RaveBooklistHowrey’s prose invites readers to feel the emotion of each dance, beautifully translating physical and visual art onto the page. While some plot elements resolve surprisingly smoothly, Howrey’s incisive character studies create a heart-wrenching story of love and loss.
E M Tran
PositiveBooklistTiên’s mother’s and grandmother’s chapters give additional depth to the Trungs’ lost family history. Layered with magical realism, Tran’s novel is a complex meditation on history, memory, and what each generation carries.
PositiveBooklist... an enjoyable memoir of one woman’s search for destiny. While some readers may struggle to remain sympathetic during some of the author’s less self-aware moments in Paris, her conversational writing makes for a fun and escapist read.
Efrén C Olivares
PositiveBooklistOlivares describes his clients’ heart-wrenching stories alongside his own history as a young immigrant from Mexico, following his father to Texas. Part memoir, part exploration of the racism inherent in U.S. immigration policy, and part tribute to the families who have suffered at the hands of the U.S. government, My Boy Will Die of Sorrow is a thought-provoking look at the soul of the United States.
RaveBooklist... playful and surreal prose ... Using word placement, font, and shape to create images on the page, Mortimer deepens the reader’s engagement with the story and characters ... Through breathtaking attention to detail, Mortimer crafts a stunning novel that touches on the expanses one life can contain.
PositiveBooklistMacy introduces characters unified by a sense of disorientation and outsider status in her second collection...In \'Residents Only,\' a woman takes her two daughters to a vacation condo in Acapulco, trying not to draw the attention of the building’s other residents while keeping the housekeeper’s grandson entertained...Frances hopes that renting a house in Leicester will give her, her husband, and their young son community roots in \'One of Us\'...Macy renders each character’s emotional complexities in thoughtful detail...With nuanced storytelling and memorable settings, she draws readers into the minds of people struggling to live as different versions of themselves.
PositiveBooklistAn examination of gun violence, trauma, and the communities they indelibly mark, Little Brother is an affecting tribute to Jorell and other young Black men whose lives are cut devastatingly short.
PositiveBooklistDescribing her own relationship to the song as a white Kentuckian, Bingham offers a well-researched history of music, race, and American memory.
PositiveBooklist... lyrical and creative ... Written in atmospheric and imagery-rich prose, None but the Righteous examines where we choose to belong and why.
RaveBooklistRobison meticulously captures the decisions leading to the 737 MAX’s release, including the lack of FAA oversight, that could have prevented the software overrides that caused the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia ... A remarkable look at corporate culture’s impact on consumer safety, Flying Blind is a captivating and unsettling portrait of Boeing and American business.
PositiveBooklistIn his debut travelogue, Salama tells the stories of the people who live along the Magdalena. Throughout each chapter, he shows how Colombia is continuing to struggle with the ongoing impact of its half-century of war and the environmental fallout of industrialization ... Salama’s insightful observations leave readers with a deep and nuanced look at Colombia.
RaveBooklist... detailed and compelling ... Tubbs shares deeply personal reflections while also chronicling on-the-ground positive effects of government intervention in poverty, violence, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Tubbs defines the challenges that Black communities face nationwide and declares the potential for remarkable change.
PositiveBooklistWhether detailing multinational corporations’ tax avoidance strategies or FEMA’s failures in its Hurricane Maria response in Puerto Rico, each of Ross’ examples is engaging and thought-provoking. Offering critique and an actionable roadmap of solutions, Ross argues for significant reworking of how government, workers, and companies approach the future.
PositiveBooklistIn addition to deep analysis into the role central banks played in mitigating the economic fallout of worldwide economic shutdowns, Tooze contextualizes the massive economic and political efforts to address COVID, drawing comparisons with responses to the 2008 recession. While some readers may wonder whether the full impact of 2020 can be understood halfway into 2021, Tooze’s sense of urgency in the face of historic upheavals is a compelling argument for the world to prepare for momentous change.
PositiveBooklist... richly layered ... Lange deftly examines the long shadow of family history and the bonds that cannot be broken.
RaveBooklistHer writing captures the personalities and voices of the young men so clearly as they request recipes, tease her for acting like a teacher, and live in the space between childhood and the adult world ... an affecting, thoughtful look at the lives of boys in transitional moments and a personal reflection on a father’s legacy.
PositiveBooklistAt times the story’s pacing seems secondary to explorations of the main themes. Writing from each of the sisters’ perspectives, Frankel creates unique personalities for One, Two, and Three and builds a memorable world in Bourne.
RaveBooklistHinton masterfully examines multiple incidents across the country, illustrating not only the prevalence of rebellions but how ongoing violent racial discrimination is horrifically common. As Hinton links the history of rebellion to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, readers will be struck by the generational echoes of Black Americans’ struggle for justice.
