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Junot Díaz

in the

An electric new story collection explores the inevitable pain of love and the immigrant experience

— ———— Small-town murder in Appalachia Laura Lippman’s suburban madam Inspiring tales of family and faith




paperback picks PENGUIN.COM

Archangel’s Storm


Fall of Giants

Dark Revelations

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare…and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

Now an A&E television event! They called it “minor surgery,” but Nancy Greenly, Sean Berman, and a dozen others—all admitted to Boston Memorial Hospital for routine procedures—were victims of the same inexplicable, hideous tragedy on the operating table. They never woke up…

From the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty, Fall of Giants takes us into the inextricably entangled fates of five families—and into a century that we thought we knew, but that now will never seem the same again.

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Law enforcement personnel believe murderers can be categorized as one of 25 levels. Only Steve Dark knows that a new Level 26 killer called Labyrinth has emerged and is causing a worldwide media sensation, creating a global panic. Only Dark can stop the killer—if he can solve Labyrinth’s most complex and terrifying riddle. 9780451235978 • $9.99

Opening Moves

Courting Carolina

The Lost Night

Hidden Riches

As FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers pursues a madman, he finds himself thinking more and more like his demented prey. The problem is that the more he understands the killer’s mind, the more his own thoughts are being warped. And if he’s not careful he may not be able to recover his mind—or survive the case.

On the run from her own life, Jane is really Carolina Oceanus—and she’ll do anything to avoid the men her father has brought to Maine to vie for her hand in marriage. But as the competition heats up, Carolina realizes that she’ll have to come clean to Alec, the seductive loner who’s managed to capture her heart.

Rachel Bonner has found peace and quiet on Rainshadow Island, operating a bookstore and café. But her tranquil new life is thrown into chaos when Harry Sebastian, the descendant of a notorious pirate, arrives to investigate strange developments in the privately owned woods known as the Preserve.

A seasoned antiques dealer, Dora Conroy is unprepared for the deadly consequences when she purchases a few curiosities at an auction. Dora turns to Jed Skimmerhorn, a cop who’s turned in his badge—and whose desire for lovely Dora puts him back in the line of fire. They find that hidden riches can have a most ordinary façade.

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New from #1 International bestselling author Linwood Barclay. “Riveting, frequently scary, occasionally funny, and surprisingly, wonderfully tender… Great entertainment from a suspense master.” —Stephen King Thomas Kilbride is a map-obsessed schizophrenic who rarely leaves the self-imposed bastion of his bedroom. But with a computer program called, he travels the world while never so much as stepping out the door. He sees something that anyone else might have stumbled upon—but has not—in a street view of downtown New York City: an image in a window. An image that looks like a woman being murdered. When Thomas tells his brother Ray what he has seen, Ray humors him with a half-hearted investigation. But Ray soon realizes he and his brother have stumbled onto a deadly conspiracy. NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company

And don’t miss the thrilling novella Never Saw It Coming, available only as a downloadable eSpecial.

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SEPTEMBER 2012 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m



16 Julia Keller Small-town fatalism inspires a new Appalachian mystery

cover story

The author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao explores love and loss in his new collection of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her.

18 Laura Lippman Meet the author of And When She Was Good

20 Emma Straub

Debut novel stars Hollywood’s Golden Age


Cover illustration © Carlos Caetano/

reviews 19 Fiction top pick:

Three new releases warm the heart

28 Jessica Khoury Excitement surrounds YA debut Origin

31 Erin E. Stead Meet the illustrator of Bear Has a Story to Tell

columns 04 04 05 06 07 08 08 11 12

Well Read The author Enabler Book Fortunes ROMANCE whodunit Cooking lifestyles book clubs Audio

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Junot Díaz

29 Children’s top pick:

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

also reviewed:

NW by Zadie Smith The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis Love Bomb by Lisa Zeidner We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen The Mirrored World by Debra Dean The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu Wilderness by Lance Weller Love’s Winning Plays by Inman Majors The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

25 NonFiction top pick:

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

also reviewed:

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan also reviewed: Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus Almost Home by Joan Bauer The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron Every Day by David Levithan Immortal Lycanthropes by Hal Johnson





Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf Mortality by Christopher Hitchens Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger The End of Men by Hanna Rosin The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

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well read

THE author enabler

by robert Weibezahl

by Sam Barry

examining The life and legacy of rachel Carson


In 1962, an unassuming 55-yearold nature writer rocked the world. With the publication of Silent Spring —first in the New Yorker and a few months later in book form—Rachel Carson exposed the dangers of DDT to the general public, hastening a great curtailment in the use of the “miracle” pesticide, and proving a major impetus for what came to be called the environmental movement. Tying into the 50th anniversary of that classic work, William Souder has written a compelling biography of Carson, On a Farther Shore. One could take umbrage with Souder’s sweeping claim that today “Carson is unknown to almost anyone under the age of fifty.” Carson is still taught in many classrooms, from elementary school on up. I suspect that Silent Spring and Carson’s two national bestsellers that came before it, The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, have rarely, if ever, been out of print. Still, her quietly pioneering writing may get lost in the noise of all the science that has come since (Carson died just two years after Silent Spring was published) and she certainly deserves a fine-tuned book to rekindle her legacy. Souder, who previously wrote a well-received biography of Audubon, proves the appropriate writer for the job. As a reader of Carson’s meticulous, poetic prose might imagine, her life story is not filled with scandal or flash. Trained as a biologist in an age when few women were encouraged to pursue the sciences, she ached to be a writer. She discovered a way to combine her two passions. Working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a writer and editor, Carson wrote pamphlets about government nature preserves by day, while freelancing newspaper and magazine pieces at night. Her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, came out in 1941 and was a commercial failure, but a decade later The Sea Around Us rose to the top of bestseller lists, allowing Carson to devote all of her time to traveling, studying and writing. Never marrying, Carson had a

Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors

seemingly chaste, if emotionally intense “romance” with Dorothy Freeman, a married woman who owned a summer home near the naturalist’s cottage in Maine. This 11-year friendship may constitute the sole noteworthy fact about her personal life, yet Souder does an admirable job holding the reader’s interest with his portrait of a unpretentious, likeable woman. Fully half the book chronicles the genesis of Silent Spring and the backlash following its publication. It was E.B. White who suggested Carson take DDT as her subject. DuPont and other chemical manufacturers threatened to sue the writer and her publishers. Ultimately, the government, reacting to the outcry over what Carson had exposed, began to put environmental protections in place. Throughout, Souder gives considerable ink to nature writers who came before and inspired Carson’s vocation—notably Richard Jeffries, Henry Williamson (whose fascist sympathies Carson conveniently overlooked) and Aldo Leopold— placing her own achievement in the larger context of the genre. What is Rachel Carson’s legacy today? “In the half century since the publication of Silent Spring, America has embraced the book’s central message unevenly,” Souder concludes. “[T]he country’s efforts to protect the environment have been a mix of progress, partisanship, and pig-headedness that Rachel Carson would find familiar.”

On a Farther Shore By William Souder

Crown $30, 528 pages ISBN 9780307462206 Audio, eBook available


selling yourself Dear Author Enabler, I recently released Judas Times Seven, a story of greed, betrayal and jealousy set in the modern workplace where office politics and political correctness trump reason. I have distributed calling cards and bookmarks describing it, but as yet I don’t know if it has sold even one copy. This is a book I am very passionate about, but the problem is that everyone seems to want so much money for promotion efforts. I am seeking out ideas on how to promote the book that are free or nearly so. Brian Beecher Villa Park, Illinois Your best bet is to market your book online via Twitter, Facebook, your own website or blog and by participating in online forums. Your blog needs to be regularly updated, interesting and not focused solely on promoting your book. Visit other people’s sites and writing forums and comment on blogs (if you have something to say). Join in—you never know where it might lead you. Seek out speaking engagements, however humble. Enter fiction contests—if you win or attain runnerup status it can bring some muchwanted attention and credibility. And be prepared to give copies of your book to authors, bloggers, critics and book club members—in short, anyone who will help you create word-of-mouth buzz.

FIRST STEPS Dear Author Enabler, I am an aspiring poet. I currently go to Western Michigan University and want to publish my poetry collection. Do you know any publishers who can help me? Joseph Nikolas Erobha Marcellus, Michigan I don’t think you are at the book-publishing stage. Most poets develop their careers by submitting their work to literary journals and by engaging with the wider literary

community. Check out the world of poetry journals and magazines. Get a sense of the different styles and trends. A good resource is Poet’s Market, with listings of publishers and descriptions of their area of focus, contact information and submission guidelines. Poets & Writers magazine offers information and guidance for creative writers of all kinds. There are also several firstbook contests that offer publication of a first book of poetry, such as the Walt Whitman Award and the Honickman First Book Prize. Become a part of the poetry world. Attend readings and workshops, support other poets and join literary groups. Once your poems have been published and you have gained a measure of recognition, approach a university or small publisher known for publishing poetry.

BUILDING COMMUNITY This month’s questions remind me how important it is to be a part of a literary community. No matter how good your writing, it must be supported by others to be appreciated. The world is not likely to beat a path to our doors—we must go out to the world if we want our writing to be recognized. Supporting other writers by attending literary events is a great way to get involved. Writers’ conferences offer opportunities to meet agents, editors and other writers. In San Francisco where I live, events like Litquake, Quiet Lightning, the San Francisco Writers Conference, writing workshops and author readings could keep me busy day and night, and sometimes do. Make contact with your local literary community—one person, one group, one event at a time. Before you know it, you will have discovered a whole new world. Sam Barry is an author, musician and former marketing manager for a publishing company. Email him at with your questions about writing and publishing.

Book FortuneS by eliza borné

resentments. But what ultimately happens . . . is much more sinister.” Read this one, then hope for a more peaceful Thanksgiving at your own house this year!

Our crystal ball predicts your next great read Reader name: Gina Hometown: Northeast Wisconsin Favorite genre: Medical memoirs; paranormal stories involving magic; anything revolving around Christmas or Thanksgiving In her note to BookPage, Gina mentioned that she reads “about three books a week on average.” No wonder she needs some new recommendations! The Cost of Hope is a recently published memoir that I’d suggest for people interested in medical ethics. In the book, author Amanda Bennett details her husband’s fight with kidney cancer. After his death, she tallied the cost of his treatment (covered by insurance)—more than half a million dollars. She tries to answer two key questions: Where did that money go? And was it worth it? I also recommend Origins by Annie Murphy Paul, a memoir that explores the world of the fetus during the nine months of pregnancy. This blend of memoir and medical fact-finding will appeal to readers interested in those crucial months before birth. Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is a must-read paranormal story that begins with a fabulous hook: The protagonist wakes up in a park, surrounded by bodies. She has no memory of who she is, so she assumes the identity of a bureaucrat in a magical secret society—then tries to find out who’s trying to kill her. It may be September, but many readers enjoy holiday stories all year long. Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes takes place on Thanksgiving Day. In 2010, BookPage reviewer Amy Scribner wrote: “It’s a day fraught with . . . hurt feelings, tipsy misunderstandings, sibling squabbles over long-simmering

“ ‘Ninety-two percent,’ she said. ‘They kill almost all of them. We pulled him out at the last minute.’ ”

Reader name: Alissa Hometown: Lapeer, Michigan Favorite genre: Fiction; quirky humor; chick lit romance (but not paranormal); fantasy (but no vampires or faeries) Favorite books: Going Bovine (Libba Bray); Keeper (Kathi Appelt); the Summer trilogy (Jenny Han); Beastly (Alex Flinn) Alissa is a teen librarian, and she tells us that “99.99%” of her reading is in the YA genre. Based on Alissa’s list of favorites, I’d recommend she read Cinder by Marissa Meyer, a futuristic story of a cyborg Cinderella. For a scary spin on Hansel and Gretel, read A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, about a brother and sister who live in a world of untrustworthy adults and must rely on each other. This novel would make a perfect pairing with Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, a YA twist on Hansel and Gretel. Continuing with the theme of terrifying teen novels (Halloween is coming up, after all!), I recommend The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, a chilling story that combines a gothic atmosphere with plenty of gore. (And don’t miss the follow-up: The Curse of the Wendigo.) If you like contemporary YA fiction à la Jenny Han, I suggest you read a new debut about family and first love: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The two teens at the heart of this novel balance “family responsibilities, work, worries about friends and questions about their futures,” writes BookPage reviewer Deborah Hopkinson. This is a book that will cause teens (and adults!) to turn inward and reflect on the story for days. For a chance at your own book fortune, email with your name, hometown and your favorite genre(s), author(s) and book(s). Also, visit to sign up for Book of the Day, our daily book recommendation e-newsletter.

It’s the answer author Kim Kavin got when she visited the animal shelter her puppy came from. Little Boy Blue exposes the brutal reality in many public shelters. But it’s also the inspiring story of animal lovers who are dedicated to rescuing countless dogs from unwarranted death. “A moving call to action.” —Kirkus Reviews “…the most insightful, on-target book I have ever read on the subject.” —Julie Ogden, spokesperson for The Last Resort Rescue “If you love dogs, this is one book you must read.” —Feathered Quill Book Reviews Now available in hardcover, audio, and e-book formats A portion of proceeds go to the Petfinder Foundation Scan here to view video trailer


Avon Books is joining forces with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to urge women to start talking, and help us spread the K.I.S.S. and Teal message: Know the Important Signs and Symptoms Chosen

by Sable Grace She was a Dark Breed—half Vampyre, half Lychen. Now she is chosen. Kyana is the new Goddess of the Hunt, chosen for her determination to survive as much as for her passion to protect those she loves. 9780062079640, $7.99

A Lady by Midnight

by Tessa Dare

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making. After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love. 9780062049896, $7.99

The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

At Elysium, everything seems picture-perfect—until a guest is brutally murdered in one of the private bungalows. Someone, it seems, wants to make sure the spa’s beautiful director never gets to walk down the aisle. 9780061995576, $7.99

columns Former lovers reunite in the latest Eternity Springs novel by Emily March, Nightingale Way (Ballantine, $7.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780345528780). The home of journalist Cat Blackburn is firebombed after her latest piece hits a nerve. Cat’s ex-husband, CIA agent Jack Davenport, kidnaps her and takes her to his beautiful mountain retreat near Eternity Springs, Colorado, where he can protect her until the perpetrator is found. While Cat is initially angry at his high-handed actions, she does want to stay safe. Then Cat discovers that sparks still burn with Jack. As they experience


On a bright and clear September morning, the familiar landscape around Allison Taylor is savagely altered—and in the midst of widespread chaos and fear, a woman living upstairs from her is found, brutally slaughtered and mutilated. 9780062070289, $7.99

by Anna Randol

To the world, Madeline Valdan is a scandalous courtesan, with society’s most eligible gentlemen at her feet. But no one knows her shocking secret: she has never experienced the most intimate touch of any man. 9780062025791, $7.99

The Ugly Duchess

by Eloise James

“James’s latest reimagined fairy tale is a joyful work of art that is not to be missed.” —Library Journal, Starred Review 9780062021731, $7.99

The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden

It comes as a terrible shock to learn that Charles de Lacey might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father’s scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot… 9780062025340, $7.99

You can lend your support to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance by making a donation at: Your donation benefits all the women in our lives

6 •

b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way

must-read Mountain magic

by Wendy Corsi Staub

Sins of a Virgin


weeks of bucolic small-town life, they learn more about what broke them apart. An emotional tragedy in their shared past seems impossible to overcome—unless they can find a way for it to bring them closer. Characters from other stories in the series add extra fun to this feel-good romance with an especially tender heart.

