PositiveBooklistAn epic journey ... Heartrending narrative, rife with loss and disappointment ... Powerfully demonstrates how love and loyalty can overcome obstacles.
PositiveBooklistAchingly evocative, the Black Conch mermaid’s story and the people she meets after her return from the sea powerfully capture the nature of longing and belonging.
Katherine J Chen
RaveBooklist... revolutionary ... Chen masterfully transforms the two-dimensional martyr into a multifaceted woman and warrior.
PositiveBooklistAn enjoyably mind-bending trip through an all-too-realistic depiction of the breakdown of society, Bertie’s unexpected journey explores the power of relationships to shape our reality.
PositiveBooklistIndefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel.
RaveBooklistTouching and witty ... Nović shares revealing glimpses of Deaf history and mythology ... Moving and revelatory.
PositiveBooklistIn this taut, twisty tale, Jeff’s motivations and decisions are open to debate ... As Francis takes Jeff under his wing, readers will be kept in suspense until the final pages about whether Jeff will ultimately embrace or reject his role as Francis’ savior. Thought-provoking psychological fiction.
PositiveBooklistIn achingly tragic retellings, there is more to both crimes than initially appears to be the case in this labyrinthine quest for the truth. This should draw true-crime devotees as well as crime and general-fiction readers.
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, tr. Alexia Trigo
PositiveBooklistSarr pays moving tribute to the courage of everyday people with this examination of survival and sacrifice.
PositiveBooklistTheir struggles and heartbreaks play out on the richly rendered backdrop of a community on the brink of major change.
RaveBooklistAchingly beautiful and poetic in its melancholy, All Our Shimmering Skies is a majestic and riveting tale of curses and the true meaning of treasure.
PositiveBooklistSethi unpacks the traumatic legacy of racism, the scars her experiences have left, and the survival strategies she has learned. Fluidly balancing searing examinations of racial justice with lush descriptions of natural wonders like the waterfall gurgling in Hull Pot chasm, Sethi finds solace in her explorations of nature.
PositiveBooklistWhat the six intertwining stories lack in distinctive voices they make up for in frankness and complexity, as each character reckons with the insidious influence of money on his or her lives and struggles to find success, fulfillment, and love.
PositiveBooklistHarden meticulously outlines how one bitter minister crafted an outlandish lie out of the Whitmans’ deaths, promoting a narrow vision of heroic white Christians destined to conquer the land, a vision that persisted into the twentieth century, echoing far beyond the Pacific Northwest.
RaveBooklistWith gut-punching clarity, Alammar unpacks the complicated identity of a refugee discovering that safety is not what it seems, as she learns to find her voice in a new home.
PositiveBooklist... searing ... Mohr opens up about his alcoholism and drug use with the vigor of someone purging themselves of their darkest memories ... A potent mix of regret and resilience, Mohr’s story confronts his demons while finding a sliver of hope for a better life, however brief.
PositiveBooklist... while prone to detours through esoteric linguistic explorations, will nonetheless amuse word lovers intrigued by the pair’s unusual exploits.
Kao Kalia Yang
PositiveBooklist... [an] elegant testimony to the connections that endure in lives that have been uprooted and torn apart ... Their remarkable stories, though they differ in their details, join together in a chorus of survival and strength. Add this memorable collection to the growing shelves of books documenting the immigrant journey.
RaveBooklistReaders will relish these unforgettable characters and this expansive view of Texas’ wild ride to joining the Union.
L. Annette Binder
PositiveBooklistThis stark accounting of the personal damage inflicted by war draws its power from its homey details, as one family’s life is blown apart.
PositiveBooklistIn this moving and nuanced novel, Abulhawa takes a hard look at the inheritance of exile and the intersection of the political with the personal, as Nahr’s story reveals the complexity beneath the simple narratives told on both sides of a deep divide.
PositiveBooklistIn this haunting debut novel, Blooms makes a mystical exploration of the hidden power that lies within and the strategies assault survivors can undertake to regain a feeling of ownership over body and mind.
PositiveBooklist... In this searing and nuanced exploration of identity, Allie slowly includes more of her own stories in Lana’s book, grappling with how much of herself she must give away and setting the stage for a powder keg of revelations should the truth come out.
PositiveBooklistThis striking debut...follows the flow of [the protagonists\'] thoughts about even the most mundane tasks with a talent for building the sense of claustrophobia that threatens to overwhelm the characters. This attention to the damage seemingly small setbacks can have on someone who is on the edge of a breakdown lends the book’s journey heft, even though, objectively, not much happens. Still, it is a tight slice-of-life narrative, the sort of thing one might see in an indie film, and it will hold readers of literary fiction.
