Reviews of the Week with Joseph Finder, Carrianne Leung, Justin A. Reynolds, and More!

Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from December 10–December 14 below.

 

Monday, December 10

Judgment, by Joseph Finder

Finder’s uncanny ability to echo current events is showcased in his thrillers. For example, his previous novel, The Switch (2017), centered on a politician’s laptop containing compromising emails (presumably, the novel was written before the Clinton email scandal broke). His latest is even more prescient. In it, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge, who hopes someday to be considered for the U.S. Supreme Court, is about to preside over a case involving corporate sexual harassment when her life is upended by one very bad slipup. Justice Juliana Brody has spent a lifetime making sure she makes all the right moves. Her one mistake, sleeping with an enormously attractive man at a law conference, tailspins into terror, as she finds her one-night-stand lover is a member of the defense team on her case and also learns she was the victim of an elaborate setup to blackmail her into doing the defense’s bidding. At stake are Juliana’s marriage, career, and survival.

 

Tuesday, December 11

Opposite of Always, by Justin A. Reynolds

Reynolds’ snappy, dialogue-driven debut is a coming-of-age story with a time traveling twist. High-school senior Jack King meets Kate extra cute at a party while he’s visiting her college, and their chemistry is undeniable. But Kate’s ill, and their romance is heartbreakingly short-lived. Her death, however, sends Jack back in time to the moment they first meet, and every time he fails to save her, he returns to that moment again, getting another chance at love and, in the process, learning valuable things about himself. But sometimes trying to save Kate ruins something else in his life, and each trip back becomes a careful balancing act. Though the plot builds a little slowly at first, when Reynolds hits his stride, this charming, wry novel packed with witty, crackling banter is propulsively readable. Reynolds imbues his diverse cast of characters with rich, dynamic personalities.

 

Wednesday, December 12

That Time I Loved You, by Carrianne Leung

Leung, author of Toronto Book Award–finalist The Wondrous Woo (2014), walks readers through the matching split-levels of a Toronto suburb in her striking U.S. debut. These linked stories begin in the summer of 1979, when several local adults commit suicide. Buoyant preteen June, whose parents remind her how much better life is in Scarborough than their native Hong Kong, functions as the book’s main character of sorts, its sole and repeated first-person narrator. June’s and her best friend Josie’s stories portray foundational girlhood friendship with prescience. Newlywed Francesca panics about the quickly dimming brightness of her marriage. Retired Marilyn sees her private kleptomania as just another facet of her neighborly generosity. Comics-obsessed Darren, another of June’s best friends, doesn’t know how to stand up to his racist teacher without disappointing his Jamaican mom, who tells him to keep his head down.

 

Thursday, December 13

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, by Dan Gemeinhart

For the past five years, 12-year-old Coyote Sunrise and her father, Rodeo, have traveled all over the U.S. on a retired school bus converted into a home on wheels. Once upon a time, they lived in Washington State, but when her mother and two sisters died in an automobile accident, her father bought the bus, changed their names, and took off, determined to put painful memories behind them. But when Coyote learns that her former neighborhood park, where she and her mother and sisters buried a memory box, is about to be demolished, she knows she has to get back there and retrieve it. Knowing that a return to their old home is what Rodeo would call a “no-go,” Coyote plots a way to get where she needs to go. Along the way, they pick up an assortment of passengers who become involved with Coyote’s quest.

 

Friday, December 14

  Dead Man’s Trousers, by Irvine Welsh

The latest—and last?—novel featuring the Trainspotting (1996) characters finds the mean-streets-of-Edinburgh crew middle-aged and mostly successful: Renton is a globetrotting DJ manager; Sick Boy runs an upscale escort service called Colleagues; and even psycho Begbie is now a popular artist going as “Jim Francis.” Only sweet, simple Spud, the arguable conscience of this loose series, remains stuck in hard times. But the trappings of success are misleading, and what ensues is in some ways as manic as the group’s previous adventures as Renton desperately tries to repay money he stole, Sick Boy’s dosing of his brother-in-law’s drink has epic consequences, and “Jim Francis” reveals something darker beneath his California cool. Raunchy, profane, violent, and frequently hilarious in its epic descriptions of drug and alcohol abuse, the continued saga is remarkable for the way it delivers the anarchic goods to Trainspotting fans while touching on the ultimate obsessions of middle age: death and the purpose of life.

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About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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