WEDDINGS, ITALIAN-STYLE In Rosanna Chiofalo’s Bella Fortuna (Kensington, $15, 304 pages, ISBN 9780758266538), first generation Italian-American Valentina DeLuca believes her February 13 birth date has rendered her unlucky in love. But things are looking up for the wedding dressmaker as she prepares for her upcoming Big Day. Of course, the gown is all-important, and when the man Valentina’s to marry objects to her design, concerns creep in. Under the interested gazes of her mother and sisters— partners in the bridal boutique Sposa Rosa—Valentina worries that her future plans might implode. Valentina’s mother faces her own

problems: She wonders if she’s ready to give more control of the family business to her daughters. A fateful trip to beautiful Venice and the entrance of new men into the DeLuca women’s lives may change things . . . but for the better? Well-drawn characters and wedding fashion details make this debut women’s fiction/ romance hybrid a charmer.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE An unforgettable heroine and a peer who becomes a pirate are the stars of Eloisa James’ delicious Regency romance, The Ugly Duchess. Childhood friends Theodora Saxby and James Ryburn marry while still in their teens. Heiress Theo believes it’s a love match until she overhears her husband’s father claim otherwise. For his part, it’s true that James loves Theo—but it’s also true that he pushed the early nuptials at his father’s behest in order to prevent a disastrous scandal for his family. Theo throws James out and he takes up an entirely different lifestyle . . . becoming an infamous privateer. Theo reinvents herself as a successful businesswoman and fashion leader who thumbs her nose at those who coined her The Ugly Duchess. But time brings wisdom, and James returns to his wife, determined to heal the rifts of the past. Can Theo recognize the boy she loved in the commanding man who has returned? Dare she risk her heart once again? A sexy, sensational story!

The Ugly Duchess By Eloisa James

Avon $7.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062021731 eBook available

Historical Romance

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

When football meets murder With an impressive eight books to his credit in as many years, Michael Koryta once again wows readers with The Prophet (Little, Brown, $25.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9780316122610), a tale of football and murder in a small Midwestern town. Brothers Kent and Adam Austin have followed wildly disparate paths since the abduction and murder of their beloved sister many years before. Adam has become a bail bondsman, haunting the fringes of the criminal element of Chambers, Ohio. Kent, by contrast, has grown deeply religious; he is something of a town hero as well, as the high-school football team he coaches seems poised to win the state championship. Then the sweetheart of the team’s star receiver is found strangled to death, and all hell breaks loose in the usually peaceful town. Worse, the murder bears marked resemblances to the killing of Kent and Adam’s sister all those years ago, stirring up ghosts neither brother is prepared to deal with. Already optioned for a feature film, The Prophet is one of the year’s best mysteries.

SOCIOPATHIC SOCIALITES Copenhagen cold case investigator Carl Mørck, who made his debut in Jussi Adler-Olsen’s 2011 novel, The Keeper of Lost Causes, once again takes on a cold—make that frigid—case in The Absent One (Dutton, $26.95, 416 pages, ISBN 9780525952893). The case involves the killing of a brother and sister some 20 years before, a case in which the prime suspects were the progeny of some of Denmark’s most prestigious families, all classmates in a high-dollar (er, kroner) boarding school. Most of said suspects went on to become contemporary Danish movers and shakers. One, a “poor ­relation,” went to jail for the murders. And one, Kimmie—who knows that the convicted murderer was nothing more than a paid scapegoat

for his wealthy friends—is living on the streets, furtively plotting her revenge on the band of sociopathic socialites. Somehow, Mørck will have to find a way to bring the miscreants to justice before Kimmie has the opportunity to administer her altogether more Old Testament

style of retribution. Scandinavian suspense fiction is just about the best thing going nowadays, and Adler-Olsen is well toward the front of the pack.

RENAISSANCE INTRIGUE Historical mysteries are not usually my thing, although I’ve made happy exceptions for Umberto Eco and Ross King (to name a couple). Now I will be adding Michael Ennis to my must-read list, thanks to his absorbing page-turner of 16thcentury Italy, The Malice of Fortune (Doubleday, $26.95, 416 pages, ISBN 9780385536318). It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to throw Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci together into a Renaissance investigation of serial murder, but Ennis has done just that. Populating the landscape with a plethora of real-life characters, the author has woven a tale of intrigue based on the well-documented slaying of the heir presumptive to the Borgia mantle. As Ennis notes in the intro: “All of the major characters are historical figures, and all of them do exactly what the archival evidence tells us they did, exactly where and when they did it. What history fails to tell us is how and why they did it. And thereby hangs a tale . . .” And what a tale it is, replete with byzantine machinations and subterfuge, a fair bit of bloodletting and something of a love story as well. What’s not to like?

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY Very little will break the monks’ vow of silence at Saint GilbertEntre-les-Loups, a remote Quebec monastery dedicated to Gregorian chant. But one thing has: murder. In the garden of the abbot lies the choir director, his skull bashed in. Improbable though it may seem, one of the two dozen monks must be the killer. As Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery opens, Chief Inspector Gamache is summoned to look into the homicide with right-hand man Jean-Guy Beauvoir. It doesn’t take the canny pair long to realize that all is not harmonious inside the walls of Saint Gilbert. Indeed, there is a schism that has divided the monks: those who support the abbot and want to keep the monastery as it has been for hundreds of years, and those who supported the choir director, who wanted to make a hightech recording of Gregorian chant, thereby drawing the order into the

21st century. Gamache and Beauvoir play off one another brilliantly, offering a stirring point/counterpoint with regard to the spiritual and secular issues that have become such an element of modern life. In the process, they do a damn fine job of solving mysteries.

The Beautiful Mystery By Louise Penny

Minotaur $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780312655464 eBook available


Now, for the First Time


the Mother of Justin Bieber, Tells Her Story

Available September 18, 2012


Available Wherever Books Are Sold Also Available in Ebook Format





b y s y b i l P RATT

by joanna brichetto

The next level of knitting

TASTY Vegetarian vittles This summer’s harvest of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks was beyond ample—so good, in fact, that one might begin to think we’re becoming “America the meatless.” Vegetarian Cooking: At Home with The Culinary Institute of America (Wiley, $34.99, 330 pages, ISBN 9780470421376), the CIA’s contribution to this bumper crop, stands out. This prestigious culinary academy’s take on making meatless meals at home expertly covers all the bases— equipment, ingredients, techniques and, most importantly, detailed instructions. Whether you’re a fullfledged veg or just want to decrease the amount of meat you consume, you’ll find a full array of delicious

dishes starting with starters and moving through soups, sides, salads and sandwiches. A chapter on protein-providing entrees features flavorful ways to use beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan. Grains, pasta and dumplings get their due, too, as do a variety of veggies, stuffed, strudeled and in savory stews and casseroles. Viva vegetarian variety!

Advanced gourmet grilling


Summer may be on its way out, but most devoted grillers have no intention of shutting their fires down. And that certainly includes Adam Perry Lang, an American chef trained in the upper echelons of haute cuisine who approaches BBQ in revolutionary, inventive ways. He’s taken one of our greatest culinary legacies and used it as a springboard for refining, concentrating and reassembling traditional flavors. You could think of him as a BBQ deconstructionist; he’s thought long and hard about the “folkways of barbeque,” then applied the lessons of classic cuisine to construct a new, “powerful taste narrative.”

So, if you’re ready to take your grilling to a brilliantly bold new level, Lang’s Charred & Scruffed (Artisan, $24.95, 280 pages, ISBN 9781579654658) may be your new BBQ bible, with chapter and verse on breakthrough techniques, superlative seasonings and innovative recipes. Caveat coquus: This is serious meat meets fire, not for the newbie novice.

Top Pick in Cookbooks Back to school, back to work, back to reality: For mothers and others, September can signal stepped-up stress and super-busy days when getting a good dinner on the table seems just out of reach. Time for “mother’s little helper”? Don’t go for the yellow pill immortalized by the Rolling Stones, try the far more practical slow-cooker solution, accompanied by Deborah Schneider’s equally practical new cookbook, The Mexican Slow Cooker. It’s a winning combo. So much of what we love about the Mexican kitchen are dishes cooked in a simple olla or pot that simmers slowly on the back of the stove—just think of Sopa Azteca with its easy garnishes, Pork Chile Verde, Carnitas and Arroz Mexicana. These Mexican marvels, and more, translate perfectly to slow-cooker prep, as do fabulous fillings for tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Some ingredients need to be browned and the chiles should be charred to give them a true Mexican accent, but once everything is in the cooker, it will work its magic and all you’ll have to do is accept the “Olés.”


Ten Speed $19.99, 144 pages ISBN 9781607743163


Cast On, Bind Off (Storey, $16.95, 215 pages, ISBN 9781603427241) offers a first-rate reference for two important steps in knitting. Author Leslie Ann Bestor rightly assumes that most knitters “have a favorite cast on or bind off, and it is probably the one they learned from the person who taught them.” Eventually, however, a wider world beckons as one looks for new options for starting and finishing a project. After all, the “edges set the stage for the piece as a whole.” And here it is, that wider world, handily divided into 54 stepby-step methods guaranteed to “take your knitting to a whole new level.” Each technique is graded by characteristics—stretchy or firm; subtle or

chunky; invisible or rolled—and by what particular project it is designed for: lace, shawls, bags, types of ribbing. Photos illustrate every step as well as the top, bottom and side views of finished examples. Cast On, Bind Off encourages exploration and delivers clear instructions, assuring you “will never regret investing time in the beginnings and endings of your projects.”

ARTISTIC INSPIRATION A new sketchbook should be a safe place to exercise creativity, but too often, a blank page is more of a block than an inspiration. The Sketchbook Challenge (Potter Craft, $21.99, 144 pages, ISBN 9780307796554) empowers readers to try a variety of creative sketchbooking methods. Why? Because “keeping a sketchbook is one of the most valuable tools in your artistic tool box,” says author Sue Bleiweiss. She reminds us that they are “not an end in themselves,” but a place to brainstorm, experiment, dream and plan. To model different approaches, the author challenged a variety

of artists working in diverse mediums to stick with themes: rhythm, circles, dwellings, everyday objects. The result is a showcase of the “creative process from start to finish,” whether in fiber arts, mixed media, digital printing or drawing, allowing readers to experience a range of projects from inspiration to final product. The Sketchbook Challenge also includes an illustrated introduction to sketchbook formats, materials and tools.

TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES Transform “found objects” into unique pieces with Wild Jewelry by Sarah Drew. “Wild” material is everywhere: in nature, on the sidewalk, in the trash. To find it is half the fun; the other half is to repurpose it into amazing jewelry. Even beginners can turn pebbles, sticks, washers, plastic bags and papers into new wearables. A few projects involve soldering—a skill most of us haven’t had occasion to learn—but the rest can be accomplished with basic techniques and tools. For example, to turn a flat pebble into a pendant takes about six passes with a bit of silver wire, and to create paper beads simply requires scissors and glue. Drew includes a wide variety of methods: finger crocheting; setting objects into clay, resin or string; riveting; inlay. Each method can adapt to the material in hand, as well as to the maker’s skills and whim. Photos guide readers through each step and present a gallery of finished projects guaranteed to inspire.

Wild Jewelry By Sarah Drew

Running Press $20, 144 pages ISBN 9780762445271


A love triangle. An ancient curse.

A race against time. “A sweet romance and heart-pounding adventure.”

—Becca Fitzpatrick,

New York Times bestselling author of Hush, Hush

Will the curse be broken at last? Will Kelsey choose Ren or Kishan? A wildly suspenseful tale of enchanted creatures, love-torn hearts, and non-stop action, Tiger’s Destiny—the fourth and final book in Colleen Houck’s bestselling saga—will finally reveal the tigers’ true destinies once and for all!

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e l a S n O 8 1 r e b m e t p e S

columns New paperback releases for reading groups

LIFE AFTER DEATH Leah Hager Cohen’s poignant fourth novel, The Grief of Others (Riverhead, $16, 400 pages, ISBN 9781594486128), follows a married couple as they try to move forward in the wake of tragedy. When their infant son dies, John and Ricky Ryrie struggle to regain their footing. Shifting into denial mode, they return to the business of daily living, which includes caring for their other two children, Biscuit, 10, and Paul, 13. As life resumes, John and Ricky find that the tragedy causes the cracks in their already fragile

book clubs by julie hale

inquiry that characterized the Renaissance. Over the centuries, Lucretius’ poem impacted some of the world’s most esteemed minds, including Shakespeare, Darwin and Einstein. The work also affected Greenblatt when he discovered it in the 1960s, shaking up his ideas about death and the afterlife, as he recounts in the book’s delightful personal sections. A respected scholar, Greenblatt is also a stylish, accessible writer. His latest book is a testament to the power of ideas— a compelling narrative that shines new light on our intellectual roots.


relationship to deepen. Picking up on the stress at home, Biscuit starts skipping school, while Paul is bullied by classmates. John and Ricky seem oblivious to these difficulties until a special visitor wakes them up to reality—and to fresh possibilities for the future. Cohen’s perceptive portrayal of a frayed family offers a multifaceted look at the grieving process. This sensitively executed novel will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.

