RaveThe Seattle TimesA False Report will fascinate readers interested in the finer points of police procedure — even if they grow dizzy trying to keep track of a dozen different police officers and detectives involved with unraveling the multijurisdictional case. An unexpected strength of the book is the chance it affords Jeffrey Mason, one of the original detectives who doubted Marie, to look back on his mistakes ... The message could not be clearer: old theories on why to distrust women reporting rape still influence many of us today, which makes this an especially timely work.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesOne of the most powerful aspects of Ghost is its portrait of time behind bars — the transfers, delays and letter-writing campaigns that form the scaffolding of lives in limbo ... It takes Rachlin 344 pages to bring Mumma together with Grimes, and at times Ghost meanders into tangents. There are moments of clichéd overwriting...But these missteps are redeemed by the sheer weight of information amassed. A story so important and infuriating it is hard to look away.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesThere is a guileless, everything-but-the-kitchen sink quality to these pages that sometimes feels as if we are leafing through Alexie’s private notebooks ... Such unflinching honesty is a hallmark of this brave book. And despite its author’s evident fury — at being bullied, at social injustice, at abusive relatives — You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me reads warmly, as if Alexie is trusting us with his deepest hurts.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesEven in these confess-all times, there are secrets many of us dare not speak. Such as the difficulty of reconciling a feminist identity with the desire to be violated. Or the reality that teenage girls can be both wielders and victims of their own seductive power. Claire Dederer, in a ferociously honest new memoir, Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, walks this minefield. Most shocking of all, she does it with bracing humor ... The momentum lags slightly when Dederer recounts an ill-advised tour through Australia with a stiff, withholding boyfriend. But she is a delightfully mordant companion. You could ask for no better guide to the center of yourself.
PositiveThe Seattle Times...[a] haunting and wistful novel ... As the plot intercuts between Milo’s present-day and Bridey’s pre-internet 1980s, Hoffman’s portraits show just how revolutionary it nowadays is to live outside the norms of commerce ... sometimes guilty of presenting secondary characters as sketches ... An interest in violence — particularly the political and institutional variety — echoes through much of Hoffman’s work. But here, the main actors are street kids, and Hoffman writes about their makeshift family with deep affection for the outsider.
RaveThe Seattle TimesIt is a measure of the power in Jacqueline Woodson’s prose that she can convey all the confused pain of adolescence in a mere 170 pages. Another Brooklyn is a book so careful and slender that its paragraphs read like stanzas of poetry. But its story reverberates like a gong ... Poetry, rather than character development or realism, drives Woodson’s narrative. Yet the social upheaval of those years comes through sharp as the smells of garbage off a city street ... Like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the unflinching coming-of-age tale anchoring “Another Brooklyn” will resonate with teenagers, too.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesIt takes unusual talent to create empathy for a woman who manipulates her targets the way telephone con artist Jelly does in Dana Spiotta’s new novel, Innocents and Others...intimate [and] unsettling.
PositiveThe Seattle Times[The] dual perspective creates the fulcrum for Alligator Candy, which is less a crime story than meditation on the shattering of middle-class innocence and the elusive comforts of memory ... weaves an excruciating wistfulness into his book, an awareness of himself as part of “the last free generation of kids” who, as adults, let fear quash their own children’s freedom. That realization — the divide between those who glide through the world believing it is a basically benign place, and those who step more warily, knowing that it is not — forms the bedrock of Alligator Candy ... Not a particularly stylish writer, Kushner is sometimes prone to cliche...But Kushner also understands the importance of writing with restraint when the action is anything but. In the deft power of a half-sentence, he describes his otherwise distant, unemotive father curled up on the floor of his dead son’s closet.
Amos Kamil and Sean Elder
MixedThe Seattle TimesA weakness is Kamil’s self-congratulatory tone and lack of finely-drawn characters — among them the narrator, who relies on broad-strokes ('I was more of a Springsteen guy') to stand for telling detail. But portraiture is not the aim of his book; Kamil is after honest accounting, and it’s decades overdue.