PositiveBooklistFor Americans currently nearing or already into their thirties, achieving major adult milestones has not been nearly so linear ... Schaefer situates stories from her sources with historical context, noting the structural inequality that underpinned many of the assumed stages of adulthood. While some may be left wondering how Schaefer sourced the individuals she follows through the book, and why she feels they are representative of a generational trend, her conversational writing style will draw in readers, especially those who enjoyed her previous book.
PositiveBooklistWith well-crafted storytelling and extensive research, Metz captures the thrill and promise of technological innovation.
RaveBooklistThrough evocative storytelling coupled with research and analysis, she explores what on-the-ground policing in a low-income neighborhood looked like for her ... A thoughtful, piercing read, Tangled Up in Blue creates nuanced portrayals of her fellow officers, the members of the community they served, and the people affected by the criminal justice system in the U.S.
PositiveBooklistWith writing that at times reads casually, like a personal blog, Lawton’s examination of identity and family is a compelling account that will resonate with many readers.
PositiveBooklist... nuanced ... Chammah includes perspectives from many sides of death penalty cases, from victims’ families to the warden in the execution room. His outstanding storytelling and thorough research make this an excellent analysis of modern legal and criminal-justice history.
RaveBooklistGoldstein’s entertaining storytelling style makes complicated ideas clear and engaging. Money is a must-read for all those who’ve ever wondered what their paycheck actually means.
Cristina Rivera Garza, tr. Sarah Booker
RaveBooklistRivera Garza’s remarkable writing captures a sense of place through evocative imagery and detail. Her incisive look at Mexico’s national grief emphasizes the humanity and struggle of daily life there ... a thought-provoking, moving analysis of social and political reckoning in Mexico.
Brittany K. Barnett
RaveBooklist... moving ... Barnett tells each client’s story fully, allowing readers to grasp the weight of years of incarceration and the impact of the War on Drugs on the Black community. Her writing captures both the precision of law and the emotion of seeking freedom. A riveting memoir of injustice, resilience, and hope, A Knock at Midnight is a personal look at a modern humanitarian crisis.
PositiveBooklistAfter introducing a scene, the plot then jumps back in time to follow the lead-up to that scene. While readers may be distracted by the commitment to nonchronological storytelling, this intimate portrait of two marriages is a clever and personal novel from an acclaimed writer.
RaveBooklistBowdler’s combined memoir and manifesto is provocative and illuminating ... Her analysis of the lack of investigation into rape cases and lenient sentencing for convicted rapists strengthens her argument that rape is not treated as a crime in the way that other felonies are. Bowdler’s memoir is a thought-provoking, personal account of violence and its long-lasting ripples.
PositiveBooklistHenkin writes a moving, heart-wrenching account of a family’s connections as they face a slow-moving goodbye.
Tara June Winch
PositiveBooklistWinch unravels the Gondiwindi family history through August’s narrative, August’s grandfather’s native-language dictionary entries, and the letters of 1915 missionary Reverend Ferdinand Greenleaf. Through their perspectives, Winch illustrates the long history of colonization and erasure of Indigenous culture in Australia. The unique structure draws readers close while grounding the novel in history. Already a best-seller in Australia, Winch’s second novel is a clear-eyed look at the experiences of native people and the ways in which history is inherited through generations.
PositiveBooklistHoma’s debut novel is a coming-of-age story that layers intergenerational trauma and political commentary on a decades-long epic. Homa’s attention to gender is particularly clear throughout Leila’s path to adulthood ... Her portrait of Kurdish life in Iran brings readers closer to lived experiences that force questions of identity, homeland, and the traumas we inherit.
PositiveBooklistThroughout her reporting across the region, Searcey met women with unbelievable resilience: women divorcing husbands who would not let them work, women excelling in male-dominated industries, women escaping from terrorist camps. Well-written and illuminating, Searcey’s memoir introduces readers to life in contemporary West Africa and the work of overseas reporting.
PositiveBooklistRelying on primary source research, here Coe narrates Washington’s life to give greater depth to his personality and decisions. Focusing primarily on Washington’s life off the battlefield, she emphasizes his interactions with the people he enslaved, his deep love for his family, and his reluctant decision to accept the nomination for presidency. Co-host of the podcast Presidents Are People, Too!, Coe blends excellent storytelling with a fascinating look at how history is told and who gets to tell it.
ed. by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary
PositiveBooklistContributions grapple with migration to new countries and cultures, finding a sense of home, and growing up with legacies of other homes ... In a beautifully drawn graphic essay, Shing Yin Khor depicts their grandmother’s noodles to show how food can convey love ... Each narrative draws readers close, offering sight lines into private lives and conflicts. The talented writers gathered here offer wide-ranging perspectives essential for our current environment.