THE POWER OF IDEAS Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for nonfiction, Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (Norton, $16.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9780393343403) recounts the history and influence of one of philosophy’s most important works: Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Rediscovered about 600 years ago, the poem proposes that the universe operates without the guidance of an omnipotent being and all matter is composed of tiny particles. Copied and dispersed throughout Europe, it added to the feverish atmosphere of

Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides returns with The Marriage Plot, a tale of romance and academia set in the early 1980s. The novel’s heroine, Madeleine Hanna, is an English major at Brown University and a romantic at heart. During her senior year, she becomes emotionally entangled with two very different guys: Mitchell Grammaticus, a reliable religious-studies major, and volatile Leonard Bankhead, an unpredictable but gifted student. Neither one is Madeleine’s ideal match, but she eventually marries Leonard, while Mitchell embarks on a soul-searching journey to Calcutta. Madeleine’s happily-ever-after is disrupted when Mitchell suddenly reappears in her life, his affection for her still alive. Eugenides’ novel charms even as it poses important questions about identity, maturity and the nature of relationships.



A NOVEL OF AN AMERICAN MIDWIFE “A beautifully imagined novel, a marvel of a debut, rich with fully realized characters and events.” — Johanna Moran, author of The Wives of Henry Oades

AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK AND AS AN E-BOOK AN INSPIRING TALE “Part adventure story, part memoir, but most important, a love story . . . [an] entertaining and joyous book.” — Publishers Weekly


AN EXTRAORDINARY MEMOIR “A must read, remarkably told.” — Wally Lamb, bestselling author

The Marriage Plot By Jeffrey Eugenides

Picador $16, 416 pages ISBN 9781250014764

of The Hour I First Believed




An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers




by Robert Reid


audio by sukey howard

Connecting the dots

Books for the budding traveler The best thing a family can do when planning a trip is to include the kids right from the start. Make the whole process of picking a destination, finding places to stay, booking flights or plotting highway routes a family activity. At 10, I got to plan a short ski trip—our first—and I chose an empty summer lodge with staff that wasn’t sure why we were there. Still, it ended up being one of the most memorable trips we ever had. I’ve always believed that the travel bug begins by just looking at maps. For a creative approach to map-making, check out Katharine Harmon’s imaginative The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography (Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9781568989723). Another great way to get the whole family involved is to pin up a map, like Michelin’s laminated USA wall map, on a family room wall and let everyone tape notes where they want to go most, then rate best/ funniest/worst moment on the map after a trip. For young readers, there are plenty of books to help inspire curiosity in the world and keep them entertained on the road. Lonely Planet’s new Not For Parents series is perfect for the budding traveler, with cartoon-based overviews of the fea-


tured cities (New York, London, Paris and Rome), along with quirky facts about familiar places (how the Roman Colosseum was first used, why you should never say “piece of pizza” in New York). For a bigger picture, the addictively browsable Not for Parents Travel Book ($19.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9781742208145) covers the whole world. If the kids think your guidebooks are boring, try these and see if their tune changes. Little ones might also enjoy the classic globe-trotting adventures of Tintin, particularly now that it’s been made into a popular movie. Older comic fans should consider

Québécois comic-book artist Guy Delisle, who has published a series of superb travel-based books, including his latest, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City (Drawn and Quarterly, $24.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781770460713). A fun book to help inspire teens (and adults) is Keri Smith’s playful How to Be an Explorer of the World (Perigee, $14.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9780399534607), filled with hand-drawn tips and ideas on how to collect things in your daily life and on the road, and create a “life museum” with your finds. It shares some of the great universal truths about travel: No place is boring, and there’s more than one way to explore.

Robert Reid is Lonely Planet’s U.S. Travel Editor and always has at least one big map pinned to the wall.

Detective Inspector Joona Linna is back in The Nightmare (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 16.5 hours, ISBN 9781427222541), Lars Kepler’s latest, read by Mark Bramhall. Linna, who has the complex appeal of Stieg Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist and the intensity of Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole, without the excess baggage, is faced with two odd deaths: the drowning of peace activist Penelope Fernandez’s sister, found in dry clothes on an abandoned pleasure boat, and the suicide or murder of the overseer of Swedish weapons exports. As Linna begins to connect the deaths, he and his team burrow into a brutal

world of political cover-ups and covert arms shipments directed by a merciless Italian weapons dealer who revels in the havoc, mental and physical, that he wreaks. The Nordic thriller gene is certainly part of the literary DNA of Lars Keplar (the nom de plume of a Swedish writing couple). This is crime fiction with real depth, multifaceted characters and a relentless, pounding pace.

A WASP’s Nest Seating Arrangements (Random House Audio, $40, 12 hours, ISBN 9780449008775), Maggie Shipstead’s wonderfully rendered debut novel, is a smart, witty comedy of manners unafraid of looking at some of the baser modalities of Brahmin behavior. We’re on an exclusive Island off Cape Cod, where upper-crust WASPs summer with their families, where Winn Van Meter will walk his eldest daughter down the aisle in just two days. What should be a joy-filled, if gin-soaked, idyll teeters on catastrophe when Winn’s middle-aged lust for one of his daughter’s gorgeous, flirtatious bridesmaids overrides his staid good sense and good manners. Of course, there are other lurking

family frailties: The blissful bride is seven months pregnant, her younger sister has been thrown over by the son of one of Winn’s Harvard classmates and Winn just can’t get into the island’s most elite golf club—a disappointment that says volumes about his priorities and pale passions. Arthur Morey’s delivery of Shipstead’s pitch-perfect prose is pitch-perfect itself.

TOP PICK IN AUDIO M.L. Stedman’s assured first novel, The Light Between Oceans, begins on a spit of an island miles off Australia’s western coast where Tom Sherbourne, wanting peace after his harrowing years in the trenches of WWI, becomes lighthouse keeper in 1920. He brings Isabel, the feisty, loving, local girl he’s married, to his isolated haven, and life is happy. But after four years and three devastating miscarriages, Isabel’s buoyant spirit is worn to a despondent nub. When a boat washes up holding a dead man and a crying baby, Isabel sees the child now lying in her arms as a “gift from God.” She wants the little girl; Tom wants to tell the authorities. By never passing judgment on her eloquently drawn characters, Stedman puts you in their lives and them in your heart as the consequences of their decision play out in a wrenching, beautifully wrought arc of inevitability. I cried my eyes out as Noah Taylor’s superbly nuanced reading came to an end, not wanting to leave these tragic, compelling characters.


Simon & Schuster Audio $39.99, 10.5 hours ISBN 9781442350298


cover story

Junot dÍaz



ome months after he won the Pulitzer Prize for his dazzling first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz overheard a friend telling other friends: Listen, Junot won the Pulitzer Prize and we never had a party, we never went out for drinks, he like never mentioned it!

“I would point out that I come from a family where there was no celebration of AN-Y-THING!” Díaz says during a call that reaches him in Boston. Díaz teaches writing and “the traditional grammars of storytelling” to “super-energized kids” studying new media at MIT during the spring semester. He lives and writes in Manhattan the rest of the year. Díaz, who was born in the Dominican Republic in 1968 and moved to a working-class, immigrant community downwind from one of the largest landfills in central New Jersey in 1974, explains that he grew up in a military family where the attitude was: Why should we bake a cake for you for doing what is considered your duty? “Prizes are wonderful,” Díaz says. “They sell your books, they get you invited to places you would never be invited. I would never give mine back. But I know them fundamentally for what they are. They’re just today’s applause. They have no bearing on whether a piece of art or an artist will exist into the future. I’m more preoccupied with that. And I think that preoccupation frees your art in lots of ways.” Of course, artistic freedom has

This Is How You Lose Her

By Junot Díaz


Riverhead, $26.95, 224 pages ISBN 9781594487361, eBook available

its price. The vaulting energy and seeming spontaneity that are among the hallmarks of Díaz’s breathtaking stories and his novel arise from exacting labor. “I’m such a slow writer,” Díaz says. “I require absolute solitude. I am part of the nodistractions universe.” He says he conceived of the shape and texture of his new story collection, This Is How You Lose Her, in 1995, so it has taken him roughly 17 years to bring it to fruition. “I needed a framework to start out. I had this idea of writing a book of collected stories about the rise and fall of a cheater. What drove me nuts was getting this whole thing from beginning to end pieced together. It’s like building a building. I won’t say it’s like building a cathedral, but it’s sort of like building a barn. You want to get it working and you want to get everything fitted nicely,” he says. “What drove me bananas was searching for, wrestling with the missing beams. Had it been a novel, I think it would have been a very different book, and one day I will write a novel about the rise and fall of a cheater, but I wanted to do this as a kind of fragmentary whole.” The nine stories in This Is How You Lose Her, with settings in Santo Domingo, New Jersey and Boston, and told from third, second and first person points of view, do indeed explore, among other things, the vicissitudes of loving and being loved by another human being. In the story “Otravida, Otravez,” for example, Yasmin, who works in a hospital laundry room where she does her lover’s laundry in secret, is buoyed by her lover’s hopeful seriousness that they will soon buy a house together and crushed by thoughts of the letters her lover’s wife sends to him from back home in the Dominican Republic. But there are also stories like “Invierno,” an aching portrayal of the chilling isolation of young children who

arrive to begin new lives in the United States in the dead of winter. In the vortex of many of these stories is Díaz’s recurring character Yunior. “Really why I’m drawn back to Yunior consistently, persistently has a lot to do with who the hell this guy is. Yunior is someone who recognizes at an intuitive level, at an emotional level and at an intellectual level how ­f__ked up and flawed he is. He has a heart with a utopian impulse. He wants to be in love. He wants a normal, healthy, nourishing relationship. He knows that one of the great challenges of “The one the human principle that condition is to we have in connect with literature and someone else, fundamentally art is that the universal and intimately, and he longs arises from the for that. He particular.” has all these recognitions, but he’s not capable of stopping himself from doing all the f__ked up things he wants to do. He’s got this tragic condition where he can recognize in himself his limitations, but he doesn’t have the strength to transcend them. But he’s also aware that there’s a social dimension for his problems. I don’t think he looks at the social dimension to escape responsibility or blame. He’s the kind of guy who in condemning himself throws a light onto the world we live in. Which is quite different from condemning the world as a way to avoid recognizing the part we play in it.” Asked about the autobiographical nature of these stories, which in some ways mirror the physical and emotional geographies of his own life, Díaz says, “The way you’ve got


Interview by Alden Mudge

to chip your life away for it to work as a story or as a novel is just incredibly deforming. By the time you get done wrangling your life into the form that can fit into the box of fiction, it doesn’t look like your life anymore.” Still, these stories—all of his work, in fact—generate voltage from Díaz’s uncommon ability to evoke the alternating currents, the back and forth toggle from one culture to another, that comprise a soul-wrenching dimension of first-generation immigrant life. Díaz’s stories also deploy a scintillating blend of English and Spanish and broad literary references. His books—and conversation—romp from smooth academic-literary tonalities to earthy descriptiveness and expletives and back again. All of which, Díaz indicates, is consciously used to capture the particularity of contemporary human experience. “Thermodynamics has these neat, tidy little laws that hold true, and evolution has all these great little principles that hold true. The one principle that we have in literature and art is that the universal arises from the particular. It’s the actual thumbprint uniqueness, it’s the granular idiosyncratic, one-of-akindness of a work of art that gives it power across time, across space, across language, that allows it to

clear that most terrible of all barriers, the barrier that separates one soul from another. We’re still reading Shakespeare because Shakespeare was so incredibly particular. . . . Hamlet rings across the ages because Hamlet is a f__king Dane, not in spite of it.” Díaz, a voracious reader who walked miles to his local library to borrow books as a child, credits Sandra Cisneros with opening his eyes to his literary mission. “She was the first contemporary Latina author that I ever met. Her book Woman Hollering Creek was everywhere during my first year in college. I had never seen a book like that. I grew up in central Jersey. I grew up listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and the f__king Furious Five. I felt there wasn’t anything that was coming close to our experience, you know? My entire cohort of friends were college nerds, we were kids who worked and went to school, and I felt, wow, who is covering that experience? Then I encountered Woman Hollering Creek and the Brothers Hernandez’s Love and Rockets comics and I suddenly recognized the dimensions of my calling.” Reading, Díaz says, remains central to that calling. “I cannot write without having at my back a whole bunch of works and books and authors who came before,” he says. “What feeds my writing is reading.” Then Díaz shifts the discussion back to teaching. “For me teaching is a wonderful civic duty, a great way of giving back. There’s that Maya Angelou sense that the debt of knowing is to teach. I’m teaching at the heart of what we could call the practical machine. If there is any place where this country’s indifference to art and its sense that art is at best a privilege and at worst irrelevant [could make sense], it would be an institution like MIT,” he says. “What really pulls me to this teaching is that I take kids who have a billion reasons why they shouldn’t spend a nickel’s time on art and try to convert them to the belief that there is no authentic human life possible without an engagement in art. If I can do that, well, I feel like I’ve done a f__king good thing.”

Readers are in love with

THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE the debut novel by Courtney Miller Santo

“I loved this novel.” —MARY S.

“This is definitely good book club material.” —ANDRIENNE G.

“An all-nighter… It was the women themselves who were so intriguing, and I wanted to know even more about them.” —PAM M.

“Ms. Santo’s prose is almost like poetry. She has a special way of telling a story that draws you into the lives of each of her characters.” —DEBBIE M.

Discover what’s so special about THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE! Connect with Courtney online to read an excerpt, watch a video, and interact with other readers.

