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.
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.\