A truly tremendous work of fiction. In Commonwealth, Ann Patchett peels away layers of the story with perfectly crafted precision. I adore this book. I read 90% of it in a few days' time and stretched out the last 10% for half a week because I didn't want it to end.
The premise is what got me to open this book, but the compelling characters, stellar imagery, and beautiful turns of phrase are what really brought me into the story. I talked with the author at a book conference and she was so lovely to talk to--perhaps it shouldn't matter, but to me I am ever so much more pleased with a book when the person who created it is both smart and kind.
Finished the last sentence of this novel while pumping my fist into the air: hell yes, Emma Straub. Great characters, compelling story arcs, and a gaggle of people you sometimes want to throttle but always want to hug.
One of my go-to favorite pieces of fiction, OLIVE KITTERIDGE has some of the best character studies of any modern work. I love this book so much.
Elizabeth Strout has done it again. In a deceptively short novel, she manages to capture the complexity and fullness of a woman's life. MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON reminded me in no small way of Jenny Offill's DEPT. OF SPECULATION, one of my favorite books of recent years. Lucy's story is revealed in short chapters, small vignettes that slowly reveal our protagonist while still giving readers the sense that we're only seeing but a portion of her vast and complicated life. Excellent work, except there's one drawback now that I've finished this book so quickly: now I'm hungry for the next Elizabeth Strout novel and definitely will have a while to wait.
The Nest is a quick, character-driven novel that shows realistic relationships among family members and what happens when one person takes more than his fair share.
My skin felt like it was buzzing and purring after having finished this book. Groff's writing is very often quite breathtaking at the sentence level, so much so that I was occasionally forgetting to notice how masterfully she was setting up an intricate and many-layered plot. Lotto, Mathilde, and the other characters jump off the page so vividly it's hard for me to imagine they aren't really out there, living their fierce and complicated lives. Five stars.
This is a character study as much as it is a plot-oriented novel: Cora, born a slave in Georgia in the 1800s, is the centerpiece of this alternative historical fiction from well-revered Colson Whitehead. The depiction of slavery in all its forms is unflinching and utterly harrowing, as it should be. It's heartbreaking to recognize what a timely read this is.
Once in a blue moon, along will come a book that I wish my younger self could read. Will Walton's ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN perfectly captures the sometimes soaring, sometimes heart-crushing nature of unrequited adolescent love. His prose is sophisticated but accessible, and the relationships in Tretch's life are presented in this nuanced but beautiful way, allowing us to see how this really special protagonist engages with those most important to him. Because of Walton's timeless style and deftly written characters, even adults who "don't do YA" will love this book. And honest-to-goodness teenagers will love it too, and I bet they'll get some of the cultural references more readily than I did! Hands down my most anticipated book of 2015. I'm beyond thrilled that the world will soon be introduced to the writing of Will Walton.
This quiet, sweet, and funny novel, set in central Florida, is one of the truest things I've ever read about longing and belonging. Don't worry that it's marketed to kids: it's most definitely for you, too.
This was just what I needed during a really stressful week of work and illness--a smart, funny novel with a ton of really smart women who are working out a way to speak up for themselves while also helping others like them. I feel like I learned a lot while also being entertained--this reads like a movie you couldn't help but watch every time it pops up on TV. A job well done! (Meet Camille Perri at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA on May 21, 2016!)
When you're in mourning (about the death of a loved one, about the end of a relationship, about the end of a way of life, about accepting a dire illness, etc.), it sometimes seems easy to hide from your grief and push it aside. Handler's non-intimidating, positive how-to book helps you think more about the benefits of writing through your pain to the other side, whether or not you ever intend to share your writing with others. Highly recommended for those coping with loss &/or for writers who've considered starting a memoir dealing with grief who aren't sure where to start.
I'm on a roll in 2016 with historical fiction starting amazingly smart women who, through circumstance or societal constraints, are being told to suppress their own creativity and intelligence. MFK Fisher is someone I knew nothing about until cracking open this lyrical character-driven novel--now I love her and can't wait to learn even more. THE ARRANGEMENT is very well written and it's obvious the author did her homework, and Warlick's love for the real-life Mary Frances glows from every page.
This collection is slim but accomplishes so much. Some of the satire is truly laugh-out-loud hilarious. A few stories are much darker but retain a very sophisticated humor.
A story of a smart woman who, by a combination of circumstance and love, finds herself inexorably tied to the most famous man in America. Having heard the author speak, I know this historical fiction piece was meticulously researched, and that makes the story all the more fascinating.