Reviews of the Week, with Nic Stone, Nafkote Tamirat, Mo Willems, and More!

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 5–9 below, so you can revisit the week’s best.

 

Monday, February 5

 The Parking Lot Attendant, by Nafkote Tamirat

The unnamed, 16-year-old narrator of Tamirat’s mysterious and steadily exciting first novel begins her story on the island of B—before backtracking to explain how she and her father ended up there. Tamirat’s razor-sharp prose fashions a magnificently dimensional and emotionally resonant narrator, herself a storyteller who frames her own tale with beguiling skill. This debut is remarkable in every way.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 6

 Dear Martin, by Nic Stone, read by Dion Graham

Justyce McAllister, at the top of his prep-school class, hopes for admission to an Ivy League college. Surely his good behavior and academic record will spare him from the racial profiling other guys experience. Then, while helping his drunk ex-girlfriend to her car, he finds himself unaccountably arrested and an innocent victim of police brutality. Graham’s stellar narration makes this raw look at racial inequality in America even more gripping.

 

Wednesday, February 7

 A Busy Creature’s Day Eating, by Mo Willems

Willems is back with another gut buster, this time in the form of a gluttonous abecedary. A purple creature—sort of a dog-mouse hybrid—plunders the kitchen, gobbling a heap of apples and berries with manic zeal, before plunging his face into a bowl of cereal. Next, a string of doughnuts arcs from a bakery box into his gaping maw, and a dozen eggs soon follow suit. The cartoonish illustrations and gross-out humor are tempered by the presence of a loving parent waiting in the wings.

 

Thursday, February 8

 American Histories, by John Edgar Wideman

In his 50-year literary career, Wideman (Writing to Save a Life, 2016) has tackled race, family, and art from nearly every imaginable angle. As in much of his previous work, his latest collection blurs the line between fact and fiction, form and function, and history and autobiography. Wideman’s shape-shifting, lyrical narratives offer mesmerizing and challenging perspectives on the creative process and the black experience, decisively affirming his stature as a major voice in American literature.

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About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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