An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers



JULIA KELLER B y J ay MacD o n a l d

© Michael Zajakowski

Appalachian ROOTS OF a small-town MURDER


ulia Keller loathed the assignment. What editor in his right mind would send her, cultural critic for the Chicago Tribune, to cover the aftermath of a tornado two hours west in Utica that had already been thoroughly chronicled by the paper’s own news staff? Did they need an emergency book review? But it turns out there was one angle the news crew had overlooked, one that only a small-town West Virginia girl who at age nine once ran her own Encyclopedia Brown-inspired detective agency could have sleuthed out. “What impressed me immediately was, how do you deal with the randomness of catastrophe? How do you wrap your mind around this?” Keller recalls. “Small towns are where there are many, many overlapping lives constantly rubbing up against each other; you’re constantly bumping up against other people’s joys and sorrows. It wasn’t my spiritual journey, but instead my journey to understand how the human spirit deals with the randomness of fate. As I got deeper into that idea, it propelled me back and back to Utica.” Keller not only won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for her moving three-part Tribune series about the town’s resurrection, she also came away inspired to create a mystery series set in the fictional West Virginia hamlet of Acker’s Gap that would explore what she calls “Appalachian fatalism.” The series debut, A Killing in the Hills, kicks off with just such random carnage: A gunman ducks into the

The Guardians by Richard Williams AuthorHouse • $16.99 ISBN 9781434376633


Two shelties lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. These special dogs have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret.

town’s coffee shop just long enough to fire three shots, killing three senior regulars. Waitress Carly Elkins, the teenage daughter of county prosecuting attorney Belfa “Bell” Elkins, not only witnesses the shooting but recognizes the killer. To varying degrees, the central characters—including aging sheriff Nick Fogelsong, Bell’s BFFs Ruth“Are you ie and Tom Cox going to and even Charlie leave or are Sowards, aka you going to “Chill,” the ne’erstay? That is do-well killer— are all victims the essential of a mountain question, dysphoria that keeps expectathe ground tions of life in beneath these hills well your feet.” in check. Bell, whose own horrific past is revealed as she hunts down the mastermind behind the murders, represents the rare few who escaped Appalachia and returned to help improve its fortunes. “In S.E. Hinton’s wonderful novel, The Outsiders, she has a great line that those characters are very much about who will go and who will stay,” Keller says. “That’s the question, almost more than who you marry or whether you have a family or what your profession will be: Are you going to leave or are you going to stay? And if you stay, will it be with this ever-growing crust of bitterness, or do you stay for the best of reasons? That is the essential question, the ground beneath your feet.” Don’t misunderstand: Keller’s upbringing in Huntington, West Virginia, was far from hardscrabble. Her father, a math professor at Marshall University, and her mother, a high school English teacher, imbued their daughter with a love of learning and a gift for storytelling. She

went on to work as an intern for syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, earned a doctoral degree in English and was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard. But what looks great on a resume doesn’t always resonate in the heart. “There’s a line that a character uses in my next book, which is called Bitter River, that says, ‘The only way out is up,’ ” Keller says. “That’s a line I’ve heard my whole life and it’s so evocative, certainly in a physical and geographical sense but also in a spiritual sense. You have to overcome barriers even to get somewhere else.” Keller does a masterful job of leaving spooky little unexplained blanks in each of her characters that prompt the reader to second-guess what they think they know about this slightly inchoate cast. For a central character, Bell remains the most elusive of all, by design. “As I was writing, it occurred to me that there were these vast gaps where we don’t know a lot about the horrific crucibles she went through. Of course, the town’s name is Acker’s Gap, so you know there is more there,” Keller says. Like Bell, Keller fled these hills to explore the world, yet finds herself drawn back now that time has sanded off the rougher memories. She recently left the Tribune to accept a teaching position at Ohio University in Athens, just up the road from her hometown in the heart of Appalachia. It’s the perfect vantage point from which to survey the peculiar fatalism of the area.

“A friend of mine who remained in Huntington as an ophthalmologist tells me that the biggest thing she faces in her patients isn’t that they’re lazy or have no willpower, it’s that they will look at her and say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t much matter. My father died in his 40s, my mother died in her 40s, it doesn’t much matter.’ It’s this fatalism, which is very different from cynicism. I thought if I could somehow show that in fiction, it would be a terrific way to address that feeling.”

A Killing in the Hills

By Julia Keller

Minotaur, $24.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781250003485, audio, eBook available

Barbara Claypole White A love story about grief, OCD and dirt.

“A beautifully written debut about healing the past and finding the future.” —Laura Spinella, author of Beautiful Disaster

Available now. 17

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


Is there a cure for love?


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

Between folk remedies and a “no strings attached” romance, Jess is beginning to think she’s found her own brand of lovesick cure. did working as a journalist make you a better novelist? Q: How 

Q: W  hat’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your characters?

Q: S hould prostitution be legal? Why or why not?

Q: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing? Q: W  hat achievement are you proudest of? Q: W  ords to live by?

“Pamela Morsi… writes the perfect feel-good read.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs


AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD Award-winning author Laura Lippman began writing crime fiction while working as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Her best-selling books include the Tess Monaghan series and several stand-alone suspense novels, including her latest, AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD (Morrow, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780061706875). Lippman lives with her husband, David Simon, and their children in Baltimore and New Orleans.

reviews The Orchardist


A FRUITFUL FIRST NOVEL review by Stephenie Harrison

Within the pages of novels, authors can preserve the world at one specific moment in time, like a dragonfly in amber. In The Orchardist, first-time novelist Amanda Coplin accomplishes an even trickier feat, blending past and present by weaving modern concerns into an oldfashioned narrative. The result is a drama of truly epic proportions. The titular character of Coplin’s novel is a man named Talmadge, whose ties to the Pacific Northwest are as strong and gnarled as the roots of the ancient fruit trees he tends in his orchards. Although this land has borne witness to the struggles of his family across the decades, at the novel’s opening, Talmadge’s existence is a solitary but uncomplicated one. All this changes when he comes upon two pregnant and vagrant teenagers stealing apples from his trees. When Talmadge fails to give chase, Jane and Della ultimately return to the safety of his land, and By Amanda Coplin an unlikely alliance forms as Talmadge’s compassion and long dormant Harper, $26.99, 448 pages ISBN 9780062188502, eBook available desire to connect with others prompts him to take the two sisters under his protection. Alas, the tentative family they forge is not meant to last: A tragic event teaches the trio that there is nowhere you can go where your past will not find you. This is one of those rare novels in which the individual parts are so brilliantly rendered that together they form a near-perfect reading experience. The characters are written with such compassion and the writing rings with a conviction and emotional honesty that belies Coplin’s youth. In the end, The Orchardist shares much in common with the fruits its protagonist nurtures: The succulent flesh of the novel will intoxicate readers early on, but delving deeper reveals a hard core that is vital, bittersweet and ultimately timeless.

NW By Zadie Smith

Penguin Press $26.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781594203978 Audio, eBook available


It’s been seven years since Zadie Smith’s last novel, On Beauty, and it’s fair to say that her fans are excited about NW. This highly anticipated novel has many qualities associated with this talented young British novelist, including a strong sense of place, an eye for diversity and an ear for dialogue, but this ambitious work unfolds in an unconventional manner that’s more Virginia Woolf than E.M. Forster. NW is set in Smith’s home turf of northwest London, in and around the Caldwell Housing Estates. The neighborhood is a patchwork of

British urban diversity—African, Jamaican and Irish; Pentecostal and Rastafarian—and home to four childhood friends, Leah, Natalie, Nathan and Felix. Now adults, they live only streets apart, though due to varying degrees of ambition, desire and luck, they might as well inhabit different worlds. That is, until the afternoon a stranger comes to Leah’s door begging for help, launching a chain of events that pulls the four of them together again. The heart of the book is the friendship between Natalie and Leah, who met when Natalie saved Leah from drowning, pulling her out of the kiddie pool by her red braids. Though both girls aspired to leave the Estate, their lives took different directions. Natalie changed her name from Keisha, went to college and then law school, and married an Italian-Caribbean money manager. Leah also attended college and married a Frenchman from Marseille by way of Morocco, but their economic situation is not nearly so comfort-

able. The women’s friendship is marked by unspoken conflicts over money, children and jobs, yet their shared roots bind them indivisibly. The young men from the Estate have less luck. Felix struggles to maintain sobriety and a steady job as a mechanic, while Nathan, the bad boy of the neighborhood, sinks deeper and deeper into a thug life as a dealer and a pimp. Rather than move from point A to B, the action in NW dips, shifts and changes direction, beginning with Leah and Natalie as married adults, then following Felix for a single day. In the longest segment of the book, a series of brief vignettes (some just a single paragraph or a few sentences) trace Natalie’s life from childhood to the present, culminating in an intense encounter with Nathan that reveals how little—and yet, how much—they have in common. The effect is more collage than group portrait, but despite the novel’s unconventional mode of storytelling, NW takes place in

familiar Smith territory—an urban environment filled with articulate, richly drawn and often very funny characters. Toward the end of the novel, Leah asks her friend why they were able to move out of the Estate when so many others were dragged down. Though Natalie has an answer, the question lingers. In NW, Smith offers a robust novel bursting with life: a timely exploration of money, morals, class and authenticity that asks if we are ever truly the sole authors of our own fate. —Lauren Bufferd

The Yellow Birds By Kevin Powers

Little, Brown $24.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780316219365 Audio, eBook available

DEBUT fiction

The sparse lyricism of The Yellow Birds elevates that most essential and dissembled aspect of warfare— the individual human spirit—to its rightful place on the dais of our conscience. If Kevin Powers had given us only the title, its allusive origin and the first thousand words of this novel, that would have been enough for a timeless contribution. And yet he goes on, wringing from this trope every last drop of imagination. The novel is the first-person account of Private John Bartleby, alternating between his tour in Iraq and the time just before and just after. Ultimately Bartleby must reconcile these three disparate realities and come to terms with the self who has traversed this dynamic moral landscape. Powers, who served in Iraq before studying English at Virginia Commonwealth University, is palpably vivid with his language, efficient, even if he occasionally favors a weak image—this isn’t a flawless book. And yet the blemishes serve as a testament to the overall power of his prose, which trades readily in perfect phrases, underscoring the


effect of his soaring minimalism. Read The Yellow Birds and hope: for the lives of our men and women in service, for the lives of those whom they fight and for the grace of further gifts from this budding master craftsman. — W . S . Ly o n

The Garden of Evening Mists By Tan Twan Eng

Weinstein Books $15.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781602861800 eBook available



Yun Ling Teoh is an angry woman—and she has every right to be. The daughter of a wealthy ethnic Chinese family in Malaya, she and her beloved sister were taken prisoners by the Japanese during World War II. The camp where they were taken was typically miserable, but so obscure that even in her old age Yun Ling can’t find out where it was or what it was called. Her bitterness toward the Japanese remains relentless and even invigorating; in her career as a prosecutor and then a judge she’s sent a goodly number of Japanese war criminals to their deaths. But Tan Twan Eng, author of The Gift of Rain, lets us know from the beginning that nothing in this tetchy, straight-talking woman’s life is uncomplicated. Yun Ling’s sister Yun Hong had a passion for Japanese gardens that was kindled by a family visit to Kyoto. When Yun Ling escapes from the camp, she vows to make one for her, despite her hatred of the Japanese. To do this she must apprentice herself to Aritomo, a mysterious Japanese gardener who once worked for the Emperor whose troops had brutalized her and her sister for sport. Eng brings the same pleasing level of messiness to his new novel as he did to The Gift of Rain. In both cases the messiness is the result of war, which not only brings horror to the protagonists, but upends

FICTION the societies in which they live and forces them to examine old beliefs and ways of life that were taken for granted. Once again, Eng transports the reader to a world that few people know about and reveals the complicated humanity of its inhabitants. —Arlene McKanic

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures By Emma Straub

Riverhead $26.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781594488450 eBook available


The titular character in the superb Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures was born Elsa Emerson in 1920s Wisconsin: a blue-eyed, curvy blonde whose farmer parents also ran the county theater. Elsa was destined to be on stage, starring in numerous local productions. After a tragedy befalls the family, Elsa finds even greater escape in acting, marrying a young actor passing through town on his way to Hollywood. Her husband struggles in the burgeoning studio system, but when Elsa meets his boss Irving Green at a party, he rechristens her Laura Lamont and sets about making her famous. It doesn’t take long. The screen loves Laura, and as her star rises, her husband’s fades. They divorce and she marries Irving, completing her transformation from small-town girl to glamorous 1940s Hollywood icon. Still, she wonders, was she really Laura Lamont, or was the wide-eyed girl from Wisconsin still inside somewhere? “She was always two people at once, Elsa Emerson and Laura Lamont. They shared a body and a brain and a heart, conjoined twins linked in too many places to ever separate. Elsa wondered whether it would always be that way, or whether bits of Laura would eventually detach themselves, shaking off Elsa like a discarded husk.” This is Emma Straub’s first novel, and it is a marvel. Her


EMMA straub

A star is born


n an engaging first novel, Emma Straub tells the story of a small-town girl who hits the big time in 1940s Hollywood. We asked Straub a few questions about being a first-time novelist and the doubleedged sword of fame.

Was there a particular Hollywood star who inspired Laura?  I first had the idea for the book after reading the obituary for actress Jennifer Jones, so yes, in that sense, absolutely. I stayed away from Jones’ films and biography, though, because I wanted Laura to be purely fictional. There are other characters in the book who are modeled on real figures— Laura’s friend Ginger has a lot in common with Lucille Ball, for example—but I wanted to make sure that my characters were my own, and not flimsy reproductions of historical figures.  Publishing a first novel might not be as glamorous as starring in a blockbuster, but it’s a big deal. What was your reaction when you found out that Laura Lamont would be published? I burst into tears. My husband burst into tears. I’m pretty sure my cats burst into tears. When Riverhead made their pre-emptive offer, I was sitting in a gorgeous room at the Breakers in Palm Beach, just after speaking to my mother-in-law’s book club. There was a pianist playing nearby. I’ll never forget that day, never.  Your descriptions of Door County make it sound idyllic, but Elsa can’t wait to escape. You grew up in New York City—have you ever longed to chuck it and go for the small-town life? On a daily basis! I lived in Wisconsin for three years, and I miss so much about it. The post office! The grocery store! Everything is so much easier. But I am a city girl at heart, and I’m afraid I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I left for good.   Elsa finds fame and fortune as “Laura,” but is increasingly torn between who she was and the star she has become. Do you

© Sarah Shatz


think she would have to make the same sacrifices in Hollywood today?  Well, right now we’re in the wake of the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson cheating debacle, and so, yes! I think actresses, and people in the public eye, are still very much forced to behave in odd, unnatural ways. If anything, it’s harder now. I think Laura would have had to make many of the same sacrifices, and some additional ones. I don’t envy famous people, that is for sure. I think it’s a very difficult life, having people watch you all the time.  Do you have any celebrity obsessions or fascinations?  How much time do you have? I love the movies, and movie stars, and gossip magazines, all of it. I read all the gossip websites, even though I know it’s a horrible invasion of privacy. I can’t help it—the stories are just so good, you know? And my favorite thing to do in the middle of the afternoon is to go to the movies. I don’t care whether it’s a high school dance movie or a restored classic at the Film Forum, I love them all. Would you rather hang out with your favorite author or your favorite Hollywood actress?  Hmmm, that’s hard! Can I have a dinner party with Jennifer Egan, Lorrie Moore, Nicole Holofcener, Lisa Cholodenko, Lena Dunham, Catherine Keener, Brit Marling and Julianne Moore instead? I think we’d have a grand old time, and probably drink too much, and all give each other excellent book recommendations. 

