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 November 9–13 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday, November 9
The Trouble with Destiny, by Lauren Morrill
While most of the Holland High School Band expects that spring break on the Destiny cruise ship may actually be fun, drum major Liza knows that it’s all about business. The band is entered in Destiny’s talent show—the “Ship of Dreams performing arts competition”—which comes with a $25,000 prize for the winner. Holland High’s band, on the verge of losing funding, must win this show.
Tuesday, November 10
Sandman Overture, by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s Sandman ended nearly 20 years ago, but it remains one of the most beloved series in recent comics history. It’s no surprise, then, that this prelude, set before the start of Gaiman’s original story, is so highly anticipated. As Dream goes about his usual business in 1915 London, he finds himself yanked to a rocky world along with a crowd of Dreams from other places, all vaguely visually similar but clearly from other realms.
Wednesday, November 11
The Big Question, by Alister McGrath
Himself a militant atheist as a teen, McGrath here challenges the twenty-first-century New Atheists who—reprising his own adolescent tactics—brandish modern science as a disproof of religious faith. Comfortable in engaging Darwinian evolution and quantum physics, McGrath develops a perspective in which science and religion enrich rather than threaten one another. That perspective highlights the formative influence of Christian faith during the scientific revolution and exposes the urgent need to move beyond the limits of contemporary science to find transcendent sources of morality and meaning.
Thursday, November 12
The Head of the Saint, by Socorro Acioli
Before Samuel’s mother died, she asked him to travel to his grandmother’s house in Candeia to find his father, whom he has never met, and to light candles at the foot of three saints on his journey. When he finally arrives, starving and exhausted, his grandmother won’t take him in; rather, she directs him to a small cavern in the forest where he can find shelter. That cavern, it turns out, is the gigantic, hollow head of a statue of Saint Anthony, and once inside, Samuel can hear the entreaties of women praying to the saint for luck in love and marriage.
Friday, November 13
An alternative title for this tome might have been Graciousness and Practicality. President George H. W. Bush’s generous behavior toward family, friends, and strangers is evident throughout Meacham’s highly readable book. But Bush grew up in a family where winning was highly prized, and the lesson was not lost, especially when his career was politics. So sometimes beliefs had to be sacrificed, as when he had to support the GOP platform, which was further right than he liked, to obtain the vice-presidential slot in the 1980 election.