PositiveBooklistThe vividly realized book incorporates elements of magic realism: Auntie is 178 years old, for example, and one of the women transforms into a bird; another is a werewolf. Magic or not, it is an almost unbearably sad story, the saddest part of which, as Camila concludes, is that love never came.
RaveBooklistDon’t expect spectacle from these eight superb short stories, set, with one exception, in Ireland, for they’re quiet examinations of mundane lives that are made extraordinary by the author’s remarkable talent for creating unforgettable characters ... Barrett’s stories are, without exception, beautifully written, full of arresting imagery ... Like everything else in these stories, it’s an artful strategy, which, taken in sum, demonstrates how beautiful the ordinary can be.
RaveBooklistA classic coming-of-age novel leavened with gay content, which is handled beautifully. As for Sam, he’s a terrific, empathic character whose life is fascinating, as is this beautifully conceived and written novel.
PositiveBooklistThe author is not kind to his characters. Indeed, there is more misery here than in Les Misérables and more than a little overwriting. Nevertheless, Bola...proves himself a master of mood and empathy. Altogether, his novel is an excellent and heartrending effort.
RaveBooklistLund gets an A+ for originality and high marks, as well, for so richly realizing her brilliantly conceived novel. The book is beautifully written, too, with well-developed, empathic characters ... Altogether an irresistible read.
PositiveBooklistThat the novel is told retrospectively by Grady, now in his seventies, adds an element of nostalgia to this slightly old-fashioned family story, which, in its quiet way, is quite captivating.
PositiveBooklistFinding a partner, [Durastanti] writes thoughtfully about love and relationships and her fear that she might discover that alone, she would actually survive just fine. And the same seems to be true about writing, which is something, she asserts, that you can give up and then walk away from. Although sometimes slow paced, this novel-as-memoir is insightful and thought provoking.
RaveBooklistHawley has written some of the most savage satire since Jonathan Swift, creating a ridiculous world in which only the young are viable. The plot-rich, cinematic story moves swiftly and compellingly, exciting reader interest and empathy. Anthem is truly an epic adventure.
PositiveBooklistThough sometimes coming dangerously close to soap opera and sporting an improbable ending, the novel is an unqualified success at portraying the demanding lives of ballerinas and of the men who, for better or worse, inhabit the ballet world. With its look behind the scenes of the ballet world and its appealing characters, The Ballerinas will be catnip for balletomanes.
Sosuke Natsukawa, tr. Louise Heal Kawai
PositiveBooklistBibliophiles will dote on this charming import from Japan, smoothly translated by Louise Heal Kawai. Let Rintaro’s grandpa have the final word here, for his mantra is unimpeachable: books, he says, have tremendous power. And so they do.
Andrew Pettegree and Arthur Der Weduwen
RaveBooklistDespite its subtitle, this history of libraries is anything but fragile. At more than 500 pages, it is a robust, near definitive effort, tracing the evolution of the institution from the clay tablets of the Assyrian Empire to the wired libraries of today ... Much of this material is familiar, though in a welcome way, comprehensive like the rest of the authors’ admirable effort. Though its primary audience will likely be academics, the book is so accessible and well written that it may also find a general readership among all those who love libraries. May their numbers be legion.
RaveBooklist... fascinating ... a life that has been anyting but ordinary ... The highly readable text is enriched with a generous collection of black-and-white photos. Ivory is always good company, kind hearted, generous, and thoughtful. His memoir will delight film buffs, of course, but it will also appeal to general readers who value intelligent writing and insights into the lives of accomplished people.
RaveBooklist... [a] masterful novel that spans centuries as it brilliantly examines the lives of five young people ... Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time. Interspersed among the five children’s evolving stories is the saga of Aethon’s quest. One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel.
RaveBooklistThis posthumous memoir tells readers, with unsparing candor, about [P-Orridge\'s] mutable, ever-changing life ... Part narrative, part philosophy, this outré memoir is a remarkable experience.
Leonard S. Marcus
RaveBooklist... an informative and enlightening introduction ... Marcus has clearly done his homework, his questions and comments reflecting wide reading of each of his subject’s work. Their answers are unfailingly eloquent and insightful ... Marcus’ book is essential reading for all of those who treasure free speech.
RaveBooklist... not only a richly realized mash-up of mystery and fantasy, it’s also a clever pastiche of Hamlet ... Their evolving relationship is brilliantly realized, as, for that matter, is the entire book, which is, alas, ever faithful to the original, which is, remember, a tragedy. The curtain falls.
Derek B. Miller
PositiveBooklistThis is one busy book! There’s enough plot here for three novels. At its heart, though, it’s the story of Sheldon Horowitz, who is 12 when readers first meet him and soon to become an orphan after his father is murdered ... This only scratches the surface of this incident-rich, coming-of-age novel—perhaps too incident-rich, since the lives of Abe and Mirabelle tend to divert attention from Sheldon’s story. Nevertheless, the story is compelling and deeply satisfying.
