PositiveBookpageHamer showcases his intimate knowledge of the natural world. The book is organized by season, resembling a diary of a year in the garden. It’s a lyrical reflection on days spent with hands in dirt and decisions based on close observation of the weather ... As the year unfolds, Hamer reflects on the cycles to which all living things are bound. Little happens in the narrative, save for the dramatic living and dying of all things, but Hamer’s careful eye for detail and deep knowledge of the garden’s dozens upon dozens of plants are used to great effect, creating a lush landscape into which a reader can disappear. In Seed to Dust , Hamer invites readers to join him in quiet meditation on the earth.
RaveBookPageThroughout her debut essay collection, Spilt Milk, Zoffness applies thoughtful analysis to everyday situations ... Throughout Spilt Milk, Zoffness’ essays plait her life experiences with larger observations about society. In her layered storytelling, she brings empathy to every situation and often finds empathy for herself along the way. Spilt Milk is a generous, warm debut from an already prizewinning writer.
RaveBookPageTompkins’ experience in the legal system (she was a mediator and judicial officer) exposed her to great tragedy, and this background informs her empathetic exploration of her characters’ lives. She writes about mental health and faith, particularly Isaac’s Quaker beliefs, without sentimentalizing or damning her characters’ experiences. In the novel, faith is simply part of life, a reality that is rarely so sensitively portrayed in fiction.
PositiveBookPage[Wickenden] brings a reporter’s eye for detail to this complex history ... Wickenden’s detailed account of these women and their friendship weaves together Tubman’s escape from enslavement, the complexities of Lincoln’s early slavery policy, the beginnings of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. and their imperfect intersections. Using primary sources such as the women’s own letters, Wickenden invites readers to take a closer look at the path of American progress and the women who guided it.
RaveBookPageIn vividly detailed scenes spanning more than 25 years, Coster (author of Halsey Street and one of the National Book Foundation’s \'5 Under 35\' for 2020) illuminates the impact of Noelle’s and Gee’s families and formative years ... Coster allows every major player their time in the spotlight. Her rich character development illustrates the many ways family and circumstances can influence who we become.
PositiveBookPage... an intimate work told in an imaginative style, with the events that shaped its author rippling throughout her nonlinear story. The structure mimics the all-consuming effect that a moment—a personal earthquake—can have on a life.
Connor Towne O'Neill
PositiveBookPageThough O’Neill doesn’t go too deep into his own experience, sharing his inner monologue serves as an invitation for white readers to likewise examine the ways they have benefited from systems built by and in the interest of white people. Along the way, O’Neill offers all readers a lens through which to examine their relationship to the past.The monuments O’Neill writes about were erected long after Forrest’s death. In this way, the Confederacy isn’t just history. It’s a foundation for how our present-day society functions. In recounting the ways Nathan Bedford Forrest’s legacy shows up in contemporary life, Down Along With That Devil’s Bones points to the oppression these monuments seek to preserve. This book is a well-researched history and a call for reformation in America.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Illustrated by Fumi Nakamura
RaveBookPageNezhukumatathil’s delight in the world isn’t dulled by the world’s racism, but she doesn’t shy away from sharing her experiences of being on the receiving end of discrimination ... By examining the world around her, Nezhukumatathil finds an ongoing sense of connection to that world ... as sparkling as an armful of glass bangles and as colorful as the peacocks that first captured Nezhukumatathil’s imagination.
PositiveBookPageBackman’s gift for portraying the nuances of humanity is well known to his many loyal fans. With Anxious People, Backman once again captures readers’ hearts and imaginations ... Backman describes these events with a light touch, making clear early on that, though there’s a crime at the heart of this story, his novel is much more than this series of events ... could reasonably be called a mystery, but it’s also a deeply funny and warm examination of how individual experiences can bring a random group of people together. Backman reveals each character’s many imperfections with tremendous empathy, reminding us that people are always more than the sum of their flaws.