PositiveBooklistAn intriguing story given weight by its examination of what it means to be faithful.
Javad Djavahery, Trans. by Emma Ramadan
PositiveBooklistThis English-language debut of exiled Iranian novelist Djavahery captures the headiness of youth, with all its promise and peril, and displays how seemingly small actions can become pivotal moments when the world is turned on its head.
PositiveBooklistStylish, with a dash of noir and heaps of the exotic and elegant setting, A Hundred Suns flips the script of bored society ladies into something altogether more devious and delicious.
PositiveBooklist... gives a multilayered perspective on the ill-fated voyage. From the challenges of two people finding themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum to Juliet’s depression, which leads her to give up on her dissertation, and the challenges of life at sea, this surprising novel is stunning and deep.
PositiveBooklistSet in the 1950s, just eight years after India’s independence from Britain, this lush novel reveals the intimate lives of India’s elite while reckoning with the hardscrabble lot of the people who served them. Lakshmi’s sister soon learns her own hard lesson about the entitlement of the upper classes, a lesson that threatens the independence Lakshmi has slowly earned for herself. Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the not-so-distant past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on.
RaveBooklistThis stunning debut novel sings with the power of a mother’s love and the heartbreaking risks she’ll endure.
PositiveBooklistSerle takes a fairly generic rom-com setup and turns it into something much deeper in this captivating exploration of friendship, loss, and love.
PositiveBooklistThrough the twists and turns of his search, Dial must follow his own compass to stay true to the son he knew. A complex and moving memoir.
RaveBooklist...as Harvey makes clear in this masterful and captivating memoir, insomnia is not easily defined by its causes, and it’s certainly not easily defeated. At once intensely personal and universal, Harvey’s ruminations on the agony of sleepless nights and the way exhaustion ravages every aspect of waking life. Despairing at the useless advice she’s given and feeling powerless to solve her severe sleeping problems, Harvey nonetheless finds courage to fight on.
Eliese Colette Goldbach
PositiveBooklistBringing her perspective as an outsider—both as a woman and a liberal—to this insightful account of the steel worker’s lot, Goldbach displays refreshing candor and hard-earned knowledge about the issues that divide us and the work that unites us.
PositiveBooklistA compelling takedown of the pitfalls of start-up culture, from sexism to the lack of guardrails, Uncanny Valley highlights the maniacal optimism of the twentysomethings behind the screens and the pitfalls of the culture they are building.
PositiveBooklistRosenbloom offers a leisurely look at the simple treasures waiting to be uncovered by the solo traveler ... She also unpacks research on the benefits to approaching the world with a willingness to try something new, and a commitment to staying in the present moment. The combination makes for a richly rewarding guide for any explorer, whether of distant lands or one’s own backyard.
Ryan Leigh Dostie
PositiveBooklistFrom her first 11 years being raised in a Christian cult, through her deployment, and then her move to the academic world, bearing the trauma of PTSD and searching for an elusive sense of closure, Dostie exposes the terrible isolation of fighting a lonely battle for justice against an all-powerful institution.
PositiveBooklistNobody does nostalgia like Rushin. He doesn’t traffic in rose-tinted memories of golden afternoons but, instead, basks in the harsh lights of the White Castle parking lot and the unusual nighttime clientele those lights reveal. Following up on his childhood memoir ... Rushin returns in top form to share his journey from age 13 to 22 in the 1980\'s ... His memories are crammed with cultural touchstones, from the latest in wood-paneled technology, including cassette tapes from competitors that irk Rushin’s 3M executive father, to the nuclear wasteland depicted in The Day After to the beer jingles clamoring for attention on the air. A fun and nuanced coming-of-age story, Nights in White Castle offers a rollicking ride down memory lane.
PositiveBooklistWith open-mindedness and empathy, Tobola explores how systemic issues play out in individuals’ lives as they grasp for light in the darkness.
RaveBooklistAs Rose struggles to understand Gameela and come to grips with her husband’s role in the events that led to her death, a multifaceted look at the complicated legacies of identity, religion, and politics in Egypt after the Arab Spring emerges. Even the story of the suicide bomber is given careful consideration in this enlightening, heartrending novel.
PositiveBooklistGreenwood is unsparing in surveying the many obstacles Zee is up against—drug dealing and addiction, debt, distrust—and the inventiveness of the plot is nicely matched by the richness of the characters, as the unlikely duo of Zee and Gentry prepares for the battle of their lives.
PositiveBooklistInventive and engrossing, this novel casts a glaring light on the so-called Age of Enlightenment and the realities that come crashing down on Powyss’ high-minded pursuit of knowledge.
