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 May 31–June 3 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Tuesday May 31
Orphan X, by Gregg Hurwitz and read by Scott Brick
What is an ex-government assassin to do when he leaves the ultra-clandestine program that has been his life since he was young? For Evan Smoak, the answer is to put his tradecraft to use and become the Nowhere Man—an altruistic fixer who helps people with really big problems. Expert narrator Brick has the perfect material here to showcase his vocal versatility as he voices this compellingly soft-hearted hero hiding behind a facade of emotional detachment—as well as a large cast of characters, ranging from a precocious eight-year-old boy to a terrified Mexican father under threat from drug dealers.
Wednesday June 1
Full of Beans, by Jennifer L. Holm
Key West, Florida, wasn’t always a vibrant tourist destination. Holm (The Fourteenth Goldfish, 2014) turns back the clock to the 1930s, when the Great Depression had the island in its grip, leaving jobs scarce, feet bare, and houses in disrepair. Times may be tough, but they aren’t getting down Beans Curry, an enterprising 10-year-old who will do most anything to earn a dime. Accompanied by his tag-along brother Kermit and a stray dog named Termite, Beans wanders the neighborhood collecting used cans, making laundry deliveries, shooting marbles, or—if he’s lucky—seeing the latest Shirley Temple picture.
Thursday June 2
Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers
Adept at literary reinvention, Eggers (Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, 2014) steers his ongoing social critique in an especially liberating new direction in this comedic outlaw odyssey. Josie is a dentist in Ohio with two children: somber and kind eight-year-old Paul and tempestuous five-year-old Ana. Josie’s useless ex is in Florida, and there is no way she will allow the children to visit. Instead, she takes them to Alaska, renting a rattletrap RV with a vague plan to connect with a woman she refers to as her stepsister.
Friday June 3
Rules of the House, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matt Myers
In this pseudo horror picture book, Ian, who is a consummate rule-follower, and his sister, Jenny, who is not, take a family vacation to a house in the woods. There are plenty of rules to follow (“Remove muddy shoes,” “Replace any firewood you burn”), and Ian is happy to oblige. But Jenny breaks the most important rule of all: “Never—ever—open the red door.” That night, the objects in the house come to life, determined to make “rulebreaker soup” out of Jenny and eat her for dinner.