PositiveSouthern Review of BooksLaura Maylene Walter’s new book, Body of Stars, is set in a vividly imagined alternate reality that feels eerily familiar ... While some aspects of the novel may seem far-fetched, Body of Stars explores the ways in which a person’s physical form can shape their experience of the world. Most women and many men know that this is true because they experience it daily. Body of Stars makes that experience literal, giving it a concrete anchor and making it uniform throughout the novel’s culture ... In Body of Stars, [...] each character struggles to find space for themselves within their predictions and limitations.
RaveSouthern Review of BooksSathian’s writing imbues the novel’s seemingly conventional settings with myth and history, and although the novel serves as a harsh rebuke of the American dream and of the model minority myth, it also holds out hope for individuals to find their own paths ... The novel is dramatic and intriguing with its heists, magic, and romantic subplots, but it is also deeply sad at times ... Sathian’s own research into history and mythology adds depth to the novel’s intellectual landscape without crowding the very human stories she’s telling ... Ultimately...the novel is not dark. In fact, it is filled with hope.
RaveSouthern Review of Books... a beautifully crafted deep dive into the horrific realities of black lung ... Of course, many people are aware of the environmental damage done in the name of natural resources like coal, but Hamby demonstrates that coal companies have inflicted unspeakable human damage alongside that environmental damage ... Hamby does a magnificent job of engaging readers’ emotions in the way he tells these stories and others, and as some of the stories approach unbearable sadness, he gently steers us back to the scientific and legal grounds upon which his argument depends ... I finished this book more quickly than I expected to, and I certainly cried over it more than I expected to. Perhaps I was more emotionally invested than others, but I hope that Hamby’s writing will make the plight of coal miners and their advocates real and personal for all readers.
RaveSouthern Review of BooksBrandon Taylor\'s debut...precisely captures both the dreamy atmosphere and gritty competitiveness of graduate school with stunning grace ... The layers of Wallace’s life are so thoroughly crafted that the overall gravity of his situation seems to sneak up on the reader ... Taylor is able to demonstrate growth in ways that we would not expect from campus novels with younger characters involved ... Each interaction Wallace has with his friends—a dinner party, brunch, a game of tennis—appears normal enough in summary, but Taylor’s detailed descriptions reveal the challenge and loneliness of the situation. Some of the novel’s most dramatic scenes occur because a seemingly-straight friend goes home with Wallace. The next day, their hook-up develops complications, and over the novel’s one-weekend timeframe, the relationship escalates and spirals—at times becoming shockingly violent. These violent moments intrude on an otherwise low-key narrative style, and while this may seem jarring to some readers, it actually aligns quite well with the way Wallace is experiencing other aspects of his life ... As Wallace weighs his options regarding whether to leave school or stay in his program, readers can recognize that the problems of campus life are real world problems.
Laura Jane Grace
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksAlthough gender dysphoria and transitioning have been large parts of Grace’s life, she presents herself here as a complete human being—not just a transperson, but a musician, a parent, a friend, a partner ... Grace does not revise or justify her own past, even when it is problematic; instead, she appears to observe herself, and the result is an honest, genuine text. Fans of Against Me! would expect nothing less from the most infamous anarchist sellout ... Overall, Tranny is a well-crafted memoir that will impress not only Laura Jane’s existing fans but also anyone interested in punk music or transgender rights.