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Fiction Reviews

The Girls

Emma Cline's The Girls is a gripping, thrilling coming-of-age story with a lot to say about gender and growing up. Set in a heady 1969 Bay Area, it follows Evie as she falls in and out with a cult deeply reminiscent of the Manson Family. It's a page-turner with a brain, a meditative book with a strongly argued point that nevertheless manages to thrill and titillate like a good summer read should. Recommended by Danny

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ISBN: 9780812998603
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Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

THE INSTANT BESTSELLER - An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong

Desert Boys

Chris McCormick’s Desert Boys is a remarkable collection of linked short stories (really, we can call it a novel) set in the desert north of Los Angeles. McCormick’s sense of place and landscape is completely immersive, and his characters are equally well-formed. Through humor, cleverness, pathos, and a bit of formal experimentation, Desert Boys effectively explores questions of leaving, coming home, and the pull of the big city.

Desert Boys: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250075505
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Published: Picador USA - May 3rd, 2016

Winner of the Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award

Finalist for the Binghamton University's John Gardner Fiction Book Award

Longlisted for the Chautauqua Prize

"Hilarious, Devious, Original, and Unforgettable."--Karen Russell

The Coroner's Lunch

Dr. Siri, the Communist-appointed coroner of Laos, provides a glimpse into the corruption that rattles his country. As a member of the revolution himself, he fights for the rights of his people, both living and dead. Truly funny and fierce, 72-year-old Dr. Siri reminds me of my Nonno, my highly opinionated Italian grandfather. He is kind to those deserving, quick to stand strong in opposition, and boldly offends proudly. Laos is a country we know little about, yet it has such a colorful history.

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ISBN: 9781616956493
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Published: Soho Crime - April 7th, 2015

Laos, 1978: Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old medical doctor, has unwillingly been appointed the national coroner of the new socialist Laos. His lab is underfunded, his boss is incompetent, and his support staff is quirky, to say the least. But Siri's sense of humor gets him through his often frustrating days.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

LaRose by Louise Erdrich is terrific, and it reminded me all over again why I adore Erdich so much. The book starts with a tragic accident which forces a family to consider a devastating yet traditional apology (to give too much of the plot away will decrease your ability to slide entirely into Erdrich’s well-crafted universe).

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ISBN: 9780062277022
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Published: Harper - May 10th, 2016

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction

Finalist for the 2017 PEN Faulkner Award

Our Souls at Night

Not surprisingly, Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf's last before he passed away in 2014, is a quiet, beautiful book. The premise: 70-year-old widow Addie asks her widower neighbor, Louis, who lives two doors down, to come to her house each night and sleep with her–not for sex, but for pillow talk and as an antidote to crushing loneliness. Their unconventional agreement births not only town gossip but also a love and trust neither has before experienced. Recommended by Kelly

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ISBN: 9781101875896
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Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 26th, 2015

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

My Name Is Lucy Barton

Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton is an brisk, intimate, and searing exploration of the troubled relationship between the title character and her mother. Lucy is in the hospital for many weeks with a mysterious illness when her estranged mother appears out of nowhere. Through their hospital bedside conversations, they make sense of their shared past, all while keeping troubling secrets buried. It’s a brilliant take on the silences of families and the process of making sense out of a difficult past.

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ISBN: 9781400067695
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Published: Random House - January 12th, 2016

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE - A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys.

The Door

Magda Szabo’s novel The Door­—available and popular in her native Hungary since 1987—is long overdue to arrive on our shores. The devastating novel tells the story of the fraught and mysterious friendship between the narrator, also an author named Magda, and her housekeeper Emerence. Emerence, who won’t let anyone past her front door, is a true force of nature. Her relationship with Magda sizzles and cracks as it leads to the book’s Greek-tragic ending. At times brutal, the book examines friendship, betrayal, and aging with honesty and clear eyes. Savor this book; let it break your heart.

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By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (Translator), Ali Smith (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590177716
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Published: New York Review of Books - January 27th, 2015

One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015"
An NYRB Classics Original

My Friend Flicka

In my second childhood again (I was one of those little kids begging for a horse), I read My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara, which I'd always thought was a "little horse book for little girls." How wrong I was. Though it can happily be read by a child, it works on several levels. In the stunning backdrop of Wyoming grasslands, this story tells the tale of 12-year-old boy Ken McLaughlin, a rancher's son striving to win his father's approval.

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ISBN: 9780060512620
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Published: Harper Perennial - December 27th, 2005

The classic story of an aimless teenager, a demanding father,
and aspirited horse -- now a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

As you're looking for gifts, don't forget Betty Smith's groundbreaking novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It chronicles the life of the Nolans, a desperately poor family in the tenements of turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn. Though only a child when the narrative begins, the novel's protagonist Francie does her best to make sense of the joys and hardships of her family, becoming a writer before the readers' eyes. Published in 1942, the novel is part coming-of-age story and part historical chronicle. Though occasionally sentimental, the novel's cumulative power is astonishing.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060736262
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Published: Harper Perennial - February 1st, 2005

The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Here by Richard McGuire

Here by Richard McGuire is a pretty stunning graphic novel that possesses a quiet power and poignancy. It follows the human dramas of a single corner of a single house over the course of millennia, from prehistory to the 1800s to the present day to the distant future. Whatever plot there is is associative and non-linear, but that doesn’t mean the reading experience is difficult. The book is poetic in its meaning-making and lovely in its illustrations; few comics are ever so thought-provoking. Recommended by Danny

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ISBN: 9780375406508
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Published: Pantheon Books - December 9th, 2014

From one of the great comic innovators, the long-awaited fulfillment of a pioneering comic vision. Richard McGuire's Here is the story of a corner of a room and of the events that have occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.
(With full-color illustrations throughout.)


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