It's September, 1969, int he Brooklyn projects, The Cause, where poverty consumes the residents and rarely spits them out. Five Ends Baptist Church is a strong force within this community. One of its deacons, a kindhearted by drunken 71 year-old known as Sportcoat, shoots a young drug dealer in broad daylight before many witnesses. Stumbling off toward the rest of his day, Sportcoat eludes the law and claims not to remember a thing about shooting Deems. From this point on the spicy dialogues swirl before the reader, as people react to this unexpected act of violence. Sportcoat's reputation weighs in heavily, making clear the loyalty that poverty generates. McBride's brilliant portrait of these connected souls underline the power of words!
The Hawaiian motto of “Ohana Over Everything” sums up this beautiful debut novel by Kawai Strong Washburn. This is a family that swims off the page into real life. As the son of Native Hawaiians from the Big Island myself, I often felt like the children of this novel. I understood Dean’s rebellion, I felt Kaui’s search for purpose, and I rooted wholeheartedly for Nanoa’s ambitious spirit to save the family. This is the Hawaiian novel I’ve long waited for.
I can't quite tell if Jess Walter is poking fun at or painting an affectionate portrait of the Inland Northwest here, which is part of what makes this collection so great. The stories - most of which are set in or around Spokane - find characters in situations that feel unique to the region. Yet thanks to the unique cast Walters presents us with - including people who are homeless, recently-divorced, ex-cons - mixed with his knack for excellent deadpan dialogue, you don't have to be from the area to enjoy them.
Bump writes from his own childhood experience on the South Side of Chicago. It’s a heartfelt story with familiar themes of family, love, and growing up, but from a completely unique voice – one that will endear you to main character Claude McKay and one that needs to be heard.
Pair it with Margo Jefferson’s Negroland a memoir, also about growing up, decades earlier and in another part of Chicago, as an affluent African-American. Two illuminating and unforgettable portrayals of race in the U.S.
How mystifying the customs of ancient peoples seem to us... but how far removed are we, really?
Sylvie and her parents join a small university class on "a summer experience" living as Iron Age Britons may have. As prehistoric tasks become more intuitive to the group, so do the rituals they once thought horrific.
This unassuming wisp of a book belies the disquieting story within.
"I shivered. Of course that was the whole point of the re-enactment, that we ourselves became the ghosts, learning to walk the land as they walk it two thousand years ago."
Hot with violet urgency, and shrouded in the moss and fog of the rural Northwest, Vera Violet opens with the eponymous Vera on the run someplace deep in Montana, and does not let up until the final page. In between is something like the root system of a tall cedar, or the wiring Harness on an old pickup: tangled at first glance, but intricate as soon as you start to trace it. This is an unforgettable novel.
Primarily taking place during the forgotten Laotian Civil War, a war that is known as “America’s secret war of the 1960s,” Run Me to Earth follows three orphan teenagers just trying to survive among the wreckage around them. Paul Yoon has written the perfect follow up to the gorgeous collection of stories in The Mountain, that also follows the lives of innocent civilians who are left to pick up the pieces after destruction and war. We see the three teenagers grow up and separate but they remain forever tied though their tragic memories of childhood. Yoon has proven to be masterful at creating quietly compelling characters with real human stories that stay with you once you close the book. This is a timeless work by a writer at the top of his craft.
Amazing characters and regional history. One of my top 10 books of the year.
Whitehead lined up the plot of this novel as meticulously as dominos and then with a flick tore everything down in moments.
I sobbed at the end. Read it read it read it.
Be prepared to glide across time, distance, and families in Regina Porter’s debut novel. Her writing has rightly been described as “effortless” and is a joy to read. You come to know well two families, one black and one white, and how related they (and we all) are. As I marveled at her ability to portray each family member so deftly, I wondered– what would happen if she spent a week with my extended family?!