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BOOKS WE LOVE - Staff Picks

Solar Bones Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616958534
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Press - September 12th, 2017

Irish author, Mike McCormack, takes "stream of consciousness" to another Ievel in his new novel, Solar Bones. The book is narrated entirely in a single sentence by middle-aged, engineer and family man, Marcus Conway, as he reflects back on his life through a variety of associative memories. Though focused on mostly domestic topics--children, marriage, job--the book has an ethereal quality that comes from knowing that the narrator is dead (a fact the author wants the reader to know from the beginning) and the suspension of time that is created as Conway relives much of his life within a singular moment on All Soul's Day. Solar Bones reads much more like a poem than a novel. The lovely writing pulled me in right from the beginning and the lack of punctuation made it difficult to put down, but despite the experimental style--or perhaps because of it--McCormack has created a beautiful self-elegy about a most ordinary life. 

Midnight at the Electric Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062393548
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Teen - June 13th, 2017

This novel presents a unique twist on historical fiction, interweaving three timelines through the stories of three independent, resilient female characters. In 2065, orphan Adri Ortiz has been accepted into a prestigious Mars colony program, where she will work to create a livable extraterrestrial world. In 1934, Catherine Godspeed struggles with the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl as the suffocating dust threatens her younger sister's life. And in 1919 England, Lenore Allstock writes letters to her estranged childhood friend in America as she mourns the death of her brother during WWI. Adri gets wrapped up in these past lives--told through journal entries and letters--before ever stepping foot off of Earth, so if you're looking for a sci-fi or dystopian novel, this is not the book for you. Instead, Anderson takes the reader on a quiet, haunting journey back in time to reveal the power of human relationships and the impact the past can sometimes have on the future.

The Bookseller Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062333018
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Paperbacks - March 22nd, 2016

Kitty Miller, our protagonist, is a contented “old maid” who runs a bookshop; her life revolves around her work, her cat, and her friend and business partner, Frieda. She’s perfectly content with this life until she starts having dreams about an alternate life, one where she’s Katharyn Andersson, a happily married homemaker who left bookselling to raise her three children. Her “dream life” at first seems ideal, but as the story progresses, we begin to wonder, with Kitty, which life is real and which one is her escapist fantasy. A rift opens in Katharyn’s mind, propelled by the discovery (or memory) that one of her children is autistic; maybe this life of hers isn’t so easy and rosy after all. What else has Kitty/Katharyn forgotten? How will she figure out which of her two lives is the real one? This novel is innovative, entertaining, and a little spooky. It’s also thought-provoking, as it begs the question of whether anyone can truly have it all, or whether sometimes hard choices must be made. A great book club read.

Hold Back the Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501142932
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - May 23rd, 2017

On a near-future Earth, Europe has absorbed many other countries into its “Europia,” a “utopia” where citizens rotate through different regions every two years, and individualism is the central value. The novel opens with Max and Carys, a couple whose only mistake is being too young to be approved for marriage, shipwrecked in space with only ninety minutes of air remaining. On a research mission, their hull was breached by an asteroid. Only one of them will have a chance at survival, and in their final moments, they must decide which one will live to return to Earth. Every story has many possible outcomes, and most fiction ignores this and tells a story as if the ending is the only possible one, when in reality, authors often consider and discard many different endings. This novel’s strength is that Khan chose to use the possibility of multiple outcomes to her advantage. As the story unfolds, we realize we don’t know what “really” happened, and it’s questionable whether anyone does. This narrative technique, almost like a grown-up Choose Your Own Adventure book, is what kept me reading into the nights. I also enjoyed Max and Carys’s far-from-perfect love story, full of realistic flaws and yet worth risking everything for. Written for adults, this novel would also appeal to teens.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062685346
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - September 19th, 2017

 A beautifully written historical novel that shows the missing piece in the beloved Little House on the Prairie series: What was life like for “Ma”? This definitely isn’t a revisionist retelling that focuses on how difficult pioneer life was for women, but neither is it an idealized view of life in those often dangerous times. In Sarah Miller’s lovely telling of the Ingalls family’s journey by covered wagon to their prairie homestead claim, a pregnant Caroline experiences loneliness, sorrow, and difficulty, but overwhelmingly, her life is measured by strength, fortitude, joy, and the incredible love she experiences with her husband and her girls. I can only imagine the depth of Miller’s research, as the details about everyday life that make the time period come alive seem effortless. Caroline is a fully drawn character, a woman who loves making a pleasant home for her family and who enjoys even her mundane chores, but who can also feel envy of her husband’s ability to get away and to share work and fun with other men on the frontier. Whether you’re a Little House fan or just enjoy good historical fiction, delve in for a visit to our American past.

Little Fires Everywhere Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735224292
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - September 12th, 2017

This is a provocative narrative about family secrets that yield tragic consequences. It takes place in the affluent, planned community of Shaker Heights, Ohio where the picture-perfect lives of the Richardson family slowly begin to unravel as they intertwine with the lives of the enigmatic artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter, Pearl. Though not a terribly original premise--a crack in the facade of idyllic suburbia reveals darker truths--the novel is still quite dynamic.
Ng has a talent for creating intricate plots and depth of character with which she explores a multitude of societal issues such as race, class, prejudice, privilege, parenting, abortion and even artistic expression while allowing the reader to choose their own alliances.  There are no cut and dried heroes or villains in this story, just people learning (the hard way) that life is complicated and imperfect.  Well-written and thought provoking, Little Fires Everywhere would make a good book club read.