich—and their white neighbors incredibly jealous. Since only a tribe-enrolled Osage could claim the profits from their allotted lands, a law was conveniently passed requiring that guardians be appointed to “manage” the Osages’ considerable wealth. The fraud and treachery that ensued, referred to as “Indian business” by anyone involved, deprived the Osage people of their money, property and even their lives. Families victimized by shootings, bombings and poisonings found no justice at the hands of corrupt lawmen, bankers and judges. However, the travesties and tragedies unfolding in Oklahoma coincided with the rise of the ambitious J. Edgar Hoover and the new Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the detective work of agent and former Texas Ranger Tom White that helped Hoover transform the formerly inept and ridiculed FBI into a powerful agency. The FBI was finally able to deliver a measure of justice to the Osages, albeit too late for many victims. Grann’s tale could have ended there and served its purpose well, revealing this “Reign of Terror” that was, until now, largely forgotten by most. But he goes on to reveal the many unresolved murders that preceded 1921 and the ongoing disenfranchisement of present-day Osages, adding to the sheer power of truth in Killers of the Flower Moon. —PRISCILLA KIPP

spotlight

MOTHER’S DAY BY JULIE HALE

Meditations on maternal life

M

other’s Day is May 14! Honor mom with one of the engaging books featured below. Each provides a unique take on the challenges and rewards of motherhood. In My Mother’s Kitchen (Holt, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9780805093308), Peter Gethers salutes his foodie mom, the cookbook writer and expert chef Judy Gethers. During the course of her culinary career, Judy shared counter space with the likes of Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck. When she suffers a debilitating stroke in her 80s, the author is heartsick. As a salute to his mom, Gethers decides to whip up her pet recipes—an intimidating selection of delicacies with instructions that range from complex to incomprehensible. The story of Gethers’ labor of love is filled with family anecdotes, scenes from his mother’s remarkable life and plenty of humor (“as soon as I saw things like ‘swirling’ and ‘fine mesh’ when it came to making simple poached eggs, I got woozy,” he writes). Gethers balances the bitter and the sweet with skill in this moving memoir.

FOR NEWLY MINTED MOMS “Adulthood, it seems to me, is about narrowing,” Sarah Menkedick writes in Homing Instincts (Pantheon, $25, 272 pages, ISBN 9781101871416). To combat that narrowing, Menkedick cultivates a life of travel and exploration that includes backpacking solo in South America. She feels most at home when on the way to a fresh destination, but after she becomes pregnant and moves with her husband to family property in rural Ohio, her

attitude shifts. In the eight essays that comprise this poignant, probing memoir, Menkedick contemplates the mysteries of motherhood and the surprising pleasures of establishing a permanent home—a place where she can write, reflect and prepare for the arrival of her daughter. “For the first time, I recognize this delving into my own heart, mind, and body as a journey,” she says. This revealing book is a lovely exercise in self-inquiry that will resonate with mothersto-be.

FOR MOMS OF THE FUTURE Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie provides parental advice that will stand the test of time in Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (Knopf, $15, 80 pages, ISBN 9781524733131). Adichie, author of the bestselling novel Americanah, began this brief tract as a letter to a friend who asked for her input on how to raise an empowered daughter. The letter grew to include 15 ideas for bringing up a fearless feminist. In a voice that’s companionable and open, she addresses critical mother-daughter issues such as sex, clothes and makeup, and she espouses an attitude of self-determination when it comes to marriage and career. Adichie, who has a daughter of her own, writes from experience—and from the heart—in this wise and inspiring book.

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Private security just got a whole lot more personal.

An indomitable governess, a brooding Highlander and a forbidden affair.

Secrets don’t stay buried forever in Echo Falls.

There’s nothing hotter than friendship turned to slow-burning love.