PositiveBookPageeager shares a passion for the universe so deep that even this reviewer, a physics dunce, could grasp why she would spend her life gazing toward other planets. Analytical yet lyrical, Seager’s memoir is an examination of the parallels between searching for new life in the multiverse and starting over with a new life on Earth—the sort of connection only an astrophysicist might make.
PositiveBookPageAs they navigate a changing terrain and their own emotional landscapes, Cook incorporates the whole of human experience. The New Wilderness examines our relationships to place and to others as the Community considers its right to be on the land and whether others have any business sharing the space.
RaveBookPageZinna displays her deep understanding of the writing craft, born in part of her experience as a creative writing teacher and former executive co--director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Her stunning debut novel is a twisting tale of grief, hope and self-deceit, a story as mesmerizing as the young women at its heart.
RaveBookPageCrawford, a novelist, uses her storytelling skill to illuminate the myriad ways female students were taught that their desires and bodies were less valuable than—even subject to—those of their male peers ... Crawford’s detailed account of her assault and its aftermath relies on an indelible memory as well as careful research. Medical reports and other documentation help her piece together the school’s reaction when she revisits it decades later, after other victims began holding the school accountable ... a ghastly account, beautifully told, of a teenage girl learning that people in power often value reputation above all else.
Molly McCully Brown
PositiveBookPageWhether she’s writing about traveling Italy in a wheelchair or managing a classroom of adolescents in Texas, Brown offers poetic, contemplative insight about her experiences. Yes, these moments are all, necessarily, observed from the vantage point of her particular body. But even when she revisits an idea or a location, the ideas are always fresh ... Brown has won awards and acclaim for her poetry collection The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, and her prose is equally lyrical ... careful attention shines in this essay collection, which opens a window into Brown’s graceful interior life.
RaveBookPage... thoroughly researched, as evidenced by its detailed source notes and bibliography, but in this gifted storyteller’s hands, it never feels like homework. Lalami braids statistics and historical context with her lived experiences to illustrate how unjust policies and the biases that feed them can affect individual lives.
RaveBookPage... the sort of novel that can suck a reader in and hold them until a whole day has passed, but it’s also a multidimensional story with riches revealed through close attention ... With a light hand and a touch of mystery, Hankin’s debut explores feminism, class and the expectations placed on mothers. This is a romp with substance, consumed easily as a beach read but offering ample opportunity for self-reflection.
PositiveBookPageSafina brings his considerable expertise to his research, and it’s clear he doesn’t leave his heart at home ... full of such rich observations, as well as many others by scientists who recognize their own humanity in the animals they study ... offers readers a window into the complex and curious lives of the three species it depicts and invites humans to observe the beauty and joy of each species’s nuances.
PositiveBookPageBieker leans into her story’s heft. It’s a deeply affecting picture of a megalomaniac who treats his congregation as his puppets. It’s a portrayal of what can happen when people are so hungry for hope that they abandon reason. It shows a world where women’s bodies are not their own, where one man has the authority to determine what happens to those bodies ... It’s a heightened portrait, but Godshot is a story that parallels some of the challenges faced in the United States today ... [Bieker\'s] debut novel, though, is a shout to the world: I’m here. I have something to say. And I can capture your imagination as I do it.
PositiveBookPageAlderton isn’t afraid to share unflattering moments or to laugh at herself, and readers may find solace in realizing they aren’t alone at the party ... a vivid retelling of a woman’s growth from neophyte to independent adult, and the depth of the essays increases as Alderton’s own life experience increases. This memoir, already a bestseller in England and translated into 20 languages, is sure to remind others that it’s OK—even normal—to stumble on your way through life.
PositiveBookPage... a novella that shimmers with Ella’s frustration and desire for justice. Onyebuchi expertly weaves supernatural elements through an all-too-realistic, thrilling story.
PositiveBookPage... imaginative ... Even against a science fiction backdrop, humanity is the center of Chen’s post-apocalyptic tale ... Chen’s fast-paced tale is an optimistic look at how our humanity can bring out the best in us, even in the darkest times.
