Reviews of the Week with Katya de Becerra, Rebecca Solnit, and More!

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

Have you been captivated by the latest genre fiction in our Editors’ Choice lists? Curious about the yearlong Women in Focus promotion we have planned? Wanting to just relax and take in the changing of the seasons? We’ve got all that covered in the latest #ReviewsOfTheWeek.

Tuesday, January 21

Oasis, by Katya de Becerra

De Becerra’s haunting supernatural thriller will stick to readers’ skin long after the final page is turned, like sand from the Arabian Desert clinging to Alif and her friends following their horrific ordeal with a mysterious oasis. After Alif convinces her dad, a famed archaeologist, to allow her and four friends to attend his dig site, the group heads to Dubai in nervous anticipation of what they will discover about the world—and themselves—as strange rumors abound about a fallen meteorite and a man materializing in the desert.

Wednesday, January 22

Recollections of My Nonexistence, by Rebecca Solnit

An inquisitive, perceptive, and original thinker and enthralling writer with more than 20 salient books to her name, Solnit has created an unconventional and galvanizing memoir-in-essays that shares key, often terrifying, formative moments in her valiant writing life. Already living on her own at 19, Solnit moved into a light-filled apartment in San Francisco in the early 1980s and lived and wrote there for a quarter of a century, learning invaluable lessons in self and community from her African American and gay neighbors and watching the city change. Solnit muses on her love of reading and wandering and recounts how she found her way to writing nonfiction that evokes life both factual and felt. She also illuminates with piercing lyricism the body-and-soul dangers women face in our complexly, violently misogynist world.

Thursday, January 23

Green on Green, by Dianne White and illustrated by Felicita Sala

Endpaper illustrations of the same tree during spring and summer (in the front) then fall and winter (in the back) foreshadow the chronology of this story, but this radiant combination of poetic text and warm, inviting watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations is much more than a simple depiction of changing seasons. The text—comprised of hypnotic, rhyme-laden tercets—considers how colors blend and layer in nature, while the pictures tell the story of a boy living with his parents in a small, white house surrounded by fields and near to the water. All of the family members have dark skin and hair with blue eyes. A flowing perspective in the full-bleed paintings invites the reader to enter and feel like part of the story as, in spring, plants grow past the edges, while summer brings sand, water, and picnics in the fields. Moving into fall, apples and pumpkins appear, then lots of snow, always with the family positioned just inside the frame of nature.

Friday, January 24

Upright Women Wanted, by Sarah Gailey

In a post-apocalyptic American West, Librarians deliver Approved Materials to isolated towns and outposts. They are also unwittingly delivering Esther, who ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage. She imagines the hardscrabble life of the Librarian will help her overcome the feelings she had for her best friend, Beatriz, who was hanged for possessing Unapproved Materials. Alas, the Librarians are not what they seem, and Head Librarian Bet and her companion, Leda, are barely convinced to let Esther stay on, lest she compromise their true mission. As they pick up their real cargo, Esther learns the ropes from surly apprentice Cye, who challenges everything Esther thought she knew about gender roles and feelings.



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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