Heavy is the utterly unvarnished story of Kiese Laymon's coming of age in Jackson, Mississippi. Its narrative is addressed "you"—you being his mother, who cautions Kiese in seventh grade to “be twice as excellent and be twice as careful from this point on,” because “Being twice as excellent as white folk will get you half of what they get. Being anything less will get you hell.” This incredible book now joins a memoir pantheon that includes North Toward Home, Black Boy, One Writer's Beginnings, All God's Dangers, Harry Crews' A Childhood, and The Men We Reaped—books that matter and will last a long, long time. It is full of drama and laughter and fear and darkness and love, and to read it is a frightening, joyful and simply awesome experience. With an ear for language as fine as any writer we've known, Laymon and Heavy, with its subtitle of An American Memoir, bring to life Willie Morris' theorem that "America is Mississippi writ large." -- Richard
"Moving back and forth in time, and all over the globe—London, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, New England, Iraq, Accra—this fascinating novel focuses on Jean, an American studying urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist specializing in trauma who has been trying to establish contact with Ama, his niece. In an immigrant crackdown on the London West African population, Ama's young son goes missing, and Jean and Attila join forces to find him. Their relationship deepens, and Attila experiences his own grief and trauma, realizing how limited his academic understanding of it really was. A rich and timely story." -- Lisa
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"Elise Perez, a high school drop out, grew up in public housing. Jamey Hyde, a Yale student, is the scion of a famously wealthy family. Jardine Libaire teases the reader along, gradually unwinding the development of their relationship out as they fumble along discovering each other and themselves, and surprising everyone. It is the 1980s and New York and they are young, and so there is lots of sex, but the innocence remains. Love is timeless." -- Lyn
"A wholly original, well-researched examination of the memory of slavery in this country from its abolition to the present. The authors use the city of Charleston in South Carolina as a lens to show that following the Civil War there emerged two distinct threads as to how slavery would come to be remembered. One thread was that of the romanticized memory of the Old South put forth by descendants of the former slaveholders and the other thread was an unvarnished account of the brutality of slavery that came from the descendants of the former slaves and some white allies. These two narratives continued to evolve, become entrenched, and even intertwine so that as the authors follow the threads within the community of Charleston over time they provide a vital key to the understanding of many of the current events which continue to divide our nation in the present day." -- Cody
"A fascinating novel of passion and obsession with a TON of swinging music. Considered the first jazz novel, Dorthy Baker's 1938 debut puts you right up on the bandstand - smack dab in the middle of jazz's first golden age. DIG IT!" -- Slade
"That was then, when some kept themselves separate from others. This is now, when compromise and compassion have proven essential to living peacefully amongst others, no matter the differences. What I just said, in "kid language"." -- Jill
"This middle grade fantasy is a starkly realized reimagining of our world where spirits provide almost limitless power to the Magicians who can control them. To this day, this series remains one of my all-time favorites. Not only is the writing itself incredible but its main character is one of the most powerful examples of character growth you will ever find in a middle grade novel."
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"A unique combination of historical and scientific details joined with whimsical poems and vibrant illustrations that delight the imagination and create a joyful book that explodes color." -- Kathy
"If you're looking for some understanding of why the U.S. government "works" the way it does, check out this book. It has nothing to do with the recent election nor politicians in general, but it proves (yes, proves) that all politics is identity politics. Voters, even the well-informed, don't vote on issues—they vote based on identity. It's an academic text, heavy on the footnotes so it's easy to get bogged down, but it's worth reading at least the first several chapter and conclusion. The authors don't advocate for some alternative form of government, rather they show that our current understanding of democracy is flawed. It's provocative, no doubt, but it's a must read for any civic-minded person, whether you're liberal, conservative, or something else." -- Beckett
"In 1977 the kids of the Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club solved their final mystery when they caught a man in a salamander suit trying to steal buried treasure from the local haunted house. "Or did they? Cantero takes you on a trip to the darkest reaches of Oregon as the sleuths try to uncover the truth behind that terrible night 13 years earlier, and trust me, you won’t see it coming. Full of twists and turns, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out the mystery of why four kids and a Weimarener might be the key to stopping an ancient evil." -- Andrew P.
"Madeline Miller gives vibrant life to ancient Greece and its classical mythology. In a world where people created gods very much in their own image the deities are just as petty, jealous, vindictive and violent as their human worshipers. The tale of Circe and her relationship with Odysseus is viewed from a fresh perspective and puts the ancient hero in a different light. Most of all, the author lends a human touch to the mythological tale, taking it out of the realm of fantasy into one that probes the deeper meaning of existence." -- Bill
"My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a sharp, funny, and pitiless characterization of the simultaneous material abundance and spiritual emptiness of the early 00s. Though Moshfegh's narrator spends the majority of the novel willing herself into a twilight state via an obscene number of pharmaceuticals blithely prescribed by her kooky and malpractical doctor, her observations of her own malaise and the antics of the people around her are always keen and penetrating. A little sad, very funny, and in small but rewarding turns, incredibly lovely."
"Made for Love is the high tech trailer park dramedy I've been waiting for. Alissa Nutting's take on monogamy, sex, and love is hilarious and insightful. This is one of the most original titles I've read all year." -- Al
"Equally entertaining and informative, How to Code a Sandcastle is the perfect introduction to coding for little computer geniuses-or really any 5 year old who's ever wondered how computers work." -- Sami
"From babies to graduates, Sometimes You Fly has a message of life and love that will resonate with us all. Life is quite a journey, and before any of it ever really begins, you are loved." -- Molly
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"Michael Christie has crafted a wonderful thriller that investigates the influence of heritage, the environment, and indutrial/economic power. Spanning 130 years--Christie's novel is as much a mystery as it is an environmental manifesto for our troubling times. A must read!!!" -- Andrew F.