Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from June 22–26 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Big Top Burning, by Laura A. Woollett
On July 6, 1944, a deadly fire consumed the main tent of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, Connecticut, and many questions regarding the disaster remain unanswered today. Using primary-source documents, black-and-white photographs, and interviews, Woollett explores the mysteries surrounding how the fire began, who was responsible, and what happened to a little girl who never came home.
The Dying Grass, by William T. Vollmann
Vollmann’s Seven Dreams, a epic sequence of novels about the European colonizing of North America, has been compared to Moby-Dick, Wagner’s Ring cycle, and the big novels of John Barth and Thomas Pynchon. But Vollmann attains his own form of monumentality by virtue of assiduous research and compassionate imagination.
On His Own Terms, by Richard Norton Smith, and read by Paul Michael
Historian Smith, who specializes in twentieth-century American politics, is a perfect fit as author of this monumental study of Nelson Rockefeller. As a match, Michael is a nearly flawless choice to narrate the lengthy audio version. Like both Rockefeller and his biographer, Michael is unflagging in the energy and attentiveness he brings to his work.
Another Day, by David Levithan
Rhiannon has a love-hate relationship with her acerbic boyfriend, Justin. Yet one wonderful day, it’s all about love between them, and hate isn’t even a blip on the horizon. But then she meets a stranger who explains what—however improbable—has happened to make that one day so perfect. The stranger is A from Levithan’s earlier novel Every Day (2012), the boy who inhabits a different body and persona each day.
Brush Back, by Sara Paretsky
In an unlikely moment of sentimentality, Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski grudgingly agrees to spend a few hours investigating the possibility that her old friend Frank Guzzo’s mother, Stella, was wrongfully convicted of murdering her daughter, Annie, 25 years ago. Stella, a nasty piece of work known for battering her children and slandering V. I.’s mother at every opportunity, punches V. I. at their first meeting, and Vic resolves to dump the case.