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 February 8–12 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday February 8
The Black Presidency, by Michael Eric Dyson
Prolific author and public intellectual Dyson refreshes our memories and contextualizes Barack Obama’s tumultuous presidency to show how his political ascendancy has changed what it means to be black in America. He couldn’t have chosen a better lens through which to view America’s race relationships than Obama, whose biracial “otherness” continues to be problematic for both blacks and whites. Dyson parses defining moments, including the backstory of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the president’s former pastor, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Pride-gate” statement.
Tuesday February 9
Nora & Kettle, by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
WWII is over, but community feelings toward Japanese Americans still run high, and two very different teens are struggling to live in the aftermath. Seventeen-year-old Kettle has been an orphan living on the streets for years, working the docks when he can and trying to care for other street children, alongside his brother, Kin. Nora, on the other hand, is the daughter of a wealthy, big-name civil rights lawyer, but that does not protect her from his violent beatings behind closed doors.
Wednesday February 10
The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton
Hamilton has anchored her writing life to her family’s Wisconsin apple orchard, and in her warm, funny, and incisive seventh novel, she creates a veritable cosmos out of a Wisconsin family farm, from its fields to its apple trees, lambs, woods, marsh, and ramshackle houses and barns. The Lombards, a colorful, dissonant clan of cousins, are seen through the omnivorous eyes of young Frankie (Mary Frances), a fourth-generation Lombard so enchanted by their land and way of life, so adoring of her brother and father, she plans on dwelling in this humble paradise forever.
Thursday February 11
The Haters, by Jesse Andrews
Andrews follows up his heartstrings-tugging best-seller turned movie, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2012), with an uproariously funny addition to the teen road-trip canon. Wes and his best friend Corey are attending jazz camp, and—let’s be blunt—they aren’t exactly standout musicians. But when they meet the mysterious Ash, who is driven by the beat of her own internal drummer, and have an epic jam session, they do what any teenager at a band camp wishes they could do: take off on a road trip for an unofficial tour.
Friday February 12
Undone, by John Colapinto
New Yorker staff writer and award-winning author Colapinto’s darkly witty and sordidly satirical tale features upstanding Jasper Ulrickson, a mystery writer enjoying modest success with a cozy series featuring a blind detective, until, while delivering their only child, his editor wife has a stroke that leaves her immobilized and reduced to communicating by blinking.