Taking its title from the real "Operation Wandering Soul" American propaganda campaign during the Vietnam War, this beautiful novel tells the story of a family of three young refugees from Vietnam moving to England after the war. What follows is a haunting story of survival and generational grief over the span of 60 years. Wonderfully crafted using interweaving perspectives, this brisk 200+ page powerhouse of a novel is one that can be read in a single sitting but can have characters that stay with you forever.
This beautiful, semi-autobiographical collection of short stories delves into passion, alcoholism, work, family and death. Berlin's keen observations about her life and the world around her are sparingly told but are so evocative she makes the smallest moments emotionally huge. She writes of recklessness and addiction with honesty and without shame, allowing the reader to be with her characters in all their complexity. The 44 stories left me wanting more.
This book is everything I want when I read romance. Ben and Alexei turned my heart to utter mush. Their banter is delightful and their hike along the Pacific Crest Trail is a fresh, fun setting. And though there is heat and spice in abundance, the arc of their relationship had major slow burn energy.
I have never felt comparisons to Red, White, And Royal Blue were accurate before, but this contemporary gay romance is spot on: it struck the mood, the complex narrative, the beloved, nuanced and unique characters.
Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson is a love story to Los Angeles. When Miranda Brooks takes over her uncle’s bookshop after learning of his death, she must face her own past and her family secrets that have been buried for well over a decade. This book gracefully explores grief, community, and family. Being from Southern California, I enjoyed how this book had me engrossed in a wistful portrait of Los Angeles.
Oh, this book is so, so good. It is no plot, just vibes to the utmost extent. It is sardonic and uncomfortable while still delivering incredibly juicy, gorgeous, heartfelt prose of unrequited love and the ickiness/beauty of being nineteen. Elif and her protagonist Selin will teach you how to like and dislike the Beatles, how to ache with emotions, and how to accept just how insignificant your actions are in the grand scheme of things. I love this book. So much.
This is one of those rare books that lingers for months after reading. Written in the second person (!!!) and full of absolutely gorgeous, lyrical prose that reminds me of both James Baldwin and Zadie Smith, it follows the relationship of two young black artists as they live and create art together and individually in London. It's a beautiful dance of a book, singing praises of the music and art that inspires each characters' lives while not shying away from the impact of race and class on each. I will read anything Caleb Azumah Nelson writes forever and ever. You'll be forever changed if you do the same.
This book is nothing short of striking. With rambling and fidgety prose, Brown conveys the experience of a black woman in the predominantly white spaces of her workplace, her upper class boyfriend's family's garden party, and her everyday life in London. It's a short but powerful story of agency, race, gender, illness, survival, and time. Get ready to devour each and every sentence.
The protagonist, an Asian-American woman and a doctor, weaves medical and scientific language into this story about family heartache, the immigrant experience, and the cost of success in America - how it severs the body, amputates the family, and intrudes on the mind and memory. As Joan herself says, "if I could hold success in my hand, it would be a beating heart." The prose is sharp, precise, full of puns and double meaning, and plays on the translation of words between languages in order to brilliantly capture the feeling of being Other in America.
It is rare for me to find a book both darkly funny and euphorically hopeful. When I think of TJ Klune, I expect a cozy, queer hug feeling while reading. This is true of IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS and also there's something more happening. There's a new feeling unfurling as Victor, Gio, Nurse Ratched, and Rambo discover how much lies beyond the forest. It heightens as they face risks and dangers together. Whatever this new feeling, I want to stay in it as long as the story lets me.
Kate Clayborn is fully ensconced on my auto-buy list. All of her books make me want to gush: they are nuanced and full-bodied and believable. Her characters are flawed--even the supporting cast (who never detract or distract from the core romantic arc)--and deal with Real Life Shit. In GEORGIE, ALL ALONG, I kept discovering snippets of dialogue that could have been taken from my own brain. It's an opposites attract, close-proximity romance that I didn't want to end.