FICTION silken writing conjures images of old Hollywood, all red lipstick and Glenn Miller, but even more impressively, Straub paints a vivid portrait of a woman torn between her desire for fame and what she must leave behind to win it. —Amy Scribner

One Last Thing Before I Go By Jonathan Tropper

Dutton $26.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780525952367 Audio, eBook available

roles he has played—with varying degrees of success—as a father, husband, brother and son. Tropper’s prose is a perfect blend of irreverence and beauty. Like Hornby, he has a real command of the male voice, but the women certainly don’t get second billing here. This is a book populated by robust and knowable characters whose relationships perfectly capture the disarray of family life. They simultaneously heal and damage one another, and all the while, Tropper leads you through their commotion with humor and aplomb. —Clare Swanson


The Roots of the Olive Tree Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 bestseller, This Is Where I Leave You, garnered wide critical acclaim. With his penchant for finding levity in the most dismal of places, Tropper was frequently compared to Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby. The parallels are apt, but as Tropper proves in his latest, One Last Thing Before I Go, his darkly comic and unpredictably insightful style is entirely his own. Silver is a man without much to live for. He lives in the Versailles, an apartment complex that functions as something of a halfway house for, as Tropper puts it, “sad, damaged men” who are making their way, some slower than others, out of painful divorces. The former drummer of a band defined by their one-hit wonder, Silver has been on the decline since the group unraveled. He pines after the life he led with his ex-wife, Denise, who is weeks away from marrying a successful and mild-mannered doctor, and his Princeton-bound daughter, Casey. Amid the chaos of the impending nuptials and one adolescent pregnancy, Silver and his broken family are once again rocked when he receives a life-threatening diagnosis, one that can be treated by a routine operation. A routine operation Silver refuses to have. As he effectively rules in favor of his own death sentence, Silver reluctantly begins a startling education in himself, and the

By Courtney Miller Santo Morrow $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062130518 eBook available


For the five generations of women who inhabit Courtney Miller Santo’s elegant debut novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree, the ties that bind are often tangled. From the fiery and preternaturally robust centenarian, Anna, to the youngest and pregnant member of the family tribe, Erin, the evolving relationships between mothers and daughters are at the heart of this story, which is set against the lush backdrop of an olive tree farm in Northern California. With nary a man around the farm—all of the men in the Keller family are either dead, confined to a nursing home or determined never to return—the female quintet find themselves the subject of a visiting research geneticist, who is determined to unlock the secret behind the women’s incredible resistance to the ravages of old age. The story unfolds as the youngest member of the family, Erin, returns home from Europe where she has found success as an opera singer. Pregnant and bereft, Erin declines to explain her predicament, but is determined to rekindle her relationship with

her mother, Deborah, who has been languishing in jail for years after murdering her husband— Erin’s father—in a jealous rage. Erin’s wish is granted, but Deborah’s return to the farm is not the joyful family reunion her daughter imagined. Old wounds are reopened, and it is soon clear that jail has not reformed the family’s proverbial black sheep, a damaged narcissist with a violent temper. The women are soon at odds, with daughters shunning their mothers in favor of the nurturing, unconditional love of grandmothers, great-grandmothers and—in the Keller family—even great-great-grandmothers. Santo is well aware of the mystical nature of longevity, as well as the blessings bestowed by grandmothers: Her own great-grandmother, Winifred Rodgers White, was almost 104 when Santo wrote her novel. This exploration of the mysteries of aging and the human heart will resonate with readers. —Karen Ann Cullotta

Telegraph Avenue By Michael Chabon Harper $27.99, 480 pages ISBN 9780061493348 Audio, eBook available


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon hits close to home—literally—with his first novel in five years. In Telegraph Avenue, he brings readers to his very own California East Bay Neighborhood, “Brokeland” (it’s located where Berkeley and Oakland meet up), in the year 2004. Longtime friends and record-store owning partners Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe could not be more different on paper in terms of race, mannerisms and attitude. Archy is awaiting the birth of his first child; Nat is discovering more each day about his moody, romantic teenage son, Julius. As the two men navigate the roller-coaster ride of fatherhood and

marriage (their wives are partners who run their own midwifery business), they are dealt a life-changing blow when ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode announces plans to construct his latest Dogpile megamusic store one mere block away from their shop. Archy and Nat attempt to rally the neighborhood to save their beloved music store, but endless curveballs prevent them from keeping their dream alive. Like the legendary music of famed jazz musician Sun-Ra, Chabon’s eloquent prose rises and falls in a sing-song tone that lures readers through the novel’s pages in a nonstop riff. Telegraph Avenue is a study of the limits of friendship and the multifaceted layers of race— and a closely observed portrait of a thriving neighborhood that clings to a sense of old-school order. —Megan Fishmann

Lionel Asbo: State of England By Martin Amis

Knopf $25.95, 272 pages ISBN 9780307958082 Audio, eBook available


Few modern writers have shown such savage skill for crafting grotesque tales of excess as Martin Amis. Even fewer writers have managed to take such tales and turn them into something truly insightful. Amis has proven time and time again that he stands alone at the pinnacle of this kind of writing, and Lionel Asbo: State of England is further confirmation of his gifts. Desmond Pepperdine is a teenager with dreams of being a writer whose life is dominated by his uncle and guardian, Lionel Asbo, an amoral powerhouse who feeds Tabasco to his dogs and gives Des helpful advice like “always carry a knife.” Desmond’s family has never really been cohesive, but things get even stranger when he begins a sexual relationship with his very young grandmother. As Des juggles his guilt and confusion with


reviews the secret he must keep from his violent uncle, everything changes when Lionel wins the lottery. Suddenly ex-con Lionel is the juiciest thing the British press has encountered in ages. As he finds new ways to spend his cash, hires a publicist and takes up with a nude model, Lionel grows in the public eye, and Desmond is caught in the middle. What’s most remarkable about Lionel Asbo is how real it feels despite the absurdities of the plot. Amis roots his tale in flawed, simple people and their flawed, simple desires, driving the story with his characteristically vivid prose. The result is something that works both as a comic tale of human indulgence and a frightening, precise bolt aimed at celebrity culture and class distinction. Lionel Asbo is Amis at his best: a short, sweet, biting work of raw energy and surprising power. Amis fans will love it, and first-timers will find a compelling new voice to follow. —Matthew Jackson

Love Bomb By Lisa Zeidner

Sarah Crichton Books $26, 272 pages ISBN 9780374192716 Audio, eBook available


“terrorist of love” is there, not for some political motive, but instead to exact revenge on one of their number. What follows, amid scenes of the hostages’ rising terror and their feckless plans for escape, are a series of “confessions,” most noteworthy those of the bride’s thrice-married father, her brother (still mourning the end of his marriage) and the celebrity boyfriend of the groom’s sister, who’s had his own stalker encounter. These accounts, which play every note on the emotional scale, are the fuel for Zeidner’s own wryly clinical examination of how we, with our fractured and blended families, make such a colossal mess of our most intimate relationships. In the hands of some writers, this brutal honesty might shade over into mean-spiritedness, but even as she’s skewering the pretension and callousness that mar her characters’ outwardly admirable lives, Zeidner never treats them as anything less than human. That’s especially true for the bride’s mother, Helen Burns, and the terrorist herself, who form a strange bond as the wedding afternoon slips into night. There are enough incidents (a daring escape and a shooting, among them) to sustain the novel’s underlying tension as Zeidner skillfully moves the plot toward a resolution that is tender and at the same time of a piece with the story’s satirical bent. Love Bomb is a pleasing comedy of manners by a writer firmly in command of her material. — HARVEY FREEDEN B ERG


Stories of wedding disasters abound, but few can match the hostage-taking that drives the plot of Lisa Zeidner’s witty and compassionate fifth novel, Love Bomb. Haddonfield, New Jersey, is low on the list of places one would expect an intruder, dressed in a wedding gown and a gas mask and with an explosive device strapped to her arm, to turn up as an uninvited guest. When she appears at the wedding of Tess Nathanson and Gabriel Billips on a sunny July Saturday, the joyous event is thrown into turmoil. The guests (led by a gaggle of psychiatrists who bicker over a DSM-IV diagnosis) conclude the

We Sinners By Hanna Pylväinen

Holt $23, 208 pages ISBN 9780805095333 eBook available


The Rovaniemis are an unusual family. That’s obvious at first glance; modern-day American families rarely include nine children. But the family’s membership in an

incredibly conservative branch of the Lutheran church makes it clear that they’re to be in the world, but not of it. They aren’t allowed to listen to music with a beat, though the children each play orchestral instruments. Dancing is forbidden. Movies are off limits. So the children walk a fine line as they try to fit in at school and at work while respecting their church’s rules—or, in the case of three of the Rovaniemis, as they attempt to leave the church’s influence behind. The eldest, Brita, follows in the family’s footsteps as she gives birth to seven children. Others rebel as they leave for college, but later settle into a church-approved life. Paula deals with the difficulty of being the awkward daughter among beauties. A compelling The younger first novel children face explores how the burden of extreme faith their older siblings’ choices, is challenged and sometimes by the find themselves lost in a family modern of so many. world. In We Sinners, author Hanna Pylväinen’s debut novel, a different, distinctive Rovaniemi voice takes the lead in each chapter, creating a novel that reads almost like a series of connected short stories. These powerful vignettes reveal the faith’s influence on the family’s relationships. Pylväinen’s own background—she grew up in, and left, just such a church—lends an expert voice to each character’s compelling perspective. The children who leave the church realize that freedom comes at a price, and those who remain face the constraints their faith places on relationships. But despite the family’s differing views on faith and life, they are brought together through shared blood and experience. Pylväinen’s straightforward but gripping storytelling and fully developed characters make it clear that this new voice in literature is one to watch. —Carla Jean Whitley

The Mirrored World By Debra Dean

Harper $25.99, 256 pages ISBN 9780061231452 eBook available


Is there any setting more exotic—or enticing—than 18thcentury Russia, populated as it is by finicky empresses, brutish tsars and decorated soldiers of the royal court? Best-selling author Debra Dean, previously heralded for The Madonnas of Leningrad, imagines the life of Russia’s beloved “holyfool” Xenia, breathing life into the now-revered woman who became the patron saint of St. Petersburg. Narrated by Xenia’s devoted cousin Dasha, The Mirrored World follows the two girls beginning with their society debuts. Xenia—not known for following the rules—falls head over heels for an alluring singer in the Empress’ Imperial Choir, Colonel Andrei Petrov. Soon, though, Xenia’s devotion to her husband is taken over by an obsession to have a child. When her daughter passes away not one year into her life, Xenia, crushed by grief, slowly begins to remove herself from society. The Colonel responds by lavishing his attentions on the bottle rather than on his wife; Xenia cannot be comforted nor cajoled into making an appearance at the royal court. One evening, her second sight hints at her own death, but it is Colonel Petrov whose time is up, leaving Xenia widowed and childless at the age of 26. Readers are left to debate whether it is madness stemming from grief or simple destiny that leads Xenia to wander the streets of St. Petersburg clothed in her husband’s tattered military uniform, doling out her worldly possessions. Surprisingly, amid all this drama it is the quiet portrait of Dasha that is the high point of The Mirrored World. While most will be drawn to the fictionalized account of one of Russia’s most holy saints, it is the all-too-human


FICTION story about the woman behind the saint that truly captivates. —Megan Fishmann

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid By Shani Boianjiu

Hogarth $24, 352 pages ISBN 9780307955951 eBook available


Shani Boianjiu’s eye-opening and brutally honest debut novel chronicles the abrupt coming-ofage of three young Israeli girls—Yael, Lea and Avishag—who grow up in a small village, attend high school together and are conscripted soon afterward into the Israeli army. In school, their days are spent passing notes in class, waiting impatiently for recess, vying to see who can find the spot with the best cell phone reception and determining the location of the next weekend party. After graduation they are sent to infantry boot camp, and are dispersed to different sites, portraying, in alternating voices, the harsh world in which they suddenly find themselves. Yael is stationed at a training base, where soon she is teaching shooting to new recruits. Lea is assigned to the military police at a checkpoint near Hebron, where Palestinian construction workers line up to be admitted each morning. She feels a kinship with one sad-faced man—only to be shocked when he stabs one of her fellow soldiers. Avishag watches a monitor on the Israeli-Egyptian border in boring 12-hour shifts. She is sickened by the discovery of the body of a Sudanese man skewered on a barbedwire fence—one of many trying to escape. Boianjiu goes beyond their service to explore its effect on their lives. The young women saw and experienced more than they were prepared for—and when those years are over, they initially feel a letdown. At 25, Boianjiu was the youngest recipient ever of the prestigious

By Sandy Amazeen

Dealing with life’s trials and tribulations


trength of character and overcoming hardship to discover better times ahead are the central themes of three delightful new fiction releases that will warm the heart.

Gabriel Clarke was born to be on “The River”—his father and grandfather were whitewater guides who appreciated all the subtle nuances and moods of the Whitefire River, deep in the Colorado Rockies. But when he was five, Gabriel’s world was ripped asunder when his father’s attempt to save a kayaker went horribly wrong. After moving to live with his mother in Cairo, Kansas, fun-loving Gabriel becomes insecure and withdrawn.

