Armando is a seventy-year-old therapist; he is vain, heartbroken, and jaded; and his perspective in Alexandre Vial Porto's Sergio Y. is one we've never seen before. Unable to come to grips with his "involvement" in a former patient's murder, Armando begins to piece together the fragments of a whole: the life of Sergio Yacoubian, who, years prior, quit Armando's treatment after finding "a way to be happy." "But was Sergio happy?" This is the question that lies at the base of Armando's search, which soon becomes his obsession. Despite all its heart-rending moments (which are earned and not sensationalized), Sergio Y. is most striking for its unconventional warmth. There is a purity in Armando's voice and an earnestness in his quest. It's impossible, as the reader, to feel anything but close to him. As a result, Sergio Y. leaves an indelible mark. This is an unforgettable book.
"Until now, now that I've reached my thirties; / All my Muse's poetry has been harmless." This line, from the poem "Desired Appreciation,"speaks to the shock that aging into "a brain born into war"can bring; it's this shock, this coming-through-the-numbness, that drives Solmaz Sharif's masterful Look. These poems do not offer narratives of aging beyond trauma. Instead, they are prayers of the most desperate and urgent order. A mother puts a gun in her baby's crib. Laughter is tape-recorded and bubble-wrapped. Doctors shock dogs to teach themselves about "learned helplessness." "And when she asks / does this mean he will die? I say yes / without worrying it will break her."
Look is made to break us. It drowns us in the language of war and devastates. It will also, likely, be the boldest, most masterful collection to be released in 2016. Do NOT turn a blind eye to it.
"At least this one is short." That was my first thought before I opened this book, a slim novel-in-poems, about grief. Little did I know: I would not want it to be over. With still two chapters to go before I reached the conclusion, I burst into tears. Suddenly. Not because I was sad. More because it hit me: I'd stepped into a portrait of love so vivid, so immense, I truly believed it was immortal.
It's hard to come up with anything to say about this book that doesn't diminish it in some way. Suffice it to say, The Argonauts mimics its very subject, which is love, in its boundlessness. Also, I can't stop crying.
Real and magic and heartfelt and wrenching and beautiful and powerful and glittering and stunning. I feel like you could search for something similiar to WEETZIE BAT and never find it your whole life long.
Aaron O'Faolain is your classic ne'er-do-well teen just trying to make it in the world. After running away and becoming homeless for a little while, he agrees to sign up for FUN, "the latest in augmented reality." Unfortunately for Aaron, FUN still has a few glitches that need to be worked out. Sean McGinty's debut, THE END OF FUN, is my most anticipated YA release for spring 2016! Fresh, smart, and chock-damn-full of heart, this book had me laughing out loud, crying, and all that jazz. More importantly, it made me really really happy to be alive.
Absolutely, 100% engrossing. A story about friendship, purpose, and the peaks and pitfalls of ambition, "Innocents and Others" unspools multiple threads from its central narrative, the lifelong friendship of two acclaimed filmmakers, and not a single one of them is any less compelling than the last. I could not put "Innocents and Others" down. Early on, Dana Spiotta has set the bar VERY high for fiction in 2016.
After all the discussions prompted by "Serial" and "Making a Murderer," the paperback release of "The Red Parts" couldn't be more timely. In this "autobiography of a trial," Nelson reports candidly -- and, at times, hyper-consciously -- about the trial surrounding her aunt Jane's murder. Nelson does not only chronicle the trial's effects on her and her family. She also comments, with great depth, on what the American cultural "murder mind" entails.
"No one belongs here more than YOU." The message is simple, but the layers beneath it are so complex and so RICH that you will be pondering the definition of "belonging" itself. Nothing in these stories is as simple as it seems, but EVERYTHING about them is rewarding, challenging, enlightening, and unique. TRUST ME. You belong here.
This debut is so innovative, it’s almost audacious. As you read the final sequence in Hour ofthe Bees, you will be asking yourself, “Oh my gosh, am I really reading this? Am I really,really reading this?” And the thing is, YES, YOU REALLY ARE!
Its cold Newfoundland setting belies the truly warm spirit of The Shipping News. One of my all time favorite novels.
One of my most anticipated 2016 debuts, Marisa Reichardt's Underwater tells the story of Morgan Grant, survivor of a recent school shooting, now refusing to leave the safety of her mom's apartment. Now, you might be thinking, "I don't know if I can handle that." But, trust me, though this book takes you into some dark spaces, it always, always surfaces into the light. Stunningly written, this one's a true beauty on all counts: a story of coping, of healing, of friendship, and even of first love. It also, incidentally, moves about as quickly as that latest adventure novel you probably picked up for vacation. You just won't want to put it down.
Julie Esbaugh's Ivory and Bone is one of the most dazzling debuts I've encountered this year! Do you like Clan of the Bear Cave? If yes, then pick this one up. Do you like Pride and Prejudice? If yes, then pick this one up. Do you like your love stories served sweet with a side of hot action? If yes, then pick this one up!