William Di Canzio
RaveBooklistThe classic love story of upperclass Englishman Maurice Hill and gamekeeper Alec Scudder comes alive again in this inspired reimagining ... Although told this time from Alec’s point of view, the new novel successfully captures the spirit of Forster’s original (even its occasionally fusty tone) ... Whether Maurice is dead or not adds a welcome air of suspense to the otherwise quiet but compelling story. If there is a quibble, it is that the ending seems rather anticlimactic, but no matter: the love story itself remains timeless, and its seamless reimagining is an altogether memorable accomplishment. One imagines Forster would be pleased.
PositiveBooklistThe novel moves smoothly between the points of view of the five principal characters as it shifts between past and present. An ambitious, literary novel, The Vanishing Point is distinguished by its characterizations, its pervasive air of melancholy, and its beautiful style ... Not surprisingly, there is a great deal of thought-provoking attention given to the meaning and aesthetics of photography, and, like great photography, the novel is ultimately a work of memorable art.
PositiveBooklist... Padura, who seemingly never met a digression he didn’t like, devotes considerable space to Conde’s quotidian life. As a result, the pace of the novel is slow, but the characterization is acute. Conde is likable, and the Cuban setting is the real star of the novel, which will appeal to Padura’s many fans.
RaveBooklist... remarkable ... Levy has done an absolutely superb job of novelizing Barry’s life while her realization of him as a character is flawless. He is brilliant, impetuous, unafraid (perhaps foolishly) of making enemies in a good cause, an ardent supporter of women’s rights and an equally ardent enemy of slavery. The relationship between Jonathan and Lord Somerton is remarkable in its presentation and sometimes bittersweet development. And the book is beautifully written. It is, in sum, an unforgettable work of art that deserves raves. Bravo!
John Paul Brammer
RaveBooklist... readers are likely to become addicted to these stories; they’re that good. Beautifully written, the stories run a gamut of emotions that readers will share. Some are wistful; some, melancholy; others, sad or poignant or bittersweet. The subjects of the stories—Brammer’s quotidian life—are made fascinating with the author’s deeply introspective musing and self-analysis. Brammer comes to know himself very well, and readers will be delighted to make his acquaintance, too.
Simon Van Booy
PositiveBooklist... a beautifully realized, multigenerational family novel that is exceptional for its memorable, fully developed characters. Readers will become emotionally invested in these quotidian, sometimes sad, lives, watching as Carol and Samuel come of age. Their story is beautifully written, and its mood haunting, as readers are invited to consider the meaning of family and the power of memory.
PositiveBooklist... deeply researched, fascinating ... Though Atlanta is only one city, it serves here as an effective microcosm of American gay life in the ’70s, and its story is an important addition to the history of gay life in America.
RaveBooklistInfused with magic realism, Lin’s beautifully imagined first novel is an extraordinary epic with page-turning, often cinematic action that transcends the parameters of genre fiction. A brilliant debut, impossible to put down.
PositiveBooklistWhile all of her essays contain such autobiographical material, they also boast dives into examinations of the condition of being queer so deep as to approach exercises in queer theory. Yes, the collection sometimes takes itself a wee bit too seriously but is more often lively and thought provoking ... Perry’s book will obviously be catnip for millennials but will also, happily, be deeply satisfying to any generation whose pop culture made them gay.
RaveBooklistIt’s rare that a crime novel could be described as lovely but this is a lovely book. Set in Athens, Georgia, the novel is a model of verisimilitude. It is also beautifully written and suspenseful, at the same time being all about goodness and caring without once being sappy or, well, sentimental. And that is a rare feat in fiction.
RaveBooklistHis well-written story, which contains flashbacks to his youth, is low key but charming and not without some suspense (Will he finish in time?). Ultimately it’s a tale as well crafted as the beautiful canoe.
RaveBooklistAll of this abundant material is deftly handled by Tompkins, who employs three different and very individual voices to tell her challenging tale: Isaac’s and Jonah’s stories are told in first person, while Evangeline’s is revealed at a remove in third person. The tone? It’s almost relentlessly morose and melancholy, but that’s not bad; in fact, the novel is very good but emotionally difficult to read. As for the characters: they are examined in microscopic detail, readers coming to know them almost better than they know themselves. Expect some tears before the story ends, but also admire the art that the author brings to this exceptional literary thriller.
PositiveBooklistThere is much more to this wonderfully idiosyncratic novel from Sweden; it is not only a riveting, psychologically astute mystery but also a work of history, natural history (the pastor is a gifted botanist), and religion. Both the pastor, who is nationally known as founder of a controversial revivalist movement, and Jussi are highly empathetic and memorable characters who populate a book that is an example of both superb genre fiction and character-driven literary fiction. It is not to be missed.
