RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewHomesick...is a coming-of-age story that includes all the \'firsts\' readers might expect from a narrative about identity formation: first loss, first love, first foray toward independence. It’s a complex portrait of a young Oklahoma woman’s development of a rich and exacting interior life. It’s also a visual love letter to family, language and self-understanding, and the myriad ways in which these realms overlap and complicate one another. Like the writers W. G. Sebald and Teju Cole, who use images to supplement and contextualize ideas, Croft introduces each of her short chapters—some are only a single paragraph—with dreamlike snapshots taken by her or her mother of streets, buildings, birthday parties and everyday moments, to mysterious and engaging effect ... Homesick is the story of a singular consciousness, a strikingly personal account of a deeply troubled young girl’s efforts to absorb disaster—and to persevere—buoyed by her passion for language, its infinite permutations and enigmas ... Every page of this stunning and surprising book turns words around and around, deepening their mystery and making the reader understand that, like a photograph that (somewhat falsely) freezes a moment in time, learning to speak means discovering that words carry both truth and lies.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... exquisite and harrowing ... so gorgeously written and deeply insightful, and with a line of narrative tension that never slacks, from the first page to the last, that it’s one you’ll likely read in a single, delicious sitting ... \'Follow your bliss\' is a popular catchphrase, but Brodeur shows how much work and humility it takes to keep moving toward joy — doggedly, consistently, observantly ... shows what a good memoir can do, using one person’s singular experience to shed light on a fundamental truth of being human. In this case: maternal love, that most primal and powerful kind ... On that fateful night when the author’s mother tells her, \'You must take this secret to your grave,\' the die, it seems, is cast. It is the great gift of this book — and of Brodeur’s life — that she refuses to do so ... Brodeur’s message is poignant and profound: A person need not totally untangle from her family — a group of people with shared DNA that none of us chooses — but neither must she stay unconsciously tethered to them or repeat inherited patterns of relationship. Family holds the ties that bind, but even if you do not wholly reject it, you do not, as Brodeur’s book gloriously proves, have to stay hopelessly, miserably bound.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesMann is not just a visual artist but, it turns out, an earnest and energetic storyteller. In prose that is as lyrical and surprising as her photographs, she offers a spirited account of her early formative experiences of horseback riding and rebellion in the Southern landscapes that deeply informed her childhood ... This direct and unapologetic engagement with race makes up one of the most powerful and interesting — and perhaps problematic — parts of the book and reflects the complicated and difficult history of the place that defines her ... Mann’s prose — luminous, chatty and smart — together with photographs that arrest and provoke — invites readers to hold the camera still with her, and in that space, to imagine whole narratives that accompany these slices in time, no matter how false or incomplete.
RaveAlta\"Although Nora’s story unfolds over a single day, the novel ranges across time and memory, providing a deep sense of history, known and unknown. Obreht’s extraordinary ability to render both landscape and character has enabled her to construct a work of fiction that is enchanting, surprising, and complicated—as full of woe as it is wonder, and deeply attuned to the connection between the two ... a sweeping canvas of a novel that explodes the clichéd origin stories of the American West ... Leveraging deep truths about the power of heartbreak—in particular, a mother’s grief over a lost child and a man’s grief over his inability to protect his \'funny, noble friend\'—Inland offers a brutal vision that extends beyond romanticized depictions of lonely cowboys and rogue outlaws laying claim to lands that never belonged to them.\
RaveThe Boston Globe...[a] wildly entertaining book ... This is precisely why I admire her. She’s not afraid to put her life under a microscope, which is exactly what nonfiction writers should be doing, and it’s necessarily uncomfortable ... Waldman’s prose, crisp and delightful, masterfully weaves personal experience with research ... Reading Waldman’s book, full of passion and integrity and moments of genius hilarity, you’ll want her as a friend, a confidant, a teacher, and — if she still practiced law and you’d been caught with a brick of weed — your lawyer. Like every great nonfiction writer, she uses her personal experience as part of illuminating the larger world, both its beauties and its inequities.
RaveThe Boston Globe...these gorgeously written essays, linked by tone, style, and a singular, ambitious purpose, are brimming with intellect and infused with a caustic, compelling humor that marks our most astute and entertaining cultural critics ... Witt is as fine a literary stylist as Joan Didion, with the same cool, dispassionate gaze that also manages to avoid disinterest. As an essayist she is as rhetorically powerful as Rebecca Solnit.
RaveThe Boston GlobeAs meticulously researched, beautifully written, and disturbingly funny as her previous books, Grunt examines the science behind war, as well as the researchers who are leading the charge in these state-of- the-art developments. Roach’s prose is a triumph — an engaging blend of anecdote, research, and reflection ... Roach describes herself as 'the goober with the flashlight,' but she’s the most courageous — and empathetic — science writer we’ve got. A master of synthesis and scene, she unpacks subjects that on their surface might seem boring, disgusting, outrageous, emotionally charged, or morally suspect and infuses them with insight, humor, and humanity.
Claire Vaye Watkins
MixedThe Boston GlobeWatkins is not a sentimental writer, but she is sometimes a self-indulgent one. Some chapters read like polished writing exercises slotted into the book. Some descriptions feel gratuitously brutal ... While Watkins has an undeniably original voice that’s as hard-edged as the desert Los Angeles that anchors this first novel, her characters have experiences but don’t change much; they make fun of everything but believe in nothing.