PositiveBookPageElements of Mister Rogers’ biography may be familiar to his fans, but Edwards’ careful research is sure to introduce new facts to most readers. Though the section, which spans half the book, would benefit from chapter breaks, it effectively sets up part two ... The second half of the book moves quickly, in part because of how deftly Edwards identifies why Mister Rogers remains a legend ... The lessons Edwards shares are simple, just like so many of the messages on Mister Rogers’ PBS program ... Edwards is well versed in popular culture...In Kindness and Wonder, he helps readers see how the lessons from a children’s television legend remain relevant, no matter one’s age.
PositiveBookpageThe Great Pretender is an account of Cahalan’s own research. In addition to Rosenhan’s study, she weaves in glimpses of other similar experiments, such as Nellie Bly’s well-documented experience as a journalist going undercover in a psychiatric hospital. The book is a detailed examination of psychiatry in the decades since the publication of Rosenhan’s groundbreaking, if elusive, study.
Carol Rifka Brunt
RavePaste MagazineIn Tell the Wolves I’m Home, first-time novelist Carol Rifka Brunt movingly portrays an adolescent girl’s struggle to comprehend love in a time and a culture under strain as it comes to terms with a complicated disease ... Brunt’s lauded novel, recently released in paperback, offers insight into the complicated web of human emotions. This immensely satisfying tale will remind readers of all ages how much can be gained from understanding another person’s life—and their loves.
RaveBook PageBertino’s prose easily dips in and out of the lives of her characters as she weaves them together, including insight into secondary figures at each turn. With vivid description and great character development, Bertino brings Philadelphia and its inhabitants to life in an unforgettable tale.
PositiveBookPageThe basic plotline of this story—a couple falls in love, one cheats and then they struggle to determine what comes next—isn’t unusual. But in I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, first-time novelist Courtney Maum has crafted the story of a relationship so believable, so realistic that readers will be left wondering until the last minute whether the couple will reunite. Maum, whose years in France (and marriage to a Frenchman) color the book, is a brand strategist and humor columnist. But the razor-sharp writing and character insights of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You suggest that readers have much to look forward to from this talented storyteller.
PositiveBookPageBeth Piatote strings together stories like the intricate strands of a handmade necklace. The Beadworkers gathers those strings together into an illustrious whole ... Piatote’s creativity shows up throughout the book ... The collected pieces of The Beadworkers explore place and identity in vibrant scenes. Throughout, Piatote reveals Native American life in contexts modern, historic and mythical.
Clyde W. Ford
PositiveBookPageClyde blends personal experience with technological and racial history to reveal how these things influenced one another. This wide-ranging memoir includes complex details about software and hardware as well as an exploration of IBM’s ties to oppressive regimes. While his examination of the past can’t change his relationship with his father, Clyde Ford’s words powerfully honor his father’s dreams and contributions to the digital age.
RaveBookPageFuller carefully picks away at the tangle of her grief by exploring her dad’s life, gliding between her own experience in the present and his raucous past Travel Light, Move Fast is a sensitive, meticulously wrought portrait of one family’s sometimes-challenging dynamics, set against an unforgiving African backdrop. Fuller’s beautiful prose juxtaposes the grieving process with the lessons she learned from the man whose adventures shaped her.
RaveBookPageBestselling young adult novelist Jaclyn Moriarty brings her unfettered imagination and a buoyant sense of humor to Gravity Is the Thing. She explores difficult subjects, such as the loss of a sibling, with a light touch. As Abi accepts an invitation to re-examine her life, readers may laugh, cry and even reflect on their own paths of discovery.
PositiveBookPageKathleen Hale isn’t hiding from the controversy ... The six essays that comprise Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker will leave readers—book bloggers or not—with plenty to consider ... The collection isn’t always an easy read, but it’s a thought-provoking look at society and one woman’s place within it.
