Already my favorite book of the year! This extraordinary coming-of-age tale is based on the author's own early life in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, where his beloved mother and stepfather were heroin dealers and his babysitter was a notorious prison escapee. Stubborn, charismatic and ever-resilient, Eli Bell is an unforgettable character.
This is the rare celebrity memoir in which the author's own voice resonates with clarity and truth. Self-reflective, insightful, and fiercely intelligent, Sally Field hits the perfect note as she unfolds the story of a naïve girl with a difficult family, struggling to forge her own path in a world that refuses to acknowledge her potential. This candid and moving account deserves a standing ovation!
I absolutely love Heartland. Through her gorgeous writing, Sarah Smarsh manages to weave memoir, history and social commentary with a lyricism that is both tender and steely. Her focus on the women in her community is heartbreaking and important and she tells their stories with a delicate touch, full of respect, affection, and compassion.
Lyrical, romantic, and at times heartbreaking, this is the moving story of an inexperienced medical student conscripted to a skeletal field hospital during the First World War. In this brutal crucible, Lucius learns what he is capable of -- hard work and determination, occasional heroism, and, more often, human frailty. Against a bleak background of wartime hardship, this is a magnificent tale of resilience, atonement, and love
A young Russian emigre falls under the spell of a venerable author who has taken a teaching position at the school where she works. Already enchanted by his writing, Zoya becomes infatuated by his attentions but fails to account for the machinations of Orlov's formidable wife, who is playing her husband while he plays Zoya. Inspired by Vladimir Nabokov's real-life marriage, and fraught with tension from the get-go, this novel is beautifully written and completely absorbing; I almost needed to take step back to avoid getting burnt!
The Mercy Seat tells the haunting story of a sweltering summer weekend in a small Louisiana township, where a young man awaits execution in his jail cell and a traveling electric chair wends its way down the highway toward him. Short, exquisitely-drawn chapters describe the impact of this harrowing event on various members of the community. In her sparse, perfectly crafted prose, Winthrop conveys a powerful sense of place permeated with the dreams, tensions, disappointments, and secrets of the imperfect characters it contains.
Andrea leaves Nebraska and her small-minded family when she moves to edgy 1990's Portland, Oregon, where she finds a queer community which finally gives her a sense of belonging. Life gets more complicated when she discovers that even that group has its limits, particularly when Andrea finds herself drawn to a straight white male drummer. Affectionately set against the backdrop of a free-spirited but gentrifying city, this is a charming story of figuring out home, love, and what it means to be a family.
When a beautiful young teacher is found murdered in a small Australian town, Detective Gemma Woodstock is confident that her own complicated past with the victim won't compromise her ability to solve the case. She couldn't be more wrong!
In 1917, a freighter left NY laden with explosives intended for the trenches of France. Seeking refuge from German U-boats in Halifax harbor, it collided with a Norwegian relief ship which ignited its deadly cargo. The ensuing explosion levelled the city, killing and wounding thousands. The City of Boston immediately rushed in to help, transforming the dynamics of US-Canadian relations. Even now, a Christmas tree arrives on Boston Common each year as an expression of gratitude from Nova Scotia. Bacon gives a gripping account of a staggering but largely-unknown historical event.
In honor of the 450th Anniversary of Shakespeare's birth , the Globe Theatre in London mounted a production of Hamlet and sent it to every country in the world. Some audiences rolled out the red carpet and others understood no English and had never heard of the Danish prince. This beautifully-written and irreverent account of an extraordinary two-year journey across this crazy globe of ours celebrates the universality of a timeless story that resonates from refugee camps to opera houses.
This extraordinary book is unlike anything I've ever read. The author received his MFA in fiction writing but is now serving a life term in prison for murder. He writes about existence behind the walls of the "Graybar Hotel," his eloquent vignettes illuminating the complexity of retaining one's humanity under the worst of circumstances.
Beautiful, intelligent, independent Gerda Saunders was diagnosed with dementia at age 61. A South African immigrant and professor of Gender Studies, Gerda was trained as a scientist and approached her devastating diagnosis by recording field notes of her decline. Her eloquent memoir brims with scientific and philosophical observations on memory, personality, and identity, and offers us an extraordinary inside look at her deeply personal experience of losing the intellectual capacity that so defines her. What a remarkable memoir!