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reviews T PI OP CK

TEEN

THE PEARL THIEF

The making of a legend R E V I E W B Y K I M B E R LY G I A R R A T A N O

Before the start of World War II—years before the events of Printz Honor-winning Code Name Verity, which tells the story of Julie Beaufort-Stuart’s capture by the Gestapo in occupied France—Julie was an unsure but privileged 15-year-old girl on break from school. In June of 1938, Julie arrives at her late grandfather’s Scottish estate to help her mother and grandmother pack up the contents of the house in preparation for its sale. But she is inexplicably attacked on a nearby riverbank and left for dead. She is rescued by two Travellers, a brother and sister from a nomadic group native to Scotland, who are treated cruelly by Julie’s own friends and neighbors. Julie remembers little of the attack, but she believes it may have something to do with the mysterious disappearance of the archivist from her grandfather’s estate. Throw in a washed-up body, priceless river pearls and an unexpected romance, By Elizabeth Wein and readers will come to understand how Julie became a tenacious Disney-Hyperion , $18.99, 336 pages and brave British spy years later. ISBN 9781484717165, eBook available Elizabeth Wein masterfully weaves a story of friendship, love and Ages 12 and up loss against the backdrop of the breathtaking Scottish Highlands. The descriptions of the Scottish burns, the melodic dialect and the shared HISTORICAL FICTION culture between the Scottish gentry and Travellers will make readers think they’ve been transported back in time. For readers who haven’t already been introduced to Wein through Code Name Verity, The Pearl Thief is a beautiful starting point.

NOTEWORTHY By Riley Redgate Amulet $17.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781419723735 eBook available Ages 14 and up

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Jordan Sun is a Chinese-­ American junior at elite arts-­ focused boarding school Kensington-Blaine, but she doesn’t have much to show for it. Her first years were spent wrapped up in an intense relationship that ended badly, so she has no close friends to lean on when she fails, yet again, to get a callback for a musical. As a theater student on scholarship, Jordan feels extra pressure to prove to her parents that Kensington is worth it, but her low singing voice keeps her from landing traditional female musical roles. Dejected

and isolated, Jordan notices an open call for a tenor in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s top all-boy a cappella group. Jordan is determined to find a place at school, even if it means months of deception and possibly extreme consequences. But life as Julian—the male alter ego she adopts for the Sharpshooters—is freeing in a way Jordan never expected, despite the complications. Riley Redgate tackles big topics in her second novel, as Jordan unpacks the complicated interplay between her class, gender and friendships. Jordan’s insights on femininity and masculinity are effective. However, the exploration of her sexuality, which is supposedly fluid or bisexual, feels incomplete, especially since the romantic angle unfolds traditionally. With an amusing plot reminiscent of familiar teen movies, Noteworthy is a solid, realistic YA novel with enough new notes to entertain even avid readers. —ANNIE METCALF

which are provoked by U.S. demand and, in many cases, armed by the U.S., too. Caught in the crosshairs of this volatile situation is a lonely young man, Arturo, a cardsharp who is enlisted to help save the life of his old friend Faustino—but who finds himself in a bargain he has no real way to win. With Saint Death, Sedgwick offers a timely story that often reads like a thriller—or like a fable. Suffused with elements of magical realism and informed by real-world facts and statistics, Sedgwick’s narrative is remarkably immersive, providing both context and a human face for an issue that too often remains abstract but that, as he suggests, cannot be ignored. —NORAH PIEHL

WINDFALL By Jennifer E. Smith

Delacorte $18.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780399559372 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up

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SAINT DEATH By Marcus Sedgwick

Roaring Brook $17.99, 240 pages ISBN 9781626725492 eBook available Ages 14 and up

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“We all have a deep desire, a deep need, to ignore what is happening here,” writes Marcus Sedgwick midway through Saint Death. Sedgwick, who sets his new novel amid the violent borderlands of Juarez, Mexico, might be describing human migration or death itself, embodied in this story by the mystical appearance—both literal and figurative—of Santa Muerte, or Saint Death. Either way, Sedgwick’s latest novel forces readers to look at what’s happening in regions of Mexico, and at the pressures that have created the drug cartels,

