Reviews of the Week, with Jewell Parker Rhodes, Jesse Ball, Anthony Ray Hinton, 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 12–16 below, so you can revisit the week’s best.


Monday, February 12

 Census, by Jesse Ball

Ball writes subtly speculative and haunting novels shaped by visions of societies run aground and bureaucracies run amok. In sync with Italo Calvino, Paul Auster, and Howard Norman, Ball takes a matter-of-fact approach to surreal situations, which he deepens with finely rendered and realistic thoughts and emotions. His latest mysterious, mesmerizing, and insightful fairy tale is an imaginative and tender tribute to his late brother, who had Down syndrome.




Tuesday, February 13

 Ghost Boys, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jerome, a young black boy gunned down while playing in a park with a toy gun, invites readers to bear witness to his story, to the tragedy of being dispatched simply because of a policeman’s internalized prejudice masquerading as fear. When he is shot in the back while running from the police, his soul leaves his body and he becomes one of the army of ghost boys hoping to communicate with those still consumed with racial bias.


Wednesday, February 14

 The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin

In 2015, Hinton was released after serving nearly 30 years—half of his life—on Alabama’s death row for crimes he didn’t commit. His memoir, collaboratively written with Hardin, is a troubling, moving, and ultimately exalting journey through the decades Hinton lived under the threat of death while an unjust system that refused to acknowledge mistakes failed him repeatedly.





Thursday, February 15

 A Lite Too Bright, by Samuel Miller

Eighteen-year-old Arthur Louis Pullman III is on an epic quest toward understanding the great enigma of his Alzheimer-addled grandfather’s life—and mysterious, solitary death. The grandfather, Arthur Louis Pullman I, was a modern classic with a passionately devoted readership. However, with the publication of that novel, the grandfather apparently never wrote another word. When Arthur discovers a clue he believes his grandfather left for him, he begins a trip that will take him across America.


Friday, February 16

Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin

Things were bad enough in the Taylor household even before unthinkable tragedy struck. Before Andy Taylor was gunned down at his elementary school, he was afflicted by oppositional defiant disorder, which leads to violent tempers, and Dad had been having an affair with a neighbor. Now that Andy is gone, one of 19 confirmed dead in the attack, his family, including Andy’s younger brother, Zach, are understandably having difficulty coping with the aftermath of searing loss.



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