Dill, Lydia, and Travis are their own school of out-of-water fish. Dill is the son of a snake-handling pastor, Lydia is a fashionista with big dreams and a successful blog, and Travis lives part-time inside his favorite fictional fantasy world. Luckily, they all have one another. And, luckily, it's senior year; they'll be out of their small Tennessee town soon enough.
Forged with a tenable love for its characters, The Serpent King is a stunner. It is as unflinching as it warm, as hilarious as it is heartfelt, and as hopeful as it is honest.
I thought I had this one pegged. A collection of stories about "failed" parents and the children who suffer them. Stories about children who leave their parents behind and are absolutely better for it; I was delighted to be wrong. There is nothing "absolute" about these stories. Nope. Evers is too good for that. And his characters are too fully realized. Young and old, rich and poor, parent and child, every person you encounter in a Stuart Evers story heartbreakingly familiar. You want to hold them all. Parent and child, alike.
Set in Japan, in 2001, and written entirely in verse, Somewhere Among provides an unblinking look into the hearts of human beings during times of great stress. Soon-to-be older sister, Ema, documents the wear and tear of her and her family's hearts surrounding the 9/11 attacks on the US. She is also trying hard to survive middle school (an act that involves fending off a relentless bully) and is constantly worried for her overworked father and pregnant mother. A story that is, at its core, about the human desire for peace, Somewhere Among is somber, thought-provoking, and consistently powerful.
Jackson loves facts and wants to be a scientist. Fact: Jackson's family might have to start living out of their minivan again. Fact: Jackson's imaginary best friend, a gigantic cat named Crenshaw, has just reappeared. Fact: Both of these facts are trememdously troubling to Jackson! A story about family, about facts and imagination, about honesty and love, CRENSHAW will make you smile and alternately weep. As she did with her Newberry Medal-winning The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate shows she knows the proper route to a reader's heart. It's a journey both dark and light, but it's honest and hopeful and oh so beautiful.
I have so much love for Mackler's Infinite in Between. Despite its large scope (5 teens, 5 perspectives, all 4 years of high school), Infinite manages to feel strikingly quiet. Like in life, all the tiny moments add up, and in the end, what you feel is the ultimate reward: a greater appreciation for those tiny "in-between" moments that really, unexpectedly, mark the ways we grow as individuals. In the way the film Boyhood does, Infinite in Between pulls off something remarkable: it manages to be both epic and intimate. Never once does it feel grandiose or unwieldy. And it sure sparkles on every page.
Levithan's Every Day told the story of a teen, called "A," who inhabits a different body every day. It made the entire Avid staff's metaphorical, collective jaw drop, and it is still one of our very favorites.
With Another Day, Levithan does it again. Except this time around, he does it a little differently. Told from the perspective of A's love interest Rhiannon, Another Day all but drops the high-concept hook that made Every Day so striking. But does that mean Another Day lacks any of its own luster? Absolutely not. Levithan does "normal" just as well as he does "ethereal." (If you're already a reader of his, you know this.) And by turning the camera on Rhiannon this time, he reminds us that, though we might well exist amid some extraordinary happenings, there's nothing less magic or significant about the "everyday."
"Sunny Side Up" is a quiet, earnest, heartfelt, and hilarious rendering of young Sunny's summer spent with her grandfather at a retirement home. For Sunny, a new friendship and a love for comic books emerges, but so too does the strength it takes to face the hardship her family is dealing with back home.
An important book, "Sunny Side Up" deals with an issue many young people face daily, as they witness family members or friends struggling with substance abuse problems. Incidentally, it is also as big-hearted and moving a book as you'll be able to find. It's absolutely wonderful.
Stanzi is two halves of one person, neither of whom is named Stanzi. China, Stanzi's best friend, has swallowed herself. Gustav is busy building a helicopter no one can see--except for Stanzi on certain days. And Lansdale tells lies to make her hair grow long.
The heroes at the heart of I Crawl Through It are geniuses with poet-souls and poor test scores. They are overlooked, misunderstood, guilt-ridden, and ashamed. They are looking for love. They are looking for answers.
With I Crawl Through It, A.S. King fully embraces her role as one of contemporary fiction's foremost magicians; her language entrances, her storytelling steamrolls, and her characters are as achingly real and identifiable as ever. While it navigates dark terrain, I Crawl Through Itgets its fuel from love. What results is a powerful call to arms that we make an effort to really see one another. In that sense alone, this is an important book. In that sense and more, it is an all-out tour-de-force.
Autobiography of Red is like nothing else. Part myth, part YA contemp, part poetry, part novel; it is like the greatest hits of all the beautiful things good literature is capable of doing. For a while, this book was my companion and rode shotgun beside me everywhere I went. I can't quite describe what all it helped me discover. Just know that it was invaluable to me. I have so much love for Geryon, and everyone, everything, having to do with this book.