Alice lost both parents when she was 9 years old. She was forced to move from San Francisco to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin Leo in Chicago. Nine years have passed since then; Alice and Leo are now inseparable and have brought fellow classmate Teddy into their fold. While Alice secretly harbors a crush on Teddy, she’s too afraid to let him know. On Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice decides to play the odds and buys him a lottery ticket, and miraculously he wins. Teddy, also no stranger to hardships, gladly accepts his prize. He goes on spending sprees and enjoys his newfound fame, owing it all to Alice. But when he offers Alice a portion of the winnings, she declines, and a chasm opens between the two. Jennifer E. Smith’s latest novel will have readers laughing out loud as often as wiping away tears. Alice is easy to fall in love with, from her

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reviews courage in dealing with her parents’ deaths to insisting on making decisions on her own terms and her ability to adapt when things don’t go as planned. With a tight set of characters, complete with realistic relationships and issues, Windfall fearlessly explores the impact of wealth, particularly when it is sprung on a teen. Smith pulls at readers’ heartstrings as Alice, Teddy and Leo struggle to find themselves in the midst of the unexpected. A novel with crossover appeal, Windfall is an excellent choice for older teens to read with parents or mentors.

TEEN own estranged mother and Hattie’s live-in boyfriend, Ramona starts to question long-held certainties. What does it mean to like girls but also be attracted to your male best friend? What balance can she find between realistic possibilities and Cinderella dreams? Julie Murphy, acclaimed author of Dumplin’, once again takes on the voice of a marginalized teen, tackling issues of economic, racial and sexual diversity with love, humor and hope. —J I L L R A T Z A N

Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Julie Murphy.

— E R I N A . H O LT

THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP RAMONA BLUE By Julie Murphy

Balzer + Bray $17.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780062418357 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up

By Katie A. Nelson Sky Pony $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781510710405 Ages 14 and up

FICTION

LGBTQ FICTION

Blue-haired high school senior Ramona has always known what her future will hold: She’ll stay in her small Mississippi town, work multiple jobs, date tourist girls and live with her father and older sister, Hattie, in the cramped trailer that’s been home ever since Hurricane Katrina upended their lives. When Hattie accidentally gets pregnant, Ramona has even more reason to envision a life spent putting others’ needs before her own. But then her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town. Freddie fits in seamlessly with Ramona’s friends—including gay siblings Saul and Ruthie—and when Ramona swims laps with Freddie at the YMCA, she feels like she’s reclaiming a part of herself that she’s long since pushed aside. Soon she and Freddie find their respective romantic entanglements coming to awkward ends, and she begins to feel more than friendship for Freddie. As she navigates relationships with Freddie’s kind grandmother, her

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When Bannerman Prep invites Tanner McKay to leave his public school and join their world-class debate team, he sees it as his big chance to catch the eyes of Stanford recruiters and to set himself on the path to success. But when the debate teacher partners Tanner with “The Duke,” that clear-cut path no longer seems quite so straight and narrow. The Duke is untouchable: He’s a straight-A student who rarely cracks a book; he’s adept at pulling strings and calling in favors; and he’s a notorious host of elaborate parties in the city. But the Duke isn’t all he seems, and soon his carefully crafted identity begins to unravel. Katie A. Nelson’s debut novel, a contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, captures the glitz, glamour and mysterious emptiness of its predecessor with very few of the cheap winks and nudges so prevalent in modernizations. Though Nelson’s characters feel, at times, like incomplete renderings, she deftly recreates the high-stakes environment of an elite prep

school as well as the fierce competition for social status that will feel familiar to any young reader. The high-pressure world of Bannerman Prep, the intrigue of Tanner and the Duke’s strange friendship and the lavish social scene all harken back to Fitzgerald’s classic but stand on their own in this compelling new novel. —SARAH WEBER

THE LINES WE CROSS By Randa Abdel-Fattah

Scholastic $18.99, 400 pages ISBN 9781338118667 eBook available Ages 14 and up

FICTION

help, but it becomes apparent that he must take bold action against his own family. The current tide of Islamophobia is well integrated into The Lines We Cross, and the teen characters believably work through the fears and prejudices of family and society to find their own convictions. Abdel-Fattah offers young readers immeasurable perspective into a present-day crisis. —DIANE COLSON