PositiveBooklistAs much a literary journey as a geographic one, full of travails as well as triumphs, Richards’ account proves with graceful prose that what’s most important is not where you travel, but how.
PositiveBooklista graceful debut from Chaudhry, its sedate pacing revealing a finely textured world where grief and love commingle. Julien’s spirit travels across time but keeps careful vigil over Sylvie, their separate paths nonetheless a powerful testament to the enduring strength of the bonds we form in life.
PositiveBooklistWith delightful self-deprecating wit and the enthusiasm of a devotee, Gornall recalls his massive undertaking, celebrating the kindred spirits who signed on to help him on his way, the history of traditional boatbuilding, and even the mercurial attention his daughter pays to the project. With all the pitfalls and setbacks Gornall experiences along the way, his commitment to his one-of-a-kind gift makes for an inspiring journey.
Delphine Minoui, Trans. by Emma Ramadan
PositiveBooklist[Minoui\'s] experiences, addressed as a letter to her grandfather in this clear-eyed and insightful work, capture the stifling reality of life in Iran.
PositiveBooklistWith candor and outrage, [Bhagwati] recounts the many challenges women face in the armed services and the ways they are separated from the men, down to regulations to keep their hair long ... From boot camp to Congress, Bhagwati’s fight is both incensing and inspiring.
Abbigail N Rosewood
PositiveBooklistIn this debut novel, Rosewood presents with searing clarity the uncertain and confusing world of a child with no one to guide her, followed by the equally confounding scenarios that confront her as a young woman, when she falls for Lilah, a woman whose motives for friendship stem from her own desires ... A poignant tale of loneliness and love.
PositiveBooklistAs Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) investigated the tragic impact that unethical scientific pursuits had on a family, Toms River unravels the careless environmental practices that damaged a community ... Former Newsday environmental journalist Fagin’s work may not be quite as riveting in its particulars as Skloot’s book, but it features jaw-dropping accounts of senseless waste-disposal practices set against the inspiring saga of the families who stood up to the enormous Toms River chemical plant. The fate of the town, we learn, revolves around the science that cost its residents so much.
PositiveBooklist\"Langsdorf gleefully skewers small-town stereotypes, such as the sharp and ambitious real-estate agent, the suburban dad hiding a pot habit, and the sorority sister who can’t figure out how she ended up unhappy. But beneath the caricatures are deeper truths about belonging, community, and relationships. In this smartly satirical novel, the raging feud reveals much about the residents’ core values.\
PositiveBooklistPoignant and absorbing, Saturday’s Child carefully examines how a daughter’s childhood obsession became a more complicated reckoning with her mother’s secrets.
Marcus Malte, Trans. by Emma Ramadan and Tom Roberge
RaveBooklist\"Malte’s prose, in translation, is transcendent. With its stunning array of characters and meditations on the meaning of life’s travails, the boy’s story poignantly raises the question of what, exactly, it means to be civilized.\
PositiveBooklistTsabari brings to her writing a clear voice and a keen ability to capture a moment in its entirety.
RaveBooklistA work of incredible beauty ... Astoundingly captivating and striking in its portrayal of love, betrayal, and death, The Night Tiger is a transcendent story of courage and connection.
PositiveBooklistProviding only a few details to indicate time and place in this assured debut, Sudbanthad provides a broad overview of Bangkok’s history while diving deep into individual stories of romance, revolution, and suffering. The result is similar to an Impressionist painting, a picture made up of many vivid stories that combine to create a resonant whole.
PositiveBooklistA lifetime of memories ... The relationships [Doris] forms along the way, from the tortured gay artist who becomes a lifelong friend to the charismatic young man whose love drives Doris to battle enormous odds in an attempt to find him during WWII, are beautifully brought to life in this sweetly elegiac novel.
RaveBooklist... [a] powerful novel ... Szalay’s spare writing packs an emotional punch, his impressionistic sketches capturing in just a few pages the pivotal moments of entire lives. Turbulence is an inventive examination of the ties that bind us together and the ease with which they can be broken.
Lynda Cohen Loigman
PositiveBooklistTensely emotional ... With a perceptive lens on the challenges of whittling away grievances that have built up over years, The Wartime Sisters is a powerful pressure cooker of a family drama.
PositiveBooklistIn this astonishing memoir ... examining the arduous, years-long process by which she left her former life behind, Linnell ultimately also faces her own culpability. This is an anguished account of losing oneself completely and fighting afterward to rebuild.