Years later, a job with a rafting company offers Gabriel the opportunity to reconnect in full—not only with The River, but also with his past— but only if he has the strength of character to move beyond his anger and childhood pain. Michael Neale’s The River (Thomas Nelson, $16.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9781401688486) gently sweeps readers along like a leaf in a current as Gabriel struggles with beginning a new life after a terrible loss. Throughout this artfully crafted story is a genuine sense of The River as a force of nature to be reckoned with, respected and learned from.

love, italian-style Charming and smoothly paced, The Girl in the Glass (WaterBrook, $14.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780307730428) recreates the feeling of walking the streets of Florence, Italy, and is populated with warm, generous-hearted characters. Thirtyyear-old Meg Pomeroy has a good job as an editor for a travel guide publisher, yet travels very little. She clings to the hope that her financially irresponsible father will make good on his promise to take her to

Florence. When he finally appears to be following through, and then fails spectacularly, Meg swallows her disappointment and decides to go to Florence alone. She meets up with two of her publishing connections: author and tour guide Sofia Borelli, and photographer Lorenzo. Meg has been trying to publish Sofia’s short stories, based on the life of Sofia’s ancestor, Nora, and she has worked on projects with Lorenzo and his sister for several years. Now that she and Lorenzo have met, Meg can’t help but respond to his infectious charm. But is what she feels for Lorenzo the real deal or a travel romance? Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy and A Sound Among the Trees, maintains a smooth pace and believable dialogue throughout—even if Meg seems a little oldfashioned. Sofia’s story is even more interesting as the painful truths of her life reveal a vulnerable, broken woman struggling to come to terms with a traumatic past.

receives notice that a clock has been delivered for her. When Ella and her boys unpack the crate, it isn’t a clock they discover but a man: Lanier Stillis, a distant cousin of Harlan, hiding from his ex-in-laws. And this is only the first of the surprises Lanier brings. Morris encapsulates the hypocrisy, pettiness, greed and outright meanness that are often a part of small-town life, yet his story manages to avoid being too dark or depressing despite the bad things that happen to some of its characters. Don’t miss this thoughtful, poignant tale of love, loss and redemption steeped in the heat and natural beauty of the Deep South.

r How can she dare to imagine he loves her… when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess?

Southern strength Michael Morris spins an excellent yarn about a Deep South community circa World War I in Man in the Blue Moon (Tyndale, $13.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9781414368429). As a young woman, Ella Wallace was a promising art student looking forward to furthering her studies in France—but that was before she became infatuated with the charismatic, free-spending Harlan. Eighteen weary years later, Ella is disillusioned and raising three boys alone after Harlan ran away to escape his debts. Local banker Clive Gillespie can’t wait to get his hands on her piece of Florida property, which contains a natural spring with reputed healing powers, and Ella is on the verge of foreclosure when she

“James’s latest reimagined fairy tale is a joyful work of art that is not to be missed.”

r —Library Journal, Starred Review •


reviews “5 Under 35” award, given by the National Book Foundation to new authors to watch. In this gripping debut, she weaves together the familiar coming-of-age milestones such as sexual initiation, the fierce bonds of friendship and the need for independence with the shocking realities of military life—even beyond the battlefield. —Deborah Donovan

Wilderness By Lance Weller

Bloomsbury $25, 304 pages ISBN 9781608199372 eBook available


Lance Weller’s first novel, Wilderness, recounts the harsh world of the Civil War and its aftermath unflinchingly. At the same time, he redeems it with flashes of tenderness as bright and ephemeral as the shooting stars that fascinate his protagonist, Abel Truman. Truman is an odd but interesting character to embody the era’s small glimmers of kindness. When we first meet him he’s a gruff, old, banged-up, frightful-looking Civil War veteran. He lives at the edge of the ocean in the Pacific Northwest with a dog who’s in only slightly better shape than he is. He can almost always be counted on doing and

Running in Bed by Jeffrey Sharlach Two Harbors • $14.95 ISBN 9781937293482


The critically-acclaimed new gay novel. “A masterful job of portraying love and loss in a fast-moving and engaging story.” —Publishers Weekly

FICTION saying the wrong thing, sometimes to the point where he puts his own life in peril. Yet his compassion is unsullied, whether he’s easing a young soldier to his death, saving the life of a blind Chinese girl who still remembers him in her old age, or caring for his dog. In turn Abel is blessed, once in a blue moon, by the kindness of strangers. Like so many Civil War tales, Wilderness is a story of journeys through a chaotic world. The war has destroyed the social order, and no one knows what will replace it. Even nature, described in Weller’s beautiful prose, has been unsettled, the trees blasted apart by cannonballs and meadows set on fire. Trees, by the way, aren’t the only things blasted apart by cannonballs. Weller’s depictions of a battle Truman and his fellow soldiers find themselves in are as horrific as his descriptions of nature are gorgeous. The miracle is that Abel Truman keeps his gnarly humanity even after witnessing such things. With its acknowledgment of both horror and beauty, Wilderness is an impressive debut. —Arlene McKanic

Love’s Winning Plays By Inman Majors

Norton $25.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780393062809 eBook available


In his wry, winning novels, Inman Majors has written about the South’s shady businessmen, bent politicians and moderately dysfunctional families with the delicate grace of—well, a Southern gentleman. But in Love’s Winning Plays, the sixth-generation Tennessean gets so down and dirty it’d be no surprise if he got booted above the Mason-Dixon Line forever. In this uncomplicated, acidly hilarious new novel, Majors (who comes from a football-playing family—his uncle is former UT coach Johnny Majors) gleefully

skewers the sacrosanct Southern institution of college football. And not just any college football, but Southeastern Conference football. With both barrels, he lets loose on the venerable, holy SEC. Raymond Love is a young, earnest, almost-coach on one of the conference’s powerful teams. His actual position is Off-the-FieldGraduate-Assistant, but he is vying with another student for In an acidly the position of hilarious Coaching Graduate Assistant, new novel, a coveted ticket Majors lets to the sidelines. loose with When head both barrels coach Von Driver asks on the him to go along venerable, on the Pigskin holy SEC. Cavalcade, Raymond hopes he’s moving closer to the coveted slot. The Cavalcade is a road trip through the towns of Tennessee where fat-cat boosters and appreciative fans alike mingle with their coaching gods. But his spirits fall when he learns his job is to babysit the unpredictable Coach Woody, one of Driver’s assistants. If Raymond embodies youthful innocence, then Coach Woody is his polar opposite. He is also the driving force behind the book. An alcoholic, renegade football legend who loves both country and classical music, he relates to the outside world in football terms. “He’d outkicked his coverage with her for sure,” Woody says of an old rival whose wife is too attractive for her mate. Woody is also a man of rare integrity in a business with a noticeable dearth of it. Over the course of the tumultuous journey, which is spiced up by alcohol, a beauty or two—including one Raymond joined a book club to get close to—and a hilariously fanatical blogger, Raymond and Woody become friends. But when it comes time for Raymond to decide just how badly he wants the coaching job, that friendship—and Raymond’s values—are put to the test. Love’s Winning Plays is classic guy-lit—a fun, fast romp

that may not break new ground but does offer genuine laughs on nearly every page. —Ian Schwartz

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving By Jonathan Evison Algonquin $23.95, 288 pages ISBN 9781616200398 Audio, eBook available


One mark of a good book is that you are truly sorry to say goodbye to the characters when you come to the final page. Jonathan Evison’s third novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, definitely fits the description. Yes, it is a road trip tale that plays on the “hitting rock bottom and making your way back up” theme. But any plot clichés can be forgiven when a book’s major players are such a joy to spend time with. Following a horrific tragedy that the reader is slowly given clues to throughout the novel, our humorously named protagonist Benjamin Benjamin finds himself nearing 40 with no family, no money and very little motivation to live. He becomes a caregiver to Trev, an acid-tongued teenager suffering from muscular dystrophy. Evison imbues their exchanges with the darkest of humor—including that of the sexual and scatological variety—and an obvious affection for a character who never stoops to becoming the embodiment of a sappy “lesson teacher.” Evison makes it apparent, in fact, that Trev would give a swift middle finger to any such individual. The excuse for the road trip Benjamin and Trev embark upon is to pay a visit to Trev’s estranged father. But the reader knows that the real motivation for both of them is to shake up their less-thansatisfying lives. Evison has the enviable ability to weave together a funny, tragic and very entertaining story. This reader would be more than happy to pick up a sequel. —Rebecca Stropoli

NONFICTION Mortality By Christopher Hitchens

Winter Journal

Looking into memory’s mirror Review by Alden Mudge

In January 2011, a month before he turned 64, Paul Auster began working on Winter Journal, his remarkable meditation on “what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one.” Notice his use of the second person? One of the first pleasures of Winter Journal is its feeling of immediacy, as if we are inside Auster’s head staring with him into memory’s mirror, listening to him talk to himself. Another great pleasure of the book is the modulated bravado with which he deploys and enlivens age-old literary techniques. In this unconventional memoir, for example, Auster catalogs his memories with all the entertaining artistry of the best medieval poets. He takes an inventory of all the scars on his face and their origins (many having to By Paul Auster do with an all-American boyhood on the baseball field). Looking at his Holt, $26, 240 pages, ISBN 9780805095531 right hand and thinking of Keats, he lists all the activities of that hand, Audio, eBook available from zipping up his pants to wheeling suitcases through airports. He catalogues his travels in the world—and, later, in New York City. He remembers and describes the events and feelings he experienced in the 21 permanent addresses where he has lived from birth to the present. In less able hands, this could feel like gimmickry. But Auster, author of highly regarded novels such as Sunset Park and The Brooklyn Follies, somehow uses this literary prestidigitation to take a reader very deep into the heart of the matter. He writes movingly about his emotionally complicated mother. His love for his second wife and the central importance of their 30-year marriage glows on almost every page. He uses a brilliant exposition of the 1950 movie D.O.A. to explain how he physically experiences his panic attacks. And near the end of Winter Journal, he describes “the scalding, epiphanic moment of clarity that pushed you through the crack in the universe that allowed you to begin again.” In the end, Auster says to himself: “You have entered the winter of your life.” But this is less elegiac than it sounds. Auster, like all of us, has been scarred by life. But growing old also means that he has accumulated experiences and memories. And memory, experience and love trump scars, pain and disappointment in Winter Journal.

Vagina: A new biography By Naomi Wolf

Ecco $27.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780061989162 eBook available


Don’t censure the messenger; I can’t review Naomi Wolf’s latest book without mentioning the title, Vagina: A New Biography. It’s a poetic, scientific and completely fresh take on female sexuality and selfhood, and an absolute must-read. Wolf’s interest in the topic was spurred by a personal medical crisis that raised a provocative

­ uestion: Could there be a connecq tion between the vagina and the brain, a link between sexual health and overall happiness, as well as creativity? To find answers, Wolf taps into neurobiology and explores the role of the vagina in literature and history. In many cases, notions that were only understood anecdotally, like the link between female orgasm and self-confidence, turn out to be supported by science. After making a strong case linking mental health to sexual security, Wolf offers a particularly frightening look at the use of rape in wartime. While there’s much to grieve in any culture that denigrates women’s bodies, Vagina finds hope behind each instance of despair. Wolf, author of the groundbreaking bestseller The Beauty Myth, talks to healers

whose dedication to reversing the effects of sexual trauma make a lasting difference in the lives of women. And she notes the evidence linking frequent female orgasms to increased libido and power with glee: “So the fear that patriarchy always had—that if you let women have sex and know how to like it, it will make them both increasingly libidinous and increasingly ungovernable—is actually biologically true!” This book confines its focus to heterosexual women, meaning there’s more work to be done to assess the full spectrum of female sexuality, but what an opening salvo. Wolf is to be commended for following her curiosity where it led her and finding a cohesive tale to weave from the disparate details. —Heather Seggel

Twelve $22.99, 93 pages ISBN 9781455502752 Audio, eBook available


In his 2010 memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens wrote of wanting “to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive”: to confront mortality with the same gimlet-eyed vision he’d brought to his musings on culture, politics and religion. A diagnosis of esophageal cancer while on a book tour for the memoir forced his hand, and in a series of essays for his longtime journalistic home at Vanity Fair, he documented his crossing into the “new land” of the unwell, now assembled into his final essay collection Mortality. With characteristic brio, intelligence and dry wit, Hitchens engages with his illness and its inevitable outcome head-on, without the consolations of religion or a belief in an afterlife. Given his reputation as an outspoken atheist, Hitchens finds himself the focus of a national prayer campaign: “what if I pulled through, and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating.” This tone of comic paradox, quintessentially Hitchens, becomes starkly brave in this context. These essays explore the lessons and fears of mortal illness, and how this experience radically shifts a person’s identity: “I don’t have a body, I am a body.” Ultimately, the cancer begins to deprive Hitchens of his ability to speak, prompting some of the book’s most moving passages. “To a great degree, in public and private, I ‘was’ my voice,” he acknowledges, and when he thinks of what he wants most to wrest from the hands of death, it is his voice—“the freedom of speech”—that he longs to hold on to. The literature of illness is marked by the struggle to translate pain into language; in Virginia Woolf’s words,


reviews The Final Journey of the Saturn V Andrew Thomas and Paul Thomarios In the mid 1990s, the Saturn V was brought back to life after being tossed aside. The same ethics of hard work and innovation that drove the race to the moon were exhibited by the crew as they worked to bring one of America’s greatest achievements back to prominence. 978-1-931968-99-7 | $24.95

the ill writer must take “his pain in one hand” and a “lump of pure sound in the other” and “crush” them together to create the new idiom of his or her experience. In Mortality, Hitchens has achieved just that, applying all his life’s talents to the challenge of giving voice to the approach of death. These essays are brave and fitting final words from a writer at the end of his journey. —Catherine Hollis

Happier at Home The Time For Justice Anthony V. Curto This powerful book presents masterful ways to fix the system and uses compelling cases that illustrate how time delays can topple justice. A must read for anyone interested in insuring the swift and fair delivery of justice—-for ALL. 978-0-9849005-1-0 | $14.95

By Gretchen Rubin Crown Archetype $26, 288 pages ISBN 9780307886781 Audio, eBook available