VINCENT AND THEO By Deborah Heiligman

Holt $19.99, 464 pages ISBN 9780805093391 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up

BIOGRAPHY

Mina was born in Afghanistan. Her tragic story begins when her father is gunned down in their home, leaving his small family no option but to flee. After a long, terrifying journey, Mina and her mother arrive in an Australian detention camp. It takes years for them to build a life in Western Sydney, a place both lauded and feared for its vibrant commingling of cultures. Michael is the son of parents deeply invested in the Aussie Values movement. He has never really questioned their belief that Islamic refugees are terrorists bent on destroying “true” Australian culture. But then he meets beautiful, smart, hardworking Mina and loses his heart. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story for our times, infused with the insight of accomplished author Randa Abdel-Fattah. Mina can barely remember Afghanistan, but her refugee experience separates her from her white peers. Like the United States, Australia is a nation of immigrants, which undermines claims by predominantly white-skinned people who cling to so-called intrinsic values. Antagonism against the refugees pits the Aussie Values organization against Mina’s family, leading to the outing of undocumented workers. Michael tries to

Without Theo, there likely would have been no Vincent van Gogh as we know him. While other books and movies have taken on these curious and impassioned brothers, Deborah Heiligman’s impeccably researched biography hits all the right marks. Vincent and Theo is primarily based on letters the troubled artist and his art-dealer brother regularly wrote one another over the course of their lives. The chapters are structured as “galleries” that peer into the van Goghs’ experiences with unrequited love, financial and emotional depression and the intensity of their bond. Vincent, the troubled and mentally ill painter, often becomes unmoored, tethered to reality only by Theo’s financial and emotional support. The brothers’ love is evident, yet their tug-of-war relationship is made clear from their turbulent exchanges. Heiligman’s exhaustive details cover everything from Vincent’s art career to his disheveled clothes and poor hygiene. Complete with a family tree, timeline and detailed bibliography, it’s unlikely a more thorough biography of the artist and his family could be written, especially for this age group. —SHARON VERBETEN


children’s

LAUREN WOLK INTERVIEW BY ALICE CARY

Lessons from the sea

I

t’s been a whirlwind year for Lauren Wolk, whose debut children’s novel, Wolf Hollow, received a Newbery Honor, and whose second book, Beyond the Bright Sea, will capture even more readers’ hearts.

“It’s been very hard to imagine,” Wolk says of the accolades and awards bestowed upon Wolf Hollow, which has garnered comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird. “I’ve been a writer since the day I was born, plugging away, but all of a sudden, out of the blue, everything changes overnight. It’s funny: Just when you stop thinking maybe something big is going to come along, something big comes along!” Wolk is busier than ever, but she has taken time from her day job as associate director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to speak about her new middle grade novel. Over the phone, Wolk sounds warm, friendly and organized. “This place has my heart,” she says of the arts organization. “We do the most amazing things. But it’s hard to do a 60-hour-week job when you’re away for several days a month, so I’m finding my way slowly.” (In addition to being a wife and mother of two sons, she’s also an assemblage and mixed-media artist, as well as a poet.) While Wolk is a newcomer in the world of children’s publishing, she

BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA

By Lauren Wolk

Dutton, $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781101994856, audio, eBook available Ages 10 and up

