I hugged this book to my chest many times while reading it; that’s how much I love it. Rabbit Cake is a sweet (and occasionally melancholic) tale of intrigue, full of heart, and with a lovable cast of characters. Elvis Babbitt is learning about grief after her mother’s accidental death, which she still isn’t convinced was a mishap. Her sister, Lizzie, has been causing trouble during her sleepwalking episodes, and her dad has replaced his deceased wife with a parrot that can perfectly mimic her voice.
An inimitable novel about grief, family, and the uncertainty that follows death, Rabbit Cake is a stunning debut of what will surely be a long and lustrous career for author Annie Hartnett. You will care about these characters and their troubles; they will make you laugh and sigh with pity, sometimes both at once. This is one of those books that I couldn’t put down, that I want to carry with me everywhere I go, that I wish I could delete my memory of so I could experience it anew again and again.
Saša Stanišić has deftly woven a patchwork narrative of an extraordinary village and the ordinary lives of its dwellers. He joins the antiquated and the modern, the far-fetched and the believable, the myth and the truth. The novel poses philosophical conundrums that puzzle the characters as much as the reader: what power do the past, present, and future spheres have over one another? And if our reality is confined to what we see, what about that which is unknown? Who decides what is fable, and what is truth?
Stanišić’’s work is seamless, rhythmic, and captivating. Anthea Bell makes for a dream translator, perfectly capturing his whimsy and idiosyncrasies. This is not a book to consume once and leave on the shelf to collect dust. Like your favorite fairy tales, Before the Feast is a story to experience again and again, whose charms will enchant you every time it is read.
A key can be a possibility. It can also be a responsibility, an onus for the owner to discover what is hidden. A key can open a portal, but it can’t protect you from what you find. Sometimes, we look for things we were never meant to see. Helen Oyeyemi’s collection of stories portray characters who are searching to connect, to find what they seek and to make it their own. In this masterful, magical prose lies the wisdom of the human condition. Oyeymi conjures the extraordinary from the mundane, and from the fantastical extracts truth. Books are keys that can unlock certain parts of ourselves, and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours has helped me find something I didn’t know I was missing.
Her essay to Matilda almost made me cry (and I barely ever cry). But Mara Wilson is so much more than "that girl who played Matilda." I know it's another cliche, but I feel like Wilson and I would be best friends if we ever met. I don't think I've connected so strongly with a memoir before--it's always good to know that we aren't alone in our quirks and idiosyncrasies. Read this if you...actually, just read it. All of you. Trust me.
Snarky social commentary with a flair for the bizarre, Helen Ellis’ American Housewife is brutally hilarious. It’s written from multiple perspectives, in various voices ranging from dueling, vicious housewives to a leader of a cult-like book club, to a struggling author held hostage by Tampax. These stories rip apart the manicured, corseted, perfectly polished picture of an American housewife and unleash the pent-up fury resulting from suffocating social norms and mores. Ellis slices through the feminine ideal like a sharp knife through a buttercream cake. Her characters shred the Suzy Homemaker facade like acrylic nails on silk. You will laugh at her crazy imagination and her witty insights about today’s American culture. You will laugh because what she reveals is true; our society prescribes roles for women and they are itching to break from the mold. She does not necessarily mock the housewife herself, or femininity in general, but rather the traditions that constrain and impede modern women. If quality satire alone could dismantle the patriarchy, this book would be Queen of the world.
Imagine that you feel estranged from this world, that there must be somewhere, a far horizon, where you do belong. One day, a portal opens, and you enter. To a new world, your world, where everything feels like home.
This is the premise of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. The protagonist, Nancy, and her peers at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children have come back from their respective Underworlds/Netherworlds/Fairy Lands. And they are not happy. Their friends and loved ones think they have been abducted, or have run away, and are miraculously “home” again. But Nancy and the others have returned to our world against their wills, and their real homes are in the lands that once beckoned to them. They want to go back to the places where they truly belong, but can they? Once a portal, or door, is traveled through once, it won’t open again...or will it?
Compelling, inventive, and heartfelt, McGuire has written a story that speaks to the darkest corners of the reader’s soul. Once you open this book, you will want to enter its world and never return.
— Rachel K.
I'm going to be honest: this novel might make you feel sad at times. But it'll also make you happy to be alive. I loved it precisely for this honest approach to the human condition. Ozeki covers the topics that frighten us (suicide, death, grief, anguish), and her characters show us how humanity can save us in the end.