PositiveBooklistRelating the history of Construction Robotics and SAM, Waldman illustrates the tension between innovation and tradition in a millennia-old profession ... Waldman’s storytelling draws readers in, particularly through his use of color-adding footnotes that appear throughout the book. Readers interested in business and innovation will find a fascinating insider’s view of a small, ambitious organization in SAM.
PositiveBooklistRichardson examines the fascinating history surrounding the coming-of-age ritual and the ways in which it reinforced family power, offered upward mobility, and entrenched class structures. She further explores the role of debutantes in African American society and conducts in-person research on modern debutante practices in the U.S. The Season is a must for readers interested in social history, and all will appreciate Richardson’s fluid, descriptive prose.
MixedBooklistMany of [Daum\'s] critiques touch on the surface of ideas without diving fully into them, relying on anecdotes to further her points. While Daum introduces some compelling ideas, such as the watering down of intellectual language to meet the speed of the digital world, some readers may wish for an overall more thorough examination of her arguments’ foundations.
Aarti Namdev Shahani
PositiveBooklistShahani balances an extremely personal story with a journalistic attention to detail. Here We Are is an American story of immigration, familial loyalty, and strength in the face of injustice.
PositiveBooklistTold without skirting around darkness and with an engrossing narrative style, Burn the Place brings readers into Regan’s life and dreams.
PositiveBooklistPeeling back layers of gender, Islamophobia, faith, loyalty, and socialization, Moaveni situates the women’s stories within the larger historical and sociopolitical context of the time. Following 13 women in total, Guest House for Young Widows is an ambitious attempt to understand the attraction of ISIS for many disaffected youth who were ready to believe.
PositiveBooklistBrodeur’s engrossing memoir examines a family defined by one woman’s all-consuming magnetism ... Wild Game follows Brodeur through adulthood, examining the ripple effects that her relationship with her mother had on Brodeur’s own romances. Brodeur changes the names of those involved except for her parents, acknowledging that the story is not hers alone. However, Brodeur includes clearly identifying details about her well-known stepfather, which some readers may find distracting. An absorbing story of secrets, love, and family.
Jason De Parle
PositiveBooklistSetting the family’s story within the political and social context of twentieth- and twenty-first-century immigration, the author explores the Philippine government’s commitment to Overseas Filipino Workers, hailed as heroes for the nation’s economy. He also dives into the personal strains caused by leaving, such as long separations from spouses and children, shifting gender dynamics, and culture changes. This is a remarkably intimate look at migration’s impact on both a single family and the global community.
PositiveBooklist...Gregor’s debut novel is a carefully observed story about desire, love, and dependence ... Readers will be swept up in Richard’s life and love triangle, even as they wonder if he has any idea what he wants.
RaveBooklist... the 19 essays in this collection are remarkable, illuminating stories of the lives of female journalists working in the Arab and Middle Eastern worlds ... Readers will be moved as each essay reflects both its writer and the people whose stories she reported to the world.
PositiveBooklistTold in non-chronological chapters, Tomar’s debut leads the reader through pivotal moments in Cale’s life. The tension builds as the story weaves around incidents that Cale has hinted at previously. Through the lives of Cale and Penny, Tomar explores themes of family, love, and female-specific trauma. While at times the recurring motif of boundaries can feel overdone, Tomar succeeds in creating a suspenseful, haunting, coming-of-age story about a young woman facing an uncertain future.
PositiveBooklistBehind-the-scenes moments from [Mastromonaco\'s] career provide insights into the hectic work of campaigns and the White House. In addition, she reflects on the current state of politics and on operating in the internet age. Mastromonaco’s stories are interspersed with interviews with Susan Rice, Monica Lewinsky, and others. Footnotes create the feel of conversational asides within each chapter. The book’s structure can feel inconsistent at times, but readers will enjoy the relaxed tone that Mastromonaco and coauthor Oyler set throughout—like chatting with old friend, who just happened to have Mindy Kaling set up her Twitter account.
PositiveBooklistThe 12 stories in Rosenwaike’s debut collection capture the vast and intimate moments of motherhood and womanhood. Rosenwaike’s characters are hopeful, struggling, and conflicted, and through their stories, she explores the ways that parenthood is not simply joy and sleeplessness ... In each story, Rosenwaike’s remarkable prose conjures emotions so effectively that readers will feel pulled into the characters’ lives. While the stories are all connected by motherhood, each explores additional themes: changing friendships, aging, defining family, building a life, and more. Whether parents or not, readers who love short literary fiction will connect with Look How Happy I’m Making You.