PositiveBooklist\"... In this quick-witted collection of essays, advice columnist Havrilesky pointedly asks whether it is possible to be satisfied without having everything our world of excess offers us ... [Havrilesky] presents some more personal stories about love and loss that tantalizingly offer a glimpse into a more grounded way of life, leavening the dark atmosphere with humor and hope.\
Perumal Murugan, Trans. by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
RaveBooklistA heartrending portrait of the painful challenges faced by a couple struggling with infertility. A moving tale that transcends time and place.
RaveBooklist\"With masterful artistry, DeWitt weaves together the individual narratives of relations both during WWII and for decades afterward, creating a multilayered narrative of survival and redemption ... Each story can stand on its own, but together they offer a powerful kaleidoscopic view of the many ways war takes its toll and the small moments of beauty it nevertheless contains.\
PositiveBooklist\"If Downton Abbey showcases a well-oiled machine of domestic efficiency in an English estate, you might think the servants surrounding British monarchs would be held to an even higher standard of discretion and excellence. And, as historian Tinniswood warns, you’d be entirely wrong. The reality, as he explores in this diverting book covering the domestic life at court from Elizabeth to Elizabeth, is both much messier and incredibly interesting.
PositiveBooklist\"Montgomery relates Wingo’s adventures—from scrapes with police officers and gypsies to a feud with a ship’s steward that escalated to epic proportions—with a down-home wittiness and frankness that perfectly match Wingo’s own plainspoken, earnest manner.\
PositiveBooklistWhile he presents the election of Donald Trump as a symptom of the country’s troubles, he places blame equally on both parties, claiming that the Democrats have betrayed the working and middle classes. Convinced that without radical change, the U.S. will only last one to two decades before a complete collapse, he lays out a revolutionary solution that some will decry as socialism while others will endorse for its commitment to justice. This is an exceedingly dark, passionate, and provocative book, certain to arouse controversy but offering a point of view that needs to be heard.
PositiveBooklistIn writing this memoir, Brohi continues her work speaking out against the honor killings still happening in certain tribal cultures in Pakistan. In doing so, she is continuing another family tradition of courage begun by her father, who went against his family’s wishes by refusing to give Brohi away in marriage before she was even born ... This eye-opening story reveals the hard work of changing minds.
Bart Van Es
PositiveBooklistVan Es vividly shares her recollections, which are startling in their child’s-eye view of life in wartime, and his own travels through Holland to discover how Lientje’s story fits into the larger narrative of the Dutch people’s complicity with, and sometimes resistance to, the Nazis ... Lientje was one of only 2,000 Jews to survive out of 18,000 in The Hague in 1940. Her story powerfully sheds light on one of the darkest periods in history.
PositiveBooklistWhile the two eldest daughters jockey for position in the midst of their own personal unhappiness, the youngest and favorite remains mostly offstage, creating uncertainty about what will become of both the Company and the family. Taneja deftly exposes the stark contrast between the Twitter-saturated media narrative surrounding the rich and powerful, and the reality of their actions. Multilayered and densely structured, We That Are Young offers a fresh take on a timeless tale.
PositiveBooklistWhile Green offers a smorgasbord of insider information on Rolling Stone, the trajectory of her eventual career as a television writer, where she would become one of the forces behind The Sopranos, only to be fired in its last season, is fascinating as well. Filled with plenty of sex, drugs, and some rock ’n’ roll, this offers a one-of-a-kind perspective on the people behind a cultural phenomenon.
PositiveBooklist...[a] fascinating memoir ... Here she offers an incredible view of a little-known community, from WWII all the way through 9/11, and examines how her family navigated life in a town built for war.
RaveBooklistSchumacher satirizes the pitfalls of academia with searing wit, skewering everything from the abominable faculty offices to the eccentric personalities throughout the university. Beneath the comedy lies a tragic commentary on the state of higher education, when money counts for more than scholarship, and power is directly tied to fundraising ability. The Shakespeare Requirement offers a desperately funny take on campus foibles, as Schumacher stretches reality to the boundaries of absurdity in this raucous underdog tale.
RaveBooklist Online\"With a potent combination of anguish and hope, a child’s faith and an adult’s cynicism, Guerrero’s search for answers further builds up the mystery surrounding this central figure in her life and explores the many borders, both physical and mystical, that her father transcends.\
PositiveBooklist\"Franqui deftly juggles her characters’ competing perspectives, mining small moments in the narrative for larger insights into cultural and personal differences. As they travel west, each character is making an internal journey as well, which is a delight to watch unfold. This is a humorous and heartfelt excursion into the promise that America represents, to both natives and immigrants, and an emotional examination of what that promise means in practice.\
Deborah Fallows and James Fallows
RaveBooklistWith a commitment to observation and a sincere desire to understand each place on their journey, they offer a fascinating review of the many economic, environmental, educational, and cultural efforts taking place all over America. Far from the national narrative of crisis and decay, the authors suggest that a more hopeful renewal may be under way.