PositiveBooklistDespite the importance of these events, it is the conversations between son and father that are the real substance of this slender novel...Happily, their subsequent conversations are enlightening for both of them. Antonio tells the story in his own unadorned first-person voice from his perspective as a 51-year-old adult, a fact that adds wisdom to this absorbing novel of filial bonding.
RaveBooklistPart survival story, part story of a young woman’s quest for love, this richly plotted historical novel is brilliantly conceived and beautifully realized. Edgarian brings the nearly destroyed San Francisco to vivid life, but it is Vera’s own troubled life that is the main attraction and what will live in the reader’s memory.
RaveBooklistSilverman employs Cass’ wry, deeply felt, often self-deprecating voice to tell this beautifully realized novel about choice, ambition, and revelation, with a nod to feminism in the context of the film and its monstrous director, Caroline. All of Silverman’s characters are memorable as they drive the carefully plotted, thought-provoking story. Happily, unlike Cass’ failed play, this memorable novel deserves a standing ovation.
RaveBooklistTold in Lex’s arresting first-person voice, the novel moves back and forth in time, revealing the siblings’ ghastly childhood and their current condition. In the process, Dean does a brilliant job of character development, starting with Lex herself, who is now a successful attorney—thanks partially to the years of therapy necessary to deal with her memories and with her monstrous father. Lex is a fascinating study in abnormal psychology, and the novel is, altogether, a tour de force, beautifully written, richly imagined, and compulsively readable. Add to this its grave, sometimes ominous tone, and the result is unforgettable.
PositiveBooklist... [an] engrossing biography ... Though it breaks little new ground, the book is a happy mixture of biography and criticism. Near its end, Bradford, in judgment, refers to Highsmith’s \'execrable true self.\' Readers will find it hard to disagree.
Viola Ardone, Tr. Clarissa Botsford
PositiveBooklistBeautifully written in Amerigo’s first-person voice, this sometimes melancholy novel, translated from Italian, offers a deeply satisfying portrayal of the universality of love.
RaveBooklistAbdullah has done an exemplary job of character development and is especially good at ratcheting up suspense as the trial proceeds; and the steadfast Zara proves the validity of her nickname.
RaveBooklistThis is a brilliantly conceived and crafted coming-of-age novel of ideas, replete with literary and philosophical references, many of them Judaic. Indeed, the novel almost demands familiarity with Judaism, its culture, rituals, and vocabulary. Happily, though, this doesn’t compromise in any way the larger metaphysical meanings of the novel.
PositiveBooklistMaltman’s very dark novel deals dramatically with considerations of good and evil, of angels and demons, creating a visceral sense of danger, for Lucien’s life will be at risk if his identity and his relationship with Maura are discovered. Metaphysics and mystery merge in this haunting, thought-provoking story.
Lisa Selin Davis
PositiveBooklist... fascinating ... Though sometimes a bit wonky (look for words like androstenedione, neuroimaging, androphilic), the book is always well written and accessible, and interest never flags, even when the dive into the subject is at its deepest ... Interspersed throughout are accounts of actual tomboys, humanizing the text. The conclusion is clear: tomboys rule!
Roberto Saviano, tr. Antony Shugaar
MixedBooklistWhile its plot is compelling, there are problems with Savage Kiss: it seems to contain more characters than War and Peace ... The style can be a bit perfervid, too, and the ending is predictable; but, nevertheless, fans of Saviano’s earlier work won’t want to miss it.
PositiveBooklistAmy tells her fraught story in her own first-person voice, while a second story—that of a local police officer—is told in third person. The officer, a monster of a man, becomes involved in Amy’s life in a surprising way. Woods’ accomplished but very dark novel about a town where violence is epidemic is an extended exercise in a kind of nihilism. It is unsettling and invites long thoughts about the world Amy inhabits.
RaveBooklistThe vividly realized particulars of his restless journeys are offered in Tobar’s remarkable novelization of Sanderson’s real life, his adventures and misadventures ... inarguably a great novel, a tribute to him that is beautifully written and spectacularly imagined. Tobar writes that it took him 11 years to complete this wonderful book. Readers will rejoice that he persisted.
PositiveBooklist... richly detailed, epic ... The book is notable for its revisionist views of the role of Islam and the empire in defining and shaping the New World. Though certainly recommended for public libraries, God’s Shadow will probably find a largely academic, rather than a general, readership, although history buffs will doubtless enjoy its challenges and rewards.
PositiveBooklistIn \'Motherland,\' arguably the best essay in the book, she writes affectingly about, yes, mothers but also about family—birth and chosen—and the grief that seems endemic to the women in her family. Together, the essays offer a full-dress portrait of a writer whom most readers will be intrigued to know.
RaveBooklistJohnson’s character-driven novel is told, in part, in July’s first-person voice, and, in part, from the third-person viewpoint of their mother, Sheela. Their relentlessly dark, very interior stories move backward and forward in time and, as the novel proceeds, become ever more fevered and seemingly, almost suffocatingly, unmoored from reality. The story is beautifully written, the characters expertly drawn, as is the setting, the house becoming a character in itself. A memorable and haunting novel.
