Recent Reviews

Staff Pick Badge
Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life Cover Image
Why Fish Don't Exist

DUE IN APRIL: Lulu Miller's Why Fish Don't Exist won't be categorized, and that's a central theme of the book, too. Part memoir, part biography, part philosophical treatise, and part natural history, the book explores scientist David Starr Jordan's colossal failures and undaunted persistence to categorize the world's fish even in the face of the Los Angeles earthquake. As does Miller, we want to find in Jordan the heroic sorter of life's chaos and the hope to persist even on our darkest days. But history, Jordan, and life itself will not be labeled and pinned down. This is a heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant journey to this ultimate truth. By its end, I found myself applauding the author and myself for our contentment with messiness and surprise. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
Code Name Hélène: A Novel Cover Image
Code Name Hélène

DUE IN MARCH: Lawhorn's book knocked my socks off! This brilliant fictional portrayal of Aussie Nancy Wake, a member of the French resistance, will keep you up 'til the wee hours. Wake's resilience, courage, and selflessness in the face of danger and unspeakable loss is all the more astounding given the obstacles women had to overcome to take their rightful place as leaders. Lawhorn's book will remind readers once again of how perilously close we came to a world dominated by fascists and the gratitude we owe those who fought against them at great threat to themselves. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son Cover Image
For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son

DUE IN APRIL: Richard Wagamese's simple and yet hypnotic writing builds to a symphony of grief, regret, and ultimately gratitude for life and its lessons and gifts. Part confessional and part legacy of father to son, For Joshua is a tribute not only to Wagamese but also to the rich, healing tradition of the Ojibwe people whose way of being in the world offers a model for surviving, belonging. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
The Keeper: A Novel Cover Image
The Keeper

DUE IN MARCH: Brit Jessica Moor emerges as an exiting new voice in the thriller genre with her quietly terrifying novel, The Keeper. Set in a shelter for abused women, the action revolves around the disappearance and suspected murder of one of the counseling staff. Carefully drawn characters and intricately woven stories creates a compassionate yet honest snapshot of domestic violence. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
American Birds: A Literary Companion Cover Image
American Birds: A Literary Companion

DUE IN MARCH: At a time when even the most common backyard birds are beings not to be taken for granted, this anthology reminds American readers all that we still have to cherish and lose. They can trace the same thrill from 19th century writers like Henry David Thoreau who warms to the sound of the wood thrush right through to the writing of present day modern American writers whose ears, eyes, and hearts are still moved to hope, "the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." We owe a debt of gratitude to editors Williams and Rubenfeld for researching this beautiful connection through time. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
The Only Good Indians Cover Image
The Only Good Indians

They weren’t supposed to hunt there, in the area reserved for the elders. But youthful recklessness and hubris lead these four friends to ignore the rules and tribal tradition, not understanding that broken rules and promises have a way of circling back. Two friends leave the reservation and two remain; none escapes the legacy of that day. Stephen Graham Jones takes us into a world of pain, guilt, revenge, fear, love. Of the metaphysical and of the flesh. The Only Good Indians, not for the squeamish, left me unnerved, yet uplifted with its perfect resolution of a chilling conflict. Recommended by Nancy

Staff Pick Badge
Telephone: A Novel Cover Image
Telephone

Percival Everett’s Telephone will stay with you long after its final sentence. Zach Wells, an unremarkable paleontologist accustomed to putting together the pieces and finding the answers, is faced with the reality of his young daughter’s unsolvable illness. Unable to fix the situation, he attempts to escape it through various means, including a seemingly foolhardy attempt to help others escape. Escape wends through the novel as a dominant theme and carries it to an ending of hope and unresolved hopelessness. Perhaps that is how all of our stories end. Recommended by Nancy

Staff Pick Badge
The Only Good Indians Cover Image
The Only Good Indians

DUE IN MAY: They weren’t supposed to hunt there, in the area reserved for the elders. But youthful recklessness and hubris lead these four friends to ignore the rules and tribal tradition, not understanding that broken rules and promises have a way of circling back. Two friends leave the reservation and two remain; none escapes the legacy of that day. Stephen Graham Jones takes us into a world of pain, guilt, revenge, fear, love. Of the metaphysical and of the flesh. The Only Good Indians, not for the squeamish, left me unnerved, yet uplifted with its perfect resolution of a chilling conflict. Recommended by Nancy

Staff Pick Badge
Shiner: A Novel Cover Image
Shiner

DUE IN MAY: In skillful prose, Amy Jo Burns tells a compelling tale of life and death in Appalachia. Her novel Shiner is populated by characters bound inextricably to their mountain and to each other. They live secluded on the mountain through choices and decisions made long ago. Miracles, venomous snakes, passions, faith, deceptions, and the mountain itself all play their roles in the lives of Burns’s complex characters. Their stories unfold in often surprising twists that will draw you in and keep you reading late into the night and continuing to think about them long after you put the book down. Recommended by Nancy

Staff Pick Badge
We Are Not from Here Cover Image
We Are Not From Here

DUE IN MAY: We Are Not From Here follows three Guatemalan teens along their treacherous journey to the United States as they flee the violence of their homeland.  Pequeña, Pulga, and Chico, whose Spanish nicknames even deny their humanity, ride La Bestia—the beast, the death train—dreaming of better lives.  Eerily reminiscent of the Holocaust, this book is about the unthinkable events that force people from their homes, that occur along their journey to the U.S., and that greet them once they arrive (so long as they survive).  Unforgettable—the squealing brakes of La Bestia are the screams of migrant children, demanding to be heard.  Open your eyes. Recommended by Mary