Terra Elan McVoy's "Drive Me Crazy" burns bright with emotion, honesty, and some serious heart! So much insight to the lives of two very different young women, both of whom are learning simultaneously (through different routes) what "friendship" and "strength" really mean.
What makes this book remarkable is not what it teaches you about being a person with autism. It is what it teaches you about being a person at all. I am in awe of it.
Here is the book that became What We Talk about When We Talk about Love before Gordon Lish (Carver's editor) took his (admittedly artful) chainsaw to it. Before it was edited down, Carver warned Lish: "I will die if you make these edits." Lish made them. Carver lived. And thank God, so too did Beginners, Carver's original version of a stunning collection.
This is the kind of complex, thought-provoking read that you can still read in the sunshine. The protagonist, Zhuang, or "Z," is a recent London immigrant from China. Her voice is outstanding, endearing, troubled, and utterly relatable. You won't forget this short but expansive story about love. . . among other things.
So you may have seen the movie already... Or you might have already head the secret behind this mind-blowing gut wrencher of a novel... But if you HAVEN'T, don't let anyone tell you ANYTHING! Seriously. This book is surprising on so many levels. It operates as a love story, a coming-of-age tale, and something else too... something like a meditation. Don't miss this contemporary classic. Kazuo Ishiguro is one of today's most celebrated writers. And, trust me, NEVER LET ME GO will never let you go.
Reader be warned: the undertaking of Richard Yates's masterful first novel is not for the faint-hearted. Think GATSBY. Think Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS. Each laugh comes at a cost. Each hopeful moment is overshadowed by looming skepticism. So why read? Because it is a beautiful, haunting, underrated, classic work of American literature. You'll not soon (if ever) forget April Wheeler or Frank Wheeler as they work to define themselves and their marriage in light of the "American dream."
I had no clue what to expect when I opened up The Shining Girls - and I think that made it all the better. But regardless of what you may or may not have heard about this acclaimed thriller, know this: there is NO WAY you will be able to anticipate any of the countless chills it conducts. I'm convinced I was so engrossed at points, I forgot to blink.
Relentless, brutal, daring, addictive: these are words that come to mind when I think of how to describe this book. Suffice it to say, FEED is unlike anything I've ever read. And while I'm still reeling from it, I can at least say this: M.T. Anderson is evidence of the human mind's vast capacity for imagination and--yes--wisdom. .
What could be "vast" about an ordinary summer in the life of an ordinary kid? The answer: you have to (and you should) read to find out! Through the eyes of Dade, you will recall what it was like to feel both displaced and disoriented as a high schooler. . . But you will also want to be there, feeling it all again, and in some way wishing it had never ended.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. So full of love -- gosh, there is love on every page. For anyone who has ever wondered it would be like to hang out with their grandparents when they were kids, which was totally something I obsessed over as a kid. . . I still do!
— - Will Walton
MOCKINGBIRD won the National Book Award for many reasons. Here are two: it is a stunning rendition of a child Asperger's symdrome's perspective, and it is a powerful portrait of bravery in the face of the most daunting grief. Grab a hankie and be ready to gulp this in one sitting. FOR ADULTS AS WELL AS YOUNG READERS
This is a stupendous book! Ambitious, outrageous, alarming, and upredictable, A.M. Homes's award-winning latest is like a shock to the system. When Harold's older brother George commits a heinous crime, Harold is left to pick up the pieces of what is left of a damaged-but-not-destroyed family.
The first time I set out to write this review, I started to write "heart-stopping" and ended up writing "heart-starting" by accident. It works. This book is both. Maggie Nelson's Jane: A Murderreally does feel like blunt force followed by spiritual revival, and renewal. Given the subject matter, it might come as a shock to hear what a sheer beauty this collection (memoir, mystery, poetry, dream) is. I read the last page, then flipped right back to the start.
This is the book you need to read on a cold, late winter night hoping for spring. You'll start reading and say, "Oh no. This is too dark," but then you'll keep going and you'll see, it's gonna be okay. A truly beautiful, stunningly rendered fairy tale.
Behind all the absurdness in The Alex Crow lies an unexpected applause for humanity. Something that says, "We might never reach a state of 'healing' in this lifetime. But, hey, at least we manage to change." Smith's latest offers a whirlwind reading experience. And, heads up, it's a hair-raiser! Seriously. But this tale of a newly adopted teen's bizarre summer camp experience (set in a dystopic American future, of course) balances shock with lightheartedness and goofiness with some serious pathos. I absolutely loved it.
"And he waited--as he always had--for life to come and find him." Not only is this book chock-full of intriguing flashbacks to the set of the classic Liz Taylor/Richard Burton flick Cleopatra (amongst other places). Not only does it provide a rich, compelling, and highly readable web of narratives. This book itself mirros the beauty of the Italian coastline in its lyricism, in its simple yet musical prose, and in its sheer BEAUTY. This book is a true delight--a perfect summer read, whether or not you're visiting the coast.