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 April 11–15 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday April 11
The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Rachel Botchan
Joan Skraggs, the memorable heroine of Schlitz’s young adult novel, is a girl determined to live up to her intelligence and dreams. Her 1911 journal reveals a narrative voice both plucky and naive, a dichotomy caught perfectly by Botchan, whose performance as the fictional runaway farm girl is a tour de force, portraying not only the 14-year-old’s grit and aspirations but also her awkwardness.
Tuesday April 12
Smoke, by Dan Vyleta
Historical-novelist Vyleta (The Crooked Maid, 2013) imagines an alternative turn-of-the-century England where the proletariat and aristocratic classes are further divided by the relationship to Smoke, the manifestation of sin that flows from the body as blackened breath or ashen sweat whenever someone thinks or acts immorally.
Wednesday April 13
The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry
Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That’s in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters’ humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions.
Thursday April 14
Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants, by Peter D. Kramer
“Attacks on antidepressants are not new,” writes psychiatrist Kramer, a best-selling author whose books include the landmark Listening to Prozac (1993). The latest charge is that antidepressant medicines are nothing more than ennobled placebo pills. Kramer mounts a comprehensive, spirited, and completely convincing defense, dispelling any doubts about their efficacy and life-changing capability.
Friday April 15
Flying, by Carrie Jones
After dabbling with pixies in her best-selling Needs series and flirting with horror in After Obsession (2011), Jones returns to the YA scene with a humorous sci-fi romp that pits a spunky cheerleader against (what else?) aliens.