Chatter's blog

Podcast Interview with John from DIESEL

Dear Reader,

Vik Singh does these hourlong + (!) podcast interviews with booksellers, called Bookstories.  (I just recently heard Allison Hill's and loved it!) Anyway, Vik interviewed me a few months ago and just aired it.  You may or may not be interested in listening to this while you are driving, or drinking a cocktail at home, or on the treadmill.  I really enjoyed talking with him and we delved into many things bookwise.  Hope you get a kick out of this.
Here’s the link: 

DIESEL, A Bookstore presents the Indie Next List for June 2018

 
 
The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.
 
THIS MONTH'S #1 INDIE NEXT LIST PICK...
 
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There There
By Tommy Orange

(Knopf, 9780525520375, $25.95)

"There There is the kind of book that grabs you from the start and doesn't let go, even after you've turned the last page. It is a work of fiction, but every word of it feels true. Tommy Orange writes with a palpable anger and pain, telling the history of a cultural trauma handed down through generations in the blood and bones and stories of individual lives. He also writes with incredible heart and humor, infusing his characters with a tangible humanity and moments of joy even as they are headed toward tragedy. There There has claimed a permanent spot in my heart despite having broken it, or maybe because it did. I think this may be the best book I've ever read."

--Heather Weldon, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

 
  Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

 

 
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THIS MONTH'S #1 INDIE NEXT LIST PICK AUTHOR INTERVIEW
 
 
(photo: Elena Seibert)

Booksellers across the country have chosen There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf, June 5) as their number-one pick for the June Indie Next List.

The debut novel, which is also a Summer/Fall 2018 selection for the American Booksellers Association's Indies Introduce program, features a series of poignant character sketches depicting Native Americans of various ages, genders, and life circumstances, most of whom live in the city of Oakland, California. The stories of these vibrantly drawn, scintillatingly self-aware characters all intersect at a local powwow in ways that are, at once, climactic, cathartic, and tragic.

Born and raised in Oakland, Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he now teaches writing, and a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He currently lives in Angels Camp, California.

Here, we speak with Orange about his new book, which encapsulates different perspectives within the contemporary urban Native experience.

Where did the idea come from to write this book?

It sort of came to me in a single moment. I was born and raised in Oakland, but I didn't grow up in the urban Indian community there. Being Native, to me, was my dad, going back to Oklahoma to visit family, and his language because he's fluent in Cheyenne. But then I spent a bunch of years in the urban Indian community, working in mental health, doing a storytelling project, and realizing just how many stories there were that people should hear--especially other urban Natives, to see their own stories reflected in a bigger way. We're pretty invisible, Native people, in movies and TV shows and literature, so I was feeling like I wanted to try to tell a story that hadn't been told about a community that people know too little about.

I had been on a powwow committee and helped put on a powwow, so the idea just dropped into my head to have a novel from the perspective of a whole bunch of different urban Native characters who all end up at a powwow in Oakland. I wasn't exactly sure how it would end, but I had a few ideas, and they were all similar to the way it did end up. So the whole thing kind of came to me at once, and I started writing it over the next six years.

One of the book's characters, Dene, is a documentarian who receives a grant to conduct a StoryCorps-like project to interview other urban Natives, similar to a project you did. In your view, why is it valuable to record these modern histories?

I think having a strong identity as a human in general is an important thing, to feel like you belong in a certain type of community. For Native people who grew up in the city--and these are themes that work in other communities as well, but this is the one I'm from--just to hear your story or one similar to yours is powerful. It can feel really lonely to be Native but not read or see anything about being Native....

 
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MORE INDIE NEXT LIST GREAT READS
 
 
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  The Word Is Murder
By Anthony Horowitz

(Harper, 9780062676788, $27.99)

"When a healthy 60-year-old woman is found strangled in her London home the very day she had organized and paid for her own funeral, former police detective--now consultant--Daniel Hawthorne convinces author Anthony Horowitz to shadow his investigation to eventually publish this very story. Imagine sitting in a darkened English pub listening to Horowitz bemoaning his involvement as he tells the story of the unlikeable but captivating Hawthorne. Readers will quickly join in playing detective as characters, plot twists, clues, and red herrings escalate while enjoying the old-fashioned feel of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes in a modern setting. Delicious!"