MIDDLE GRADE

published an adult novel, Those Who Favor Fire, in 1999. In fact, Wolk wrote Wolf Hollow for adults, and was surprised when her agent suggested a younger audience. “That was out of left field,” she says, later adding, “I have to say, I don’t think I’m ever going back.” Wolk wrote each of her middle grade books in “exhilarating” spans of three months. Like Wolf Hollow, which is set in the mountains of Pennsylvania in 1943, Beyond the Bright Sea is also a work of historical fiction, set in the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Cape Cod in 1925. While her first book pays tribute to her mother’s family farm and stories her mother told her as a child, Wolk’s latest novel is solely her own invention. “In a way it feels a little more like my own child than Wolf Hollow,” she says, explaining that the book’s central character, 12-year-old Crow, “came into my imagination one day and just took hold of my heart.” When just hours old, baby Crow was set adrift in a small boat upon the sea, but was rescued by Osh, a kindhearted refugee from an unnamed country who fishes and lives off the land in a small, ramshackle cottage. A nearby neighbor, Miss Maggie, is a close friend and one of the few people on the island who doesn’t shy away from the dark-skinned orphan, who may have been born on the nearby island of Penikese, which once housed a leper colony. The isolated landscape plays a powerful role in this carefully plotted, exciting story, which features buried treasure, a dangerous villain, a raging storm and the ongoing mystery of Crow’s abandonment. Although she’s been to several of the Elizabeth Islands, Wolk hasn’t visited Penikese. Twice, when she booked a ferry passage on an Audubon Society trip, a hurricane cancelled the excursion. “Both times!” she exclaims, adding, “Somebody really didn’t want me

to go out there.” Luckily, Google Earth helped her fill in the details. “I’ve always been in love with the sea,” Wolk says, fondly remembering childhood summers she and her family spent in Cotuit, the Cape Cod village where her mother now lives. (Growing up, Wolk and her family lived in Maryland, California and eventually settled in Providence, Rhode Island, when she was about 10.) None of the family knew how to sail, a skill her father felt was best acquired by doing, so one summer when she was 11, he “In a way it sent her out to feels a little sea. more like my Adding that Cotuit is own child known for its than Wolf safe harbors, Hollow.” Wolk recalls, “He got an old Sunfish and plunked me on it, gave me a shove and said, ‘See you later.’ I cringe now when I think about that, but it was one of the greatest things he could have ever done for me. And I learned to sail really well without a single lesson, except for the lessons the sea gives you.” Wolk had been toying with the idea of setting an adult novel on the Cape for a long time, inspired by a grave in the Cotuit Cemetery for a baby who was born and died at sea. She eventually decided that she didn’t want to write that story, but had already conducted extensive research about the Elizabeth Islands. Then, when the character of Crow appeared, Wolk says, “She just took me for a ride.” Wolk likes to include just enough historical details “for my readers to be immersed in that world.” Believing that “people are people,” she doesn’t want young readers to think that her historical characters “are unlike them in some

way simply because of the passage of time.” She added just enough historical detail to Crow’s story— like era-appropriate ship routes and native wildflowers—to help set an authentic stage. Too much historical detail, Wolk notes, can be a distraction. Wolk mentions the 1960 Newbery Medal winner, Island of the Blue Dolphins, as inspiration not only for the island setting but also for the character of Crow, “a really strong girl who has to find her way.” She pauses, then says, “That really didn’t hit me until I just this second said it.” As is the case with Wolf Hollow, Beyond the Bright Sea contains some “very dark themes,” which Wolk admits she always liked in books she read as a child. “But there’s also a great deal of hope,” she says. “I like the juxtaposition of the dark and the light. And the kids I’ve talked to really seem to like that I respect them enough to know they can handle that sort of thing.” Wolk is currently finishing revisions of a third children’s novel, set in modern times, about a girl living in the Arizona desert. But the characters of Crow, Osh and Maggie remain very much on her mind. “They’re wonderful, wonderful misfits,” Wolk says. “I miss them terribly. So maybe I’ll write a sequel.” For anyone who reads Beyond the Bright Sea, that’s very good news indeed.