RaveBookPageThe essays that compose Late Migrations stand on their own, offering glimpses into loss and living as they toggle between Renkl’s past and present across the Southern U.S. Taken together, though, they create a narrative that depicts not only the migrations of winged creatures but also the lives of Renkl’s family. (Appropriately, Renkl’s reflections are punctuated with illustrations by her brother, Billy Renkl. The images are as captivating as the author’s contemplative yet powerful words) ... quiet, lovely observations.
PositiveBookPage... a charming love story that’s likely to warm your heart ... The central conceit of The Flatshare may seem unlikely to some readers, but debut novelist Beth O’Leary has created a sweet, never saccharine tale ... Peppered with amusing quips and multidimensional characters, this quick, engaging read is labeled a romantic comedy, but it also grapples with some of life’s more difficult moments. Even readers skeptical of the novel’s fanciful premise may find themselves surprised by the thoughtful way O’Leary faces not only new love but also the traces of individual pasts.
PositiveBookPageOnce More We Saw Stars isn’t about the tragedy that befell a family—although Greene recounts with exquisite detail how he felt in the tragic days that ended his daughter’s life. The memoir is instead a story of a couple who faced one of the worst things imaginable and still continued to choose life.
PositiveBookPageCollins’ interest in bookbinding is apparent in her enchanting descriptions of these vessels of memories. She also found inspiration in her work with the Samaritans, the British charity organization she volunteered with, working with people who had experienced trauma. The Binding is an imaginative, thought-provoking tale of how—for better and worse—moments can define who we become.
PositiveBookPage...filled with such endearing, revealing moments ... Readers of her past memoirs will recognize Reichl’s lighthearted but dedicated approach to her work ... They’ll be welcomed by her big-hearted approach to the dinner table ... And new readers will be equally delighted by Reichl’s account of an influential magazine, its final days and the many moments that illustrate the ways food can bring people together.
PositiveBookPageThroughout the book, [Jones] reiterates the importance of justice—for the girls’ families, certainly, but also for all people affected by this act of terrorism. Bending Toward Justice is a vivid journey toward that understanding. As Jones and co-author Greg Truman lay out the details of these pivotal civil rights cases, they also examine how much the country has learned—and how much it still has to grow.
PositiveBookPage\"In her bold debut novel, The Age of Light, Whitney Scharer gives new life to Lee Miller ... Scharer’s lusty prose illuminates Lee’s struggles and ambition in this lush tale.\
PositiveBookPage\"Although [Houston] examines the forces that uniquely shaped her in Deep Creek, the collection is as universal as it is personal ... Deep Creek is one woman’s reckoning of her past and the land where she’s found herself, but it is also a reflection on what it means to be a soft-hearted human in an ever-changing and sometimes frightening world.\
PositiveBookPage\"Barking with the Big Dogs: On Writing and Reading Books for Children compiles Babbitt’s speeches and articles spanning 34 years, and in many cases the work addresses the \'big dogs,\' the writers and critics who focus on work meant for adults ... Throughout the timeless essays in Barking with the Big Dogs, Babbitt dissects these concepts [explored in children\'s books] for her adult audiences. Regardless of the reader’s age, imaginative work can invite people to step out of themselves and their everyday lives to explore other possibilities.\
John Jay Osborn
PositiveBookpageShows Osborn is still able to home in on the heart of a story and reveal its characters’ motivations ... a page turner, with the reader thrust into the characters’ most vulnerable moments, and it’s easy to read in a single sitting.
PositiveBookPageTheir [Elsie and Florence\'s] adventures are amusing and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. But there are serious moments, too. As the friends examine their pasts, Florence begins to recall moments she had forgotten—or perhaps blocked out ... Cannon’s novel is a heartwarming meditation on friendship and the way people we love shape us for the rest of our days.
