Emma Straub believes in families and her latest celebrates the ties that bind, no matter how complicated or messy. When Astrid, the widowed matriarch of the Strick family, witnesses a fatal accident it forces her to re-examine her life and her parenting and sets her on a path to make her later years her most authentic. With its lived in characters, sharp crisp descriptions and rich payoff, All Adults Here presents a family so appealing in their imperfection the reader will want to join it.
In 1988, after watching the film "Mississippi Burning", investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell got involved in bringing the perpetrators, who literally thought they had gotten away with murder, to justice. After that success, with dogged detemination and shoe leather, he helped with other Civil Rights era long cold cases including the 16th Street Church bombing and the assassination of Medgar Evers, eventually forming the Mississippi Center for Investigative Journalism. His account is gripping, frightening and, ultimately, redemptive.
Bram Stoker Award winner Kim Liggett has taken familiar elements from A Handmaid’s Tale, The Crucible and Lord of the Flies and combined them with her horror background to tell the survival story of a formidable heroine. YA dystopia at its best.
Both meanings of the word blood are explored in this aptly titled poetic memoir-violence and the ties that bind. The murder suicide of her parents when she was a child has cast a long shadow over the life and career of singer/songwriter Alison Moorer. Though never directly referred to, it has been the open secret that touched everything. Finally, in this memoir (and its accompanying record) she seeks to restore her parents to more than a horrifying tragedy by filling in the blanks in their story, making them real people-beyond the simple roles of victim and murderer-and worthy of forgiveness.
This lived in novel captures one rough week in the life of a teen in the hardscrabble Midwest. Riggle is an orphan whose guardian uncle has gone missing, he's suspended from school and he needs $800 by Friday. How he manages with his spirit (mostly) intact will ring true to fellow strugglers who have to sweat the rent, feign bravery by acting out or use humor to cope.
Hitchcock himself couldn't cram anymore suspense into this lovely wordless picture book. Full of silent film homages for older readers, this sweet story will continue to delight long after the surprise is revealed.
22 novels in, Lippman keeps reaching and goes wide angle in her latest, a standalone 'more than just a mystery' set in 1960's Baltimore. After abruptly ending her dully traditional marriage, a middle aged white woman becomes a cub reporter obsessed with getting the story of a murdered black woman found in a fountain. Told from the point of view of everyone from a Baltimore Oriole, a local gangster, to the dead woman herself, this is a period story that feels modern with its concerns about race, power, privilege and who gets to tell the story.
Languid summer days are just made for sprawling sagas and you could do no better than The Guest Book. This novel of braided timelines moves fluidly through three generations of the first world problems of the Miltons and their island in Maine. Racism, classism, anti-Semitism, the struggle of obligation and the toll of modernity on tradition are all adeptly examined through a familial lens. Best read on a porch swing or by an oscillating fan!
SPOILER ALERT: Women Talking could have been subtitled Canadian Mennonite Women Break Down the Patriarchy for You. Both angering and funny, this wise novel (sadly based on a true story) takes on heavy questions-'What is faith and a faith community?' 'What would you do for love?' and 'Is there a God and what does God expect from us?'-with a lightness to admire. My book of year for 2019!
If history belongs to the victors, true crime belongs to the perpetrators. When it comes to Jack the Ripper more people can name the suspects-the prince, the artist, the Polish barber-than the victims killed. In an effort to rectify this, historian Hallie Rubenheld not only brings the women fully to life (or as fully as possible given the sketchy records of the poor in Victorian England) and in doing so, sheds some new light on the long cold case.
For example, despite the story that everyone thinks they know, the women were not all prostitutes, most were destitute women ‘sleeping rough’. Detailed explanation of the welfare at the time (basically Scrooge’s ‘prisons and workhouses’) help the modern reader comprehend the women’s plight. Rebenheld also points out that Jack must have killed as they slept, explaining how he could murder so viciously without attention being drawn by struggle or screaming (hence his many close escapes).
Most reviews will surely say this book is a must for Ripperologists, and it is, but it is also a compelling and necessary history which restores personhood to victims formerly seen as the least interesting part of the story.
After a well publicized time of personal upheaval and loss, Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel is just what she and worn out readers everywhere need-a frothy lark. This 'small town girl takes a bite out of the Big Apple' story is full of hijinks, sex, history and fashion-all in equal measure. Vivian's account of her big juicy 20th century life will absorb and delight.
Provocative essayist Solnit disassembles the beloved fairy tale and rebuilds a Cinderella for 2019. Illustrated with the original Arthur Rackham papercuts, this retelling offers choices for all (including the animals!) and an ending set firmly in the here and now. Perfect for feminists of any age or gender.
It’s 1928 and middle aged militant suffragette Mattie Simpson fears her excitement is over forever until she starts a girl’s club that brings both joy and heartbreak, proving you’re never too old to have your life upended. Filled with righteous indignation and irrepressible good cheer, Old Baggage soars.