NONFICTION chapter on body, she builds what she dubs a Shrine to Scent: a silver tray bearing a collection of unusual perfumes and air fresheners. Her bigger point is that Proustian memories evoked by the senses can bring happiness. But to me, a Shrine to Scent seems a little silly, just one more thing in my house I’d have to dust. In the end, the purpose of Happier at Home is exactly that: finding what makes you happier in your home, your neighborhood and your marriage, even if it’s not what would make anyone else happy. And if you’re happier, chances are those around you will be, too. — AMY SCRI B NER

Hidden America By Jeanne Marie Laskas

Quinter C. Reynolds Keller Attorney Tom Quinter accepts a ‘larky’ job offered by college classmate, Nortex EVP David Bordman, that lands him on Spain’s Costa del Sol in the midst of a murky murderous world of international arms traders. He will need all of his extra-legal skills to survive. 978-0-9847898-0-1 | $21.99

Almost A Senior Brenda Faye Collie Loresha Evans is a junior in high school who has just won the election for student body president. Loresha’s time in office as Major Horris High School’s student president brings her face to face with school politics and personal challenges. 978-0-9632177-7-6 | $9.99

Order online at ATLASBOOKS.COM or call 1-800-BOOK-LOG


It seemed that Gretchen Rubin said everything there was to say about happiness in her 2010 blockbuster, The Happiness Project, in which she spent a year creating and testing theories of happiness. But it turns out there was one facet of happiness left for Rubin to plumb: that within your own four walls. The wonderfully thoughtprovoking Happier at Home isn’t about making your home prettier or less cluttered—although Rubin does devote some time to ridding her home of “things that didn’t matter, to make more room for the things that did.” Rather, she spends nine months focusing on what she considers the aspects of home that impact happiness: possessions, marriage, parenthood, interior design (meaning self-renovation, not Home Beautiful), time, body, family, neighborhood and now. Rubin’s forays into happiness are so riveting because she masterfully blends the science of happiness with her own personal experience and offers tools to embark on your own project. She makes you want to jump into your own happiness project before you even finish the book. Rubin does sometimes veer into a sort of eccentricity that some readers may find hard to relate to. In her

Putnam $26.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780399159008 eBook available


being able to trust anyone. No job is examined the same way, a tribute to Laskas’ talents as a writer. Her attention to detail is vivid: One man is “packed solid as a ham”; the Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleaders are “glimmery and shimmery kitty-cat babes.” She is also adept at giving explanatory passages a conversational feel, essential in a book introducing readers to jobs and mindsets. Laskas’ enviable stylistic flow hides her most useful tool: restraint. The chapters in Hidden America aren’t star-spangled odes to American pluck or pleas for working-class understanding. Laskas simply gives voice—as well as dignity and poetry—to America’s blue-collar ranks. — P ETE CROATTO

John Quincy Adams By Harlow Giles Unger

Da Capo $27.50, 384 pages ISBN 9780306821295 Audio, eBook available


In the introduction to Hidden America, Jeanne Marie Laskas observes that “we become so familiar with the narrative [of celebrity culture] we forget that there are any others happening at all.” That’s how Kim Kardashian gets branded a success while the truck driver who brings valuable parts to factories is viewed as unimportant. A veteran journalist, Laskas gets her hands dirty in this collection of profiles, many of which are based on her work for GQ. Among her stops: an Alaskan oil rig, a gun shop in Arizona and an NFL stadium. Great stories define these occupations. A trip to a California landfill leads to an engineer-turned-PR guy who sees trash as an opportunity to improve the world, by using landfill gas to produce electricity. Working on a cattle ranch is a rustic throwback complete with cowboys, but its existence hinges on technology. For immigrant farmers, many of whom are in the United States illegally, the promise of a good paycheck comes with the daunting prospect of not

In 1825, when John Quincy Adams became the sixth president of the United States, he appeared to be as well prepared for the job as anyone could be. A son of the nation’s second president, he was well educated at Harvard; as secretary of state, he wrote what became known as the Monroe Doctrine; and as a U.S. senator, he broke with his party and supported the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this illustrious background, he proved to be the most ineffective president in early American history. His presidency failed in part because of his own missteps (his inability to relate to the ordinary citizen) and partly by the efforts of his political opponents (primarily supporters of Andrew Jackson). Still, his independence and political courage were remarkable, especially his post-presidential opposition to slavery. Harlow Giles Unger captures the many sides of Adams and his era in the superb John Quincy Adams A key source is the diary that Adams

NONFICTION kept from the age of 10 until his late 70s—14,000 pages in all. First elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1802, Adams was regarded as such a nuisance in his home state that his colleagues elected him to the U.S. Senate to get rid of him for at least six years. Instead, Unger writes, Adams began to shock “the nation’s entire political establishment with what became a courageous, lifelong crusade against injustice.” On his first day in the House of Representatives (the only president who went on to serve in that body), Adams presented 15 petitions calling for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. It was a stunning breach of decorum in a body forbidden by its rules to speak of abolition. In a famous case, he later defended 36 Africans who had been prisoners on the slave ship Amistad. Eloquent, irritating and fiercely committed to his work, John Quincy Adams lived an extraordinary life, and Unger tells his story convincingly in this compelling narrative. — ROGER B ISHO P

The End of Men By Hanna Rosin

Riverhead $27.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781594488047 Audio, eBook available


evolving motivations of several groups, including college girls and post-grads who embrace their sexuality as a career tool, upperclass couples who have made their marriages work to their mutual advantage (as opposed to lower-class ones who haven’t), men left idle or underemployed after a textile mill leaves town and women who are inundating the once primarily male profession of pharmacy. Rosin also investigates the little publicized fact that women are so outpacing men in college enrollment and completion that some schools have quietly instituted “affirmative action” programs to recruit more men by lowering or restructuring admission standards. As Rosin demonstrates, women are getting ahead on the economic front in no small part because they work for less money and fewer benefits. In addition, many of them are too occupied in their off hours by children and unemployed or underemployed mates to demand more from their employers. Don’t look for any Norma Rae unionizers or 9 to 5 score-settlers here. The men Rosin shadows are not out of work because there’s no work to be done but because companies can make more money and pay less taxes by shifting the work elsewhere. It’s not a pretty picture to see women and men forced to compete with each other for economic success and happiness. — EDWARD MORRIS

Beware the apocalyptic book title. It’s a great marketing device, but the forcefulness and flash with which a title states a book’s theme virtually ensures that the author’s more measured conclusions will be overlooked. Hanna Rosin, who previewed the thesis for The End of Men in a 2010 cover story for the Atlantic, doesn’t use the word “end” to mean “termination” or even “destination.” She’s essentially arguing that men, particularly in the lower and middle classes, are losing ground economically to their female counterparts. To illustrate this point, Rosin peers into the day-to-day lives and

The Distance Between Us By Reyna Grande

Atria $25, 336 pages ISBN 9781451661774 eBook available


In the last 40 years, these Mexican immigrants, desperate to escape a harsh landscape of grinding poverty, left their homes and families to come to el otro lado, or the “other side,” the name writer Reyna Grande says her people use to refer to the United States. Grande, an award-winning novelist, has written a courageous memoir, The Distance Between Us, that chronicles her “before and after” existence: her life in Mexico without her parents, and her life in the States as an undocumented immigrant with her alcoholic father and indifferent stepmother. Grande tells the heart-rending story of how first her father, then her mother, left her and her two siblings to find work and better wages in the U.S. After enduring repeated parental abandonment, fear and physical and emotional deprivation, Grande finally escapes over the border into California with her father and

siblings. In Los Angeles, she soon finds a new set of challenges—from the secrecy she must maintain as an illegal immigrant to navigating public school and trying to find love and security in a chaotic home life. She longs for a soul connection to her birthplace—a shack with a dirt floor—under which was buried the umbilical cord of her birth, a “ribbon” that her sister said lessened “the distance between us,” the void of their mother’s continued absence. Grande’s salvation, however, would come through her discovery of books and writing, and in the friendship of a teacher who gave her a home and mentored her. Unlike her siblings, Grande completed her education and was the first in her family to graduate from college. Her compelling story, told in unvarnished, resonant prose, is an important piece of America’s immigrant history. — ALISON HOOD

In seeking and finding forgiveness, we experience pardon and restoration, which offer

A NEW BEGINNING. “… a must-read for both Christian counselors and every person who has something or someone to forgive.” —Jennifer Cisney Ellers, author of The First 48 Hours: Spiritual Caregivers as First Responders

The new book from the bestselling author of Why?, Enough, 24 Hours that Changed the World, and The Journey. Also available in Leaders Guide with DVD

The Pew Hispanic Center recently reported that “the U.S. today has more immigrants from Mexico alone—12 million—than any other country in the world has from all the countries in the world.” Available at your preferred local or online bookseller

® | 800.251.3320 Fax 800.836.7802 | @AbingdonPress


children’s books




ublishing phenom Jessica Khoury has had a busy couple of years: In 2010, she graduated from college and got married. In 2011, she wrote a book (in about a month) that was snapped up by Penguin’s Razorbill imprint. This year, she finished revising the book, appeared at book and library conventions and traveled to the jungle for the first time.

On September 4, Origin—a thought-provoking YA novel with a fascinating premise—debuts with an impressive 250,000-copy first printing. And that’s not all: The 22-year-old Khoury is already writing her second novel for Penguin, and she has embarked on the publisher’s Breathless Reads tour. But while the past two years have been a veritable whirlwind, Khoury wants to emphasize—especially to aspiring authors—that, as easy or speedy as her timeline might appear, writing and publishing a book takes significant time and effort. “It’s important to know it’s a long process. You can write a book in a month, but it takes months and months to get it ready to go out into the world,” Khoury says in an interview from her home in Georgia. “Some people may say this just happened overnight, but it didn’t . . . and I have a great team of supporters who worked with me.” Origin isn’t the first book Khoury created. After being homeschooled, she entered Toccoa Falls College, a Christian school in her small north Georgia hometown, and began working on a high-fantasy trilogy.


By Jessica Khoury


Razorbill, $17.99, 372 pages ISBN 9781595145956, eBook available Ages 12 and up

(Khoury says she has loved fantasy since “my dad forced me to read Lord of the Rings in elementary school.”) She was in the midst of querying agents and publishers about that book when the idea for Origin struck during a walk in the woods near her home—and that, as they say, was that. At the heart of the novel is a 17-year-old girl named Pia. She’s been genetically engineered to be perfect—and to be Person No. 1 in the immortal race a group of scientists has “You can’t get a been secretly and fevermore universal ishly working theme than to create in their hidden mortality. compound, We all think Little Cam. about it, and This we all have to coming-ofmake our own age story decisions about is rife with romance, what it means.” suspense and danger, plus musings on nature vs. nurture, the notion (and possibility) of immortality and archetypal madscientists-vs.-noble-savages, all set against the lush backdrop of the Amazon jungle. The scientists are the only people Pia knows. They praise her superiority even as they groom her to carry on their work and strive to keep her ignorant of the outside world. But, like any good coming-of-age tale, the time comes when Pia is offered a glimpse into a different sort of future, and she rebels—though the consequences are far more dramatic, even deadly, than typical teenage turbulence. Pia begins to question her own viewpoints, and her very existence, when she sneaks away from the compound and encounters Eio, a

handsome young man who lives in a nearby village. As she gets to know Eio and his tribe, she is shocked to realize the world is much bigger than she’d realized—and perhaps the goings-on (and people) at Little Cam are not what they seem. Khoury describes the jungle’s flora and fauna, its colors and scents, in colorful detail. That’s no small accomplishment, considering she had never been to the jungle when she wrote Origin. “The jungle has always fascinated me. When I had the original idea, I knew the jungle had to happen, I just didn’t know which; I had to do a lot of research to decide which one.” And research she did, “probably two hours of research for every one hour of writing,” Khoury says. “The week I came up with the idea and started writing, I made my husband drive me to Barnes & Noble and we bought coffee-table books, folklore anthologies and video documentaries; Wikipedia was perpetually open. I learned a lot as I wrote, and I tried to research every little detail so it would be real to the readers.” The novel’s exploration of the possible consequences of immortality wasn’t something the author needed to research. “It has always been of weight with me because of my faith and religion,” Khoury says. “You can’t get a more universal theme than mortality. We all think about it, and we all have to make our own decisions about what it means. Pia struggles with that.” (It’s fun to note, too, that, not unlike Eve biting that fateful apple, Pia eats fruit-flavored Skittles shortly before her first

escape from Little Cam—something Khoury says, “I didn’t even think about!”) The weight of others’ expectations is also something Khoury’s felt, and explores through her protagonist. “For me, I’m still kind of coming from Pia’s angle and dealing with the expectations of people,” she says. “When I have kids, I’ll be looking at it from the other angle. I do that a little bit now with my four younger sisters [she has a younger brother, too]. I think, I don’t agree, but I support you, and nothing’s gonna change how I love you.” Speaking of love, Khoury says her husband and family are very excited about her becoming a full-fledged author (not least her Syrian grandfather, whose last name she is using in tribute to him). “My family has been waiting for this as long as I have,” she says. “I’ve been telling them I was going to be an author since I was four years old. They’re my biggest cheerleaders.” They’ll have lots to yell about in the coming months, for sure. And of course, there’s Khoury’s next book, which may be a companion to Origin, maybe not: “Anything could happen down the road,” she says. A fitting outlook for a newly minted author.

children’s books The Brides of Rollrock Island


A mythic love from the sea Review by Jill Ratzan

Some call them sea-wives. Others call them seal-women, fairy lasses or monsters. But to the boys of Rollrock Island—only boys, not a single daughter in a generation—they are their mams. Beautiful, docile, other­ worldly and sad, the mams say nothing of their past, only that they came from the sea. At the heart of this magic lies the witch Misskaella. Mocked and alienated by the people of Rollrock, Misskaella draws on her natural affinity with the island’s seals to exact an exquisite revenge. The radiant, not-fully-human women she calls forth from the water’s edge dazzle the men of the village. Once a man has been enchanted by a seal maiden, his interest in the business of human affairs dries up like old seaweed. In The Brides of Rollrock Island (first published in Australia as Sea Hearts), two-time Printz Honor recipient Margo Lanagan draws on By Margo Lanagan Scottish, Irish and other Northern European coastal legends of s­ elkies: Knopf, $17.99, 320 pages shape-shifting seal women who can be held captive in their human ISBN 9780375869198, eBook available form by whoever possesses their sealskins. Lanagan’s lush, image-laden Ages 14 and up writing style, reminiscent of the fairy tale retellings of Donna Jo Napoli and Francesca Lia Block, forms the perfect vehicle for the atmosphere of wistful longing that traditionally characterizes selkie tales. Weaving between the points of view of several generations of islanders, mainlanders, witches and boys, Lanagan tells a story in which loves are lost and sometimes regained, truths are hidden and sometimes revealed . . . and redemption may be both closer and farther away than it appears.