PositiveBooklist... [an] often-somber first novel ... Although sometimes a bit ponderous in its philosophizing, the novel is nevertheless accomplished, haunting, and satisfying.
Kristin Kobes Du Mez
PositiveBooklist... fascinating ... Sure to be controversial, the author’s closely reasoned argument is thoughtful and thought provoking.
RaveBooklistHis is a fascinating story, and Cervini does it more than ample justice in this insightful, meticulously detailed book. He has clearly done a remarkable job of research, creating an absolutely indispensable, highly readable work of history that belongs in every library.
RaveBooklistHer carefully detailed story is notable for its introspection...and emotional depth. The account of her earlier life as a man and her decision to become a woman—including reassignment surgery—is psychologically acute, enlightening, and occasionally heartbreaking as her decision to transition spelled the end of her relationship with the man she loved. Fairest is a welcome addition to transgender literature.
Amy Jo Burns
RaveBooklist...[a] gorgeously written, plot-rich novel that examines the complex lives of...five beautifully realized characters. The novel is, of course, about what happens to them, but it is also about the lives of women and their fraught relations with men; being set in Appalachia, it is no surprise that the novel is also about story and its gradual morphing into legend. The tone of the novel is melancholy, and things happen that exacerbate that mood, but everything is perfectly apposite. This memorable first novel is exceptional in its power and imagination. It’s clearly a must-read.
RaveBooklist... affecting, deeply felt ... [Tran] writes movingly about his struggle for acceptance and his two-pronged attack to achieve assimilation ... A clever conceit, in this connection, is his naming each chapter with the title of a great book and then finding a parallel with his life in each. The result is a compelling story of an outsider discovering himself and a world where he fit in.
PositiveBooklistAt turns melancholy, bittersweet, and even buoyant, the stories constitute a kind of queer, twenty-first-century Our Town that, in this revisionist exercise, is deeply satisfying. A fine first novel.
Dennis E. Staples
PositiveBooklistStaples’ first novel is an arresting look at the intersection of past and present. Himself an Ojibwe, Staples writes with authority about his characters and setting. If his novel has a failing, it is that his female characters are often little more than names, leading to confusion in the flashbacks, but otherwise this is an auspicious debut with a memorable protagonist.
PositiveBooklistIf it is true, as Baron declares, that \'Pronouns are suddenly sexy,\' then his nearly 300 pages devoted to that part of speech must be X-rated! But, alas, there’s nothing especially titillating here ... While he gives attention to current circumstances, he spends more time on a deep dive all the way back to the first English grammars of the seventeenth century, evidencing that his quest is hardly new. He doesn’t limit his search to history, however; he eventually turns his attention to the political controversies that have brought pronouns into the limelight, ending his search with the declaration that the missing word is (drumroll, please) the singular they. He concludes with a flourish: an überambitious, 58-page chronology of gender-neutral and nonbinary pronouns. Esoteric? Yes, but catnip for the grammarian, especially the culturally and politically conscious variety.
RaveBooklistA compelling read with appealing characters, Bollen’s novel is deftly paced and plotted with a beautifully realized setting that brings Venice to vivid life. The result is a treat for both crime-fiction fans and armchair travelers.
PositiveBooklistThe author has done an excellent job of telling her sometimes sad story in Jai’s credible nine-year-old voice, and her treatment of her setting, with its ingrained social inequities, is a model of verisimilitude. Best, however, is her characterization, especially that of Jai, who comes to life on the page to live on in readers’ memories.
RaveBooklistWriting about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph.
RaveBooklistHow closely fictional Nietzsche is meant to resemble the real thing is moot except for the fact that the fictional one has gone off his meds. Uh-oh. Some readers may find the often-allusive book too clever by half; others will delight in its wit. In either case, the book is a model of originality. Clever, indeed.
Ursula K Le Guin
RaveBooklist... [a] collection of (for the most part) previously published talks, essays, book introductions, and reviews. Together, they put the lie to her assertion that \'I seldom have as much pleasure in reading nonfiction as I do in a poem or a story.\' For these examples of her own nonfiction are, for her readers, an undivided pleasure. Part of that pleasure derives from the investment of energy they demand from the reader ... Finally, what she says of poetry—\'Its primary job is simply to find the words that give it its right, true shape\'—might well be said of all the shapely pieces in this generous, edifying, and invaluable collection.
PositiveBooklist... [James] makes notes aplenty, even about the most quotidian moments (throwing his back out) but hardly at breakneck speed; his pace is more sedate, proceeding well within the literary speed limit. A peripatetic sort, he sets his essays in such disparate places as New Zealand, Bali, and Spain, with the latter the setting for arguably the finest piece in the collection, which recounts a sojourn at the age of 19 searching for independence. Perhaps he has been wrong before, but in this fine collection he is inarguably right.
