Reviews of the Week with Eoin Colfer, Jill Lepore, Nie Jun, 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 July 9–13 below.


Illegal cover

Monday, July 9

 Illegalby Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

Ten-year-old Ebo and his older brother, Kwame, endure a harrowing journey through the Sahara Desert to Tripoli, Libya, hoping to cross the Mediterranean and land as refugees. The horrors Ebo witnesses and the impossibilities he survives constitute a haunting testimony to the human spirit.





My Beijing coverTuesday, July 10

 My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonderby Nie Jun, illustrated by the author, translated by Edward Gauvin

When young Yu’er laments, “People think I’m different,” her grandfather’s immediate response, “Oh, who cares what they think!” sets her free to be just that and more. Presented in sumptuous full color, Jun’s exquisite graphics—from perfect realism to comical specificity to the “natural simplicity” of Yu’er’s own drawings—offer nonstop merriment and whimsical delight.

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie coverWednesday, July 11

 Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, by Juliet McDaniel

Mrs. Maxine Hortence Simmons is the perfect Palm Springs housewife. So when her husband, Douglas, tells her he’s leaving her for his pregnant girlfriend, she self-medicates and is soon dancing on her perfect Thanksgiving table. McDaniel’s debut is the perfect blend of salty and sweet, combining 1970s culinary horrors like ham and bananas hollandaise with a motley crew of fakers learning what family really means.




A Boy and A House coverThursday, July 12

 A Boy and a House, by Maja Kastelic

A small boy on a dark, early morning walk to school notices a cat peeking out of a bright, open doorway. Intrigued, he follows the animal. Kastelic pays tribute to curiosity, mystery, and friendship by creating delicately detailed paintings that invite further study and tell a story that needs no words.

These Truths coverFriday, July 13

 These Truths: A History of the United Statesby Jill Lepore

Harvard professor, New Yorker staff writer, and best-selling author Lepore has written an ambitious and provocative attempt to interpret American history as an effort to fulfill and maintain certain fundamental principles. Throughout this journey from Columbus to the present, Lepore consistently stresses the often-anguishing contradictions between the ideals and realities of American life.




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