Reviews of the Week, with John Green, Walter Isaacson, Cristina García and More!

Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and / or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from October 9 through October 13 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.

 

October 9Here in Berlin by Cristina Garcia

 Here in Berlinby Cristina García

Feeling untethered after the collapse of her second marriage and estrangement from her mother, an unnamed Cuban American woman travels to Berlin and transforms herself into an oral historian, eliciting the traumatic, shameful, bemused, or unapologetic memories of WWII survivors. The nearly 40 entrancing and unnerving recitations include revelations of the struggles of a starving German girl saved by an African American soldier, a Stasi spy forced to be a “homosexual decoy,”  and sisters running a Nazi sex club. Garcia has created an intricate, sensitive, and provocative montage revolving around the question: “Do people remember only what they can endure, or distort memories until they can endure them?”

October 10Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

 Turtles All The Way Downby John Green

It’s here: the eagerly awaited new novel by John Green, and—not to milk the suspense—it’s superb. High-school junior Aza has an obsessive fear of being infected with the bacteria Clostridium difficile (“C. diff”), which can be fatal. Her fear has become obsession, plaguing her with “intrusives,” thoughts that take over her mind, making her feel that she is not the author of her own life. With its attention to ideas and trademark introspection, it’s a challenging but richly rewarding read. It is also the most mature of Green’s work to date and deserving of all the accolades that are sure to come its way.

October 11Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

 Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado

Women and their bodies, and the violence done to them, both by themselves and others, occupy the center of Machado’s inventive, sensual, and eerie debut horror collection. These stories use situations at once familiar and completely strange to reveal what it is like to inhabit the female body. These weird tales present a slightly askew version of the world as we know it and force us, no matter our gender, to reconsider our current life choices and relationships.

 

 

October 12Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

 Leonardo da Vinciby Walter Isaacson

Isaacson’s writings of late have been concerned with genius: biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs. Now he takes on perhaps the ultimate genius, a man whose interest in art and science intertwined in spectacular ways. On the surface, the book doesn’t seem to reveal much more about the man personally—illegitimate, gay, sometimes unfocused—than does a solid encyclopedia entry. But when Isaacson discusses da Vinci’s artistic and scientific endeavors, all manner of fascinating connections begin to emerge. Encompassing in its coverage, robust in its artistic explanations, yet written in a smart, conversational tone, this is both a solid introduction to the man and a sweeping saga of his genius.

October 13Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

 Blood Water Paintby Joy McCullough

McCullough’s exquisite debut, a novel in verse, follows the heartbreaking but inspiring true story of gifted Roman painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Raised since she was 12 solely by her volatile, abusive, and less talented artist father, Artemisia spends her days as her father’s apprentice, grinding pigments and completing most of his commissions. With dazzling surrealist overtones, McCullough manages to vividly capture a singularly brave, resilient feminist who became an icon during a time when women had almost no agency. Her story and the stunning verse in which it is told will resonate just as strongly with readers today.

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About the Author:

Enobong Essien is Booklist's first international intern, coming all the way from across the pond. Her favorite 'procrastinate from studying' activities include: reading, writing, crocheting and taking note of all the ways Americans are different than Brits.

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