RaveBooklistThe late Doyle called the contents of this generous, posthumous collection essays although they have the rhythm of poems and the lyricism of songs ... Doyle was a wonderful stylist, obviously in love with series and adjectives ... Although love, he says, \'is our greatest and hardest work,\' he is generous, almost profligate in filling his work with it, especially when it is targeted at his children, who are small miracles because he and his wife were told that they couldn’t have children but proved the doctor wrong. The book concludes with a piece called \'A Last Prayer\'—appropriately one of gratitude, for readers will be equally grateful for this lovely book and its beautiful contents.
RaveBooklistThomas’ debut, both a searing indictment of injustice and a clear-eyed, dramatic examination of the complexities of race in America, invites deep thoughts about our social fabric, ethics, morality, and justice. Beautifully written in Starr’s authentic first-person voice, this is a marvel of verisimilitude as it insightfully examines two worlds in collision. An inarguably important book that demands the widest possible readership.
PositiveBooklistEskens does an excellent job of weaving these disparate threads together into a fine blend of mystery and coming-of-age novel. The setting is spot-on, the characters are empathetic and well realized, and the plot is clever and compelling, building suspense until a harrowing denouement reveals all.
RaveBooklistThis is an exceptional work that challenges and rewards careful reading and thought. It belongs in every library.
RaveBooklistFitzsimmons has done prodigious research to bring [Nesbit\'s] story to vibrant life. Indeed, it sometimes seems that she is offering a day-to-day account of Nesbit’s life, with her work taking a back seat. Fortunately, the life is interesting enough to fill this large, minutely detailed, well-written biography ... As an author, she was one of a kind, and Fitzsimmons makes a compelling case for her stature as an important writer. This biography is long overdue.
PositiveBooklistCall Me By Your Name was widely praised for its treatment of the nature of love, a theme that Find Me continues with subtlety and grace. Its treatment of the characters’ psychology is astute and insightful, but what will ultimately drive reader interest is the question of whether star-crossed lovers Elio and Oliver will reunite. One can only hope.
William Kent Krueger
RaveBooklist...a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home. Richly imagined and exceptionally well plotted and written, the novel is, most of all, a compelling, often haunting story that will captivate both adult and young adult readers.
MixedBooklist...the denouement, like so much else in this first novel, is simply too predictable. Saving the book from formula, however, are some fine writing and assorted shrewd insights into both the psychology of adolescence and the privileged world of a traditional prep school.
PositiveBooklistAlthough this is Altman’s memoir, Rita is definitely the star. Readers do learn bits and pieces about the author’s life, but even then it’s through Rita ... Yet in the end, Altman calls her book a love story. And so, in its introspective, psychologically acute way, it is.
RaveBooklistMaxwell has written a deeply satisfying, haunting work of literary fiction. Driven by characters who are uniformly engaging and beautifully realized, it is not to be missed.
PositiveBooklist\"[Lyz\'s] thought-provoking examination of all of this is passionate and, despite the death and loss she sometimes finds, ultimately inspiring.
RaveBooklist... [Wolf\'s] remarkable book is a tour de force of research and insight into Symonds’ life and work and the related evolution of public and state attitudes toward homosexuality. Hers is an essential contribution not only to queer history but also to studies of nineteenth-century culture. It is not to be missed.
PositiveBooklist...an insightful and thought-provoking book ... While mostly accessible to a general readership, parts of the book remain technical despite the author’s practice of consigning the thorniest of these sections to endnotes. Nevertheless, a luminous humanity shines through, never more so than in the final chapter, the author’s highly empathetic, memorable story of the three men he has loved.
PositiveBooklistIn this gentle novel, Cásares has done a beautiful job of answering Orly’s questions for the reader, creating a vivid portrait of a boy caught between two worlds. The story is a necessary exercise in empathy at a time when there is too little for the Daniels of the world ... Teens will be moved by this heartfelt story about an intensely timely subject.
RaveBooklistHanif’s superb novel, with its elements of magic realism, is told from multiple points of view, principally those of Momo, Ellie, and—in a whimsical touch—Momo’s dog ... Hanif has written a splendidly satirical novel that beautifully captures the absurdity and folly of war and its ineluctable impact on its survivors. At turns funny and heartbreaking, it is a memorable contribution to the literature of conflict.
Brian Jay Jones
PositiveBooklist[A] massive, loving biography ... Don’t expect a lot of critical analysis, though. Jones is more interested in straight reportage ... this biography stands as a straightforward record of Geisel’s life and career.
Dustin Lance Black
RaveBooklist...a consummate storyteller, as he demonstrates in this beautifully written, vastly entertaining, and moving memoir ... Black seems incapable of writing a dull word as he evokes his stirring life and times, ultimately inspiring comity by word and example. His book belongs in every library.