Plucky Emmeline Lake just wants to do her part for the war effort. When she lands a job at the London Evening Chronicle she pictures herself as FEMALE WAR CORROSPONDENT. Alas, the job is actually assisting the formidible Henrietta Bird, the maddening advice columnist who refuses to actually offer any. So softhearted Emmy decides to answer a few letters on the sly because what could go wrong? How she copes with real life in wartorn London with her vibrant spirit intact makes for a delicious and uplifting treat for readers.
When done right there's something magical about books told from the point of view of an animal. With this sensitive and lovely story Pennypacker carries the torch passed down from Felix Salten (Bambi) and Sterling North (Rascal). When Peter and his fox Pax are seperated by an impending war to be reunited both must face an epic journey that will test and ultimately redeem them. A great read for children of all ages.
A poetic memoir about a literal wild ride-the 1000 km Mongol Derby-written by the first woman to win (who was only 19 at the time). A perfect read for horse lovers, armchair travelers or anyone who remembers well their pentup, wild, youthful yearning.
A deft debut about finding your footing after loss, this middle grade novel features a perfectly lived in friendship (that might be something more) and a completely believable portrait of small town life. Its tender but matter of fact tone and lovely pencil illustrations only add to its appeal.
Readers who struggle with what the Buddhists call 'monkey mind' and with the inability to do it all, much less do it all perfectly, will welcome this collection of upbeat essays. Philpott's candid account of fertility woes, depression and the writing life offers the most convincing encouragement-knowing you are not alone.
Josie has always wanted to be on TV. Delia loves all things horror. Together they are Midnite Matinee, a public access show with more heart than craft. (Think Svengoolie with hashtags.) With whipsmart dialogue and smartassery for days, the journey these best friends take to reach their dreams (or some approximation of it) makes for a terrific read.
The noir picture book we've been waiting for! Mitten's classic hardboiled narration amply demonstrates a cat's usual level of dedication and healthy respect for the rules. Chuckleworthy and ripe for rereading!
The latest novel from the producer of "The Wire" and "The Deuce" is both a crime novel about a ex-con deciding whether to go straight or stay crooked and alove letter to the redemptive power of reading. Full of Easter eggs for longtime readers this novel would also be an excellent place to start exploring Pelecanos' fictional Washington DC.
In her first standalone French portrays the havoc that ensues when a family's literal skeletons are revealed. Both empathatic and damning, The Witch Elm is also a complete and authentic description of victimhood-the powerlessness and desolation that results when all your safe places are ruined, including your own life narrative.
What happens when you do everything 'right' but security disappears anyway? That terrible angering feeling shared by so many right now is at the heart of these twinned stories, one set in the 1870's, one in the present. Both take place in a dilapidated house in Vineland, NJ and both speak to the many ways one can be unsheltered.
Though we all know better, it seems that history happens in black and white. When we see a color photo of a Nazi or the Korean War it's so unexpected and startling it just looks wrong. Black and white also allows us to hold history, especially the painful parts, at some remove. In an effort to bring it closer, authors Wolfgang Wild and Jordan Lloyd have painstakingly colorized some iconic moments from the past so vividly the viewer feels like they are watching the moment unfold. A great gift for the history or photography buff or anyone who enjoys an eyeopener.
The latest novel from Bloom is a tender and loving picture of tough talking reporter, Lorena Hickok, "First Friend" (and true love) of Eleanor Roosevelt. Her hardscrabble early life and later years are all artfully detailed by Bloom, who once again brings her psychological training to bear to create characters who leap off the page.
This arresting graphic novel casts Frida Kahlo's life as one long conversation with Death appropriate, if you think, due to her poor health and tempestous love life, it really was her most constant companion. Works as both a primer for the Kahlo novice and a must have for fans.
This unrelenting portrait of the greedy squandering of our precious natural resources is both a beautiful excursion into the heart of human darkness and a brutal story that squarely combats the myth of the West. A forerunner of Cormac McCarthy, this is an underappreciated great that clamors for a wider audience.
In her first stand alone French portrays the havoc that ensues when a family's literal skeletons are revealed. Both empathetic and damning, The Witch Elm is also a complete and authentic description of victimhood-the powerlessness and desolation that result when all your safe places are ruined, including your own life narrative.
Ever seen the picture of the woman taking a bath in Hitler's bathtub? If not, treat yourself. That's Lee Miller. Vogue model, muse and lover of the photographer Man Ray, Surrealist artist in her own right, combat journalist (that dirt on the bathmat was from Dachau) Miller led a big, juicy 20th century life and this debut novel introduces the reader to all of it. Far more than your average 'woman behind the man' story this is recommended for anyone who loves a ballsy badass heroine.
When Jessilyn Harney, a protaganist True Grit's Maddie Ross would call kin, is orphaned in the post Civil War West she disguises herself as a boy and sets out to find her outlaw brother, who's become something of a folk hero. Told in a wry and weary voice, in this debut Western, as in all the classic ones, the journey takes the measure of and makes the man.