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reviews T PI OP CK

CHILDREN’S

CLAYTON BYRD GOES UNDERGROUND

Got those feel-good blues REVIEW BY JON LITTLE

Clayton Byrd is a bluesman. Despite his young age—and the fact that he can’t quite get those blue notes to wail like his grandfather and best friend, Cool Papa Byrd, can—he knows he’s a bluesman. He can feel it deep down in the pit of his stomach. And like a true bluesman, when his grandfather dies, Clayton turns to music for solace. One problem: His mother has hidden his harmonica because he keeps falling asleep in class. Faced with the loss of his grandfather and a mother whose pain blinds her to his needs, Clayton recovers his harmonica and takes a note out of Cool Papa’s songbook— he hits the road. But on his way to join up with Cool Papa’s backing band, the Bluesmen, Clayton runs into a pack of wayward youths who spend their days on the subway, dodging the police and dancing for spare change. By Rita Williams-Garcia Drawn by the beat-boxed rhythms that accompany their dance, ClayAmistad, $16.99, 176 pages ton adds his harmonica melody to the mix and quickly finds himself ISBN 9780062215918, Audio, eBook available embroiled in their less-than-sunny subterranean world. Ages 8 to 12 When his plan to join the Bluesmen goes bust and he finds himself MIDDLE GRADE holed up in a police station, waiting for his mother to pick him up, Clayton begins to grasp the desperation and despondency that births the blues anew in each generation. In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, three-time Coretta Scott King Medal winner Rita Williams-Garcia has crafted an endearing family drama with all the wit, wisdom and resonance of the best blues songs.

LITTLE PIG SAVES THE SHIP By David Hyde Costello

Charlesbridge $14.99, 32 pages ISBN 9781580897150 eBook available Ages 3 to 7

PICTURE BOOK

While his four piggy siblings go sailing, this Little Pig is stuck at home. With plenty of spare time, some bits of string and a guide to sailing knots, Little Pig is an expert knot-tier by the time Poppy arrives with a carved wooden boat. Together Little Pig and Poppy sail the boat on imaginary voyages— with tiny wooden Poppy and Little Pig sailors onboard. When the ship heads over a waterfall, Little Pig makes a daring rescue, and he finally has a story to share with his seafaring older siblings. Adven-

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tures, after all, come in all sizes. David Hyde Costello’s illustrations are colorful, kid-friendly and expressive. The softly painted forest and stream are especially welcoming as lovely reminders of summer days. Little Pig’s sailboat may lure readers out into the wild outdoors with homemade ships of their own. A step-by-step knot diagram will entice readers of all ages to attempt a few nautical knots, so have a shoelace or rope handy when reading. The pigs’ conversations help tell the story and add a layer of comedy, especially when Poppy finds himself going headover-heels into the stream. A story about family and cooperation, creativity and problem-­ solving, Little Pig Saves the Ship is calm enough for bedtime but will stand up to multiple rereads. The relaxing vibe of a day spent wading in a stream is perfect for a summer-themed storytime. —J I L L L O R E N Z I N I

THE BOOK OF MISTAKES

neck, elbow patches that disguise a misshapen elbow, roller skates on shoes that don’t touch the ground. Mistakes pile on as the roller-skating girl gradually becomes part of an elaborate, poster-worthy scene: a giant tree full of kids floating through the sky on wildly imagined, balloon-powered contraptions. Anticipation and excitement mount as each part of the scene unfolds through Luyken’s striking use of black ink, white space and deft additions of soft green, yellow and pink watercolor and colored pencil. Just when you think the scene is complete, Luyken has another trick up her sleeve, deflecting readers’ attention back to the artist and how art is made, warts and all. Mistakes in art—as in life—happen, and Luyken shows young readers in a glorious way how they often lead to bigger and better outcomes than anyone could imagine. —ALICE CARY

THE FOREVER GARDEN By Laurel Snyder Illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

Schwartz & Wade $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780553512731 eBook available Ages 4 to 8

By Corinna Luyken Dial $18.99, 56 pages ISBN 9780735227927 eBook available Ages 4 to 8

PICTURE BOOK

What’s it like inside the mind of an artist at work? Readers will get an uplifting look at the process in Corinna Luyken’s debut picture book, The Book of Mistakes. “It started with one mistake,” the book begins, showing a small face on a big white page with one eye noticeably larger than the other. Even the correction fails, as the new eye is even larger than the first. Then voilà, a pair of bright green glasses fixes everything. As this face evolves into a girl, clever fixes cover additional mistakes: a lacy collar on a too-long