--Jennifer Gwydir, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

 

 
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  Florida: Stories
By Lauren Groff

(Riverhead Books, 9781594634512, $27)

"After wowing readers (former President Barack Obama included) with 2015's Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff returns with a collection of stories just as wise and meticulously constructed. Within the sun-kissed, palmetto-strewn swampland of Groff's Florida, we encounter a pair of abandoned sisters, anxious mothers, and a woman being pushed to the edge. Looking inward and out, Groff examines the lives of her characters with a surveyor's eye, capturing the sense of dread and desire that pervades their existence. Floridais an exploration of time and place, both sensual and terrifying, and seems to me both timely and timeless."

--Uriel Perez, BookPeople, Austin, TX

 

 
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  A Place for Us
By Fatima Farheen Mirza

(SJP for Hogarth, 9781524763558, $27)

"Mirza evokes with equal skill and nuance the first- and second-generation immigrant experience and the universal themes of family unity and discord. In A Place for Us, she captures the complicated dynamics of one family's relationships with each other with astonishing insight. I found it tremendously moving in a way that only the most authentic stories and voices can be. The last 70 pages buckled my knees. How can a story about characters so outside my own life experience be so hauntingly familiar?"

--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

 

 
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  Shelter in Place
By Nora Roberts

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250161598, $27.99)

"As you read this book, coincidence and life forever changing in a brief moment will be on your mind. The rash of mass shootings we have experienced over the past few years comes to gruesome life in this book. The news and our memories of the horrors we saw on it fade with time, but what if you were there and the memory never disappeared? How would it change your life? This book is an excellent exploration of that situation."

--Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

 

 
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  Invitation to a Bonfire
By Adrienne Celt

(Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635571523, $26)

"Adrienne Celt's Invitation to a Bonfire is a propulsive literary thriller masterfully constructed and written with an extraordinary, raw urgency that will leave readers breathless. Inspired by the marriage of Vladimir and Vera Nabokov, Celt explores the love and ambition of two strong-willed women who compete for the passions and artistic control of a literary icon. The novel's characters are original and vividly drawn, with all the complexity and contradictions of their emotions and intensions fully realized. This is a story that you will not be able to put down, and certainly one of the most memorable and satisfying reads of the year. Adrienne Celt is a writer to watch."

--Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX

 

 
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Convenience Store Woman
By Sayaka Murata
Ginny Tapley Takemori (Transl.)

(Grove Press, 9780802128256, $20)

"Keiko Furukura has worked at her local convenience store for 18 years. Every day, she ensures that the shelves are tidy, the hot food bar is stocked, and the featured items are adequately displayed. She greets every customer with a cheerful 'Irasshaimase!' and no one notices that she's never fit in anywhere else. Murata draws lush descriptions of the beauty of order and routine out of simple, spare prose, and every page crackles with the life she's created. Because of the humor, the wit, the almost unbearable loveliness of it all, Convenience Store Woman, a small book about a quiet life, makes an enormous impact on the reader."

--Lauren Peugh, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

 
  Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

 

 
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  Southernmost
By Silas House

(Algonquin Books, 9781616206253, $26.95)

"Asher, a rural evangelical preacher in Tennessee, welcomes two gay men into his congregation after a flood washes away most of his town. His change of heart results in him being ousted from his church and losing custody of his son in the midst of an ugly divorce. Unable to stand the separation from his boy, he steals him away and flees to Key West in search of his estranged brother. Living on the run, Asher must learn how to make peace with the past as he discovers a new way of living and thinking. Silas House's writing is captivating and honest and proves how different ways of life can coexist and even combine to create something cohesive and meaningful."

--Carl Kranz, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

 

 
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MEM
By Bethany C. Morrow

(The Unnamed Press, 9781944700553, $24.99)

"Adding fictional scientific breakthroughs to a glittering era of history is a setup for a great plot, but it takes an artist's hand to carry it beyond its initial gimmick. Bethany C. Morrow's examination of memory, desire, and what makes us human flourishes in its alternative historical setting. Her writing is as well-paced as her plot, in which the Mems develop beyond their creator's intentions and the most evolved of them suffers at our least-evolved hands. Morrow's novel has a beauty to it that underlines its critical depth and heart-racing conclusion."

--Hannah Oliver Depp, WORD, Brooklyn, NY

 
  Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

 

 
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  Rising: Dispatches From the New American Shore
By Elizabeth Rush

(Milkweed Editions, 9781571313676, $26)

"Focusing on the shorelines of our nation, Elizabeth Rush takes us from north to south and east to west on an intimate journey that vividly tells the story of the effects of our rising sea level and its impact on animal and plant life. In Rising, Rush has written a personal, passionate plea for us to take action before it is too late and to rethink our priorities to the benefit of our environment. This is environmental writing at its best. Please read Rising and then grab a friend and make them read it, too. It's that good!"