Annie and Helen By Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by Raul Colón Schwartz & Wade $17.99, 48 pages ISBN 9780375857065 Ages 4 to 8

picture book

Do children really need another story about Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan? If it’s Deborah Hopkinson’s enthralling picturebook biography, then the answer is an overwhelming yes. Blending riveting narration with portions of actual letters Sullivan wrote to her own teacher at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, the author begins with the arrival of 20-year-old Sullivan and her first charge, six-year-old Helen, who “was like a small, wild bird, throwing herself against the bars of a dark and silent cage.” While the book does feature such famous scenes as Helen’s dinner disaster and her breakthrough at the

water pump, the focus is on Helen’s need for language and how Sullivan taught her to communicate. Using the world as Helen’s classroom, Sullivan helped her understand sound by placing frogs and crickets in her hands, which allowed her to feel them vibrate as they croaked and chirped. The teacher even found ways to teach abstract concepts like thinking. Readers may associate Helen’s learning with sign language, but Sullivan also showed her pupil how to read with raised alphabet letters and Braille. On her first trip away from home in 1887, Helen was able to write a letter home to her mother. Illustrated with award winner Raul Colón’s muted watercolors, the book also includes numerous black-andwhite photographs, a copy of Helen’s letter to her mother and a Braille alphabet on the back cover for young readers to practice Helen’s skills. Most importantly, Hopkinson shows how in the process of learning to communicate Helen also learned to be a girl again. —Angela Leeper

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea By Ellis Weiner

Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes Chronicle $16.99, 232 pages ISBN 9780811866798 Ages 9 to 13


Hey! Hey you! Yeah, you right there, reading this review. Don’t you think it’s excellent that I’m writing a review of The Templeton Twins Have an Idea? Of course it’s excellent—otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. What’s not to like about genius twins, their clever-yet-flighty father and the evil twins who kidnap them: Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean? Nothing—that’s what. Now do yourself a favor and pick up this book! The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is the first book in a new series written by Ellis Weiner and brilliantly illustrated by Jeremy Holmes. It features an ever-present narrator who talks to the reader, interjects

comments and generally makes a hilarious nuisance of himself. However, his presence is also what makes this story so much fun to read. Professor Elton Templeton is the famous inventor of such products as the Adjust-O-Matic Diving Board and the Battery-Operated Toothpick. His children—Abigail, who loves to solve cryptic crossword puzzles, and John, who practices every day on his drum set—can work together to solve almost any problem. However, their latest problem may be more than they can handle when they are kidnapped by Dean D. Dean, a former student of Professor Templeton’s, as revenge for (supposedly) stealing Dean’s idea for a Personal One-Man Helicopter. The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is hilarious, full of adventure and suspense, and completely original. The narrator provides insight, witty (and sarcastic) commentary and ridiculous statements, including review questions at the end of each chapter, such as “How would the Templeton twins’ lives have been different had they never been born?” Reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is a promising start to an excellent new series. — Kevin Delecki

The Great Unexpected By Sharon Creech

Joanna Cotler/ HarperCollins $16.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780061892325 eBook available Ages 8 to 12


Even if it weren’t an interesting tale about two orphan girls, a boy who appears out of nowhere and a mysterious revenge plot happening across the ocean in Ireland, The Great Unexpected would draw readers in with its clever prose and fluent storytelling. Award-winning author Sharon Creech (Walk Two Moons, The Wanderer) comes through once again with a compelling, entertaining read that is at once mysterious and familiar.



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children’s co rner

children’s books Preteen Naomi tells the story from her side of the Atlantic, introducing us to her best friend Lizzie and explaining how they both became foster children. Their small-town lives are fairly predictable, and summers are usually lazy and sweet. So it is no surprise that Naomi is nonplussed by the arrival of the strange boy Finn, whose entrance by falling from a tree is only the first of many “unexpected” things to happen. Naomi is not sure that the series of unexpected events are always that “great,” but Lizzie is certain that their world can only be improved by it all. Creech does a wonderful job of weaving two threads of the story together in such a way that the ending is not wholly unexpected for the reader, but extremely surprising for Naomi and Lizzie. If The Great Unexpected is your first Sharon Creech book, then you are in for a treat, because you have many other treasures to uncover. —J e n n i f e r B r u e r K i t c h e l

Shadow on the Mountain By Margi Preus

Amulet $16.95, 304 pages ISBN 9781419704246 eBook available Ages 10 to 14


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Margi Preus, who won a Newbery honor for Heart of a Samurai, returns with another riveting work of historical fiction. Shadow on the Mountain tells the story of the Nazi occupation of Norway through the experiences of a boy named Espen and his younger sister, Ingrid. The story begins in 1940, when 14-year-old Espen begins taking tentative steps to help the resistance. Espen has no doubts whatsoever where his allegiance lies, but he finds that some of his friends and classmates think differently. Why is his best friend Kjell riding in a car with soldiers? And how far will his soccer teammate Aksel go to please the occupying soldiers?


Shadow on the Mountain covers nearly five years in Espen’s life, as he takes on increasingly dangerous assignments. Preus captures the tension, fear and determination of Espen and Ingrid, and recounts the changes that take place as normal life disappears. This fine novel, which includes an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography and even a recipe for invisible ink, is based on extensive research. Preus had the opportunity to interview Erling Storrusten, who was a teenager in the town of Lillehammer during the Occupation, and many of the incidents are based on his experiences. The result is an authentic coming-of-age story, perfect for readers fascinated by the diary of Anne Frank or Lois Lowry’s classic, Number the Stars.

to find the meaning of “home.” Is it a place? A person? A feeling? Newbery Honor-winner Bauer (Hope Was Here) masterfully crafts a well-paced story with realistically drawn characters. The narrative is full of details (Salvation Army shirts, scamming for free dog food and painting her neighbor’s door bright purple) that vibrantly illuminate Sugar’s new world—one in which she learns how to trust, how to make friends and how to bring her mother a “sweeter” life. While it may be cliché to say “home is where the heart is,” Bauer takes that phrase and eloquently illustrates it. Her skill in bringing Sugar and Reba to life creates a gentle tale of hope, of heart and of a heroine simply not willing to give up searching for her place in the world.



Almost Home By Joan Bauer

Viking $16.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780670012893 eBook available Ages 10 and up


“I want to paint my whole life over in tangerine.” That metaphor is apropos for Sugar Mae Cole, who could use some brightness in her life right about now. She has seen a lot in her 12 years. She has a deadbeat, absentee (and unfortunately reappearing) father— Mr. Leeland, who promises much more than he delivers. And her mother, Reba, keeps believing he’ll keep his word, someday, and that they’ll become a family. When hard times hit, Sugar and Reba are left homeless and must head to a shelter. When Reba can’t find work, clinical depression sets in—and Sugar is sent to foster care while Reba undergoes treatment. Thanks to her strong wit and will, her love of writing (inspired by her favorite teacher Mr. B) and her cuddly canine companion Shush, Sugar quickly sets forth on her own quest

The Dark Unwinding By Sharon Cameron

Scholastic $17.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780545327862 Ages 12 and up


Seventeen-year-old Katharine Tulman, an orphan under the guardianship of her dreadful aunt, has been sent to her uncle’s country estate to have him committed to an insane asylum. Having never met her Uncle Tully, Katharine plans to carry out her assignment and return to London at once. However, she is unprepared for the people who await her: her uncle, an eccentric inventor who spends hours in his workshop tinkering with toys that exceed the imagination; his brooding yet handsome assistant; a secretive, mute boy; a resentful housekeeper; and a gossipy servant. Uncle Tully’s estate holds more than just his workshop; it is responsible for the livelihood of 900 people, all of whom will do anything to stop Katharine from taking it away. She must weigh the lives of hundreds of people—including

reviews powerless women, poor families and others on the fringes of society—against her own. If she doesn’t want to see her uncle’s laborers sent back to London’s abysmal workhouses, she just might have to forfeit her own financial future. Set in 1852 against the backdrop of England’s burgeoning Technological Revolution, The Dark Unwinding blends together elements of streampunk and Gothic literature. It is atmospheric and imaginative, rooted in a rich history and packed with well-drawn characters—and is a great crossover for adults. — K i m b e r ly G i a r r a t a n o

Every Day

stress to depression, from obesity to loneliness, the daily struggles of A’s bodies transform this love story into a brilliant mediation on teen life. Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) is not timid about taking on unique storylines, but in Every Day he has created something totally new.

meet  ERIN E. STEAD of: Q: Illustrator 

would you describe Q: How  the book?

— E m i ly B o o t h M a s t e r s

Immortal Lycanthropes

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

By Hal Johnson

Clarion $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780547751962 eBook available Ages 12 and up

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


By David Levithan

Knopf $16.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780307931887 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up


“A” awakens in a different person’s body each day. One day, A might inhabit the body of a suicidal girl; the next, maybe an athletic boy. All A knows is that he/she must never get attached and never interfere with a body’s life—and the body will never know. The rules change when A wakes up as Justin. When A meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, their connection is instantaneous . . . and seemingly impossible to pursue. As A attempts to form a relationship with Rhiannon from within multiple bodies, A must convince her that the story of his/her life is real—and that he/she is a person she can love. With Every Day, author David Levithan has given readers a genderless, faceless and virtually nameless protagonist who still manages to be endearing and emotionally resonant. And while the core question—can a love between a bodiless soul and a real human possibly work—captivates on its own, the novel’s greatest strength lies in its ability to capture many different experiences of young adults. From

Although Myron Horowitz is an orphan and the survivor of a horrible accident that left him permanently disfigured (he has no nose), Immortal Lycanthropes hasn’t even a hint of sentimental melancholy. As the narrator matter-of-factly states, “It would be easy to paint a sob story here, but I am trying to remain objective. So: Myron Horowitz, short, scrawny, and hideous, had no friends.” Clearly, this is not your typical coming-of-age novel. Myron looks and feels like a 13-year-old kid (without the nose), but he’s really an immortal lycanthrope—a were-mammal who can transform at will from animal to human and back again. His search for the answers to who he is and what it all means—and why so many others like him want to kill him—drives this remarkable debut novel. In Immortal Lycanthropes, adventure is a given. Whether it’s secret societies, doomsday devices or a kimono-wearing gorilla named Gloria, Myron is fantastically unperturbed. As he says with a sigh, “You know, the first time I stared down my own death, I was really scared. The second time I cried. But by now, it’s just something that happens to me.” Myron is on a quest, and his journey is a cleverly imagined, smartly written, wonderful ride of a story. —Lacey Galbraith

was your childhood hero? Q: Who 

Q: W  hat books did you enjoy as a child?

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

Q: W  hat message would you like to send to children?

BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL Erin E. Stead won the 2011 Caldecott Medal as illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband, Philip C. Stead. In their second collaboration, BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL (Roaring Brook, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781596437456), Bear and his friends are getting ready for winter. The Steads live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.



By the editors of Merriam-Webster

AESOP’S GRAPES Dear Editor, Why do we use the phrase sounds like sour grapes when we hear someone put down a person they are really jealous of? What do grapes have to do with anything? P.L. Plains, Georgia The term sour grapes refers to disparagement of something that one wants but has been unable to obtain. Jealousy is often involved but is not essential to the meaning of sour grapes. Sour grapes comes from a story credited to Aesop, the probably fictitious Greek teller of fables. One of Aesop’s fables involves a hungry fox who sees a vine laden with grapes. Try as she might, the fox is unable to reach them. To appease her disappointment, she tells herself that the grapes are sour anyway.

THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE Dear Editor, In my dictionary it says that

the word chocolate comes from a language called Nahuatl. Where is Nahuatl spoken? Are the people who speak it the first people to have been smart enough to eat chocolate? E.D. Orono, Maine Nahuatl is actually the name of a group of closely related Uto-Aztecan languages that includes the speech of several peoples, such as the Aztecs, of central and southern Mexico and Central America. Of course, chocolate is made from cacao, also known as the cocoa bean, which comes from a plant native to the equatorial regions of the Americas. The word chocolate is derived from the Nahuatl word chocolatl, which itself is believed to be derived from the Nahuatl dialect word chikolatl. The dialect word is a combination of chikolli, meaning “hook” (probably referring to the beater used to mix chocolate and water), and atl, meaning “water.” The history of chocolate as we know it today traces back to the Aztecs and their encounters with

Spanish conquistadors. In 1519, the Aztec ruler Montezuma served Hernán Cortés a bitter drink made of cocoa. Cocoa was one of the treasures Cortés brought back with him from the New World, and once the cocoa drink was sweetened and mixed with cinnamon, it gained great popularity in Spain. From there, the new flavoring ingredient moved into France and elsewhere in Europe, eventually being used to produce candies and other confections. The word chocolate is first attested in English in 1604.

ALL ALONE Dear Editor, Some time ago, I came across the phrase amid the alien corn in an article that had nothing to do with corn whatsoever. Is this an allusion to some story I’m not familiar with? C.S. Covington, Louisiana Amid the alien corn, which basically describes someone who is alone in a foreign land or alien

surroundings, is from John Keats’ famous poem “Ode to a Nightingale,” which in turn refers to the biblical story of Ruth. After her husband died, Ruth loyally followed her mother-in-law Naomi, speaking to her in some of the loveliest language ever written (“Whither thou goest, I will go,” Ruth 1:16). She went to Bethlehem with Naomi and became a gleaner in the fields. In his poem, Keats meditates on the beautiful song of the nightingale, writing: “Perhaps the self-same song that found a path/ Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,/ She stood in tears amid the alien corn. . . .” This same poem is the source of other well-known phrases, including “tender is the night” and “for many a time I have been in love with easeful Death.”

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BookPage September 2012