Négar Djavadi, Trans. by Tina Kover
RaveBooklistWhat is obvious from the beginning of this riveting novel is that Djavadi is an immensely gifted storyteller, and Kimiâ’s tale is especially compelling ...
Kimiâ unthreads the narratives of her family history, and the shaping of her own identity, with the insight and verve of a master storyteller.
PositiveBooklistEmma must navigate the complexities of living in a country she does not completely understand even while her marriage is undergoing cataclysmic shifts that could very well send it tumbling down. Her resilience and reflection during this crucible moment in her life offer a satisfyingly complex look at the challenges of life abroad.
Åsne Seierstad, Trans. by Seán Kinsella
PositiveBooklistSeierstad delves into the lives of the sisters before they left, as they slowly were drawn into the beliefs of the terrorist group, and examines the crater they left in the lives of their parents and brothers after their departure ... As extreme as their decision was, this incremental retelling of their conversion reveals just how perniciously a powerful doctrine can take over young lives.
RaveBooklistWith unflinching realism and complicated, captivating characters, Steavenson tackles the turbulent realities of the war against terror by diving deeply into the history and motivations of the people waging their own personal battles in search of the truth.
Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, Trans. by Brian FitzGibbon
PositiveBooklistHotel Silence is a beautifully spare and insightful tale of redemption.
RaveBooklistBadkhen is a spellbinding writer, her observations at once hypnotic and elegiac, witnessing a fragile community just barely getting by.
RaveBooklist Online\"This powerful, heart-wrenching novel and its two unforgettable heroines offer an extraordinary example of the strength that can be summoned in even the most terrible situations.\
PositiveBooklistWith the insight and curiosity of someone on the outside looking in, Buruma describes a transformational moment in the making of modern Japanese culture.
RaveBooklistWhether her subjects eloped in defiance of the bride’s father or were brought together by an online matchmaker, Flock puts you at the center of their stories in an impressive feat of reporting, bringing forward details culled from encounters and interviews over several years ... These three marriages, without the Bollywood polish, offer an unforgettable look at both the risks and rewards of real-life romance.
RaveBooklist\"Splendid ... A witty, strongly drawn group of female voices tells Aviva’s story ... [Zevin] has created a fun and frank tale. Her vibrant and playful writing, and the fully realized characters taking turns as narrator, bring the story a zestful energy, even while exploring dark themes of secrecy and betrayal. Zevin perfectly captures the realities of the current political climate and the consequences of youthful indiscretions in an era when the Internet never forgets.”
PositiveBooklist“A memorable mixture of literature and life ... One of the students in Mendelsohn's spring undergraduate seminar on Homer's Odyssey was quite different from the others: Mendelsohn's own father. Classroom discussions of Odysseus’ long, wandering journey home to Ithaca led father and son to undertake a real-life Mediterranean cruise retracing the Greek warrior’s travels. Mendelsohn begins to see his father in a new light even while the older man challenges the basic tenets of Homer’s epic ... [It is] a journey of understanding they undertake together. Interesting and instructive.”
RaveBooklist...filled with crisp humor and weird but endearing characters. As Lois takes her first tentative steps into the world of baking, her loaves appear to have faces in the crust, and the starter—Is it singing?—takes on a life of its own. Then, after she gains entry into a mysterious underground farmers market on the cutting edge of food technology, demand for her special sourdough begins to rise. At once a parody of startup culture and a foodie romp, Sourdough is an airy delight, perfect for those who like a little magic with their meals, as in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.
RaveBooklistWalking in Eleanor’s practical black Velcro shoes is delightfully amusing, her prudish observations leavened with a privately puckish humor. But readers will also be drawn in by her tragic backstory, which slowly reveals how she came to be so entirely Eleanor. Witty, charming, and heartwarming, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a remarkable debut about a singular woman. Readers will cheer Eleanor as she confronts her dark past and turns to a brighter future. Feel good without feeling smarmy.
PositiveBooklist\"Each chapter offers a crystalline glimpse into a different character’s life, their stories jarringly redirected by the conflicts in the Middle East. Alyan uses deft storytelling to show that the way the characters’ relatives see them does not always match the view from their own eyes. Each of those points of view offers insight into the clashes and misunderstandings that arise between the generations, aggravated by the tension between tradition and modernity. This is a moving story about a family’s battle to salvage what remains when their home is taken away.\