Aeham Ahmad, Trans. by Emanuel Bergmann
PositiveBooklistAhmad\'s memoir ... brings readers inside Yarmouk, where passing through a checkpoint means risking arrest, and snipers shoot starving people as they wait for UN aid boxes. His is a unique and affecting viewpoint on life in Syria before and in the midst of extreme violence.
PositiveBooklistith novelistic storytelling, Swenson explores long-standing issues in Cleveland’s police department and justice system, outlining other wrongful convictions and the rise of DNA evidence in trials. With clear current relevance, Good Kids, Bad City is essential for readers of U.S. history, law, and culture.
Bridgett M, Davis
PositiveBooklistMoving ... Davis\' writing feels rooted in the city and its changing landscape. Combining historical research with extensive interviews, The World According to Fannie Davis is an engrossing tribute to a vibrant, hardworking, unforgettable woman.
RaveBooklistAlthough there are books on what to expect during pregnancy, there are few resources that address the major shifts that happen for moms once a family welcomes a new baby ... Though the chapter on birth stories perhaps overly dwells on natural birth, many parents are likely to find themselves reflected in Millwood’s writing. To Have and to Hold will be valuable for new parents and their families alike and will provide reassuring validation for common yet rarely discussed challenges. Beyond that, Millwood’s exploration of gender dynamics in relationships and her willingness to look at taboo emotions make this relatable for nonparents as well.
RaveBooklistGhaffari weaves each character’s deep history into the novel, creating a very complete world. Her poetic prose relays deep and intimate emotion in a single line; its richness makes characters’ joys and tragedies palpably felt by readers, too. This is a beautifully written story of a family’s upheaval and its roots in their own history.
PositiveBooklist OnlineBoth born in Beirut, thirtysomethings Huda and Yvonne meet at a conference featuring successful Lebanese women, and friendship blossoms. Huda is a theater director in Toronto, and Yvonne runs an advertising agency in London ... The two women reflect on the lives they left behind in Lebanon as they explore Italy and, a few months later, reunite in London, each continuing to seek out a hoped-for future ... Al-Shaykh’s first novel to be translated into English is a refreshing, thought-provoking look at the weight of history on the lives we build for ourselves.
PositiveBooklist OnlineJournalists Schank and Wallace met as sorority sisters at Northwestern University in 1989. Both were ambitious and had high expectations for their postgraduate lives. Their paths took varied turns, but, living in New York in their early forties, both women felt lost in their lives as mothers and partners. Together, they decided to explore what felt like a transition point ... The result is a fascinating look at how ambition is not easily contained or defined ... Readers of all generations will learn from the authors’ road map through life’s transitions.
PositiveBooklist\"Although some personal anecdotes read as stream-of-consciousness memories, her descriptions of life as a journalist and activist will captivate readers interested in Iran, international affairs, gender equality, and human rights.\
Harriet Alida Lye
RaveBooklistCynthia’s honey farm in rural Ontario has been dealing with months of drought, and she and her assistant, Hartford, need help with the upcoming summer harvest season ... With a strong command of tone and a haunting sense of atmosphere, Lye’s first novel will transfix readers. At times lyrical, biblical, and otherworldly, The Honey Farm is a suspenseful and well-crafted story.
PositiveBooklistEdemariam, a journalist who works in the UK and North America, paints a rich portrait of her grandmother’s full life, telling Yetemegnu’s stories through lyrical prose interspersed with poetry, prayers, and legends. Readers will appreciate Edemariam’s work—part memoir, part history—for its personal look at an eventful century in Ethiopia.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
PositiveBooklistIn this narrative history, professor Dunbar explores the horrific nature of slavery through the lives of Ona and other slaves in Washington’s household. Ona’s story provides critical insights into the experiences of slaves and free black people in the antebellum period. Never Caught is an important read for anyone interested in American history.
RaveBooklistDisappearance in Damascus tells Ahlam’s remarkable story of tragedy and resilience while situating her experience within the larger context of the war in Iraq. Campbell’s captivating writing allows readers to see inside the life of a foreign correspondent and the bonds forged and broken through investigative reporting.
RaveBooklistThrough his beautifully crafted characters, Satyal’s second novel explores identity, sexuality, family, immigrant life, and Indian and American cultures. His writing is both humorous and heart-wrenching while he tells Ranjana’s and Harit’s stories. He draws every character with such clarity and depth that their lives become vivid to the reader. Satyal expertly describes the everyday struggles that define his characters, and he elevates the extraordinary moments of normal life in this skilled and thought-provoking novel.