This graceful and timely novel follows Alia and her family through a series of displacements, from Palestine to Beirut and on to Paris and Boston. Despite heartbreak and misfortune, powerful family bonds help each generation reconnect and create a sense of home wherever the vagaries of war and life deposit them.
Do you remember hearing about Christopher Knight, the hermit who was caught in the Maine woods after living outdoors for twenty-two years? It turns out he was only a few miles from home and a few yards from the very cabins he was raiding for supplies! This book tells the incredible story of why he chose to disappear from the world, how he survived on his own for so long, and what has happened to him since. I couldn't put it down!
The author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist delivers another compelling twist on life in the Middle East. This time, a desperate young couple abandons home and family, escaping a war-torn city by way of hidden doors that rumors promise will lead to a better life.
When Flora and Nan return to their childhood home to tend to their elderly father, hidden letters from their long-vanished mother reveal a very different family from the one they thought they knew. Fuller spins a gorgeous tale of suspense, deceit, duty, guilt, forgiveness, and love.
This sharply-observed debut novel about family and friendship is narrated Greek chorus-style in the single voice of elderly church women. They wisely observe the triangle of relationships between three unforgettable young people in their community, two of whom are grieving the loss of their own mothers. Brit Bennett is an exciting new storyteller!
When Eva and Jim have a chance encounter in Cambridge, do they meet and fall in love, barely notice each other, or become intrigued but feel duty bound to honor prior commitments? Each outcome produces a vastly different story but with some intriguing similarities. As Barnett plays with fate, destiny and choice in this effortless journey in three simultaneous versions of Eva and Jim's lives, we are completely drawn in to each story and the inescapable results of choices made along the way.
The patriarch of a wacky Greek family believes he has ten days to live and sets about instructing his family how to improve themselves. they are not amused, but you will be!
Wonderful musings from a restless journalist who answered a Craigslist ad for a female carpenter's apprentice and found beauty in building things by hand.
Absolutely wonderful! This whimsical collection of poems by Sox announcer Dick Flavin will move baseball fans of all ages to laughter and tears. Be sure to recite them out loud!
I got completely caught up in this unnerving, lyrically-written story of imperfect people coping with unimaginable circumastances.
I loved this charming account of Kelly Corrigan's post-college stint as a nanny in Australia. As she struggled to care for her spirited young charges, she was surprised to find herself channeling the voice of her own opinionated mother. Her candid musings on the sometimes complicated relationships between mothers and daughters are a delight to read.
J.K. Rowling tells a gritty, modern story of very ordinary people in a very ordinary place under very ordinary circumstances. An unexpected death creates a "casual vacancy" on the parish council, and the local townsfolk jockey to fill it in order to serve their own interests. In the process, Rowling's intricately interrelated cast of characters, who for the most part behave very badly, win our affection if not our admiration, and make us care deeply about their modest lives.
Grace is one of 39 passengers who escape a sinking ocean-liner onto an overcrowded lifeboat. On trial for murder as a result of her own choices, Grace describes the best and worst of human behavior under desperate conditions.
A middle-aged couple longing for a child of their own hope for a fresh start on the Alaskan frontier. The reader shares the couple's doubts and wonder when a wild but delicate child emerges from the wilderness and into their lives.
"How did she ever think of that?" I kept asking myself, as I luxuriated in the author's extraordinary descriptions of an enchanted traveling circus, crafted entirely in black and white, and open only from dusk to dawn. Amid tarot card readers, contortionists and acrobatic kittens, rival magicians engage in a deadly competition, leaving circus goers and readers unsure whether they are witnessing magic or merely magic tricks.
The Tiger's Wife is an exquisitely written first novel about a young female doctor in the Balkans, and the stories she learns from and about her beloved grandfather.
Free-spirited philosophy student Jess is at home among the used bookstores and tree-huggers of Berkeley. Her capable older sister, Emily, has made a fortune in the high-tech world of Menlo Park and Cambridge. Allegra Goodman draws a warm, astute portrayal of the tension and affection between them as the internet-bubble begins to burst.
A searing, clear-eyed look at life inside a women’s federal prison. The author describes in detail the relationships and code of behavior among the female prisoners, none of whom have had her own advantages in life.