--Bill Reilly, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY

 

 
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  Visible Empire
By Hannah Pittard

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544748064, $25)

"Pulling from the historical record, Hannah Pittard has constructed a compelling novel around the Air France crash at Orly that shook the Atlanta art scene in 1962. The well-constructed narrative shifts effortlessly among a few characters to provide a richer, more comprehensive perspective on the disaster and its aftermath. Visible Empire goes well beyond a simple retelling of the contemporary newspaper accounts and addresses the issues of race, wealth, and culture prevalent in that moment and that still persist today."

--Jay McCoy, Brier Books, Lexington, KY

 

 
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  The Death of Mrs. Westaway
By Ruth Ware

(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501156212, $26.99)

"Does Ruth Ware keep getting better and better? Yes, she does. A down-on-her-luck protagonist, a too-good-to-be-true inheritance, and a creepy old mansion combine for a deliciously suspenseful tale. The plucky heroine, Hal, believes she's mistakenly been identified as an heir to a great estate, but she decides to play along in the hopes of scamming a couple thousand pounds out of the situation. Once she's arrived at the reading of the will, she quickly realizes that she is in way over her head. This is a deceptive and suspense-riddled thrill ride!"

--Connie Brooks, Battenkill Books, Cambridge, NY

 

 
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  Who Is Vera Kelly?
By Rosalie Knecht

(Tin House Books, 9781947793019, $15.95, trade paper)

"Who is Vera Kelly? Find out in this twisty, turny spy thriller set in 1960s Argentina as Vera, working for the CIA, becomes stuck in the country during a hostile takeover. Through flashbacks, we learn about Vera's past and the forces that worked together to create this devilishly smart, very sexy woman. The book reads like the love child of John le Carré and Rita Mae Brown. I loved Vera immensely, even more so as the plot progressed and the threats became deadlier. What a fun read and what a terrific character! I can't wait for the next installment."

--William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

 

 
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  The Book of Essie
By Meghan MacLean Weir

(Knopf, 9780525520313, $25.95)

"The Book of Essie is a captivating debut. The original plot moves at lightning speed while giving the reader characters to hang on to, care for, and sympathize with. The novel focuses on 16-year-old Essie Hicks, a star on a reality TV show following her preacher father and her ultra-religious, conservative family. When Essie finds out she is pregnant, she must protect herself and her future in the face of public scorn. I couldn't stop turning the pages to see what would happen to Essie and Roarke, the boy Essie's mother has decided she will marry in a primetime, live-televised wedding. Weir proves herself to be a brilliant new talent with a sensitive but unflinching take on child exploitation and life in the public eye. A must-read!"

--Liv Stratman, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

 

 
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  The Optimistic Decade
By Heather Abel

(Algonquin Books, 9781616206307, $26.95)

"When faced with a world you don't like, do you engage as a social justice advocate or do you head to the wilderness to live off the land and contribute as little as possible to this capitalist society? Rebecca, fresh off of her first year at UC Berkeley and a lifetime of attending rallies and protests with her activist parents, finds herself pondering this question. In a tale that spans the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies and two generations of three interconnected families, Abel skillfully presents arguments for and against following your heart, sticking to your principles, and engaging with the world. Ultimately, we are left to reflect on where we are in our own personal 'Optimistic Decade,' and what we will do with that time."

--Jessica Fowle, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

 

 
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  Mirror, Shoulder, Signal
By Dorthe Nors

(Graywolf Press, 9781555978082, $16, trade paper)

"Once again, Dorthe Nors writes with precision and depth about the experience of single, childless women in their 40s, which is under-explored in literature. Loneliness and invisibility factor in, but not in the way that the dominant spinster/maiden aunt narrative would have us believe. Nors uncovers nuance, heart, and connection with her signature stripped-down prose and humor. A vital and important book for us all."

--Melanie McNair, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC

 

 
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  Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist
By Franchesca Ramsey

(Grand Central Publishing, 9781538761038, $27)

"Franchesca Ramsey hadn't planned to be an activist, but that was before her insightful and seriously funny YouTube video What White Girls Say... to Black Girls was viewed more than 12 million times. She was inundated with media requests along with both fan and hate mail. After some missteps, she decided to use her voice and her talent to fight injustice. Determined to provide ways for us to listen to each other, Ramsey, who will soon have a show on Comedy Central, has written an insightful book that brings us laughter as well as tools for understanding our differences and our shared humanity."

--Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

 

 
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  The High Season
By Judy Blundell

(Random House, 9780525508717, $27)

"What would you do to keep your home by the sea in Long Island? Maybe rent it out for the summer in order to get some cash to pay the bills? But what if the person who takes over the house THIS summer is out to get more than the house? Ruthie's about to find out what she's capable of when the rich and famous Adeline Clay takes over her nest. The parties, invited guests, and nasty business keeps building, until finally, Ruthie's reached the end of her patience and there's only one thing left to do. You'll be glad you decided to go along on this ride!"

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

 

 
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  Lying in Wait
By Liz Nugent

(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501167775, $26)

"Liz Nugent returns with another riveting tale of intrigue and domestic drama. Teenage Laurence suspects that his father might be involved in the mysterious death of a young woman. After his father suddenly dies, Laurence becomes even more bound by the smothering love of his overly attentive mother. When Laurence falls in love with the dead girl's sister, lies ensue, complications arise, and the hidden depths of evil lurking in the manor house are exposed. Readers will be mesmerized by Lying in Wait, and the ending is so devious that it will knock your socks off."

--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

 

 
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  The Lost Family
By Jenna Blum

(Harper, 9780062742162, $27.99)

"The characters in Jenna Blum's The Lost Family are deeply real and unforgettable: a man and a woman both trying to compensate for the losses of their previous families by creating a new family, and the daughter who grows up with them, feeling equally lost. Blum gets so many things effortlessly right: the terror of Nazi Germany; the fluctuating zeitgeist of New York in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s; the way the foodie father, the dieting wife, and the eating-disordered daughter all express themselves through their relationship with food. I would recommend it for Meg Wolitzer fans, though Blum's style is definitely her own."

--Nina Barrett, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, IL

 

 
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  The Almost Sisters: A Novel
By Joshilyn Jackson

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062105721, $15.99)

"Leia Birch is pretty much a rock star in the comic world, but her personal life has taken over the drama of her heroines, Violet and Violence. Leia is pregnant with a biracial child after too much tequila and a one-night stand at Comic-Con, her sister's perfect marriage is imploding, and it appears her sweet, proper Southern grandmother has been hiding all kinds of improper things, including advancing dementia. As always, Jackson is witty and charming, and her characters are so wonderfully drawn, it's hard to believe you don't actually know these people. The Almost Sisters is a hopeful book about our ability to preserve the dignity of one another while still helping them grow and change."

--Susan Thomas, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY

 

 
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  Dragon Teeth
By Michael Crichton

(Harper Paperbacks, 9780062473387, $15.99)

"I worshipped Michael Crichton. I cried for two days when he died, in part because there would be no more novels. However, after all these years, Dragon Teeth is a true surprise, and a joyful one indeed! Although he's more associated with futuristic science, Mr. Crichton was a dab hand at the historic thriller, and this novel is deeply grounded in fact. At its heart are two feuding paleontologists, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Marsh, participants in the late-1800s Bone Wars, a period of frenzied fossil discovery. Add to the mix a fictional Yale student, friendly and unfriendly Native Americans, a heap of varmints and scoundrels, and a lady or two, and you've got a rollicking good story!"

--Susan Tunis, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

 

 
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  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
By Gail Honeyman

(Penguin Books, 9780735220690, $16)

"Eleanor Oliphant has quickly become one of my favorite fictional characters, and this novel one of my favorite books. Eleanor is completely original and the right kind of weird. Her life and her past, combined with such kindhearted characters, made for a compulsively readable, heartwarming story that I did not want to put down. I can't wait for this book to come out so many more can fall in love with Eleanor. Highly, highly recommended."

--Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA

 

 
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  The History of Bees
By Maja Lunde

(Touchstone, 9781501161384, $16)

"Both heartbreaking and hopeful, The History of Bees by Maja Lunde looks from present day to the history and future of bees, pollination, and the effects of humankind on these vital insects. Told through the stories of three families of beekeepers and pollinators, Lunde beautifully weaves together separate stories into one epic novel that will hold the reader captive until the very last sentence."

--Mary O'Malley, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

 

 
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  The Last Ballad
By Wiley Cash

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062313126, $15.99)

"Ella May has never had much of anything. She labors long hours in a textile mill in North Carolina trying to feed her four young children on nine dollars a week. When Ella sings one of her songs at a meeting of workers who are hoping to form a union, she finds herself something of a local celebrity. Written in beautifully evocative prose, this novel about bigotry and labor unrest in the 1930s exerts a powerful impact that pulls the reader into the vortex of the struggle for social justice. It deserves a place of honor in the canon of great Southern literature."

--Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

 

 
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The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road
By Finn Murphy

(W.W. Norton & Company, 9780393355871, $16.95)

"This memoir of a life spent driving trucks full of strangers' personal belongings across the country is the book I didn't know I needed. Finn Murphy writes engaging slice-of-life stories about his time as a long-haul truck driver while also showing the changes in the trucking industry and American life in the decades he's spent pulling thousands of pounds up mountains, through storms, and across plains. Trucking is a solitary life, but Murphy grabbed me like a friend and took me with him on his journey."

--Jamie Thomas, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

 
  Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

 

 
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  Manhattan Beach
By Jennifer Egan

(Scribner, 9781476716749, $17)

"Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach captures a time and place on the verge of momentous change. Set in Brooklyn in the 1940s, the novel tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, a young woman who has dropped out of Brooklyn College to contribute what she can to the American war effort. Unsatisfied with her job of inspecting and measuring machine parts, she attempts to enter the male-only world of deep-sea diving. Manhattan Beach is rich and atmospheric, highlighting a period when gangs controlled the waterfront, jazz streamed from the doors of nightclubs, and the future for everyone was far from certain."

--Mark Laframboise, Politics and Prose, Washington, DC

 

 
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  Meddling Kids
By Edgar Cantero

(Anchor, 9781101974445, $16.95)

"I have an abiding fondness for kooky premises executed well, and Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids is as kooky as they come. In 1977, the tween members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their last case and went their separate ways. Now it's 1990 and the man they sent to jail has been paroled. These former detectives have unfinished business, so one of them resolves to get the gang back together to find out the dark truth behind that final case. Meddling Kids is a pop-culture savvy, uproarious romp but also an action-packed horror-thriller. Highly recommended for fans of Christopher Moore and Ernest Cline, or anyone seeking a little laughter, nostalgia, or escapism."

--Susan Tunis, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

 

 
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  Mississippi Blood
By Greg Iles

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062311160, $17.99)

"Mississippi Blood is the culmination of the Natchez Trilogy, which follows characters who are trying to get to the bottom of brutal Civil Rights-era crimes. Penn Cage watches as the world around him calls into question everything he thinks he knows, including the moral fortitude of his father. Rippling with parallels to our everyday America, Mississippi Blood will, hopefully, push us all to recognize the truths about ourselves and our country."

--Veronica Brooks-Sigler, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA

 

 
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  Saints for All Occasions
By J. Courtney Sullivan

(Vintage, 9780307949806, $16.95)

"Saints for All Occasions is a riveting story about family and the secrets they keep. Nora Rafferty receives some devastating news that sets in motion a slow reveal of a longstanding secret between Nora and her sister Theresa, who immigrated from a small Irish village to Boston in the 1950s. It is also the story of Nora's relationships with her own adult children and the secrets they hide from their mother and each other. Sullivan's writing is lovely, and she has brought to life characters who are stronger than they think."

--Woody Chichester, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

 

 
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  Salt Houses
By Hala Alyan

(Mariner, 9781328915856, $14.99)

"Accomplished poet Hala Alyan exceeds the brilliance of her excellent collections of poems in her moving, deeply felt, powerfully realized first novel, Salt Houses. I can't think of many writers who have so adeptly written of family relationships--here, spanning five generations, all against a vividly rendered backdrop of exile and migration. From Palestine to Jordan, Lebanon to Kuwait, Boston to New York, this is a story of people losing, finding, and making their way. Salt Houses gives voice, body, and love to people whose lives in this country tend, at most, to be featured anonymously in news accounts--and at that, in the negative. This is real life, beautifully written and graciously enlarging the sense of who we are."

--Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

 

 
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  What We Lose
By Zinzi Clemmons

(Penguin Books, 9780735221734, $16)

"What We Lose is a quietly brilliant book detailing the way loss manifests itself in the life of its narrator, Thandi, and the reader, as Clemmons' writing shines back on you, too. The death of Thandi's mother brings about the loss of childhood innocence, her connection with her past, and her identity as a black woman. Clemmons' book is told in vignettes, stories and thoughts, with the narrative of this time in Thandi's life slowly swirling through it. It's as powerful a meditation on grief as I've ever read."

--Stefanie Schmidt, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, NH

 

 
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Young Adult Newsletter May 2018

Reading is an adventure!

 

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our May YA Newsletter! Exploration of other worlds, internal and external, continue in these reviews of contemporary YA fiction. Entertaining and intriguing, they give a great vantage on power relationships, emotional challenges, and the wonderful diversity of our world as well as their own. As Lindsey writes in this newsletter: "These stories, though often set in unrelatable worlds, have something that everyone can relate to."

Happy Reading!

John & all DIESELfolk

                  

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