Tag: book reviews

Quietly Pushing Boundaries: GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley

Quietly Pushing Boundaries: GERTIE’S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley

On the surface, Kate Beasley’s debut might seem fairly typical, but a closer look reveals vast depths of feeling. First it was the YA novel declared dead, 20-some years ago, only for an influx of new authors and the arrival of the Michael L. Printz Award to take the genre to unexpected heights. Because the […]

All in the Family: Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer

All in the Family: Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer

The disintegration of a Jewish family launches a Talmudic outpouring of analysis and debate over all things large and small. Family and what it means to be Jewish, subjects of infinite complexity, are novelist Foer’s preoccupation and inspiration. In his first novel in 11 years—a far longer, edgier, and more caustically funny tale than Everything […]

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Fictionalization in Nonfiction: Two Fall Books Stretch Young Readers and the Boundaries of Biography

Fictionalization in Nonfiction: Two Fall Books Stretch Young Readers and the Boundaries of Biography

Two new books about men who lived under slavery bring up interesting questions about the elasticity of biography, the discernment capabilities of younger audiences, and the lines between history and historical fiction. The author of many acclaimed nonfiction books, Jonah Winter takes on a neglected part of American history with the story of the son […]

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Riding the Underground Railroad: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Riding the Underground Railroad: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Whitehead mixes history and myth in this reimagined vision of the Underground Railroad. Over the course of his previous five novels, Whitehead (Zone One, 2011) has conducted an imaginative, droll, and eviscerating inquiry into the blurred divide between American mythology and American history, especially the camouflaged truth about racism. In this magnetizing and wrenching saga, […]

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Grand (Guignol) Hotel: Gina Wohlsdorf’s Security

Grand (Guignol) Hotel: Gina Wohlsdorf’s Security

A debut author’s blockbuster-in-waiting uses a literary split-screen to double the fun—and the blood. In 1973, MGM released a curious film called Wicked, Wicked. Shot entirely in what the movie posters touted as “Duo-Vision” (better known as split-screen), it followed, in simultaneous halves, a string of brutal murders at a swanky California hotel. Loud, jazzy, and […]

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Inheriting Pain and Wisdom: Louise Erdrich’s LaRose

Inheriting Pain and Wisdom: Louise Erdrich’s LaRose

Erdrich has perfected the meteor-strike novel—tales that begin with an out-of-the-blue, catastrophic event, and then track the ensuing shock waves. This dramatic structure shapes Erdrich’s National Book Award–winning The Round House (2012) and takes on even more intensity here. Two neighboring families live in a North Dakota community in which many of the Ojibwe are related, memories […]

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Sowing Seeds of Doubt: Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree

Sowing Seeds of Doubt: Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree

Faith, magic, and science converge in Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree. On the small island of Vale, something unnatural this way comes. Is it wicked? Perhaps, but it is quickly evident in Hardinge’s newest tale—following her acclaimed Cuckoo Song (2015)—that things are not what they seem, and the answers to such questions are rarely black and white. As […]

The Power of a Burning Wish: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee’s Maybe a Fox

The Power of a Burning Wish: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee’s Maybe a Fox

Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee’s collaborative novel entwines the story of one girl’s grief with that of a fox with a rare but important destiny. Among Jules and Sylvie Sherman’s dad’s Do Not rules is that they are never to go near the Slip, a dangerous point where the Whippoorwill River surges beneath the ground […]

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Art and Loneliness: Olivia Laing’s Lonely City

Art and Loneliness: Olivia Laing’s Lonely City

What does visual art tell us about what it means to be lonely? A critic blends memoir and biography to find the answers. Writer and critic Laing searches for answers to the puzzles of her life in the experiences and creative endeavors of others. In The Trip to Echo Spring (2014), she explores the impact alcoholism has […]

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Empowering Young Women, Politically and Personally: Two New Titles for Teens

Empowering Young Women, Politically and Personally: Two New Titles for Teens

Think you know the f-word and the v-word? These two titles might change your mind. Feminism has come a long way from the fight for suffrage, and in its current manifestation, it can be difficult for some to determine precisely what feminism stands for or, indeed, if it’s necessary at all. It seems like women have more […]