New York Public Library
PositiveBooklist[A] generous and eclectic assortment of writings about the historic event ... This significant book does welcome justice to an event that author Edmund White, who wrote the foreword, says sparked \'an oceanic change in thinking.\'
RaveBooklist...[a] marvelous bildungsroman ... There is much more to come in this marvelously plot-rich novel, which—told in Eli’s first-person voice—is filled with beautifully lyric prose ... exceptional.
RaveBooklist\"A beautifully written, even aphoristic novel, but its greatest strength is its characterization: Semi and his gay friends, Cel and her mother and grandfather, and, of course, the always enigmatic Mattie are brilliantly conceived and, like the novel in which they star, utterly unforgettable.\
RaveBooklistHappily, his new book brings many of those pieces together in a fascinating portrait of gay life in Brooklyn ... A number of celebrated creative types figure prominently, and Ryan gives generous attention to the likes of poets Hart Crane, W. H. Auden, and Marianne Moore ... Bringing them alive again is one of the valuable services Ryan’s fine work contributes to queer history.
RaveBooklistTobia is a gifted storyteller ... Always thoughtful, Tobia writes extremely well, with insight, lucidity, occasional anger, and, when things get too serious, wit. The result is, hands down, one of the best trans narratives available; it deserves a place in every library.
Alessandro D'Avenia, trans. by Jeremy Parzen
PositiveBooklistWhat Hell Is Not is an examination of the admixture of heaven and hell, of love and hate. Rich in figurative language, which is sometimes heavy-handed, the story is, nevertheless, equally rich in characterization and setting.
PositiveBooklistTheir stories, based largely on secondary sources in McCarten’s telling, are dramatic and, accordingly, are used in the screenplay (of the same name) the author has written for a motion picture that will debut on Netflix in 2019.
PositiveBooklist...[an] insightful memoir, which is as much about [Dube\'s] work as his personal life, though he writes movingly about his search for love and an enduring relationship, the latter often proving elusive. Readers will find his autobiography memorable and especially valuable as a contribution to the body of AIDS literature.
MixedBooklistThe critically acclaimed Mexican American author writes stylishly but without drama. A description of Luisa’s mood comes dangerously close to describing the book itself, though it does succeed in painting a portrait of Mexico at the time. Fans of character-driven fiction will find enough to like here, in spite of the relatively immobile story.
PositiveBooklist[An] extremely valuable book about family, gender, race, and identity. Patterson has broken the silence, and readers will thank her for it.
PositiveBooklistDennison’s account of all this is sympathetic but honest, psychologically acute and insightful. It is, withal, a sad story but one that Dennison tells extremely well to his and Grahame’s credit.
D. W. Pasulka
PositiveBooklistThought-provoking ... a sober, generally accessible account of research into what she calls \'a new religion, the religion of the UFO event\' ... a hybrid of the lively and the abstruse that will leave many readers enlightened and puzzled in turn.
PositiveBooklistA bit anticlimactic, though the story is neatly plotted and nicely atmospheric. And, yes, there is the obligatory, teasing red herring, but the solution to this British import is plausible and eminently satisfying. Encore, please.
PositiveBooklist\"Throughout, Allen pursues her own version of the American Dream, finding part of it in home ownership, a career in media, and attaining visibility. Much of her book is, frankly, depressing as she vividly demonstrates the often heartbreaking challenges of being black in contemporary America. Attention must be paid, though, and Allen has done an excellent job of insuring that will happen.\
PositiveBooklist\"... splendid ... Though their subjects vary, the pieces have in common their excellence ... It is children, as well as literature, who capture and hold [Babbitt\'s] attention. She is a stalwart defender of both. As for her work, it speaks, or barks, for itself.\
RaveBooklistUnsparingly honest ... [A] brilliant book, which stimulates intellectual curiosity and thought while giving equal weight to Pagel’s emotional life. It is a felicitous mixture that will excite both those familiar with her work and those for whom this volume will be an intriguing introduction.
RaveBooklistTeenage Nicky tells this sad story in his own, often eloquent, first-person voice. Even as his father’s life is devolving, Nicky’s is evolving as he comes of age in this sometimes funny but always melancholy novel. With a vividly realized setting—Brooklyn in the 1970s—the story is sharply written, inviting deep empathy from readers, who will find universal truths in this compelling tale of a single family.
RaveBooklistExtraordinary ... Zusak pushes the parameters of YA in this gorgeously written novel ... an unforgettably lovely book.
PositiveBooklistAlways erudite and convincing, Gray is sometimes given to interesting categorical statements ... He is inarguably a reliable guide through a thicket of famous names associated with atheism—Lenin, Marx, Conrad, and Hitler, among them—and he offers solid introductions to the work of lesser-known figures, including Jan Bockelson and Isaac La Peyrère. In addressing his subjects, Gray takes deep dives into history, examining the evolution of ideas in a generally accessible way. A valuable examination of one of the many fascinating junctures where religion and philosophy meet.
