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Fiction Reviews

Middlesex

How long has it been since you've read Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex? If you haven't cracked it since it was a huge hit in 2003 (or if you've never read it at all), now's the time. This gorgeous, generous, and funny novel has two hearts: a story about immigrants, and a story about the perils and difficulties of a complex gender identity in a straight male/female world. It's timely in both respects and has aged very well. The novel's scope is so delightfully huge—to me, some of the best novels are about basically everything—that a short summary is futile.

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$18.00
ISBN: 9780312427733
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Published: Picador USA - June 5th, 2007

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."


Island of the Blue Dolphins

This book is the ultimate girl's survival story! Karana is a young Nicoleno tribe member, who lives in solitude after having been left on the island accidentally by her family. She is the heroine; she hunts to survive, burns the fat of fish for light, and tames animals for companionship. Karana's story is a real story, girls! May we all have the courage, intensity, and canoe building skills as she! (Skip the movie, please-- its not the same). Recommended by Jenna.

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$7.99
ISBN: 9780547328614
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - February 8th, 2010

Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.


Gap of Time

This is a solid retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The characters are modern but every bit as much is at stake. It's a cautionary tale about the danger of jealousy that never loses its relevance. Recommended by Kelly

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$15.00
ISBN: 9780804141376
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Published: Hogarth Press - June 21st, 2016

The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's "late plays." It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.


Black Wave

Michelle Tea’s Black Wave is like no other apocalyptic novel you’ve seen. Its first half is a shaggy, charming, queer coming-of-age story set in 1990s San Francisco that feels (appealingly) like Elieen Myles. Think Chelsea Girls goes west. After slash-and-burning her bridges with friends and lovers, though, protagonist Michelle moves to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, Michelle promptly finds out the world will end in a year. What follows is a lyrical meditation on the environment, dreams, and love anchored by a feminist, ecological sensibility.

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$18.95
ISBN: 9781558619395
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Published: Amethyst Editions - September 13th, 2016

Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.


Swing Time

Zadie Smith’s funny and energetic new novel Swing Time tells the story of childhood friends Tracey and the book’s unnamed narrator; Tracey is a talented dancer, the narrator loves dance but is not gifted at it. They both live in a northwest London housing estate that the narrator eventually leaves and Tracey doesn’t. This deceptively simple story is the root of a layered, clever, and thought-provoking mediation on, well, lots of things. Smith’s primary concern is how identities can blend and mix.

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$27.00
ISBN: 9781594203985
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Published: Penguin Press - November 15th, 2016

A New York Times bestseller * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction * Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.


Tru and Nelle

Tru and Nelle by Neri G. is a terrific young adult book about the friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Based on real events in the lives of these two literary figures, the book in many ways mirrors To Kill a Mockingbird, hinting at the real characters and events in Monroeville, Alabama that gave birth to their parallels in the novel. It's beautifully written and has both the adventure and moral peril present in To Kill a Mockingbird. Highly recommended by Kelly.

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$16.99
ISBN: 9780544699601
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 1st, 2016

Long before they became famous writers, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalized account of their time together opens at the beginning of the Great Depression, when Tru is seven and Nelle is six.


The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is a ghost story for everyone. By everyone, I mean those who love ghost stories and also those who resist them. The writing is so spot-on and the hauntings so psychologically resonant, that they give even the skeptical reader pause. The Ayres' family estate is crumbling. Its remaining residents, Emily, her shell-shocked son Roderick, and sturdy, unmarried daughter Caroline, make an ill-fated decision to host a party to re-establish themselves in the social scene of Warwickshire, England.

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$17.00
ISBN: 9781594484469
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Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2010

"The #1 book of 2009...Several sleepless nights are guaranteed."--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly


A Reunion of Ghosts

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell is one of the best novels that I’ve read in years. A wry black comedy, it begins in 1999 and is the story of the 40-ish Alter sisters: Lady, Vee and Delph, who share an apartment on New York’s upper East Side. But it’s also the story of four generations of the Alter family, beginning with their great-grandfather, a brilliant German chemist who invented chlorine gas, among other terrible things. Tragedies have occurred in each generation, leaving the Alter sisters to conclude that there is only one solution that will break the curse.

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$15.99
ISBN: 9780062355898
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Published: Harper Perennial - January 26th, 2016

A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST

"The Alter sisters are mordant, wry, and crystalline in wit and vision; it is a tremendous pleasure to rocket through generations of their family histories with them." --Lauren Groff, New York Timesbestselling author of Fates and Furies, The Monsters of Templeton, and Arcadia


Exposure

Helen Dunmore’s newest novel is a beautiful tribute to the sweet comfort of home, to the fierce focus of mother love, and to the random risks and dangers that we are all exposed to.  She writes about the year 1960 in London, the cold war is in full cry and Dunmore describes everyday life with telling details: muddy galoshes, gold cuff links, the smells of primary school children and the sound of a train coming down the track.

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$25.00
ISBN: 9780802124937
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Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - April 5th, 2016

"Dunmore so cleverly interweaves each of the character's stories that as the tale unfolds it has the chilling ring of absolute authenticity. It's gripping and page turning and all those things you expect in a Spy Drama--but always laced with her trademark humanity. I was totally caught up in the story which is paced perfectly. Her best book yet."--Mavis Cheek


The Summer Before the War

Helen Simonson's heartfelt novel captures life in the small English coastal town of Rye. It is the summer of 1914, short months before every's lives are changed as WWI begins. Every character is beautifully drawn and the beauty of the countryside is vividly described. This book follows her wonderful novel Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and I loved both of them. Recommended by Rochelle

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ISBN: 9780812993103
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - March 22nd, 2016

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community."--The Washington Post


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