In this lovely tale of gardens and friendship, a young narrator named Laurel observes Honey, her neighbor with a green thumb. Laurel enjoys handouts of tiny carrots and juicy, yellow tomatoes, watches through her window when Honey digs in the rain and sometimes joins Honey for a nighttime picnic. But when Honey must sell her house, Laurel experiences the sadness of losing a friend. Not only that, she realizes Honey won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of all her hard work. Honey assures her that’s just fine. And if the new owners add something, “the garden will keep going . . . maybe forever.” When the new neighbors, who know nothing about gardens, move in, Laurel is ready. She transitions from observing to acting, using all she learned from Honey to keep the


CHILDREN’S garden growing. Author Laurel Snyder’s gentle, lyrical text is brought to vivid life by Samantha Cotterill’s exuberant illustrations, which capture the joy of gardening and the growing friendship between a child and her neighbor. In a helpful author’s note, Snyder explains that The Forever Garden is based loosely on a Talmudic story. “I love the idea that people are gardens too,” she writes, “and that they bear the fruit tended by many generations of gardeners.” This is the perfect book to welcome spring, reminding us to tend not only gardens but also the friendships we treasure. —DEBORAH HOPKINSON

BUBBLE By Stewart Foster Simon & Schuster $16.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781481487429 eBook available Ages 8 to 10

MIDDLE GRADE

Eleven-year-old Joe Grant, who has never felt rain or sunshine, often wishes “my real world was as big as the one in my head.” As the only person in England with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), Joe was born without an immune system and has spent most of his life in a “bubble,” a specially designed hospital room in London. In his first novel for children, author Stewart Foster offers a glimpse of the highs and lows of this difficult yet remarkable life. Joe tells his own story, countering fatigue, fear of getting sick, endless therapies, isolation and even occasional thoughts of death with dreams of being a superhero. Like most boys his age, he enjoys sports and video games, and like anyone, he craves friendship. Joe looks forward to visits from his older sister and Skypes with Henry, a boy in Philadelphia who also has SCID. But the predictability of Joe’s world is shaken when Henry, thanks to a suit designed by NASA, has the chance to walk outside. Joe begins to wonder if his new day-

time nurse, an Indian immigrant named Amir, could assist with a similar adventure. Readers, particularly fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, will admire Joe’s strength, courage and hope. His tender story reaffirms humanity.

meet  DANIEL SALMIERI the title of your Q: What’s  new book?

would you describe Q: How  the book?

—ANGELA LEEPER

THREE PENNIES By Melanie Crowder Atheneum $16.99, 192 pages ISBN 9781481471879 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

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

MIDDLE GRADE

Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder is a gorgeously told orphan’s tale, with an old-fashioned ring that pairs with modern elements to create a fast-moving, carefully structured plot. Eleven-year-old Marin Greene lives in a foster home in San Francisco where she tries to tell her fortune using the I Ching book that once belonged to her mother, who abandoned Marin at age 4. When a single, lesbian surgeon named Dr. Lucy Chang hopes to adopt Marin, the preteen becomes more determined than ever to reunite with her birth mother, despite the appeal of this extraordinarily kind, loving physician. With short chapters that keep the action rolling, the story unfolds from multiple viewpoints that include Marin, Dr. Lucy and Gilda, a hardworking social worker who gives readers an informative peek into the thorny world of foster care. Marin also has a guardian angel in the form of an owl who watches her carefully, adding yet another uniquely wise voice to the mix. Neither Marin’s nor Dr. Lucy’s life has gone as planned (the doctor loved a woman who died), but when an earthquake strikes, they realize that they’ve found each other. Three Pennies is an enjoyable reminder that despite the many “topsy-turvy changes that come with this life,” unexpected guardians are often waiting to guide us. —ALICE CARY

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

Q: Who was your childhood hero?

books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What 

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

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

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS 2: THE SEQUEL Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri’s wacky sensation Dragons Love Tacos has more than 1 million copies in print. In Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel (Dial, $18.99, 48 pages, ISBN 9780525428886, ages 3 and up), tacos have gone extinct, but it’s nothing a little time travel can’t solve. Salmieri lives in Brooklyn with his wife.

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BookPage May 2017  

Book reviews, Author interviews

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