PositiveBooklist...an impressionistic examination of a family of mixed race and ethnicity ... an uncharacteristically operatic, almost melodramatic ending that seems to violate the book’s tone. But be that as it may, Torres is clearly a gifted writer with a special talent for tone and characterization. His novel is a pleasure to read.
RaveBooklist\"The story is memorable not only in its voice but also in its evocation of the horrors of slavery; and it is brilliant, too, in its construction of character. Wash and Titch are so alive as to be unforgettable, as is the story of their tangled relationship. This important novel from the author of the superb Half-Blood Blues (2012) belongs in every library.\
RaveBooklist OnlineMcGregor demonstrates an extraordinary ability to create complex, multidimensional characters in only a few spare sentences. He is also a master of mood, investing his stories with an air of the ominous while proving also to be a superb stylist (bees buzz \'fatly\' in foxgloves; \'a baggy flock of crows\' lift from trees). Irresistibly readable, the book is, in sum, a memorable celebration of literary fiction.
PositiveBooklist OnlineHarvey Milk was a complex man,\' Faderman asserts in this exemplary biography, a volume in Yale University Press’ Jewish Lives series. As she points out, Milk tried many \'lives\'—she lists a dozen, ranging from teacher to Wall Street securities analyst, from actor to hippie—before he finally found his calling as a politician ... Faderman pulls no punches in her examination of Milk’s often disastrous private life but puts it in the context of the martyred Milk’s undeniable contribution to the evolution of gay liberation. Concise and beautifully written, Harvey Milk is an invaluable addition to LGBTQ literature.
PositiveBooklistHunt’s fevered, reality-bending first novel is clearly inspired by the 1811 German novel Undine, about a female water spirit who falls in love with a mortal knight ... will she kill her knight with a kiss? Some readers, overburdened by obscure symbols and narrative ambiguity, won’t care. Others, however, will enjoy this fusion of fiction and folklore that is illuminated by flashes of quite fine writing.
RaveBooklist OnlineElias, now the Soul Catcher and urgently needing to heighten his powers, is up to his eyebrows in despairing ghosts and angry jinn. Laia, who loves him, is desperate to foil the world-destroying machinations of the Nightbringer while also saving her people, the Scholars, from destruction ... Meanwhile, wars (and rumors of wars) threaten to bring the empire to its knees ... Tahir has created another compelling story that defies readers to stop turning the pages.
RaveBooklistThe tone of this often melancholy story is elegiac ... The characters are well drawn, and the setting is beautifully realized. The result is a haunting story that will linger in readers’ memories.
PositiveBooklist\"True to its time, there are occasional mini-race riots at school, but they seldom touch him—until they do, with dire consequences. This affectionate, nostalgic novel about a sometimes-troubled teen is a crossover delight with appeal to both adults and teens.\
RaveBooklistBailey is unsparing in her well-written memoir of her struggles with OCD, giving readers an intimate experience of living with the disorder. Her account focuses much-needed light on a condition that demands to be better understood
RaveBooklist Online\"Her story is divided between the early nineties and the near present. The true-crime part of her book is significantly more interesting than her report of her own unexceptional life as a well-to-do teen. As a result, this one is strictly for true-crime fans.\
PositiveBooklist...the people who populate the stories are worth knowing ... Aside from mood and tone, many of the stories share a commonality in the presence of gay characters and fine, evocative writing ... Ultimately, White’s world is harsh but informed by kinds of love that will touch readers’ hearts.
PositiveBooklist\"...a tangled, atmospheric story that gradually builds suspense to a satisfyingly surprising denouement. Spy-fiction fans will want to take note.\
RaveBooklistPart history, part sociology, part group portrait, Stein’s book is an accessible, thoroughly researched, and well-written examination of a circumstance still noted for its complexities, inviting searching discussions of the meanings of gender and masculinity. Happily, Unbound will bring much needed clarity to such discussions.
Robert W. Fieseler
PositiveBooklist\"Largely forgotten for many years, this tragedy has now been brought to vivid life by Fieseler, who has done a remarkable job of research in telling the story of an event that would help give rise to the LGBTQ rights movement in New Orleans ... Attention must be paid, and Fieseler has done a laudable job of insuring that it will be. His inspiring account is an important contribution to LGBTQ literature.\
Darnell L. Moore
RaveBooklistThis coming-of-age memoir cum meditation is the introspective story of a man in search of self ... dreams die, Moore says, if they are consigned to the imagination only. They are seeds that must be planted for survival. And Moore is a survivor, gradually coming to terms with his homosexuality and finally finding himself in selfless service to others. His story is an inspiration.
PositiveBooklistHis thoughtful book is replete with quotations from people of faith whose work he admires, people like Reinhold Niebuhr, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, and others. The insights, however, are all his own. For Carter, the word faith is not only a noun but also a verb, for while he believes that people are saved by grace through faith, and not by works, he nevertheless applauds action inspired by faith.