PositiveBookPage\"In An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green explores the power of social media ... Green’s debut novel is an adventurous romp that combines science fiction and interpersonal drama to explore identity, relationships, a polarized world and the influence of media and popular opinion. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a fun, fast read that invites readers to contemplate their position in the modern world.\
PositiveBookPageFiona Davis has established herself as a master of historical settings and fictional recollections of those worlds ... And with The Masterpiece, Davis shows yet again that New York’s historic structures are apt settings for intrigue ... Davis expertly switches between the lives of Clara and Virginia, weaving their struggles for independence and security with Grand Central’s history. Readers will be drawn into the lives of these remarkable women—and, alongside Virginia, into the mystery of what happened to Clara.
Janet Dewart Bell
PositiveBookPageFifty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Bell’s oral history reflects on the contributions of some of the movement’s female leaders. Bell introduces each of the nine women, offering context for their lives and accomplishments. Throughout Bell’s interviews, many of these leaders refer to one another, an indication of how interconnected their contributions were. The nine histories intersect, but they are also easy to read as independent narratives ... Thanks to Bell’s work and these women’s willingness to share their stories, they are gaining that attention—even five decades later.
PositiveBookPageBy sharing her story in No One Tells You This, MacNicol gives implicit permission for other women to embrace the lives they’ve chosen ... [MacNicol\'s memoir] will help women of all ages and life circumstances understand the experience of today’s single-and-joyful woman.
PositiveBookPageIn Dear Mrs. Bird, debut novelist AJ Pearce draws inspiration from women’s magazine advice columnists of the era. The result is a charming story full of as much pluck and grit as its protagonist.
Darnell L. Moore
PositiveBookPageHis lyrical reflection reveals a teenage boy in search of his family story—and a young man who ran from it ... Moore describes years of self-loathing and the drugs, then religiosity, he used to mask his desires. He faces his biases against certain people, such as black femme men, and in doing so he realizes—and invites the reader to recognize—that justice means freedom and equality for all.
PositiveBookPage\"Alam explores these issues with grace, contrasting the experiences of these two women with those of Rebecca’s idol, Princess Diana. That Kind of Mother is a meditation on race and the challenges and joys of parenting.\
RaveBookPageWetherall’s captivating No Way Home is a reminder that our actions affect not only our own paths but also the lives of everyone close to us. Our stories are intertwined with our loved ones’ lives, no matter what distances—or steel bars—come between us.
PositiveBookPageLongtime music journalist Robert Gordon shares the city’s tales in Memphis Rent Party, a collection of his past work. Though much of this material is previously published, each piece is injected with new life by Gordon’s introductions, in which he offers a reflection on the essay’s inception. Gordon isn’t afraid to reveal some of the complicated workings behind the curtain ... The collection is loosely autobiographical, as Gordon appears as a character in many of these portraits. He’s a man who was raised by the city, who discovered within its boundaries the music that would drive his life forward. Readers may find hope and inspiration, just as Gordon did, in the drive and passion of these musicians.
PositiveBookPageBall’s spare prose centers on the father’s inner monologue and in the process offers a glimpse of a person facing his inevitable end ... Census is a thoughtful, introspective novel that may leave readers contemplating the value of their own relations and inner lives.
PositiveBookPage\"Readers will meet y-Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, who weren’t the Earth’s original inhabitants but are those from whom we can trace our origins. They likely didn’t know each other, but their DNA has separately survived the centuries. They’re our eight-thousandth-great grandparents, so to speak. Readers will delight in Jacobs’ other discoveries, such as his relationship to George H.W. Bush, and his uncertain approach to organizing the world’s largest family reunion. It’s All Relative is another installment in Jacobs’ brand of learning, with a lot of laughter along the way.\
RaveBookPageSarah recounts her journey to understand her own experience and who her mother was. The book, like her childhood, is split into two parts: her memories, and her efforts to move forward. After the Eclipse is a thoroughly researched account of Crystal Perry’s death and the efforts to bring her murderer to justice, yet this is so much more than a typical true crime tale. Sarah Perry has created a captivating and emotionally raw account of the event that changed her life and how it shaped her.