RaveBooklist\"Part autobiography, part advocacy, it succeeds beautifully on both counts ... the book makes a passionate case for universal rights for the LGBTQ community, particularly for those who are its transgender members. But hers is also a highly personal love story of her growing relationship with Andy, another advocate, who was a trans man ... Highly readable and beautifully written, hers is an inarguably important book that deserves the widest possible readership.\
RaveBooklist\"Clement is a brilliant stylist; her figurative language is far more than fine; her metaphors and similes are superb; and together they create a haunting atmosphere—sometimes fey, occasionally whimsical, no stranger to tragedy but always heartfelt and spot-on, as are her beautifully realized, captivating characters. Though sui generis, her work may remind some readers of Flannery O’Connor’s. Always evocative, it is an unforgettable knockout not to be missed.\
RaveBooklistFinally, fleeing the quotidian awfulness of their respective lives, mother and son travel to Los Angeles, where instead of healing, they find only the Apocalypse. If all this sounds melodramatic, in Nathan’s skillful, beautifully written telling, it isn’t. He selects his incidents artfully and—in part by shifting the point of view between [protagonist] Colin and his mother—does a masterful job of creating believable, multidimensional characters about whom the reader cares desperately. And if their ending is heartbreaking, it is artistically inevitable. Nathan’s first novel is beautifully done and promises to linger in the reader’s memory.
RaveBooklist OnlineCassara has done a superb job of reimagining a world that will be foreign and even exotic to many readers, while creating fully developed characters to populate it.
RaveBooklistTheir brilliantly realized milieu is the world of art and literature and, for Evert and Johnny, who are gay, the evolving world of gay society and culture in Britain. Superlatives are made to describe this extraordinary work of fiction; characterization, style, mood, tone, setting—all are equally distinguished. Hollinghurst is especially good at evoking yearning, and, indeed, his novel will inarguably leave his readers yearning for more.
RaveBooklist\"Haig’s plot is obviously complex, but—a marvel of invention—it is seamlessly presented, telling an absolutely compelling story. It examines large issues—history, time, purpose, and more—but in an engagingly thought-provoking, compulsively readable way. It is, in every way, a triumph not to be missed.\
RaveBooklist\"Richly documented (it contains 85 pages of notes), it is the compelling, beautifully written story of a life whose childhood and early years of marriage were beset by incredible economic privation and disaster: poverty, hunger, fire, blizzards, invasions of locusts, and more, enough to seemingly eclipse the biblical plagues of Egypt ... One of the more interesting aspects of this wonderfully insightful book is its delineation of the fraught relationship between Wilder and her deeply disturbed, often suicidal daughter. But it is its marriage of biography and history—the latter providing such a rich context for the life—that is one of the great strengths of this indispensable book, an unforgettable American story.\
RaveBooklist...superb ... Green, a master of deeply felt material, handles all of this with aplomb. With its attention to ideas and trademark introspection, it’s a challenging but richly rewarding read. It is also the most mature of Green’s work to date and deserving of all the accolades that are sure to come its way.
RaveBooklistBoyne, who has a wonderful gift for characterization, does a splendid job of weaving these various lives together in ways that are richly dramatic, sometimes surprising, and always compelling. A vividly realized theme in the novel is the inhumane treatment of homosexuals in Ireland, largely at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. Accordingly, the fear of being outed will cause Cyril to make some life-changing mistakes that, in context, are altogether plausible. Often quite funny, the story nevertheless has its sadness, sometimes approaching tragedy. Utterly captivating and not to be missed.
RaveBooklist...[a] lovely, gorgeously written memoir ... It’s Taylor’s gift to readers to make that past hauntingly real for them, too, without the taint of nostalgia, which, he wisely argues, 'lies.' The truth is that this memoir is an unforgettable sharing of one boy’s life that contains universal truths in a style that demands to be quoted. 'Memory is aesthetic,' he claims, and this book is proof of it.
RaveBooklist...[a] splendid book ... Fascinating and compellingly readable as all of this is, there remains something ineffable about Sendak’s work, for, yes, when all is said and done, there is a mystery there, one that Cott conveys beautifully.
MixedBooklistThough obviously skillfully written—it’s a winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction—the book can sometimes be difficult to read, thanks to its bleak subject matter, which, nevertheless, is reflective of today’s reality. Those who are interested in closely observed, character-driven fiction will want to leave room for The Leavers on their shelves.
Hannah Lillith Assadi
PositiveBooklistAssadi’s first novel is—like Ahlam’s dreams—fevered, fragmented, and impressionistic. Its language is lushly poetic—leaves make 'a shivery melody'—but occasionally strained. Though the novel takes itself very seriously, it will interest those looking for a stylish read.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
MixedBooklistWith an unsympathetic protagonist whose actions seem oddly arbitrary, and a mood that ranges from melancholy to dreary, this is a hard book to like, but one can nevertheless admire its artful style and verisimilitude.