Reviews of the Week with K. L. Going, Brit Bennett, 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.

Women’s fiction and women’s voices, inspired by our issue spotlight—and our yearlong Women in Focus celebration—are all in this week’s #ReviewsOfTheWeek. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, April 13

Postscript, by Cecilia Ahern and read by Amy Huberman

The long-awaited sequel to Ahern’s debut novel, PS, I Love You (2004), is here, and 37-year-old Holly is now seven years past the death of her husband, Gerry. While this could be read as a standalone, it is highly recommended that the reader has read the first book (PS, I Love You) due to the consistent references to the types of letters that Gerry left Holly after he passed away. Holly is persuaded to record a podcast about her experience with grief. Through the listeners of the podcast, Holly is drawn into a group called the “PS I Love You Club.” Terminally ill people ask for Holly’s help in leaving letters for their loved ones. Holly begins to realize some aspects of Gerry that are a bit darker.

Tuesday, April 14

The Next Great Jane, by K. L. Going

Though Maine’s Whickett Harbor is considered quaint by most standards, Jane has always loved her coastal town. On the night the story opens, Jane is bursting with excitement because a famous author, J. E. Fairfax, is giving a talk at the library, and Jane, an aspiring writer, is sure Ms. Fairfax will divulge important trade secrets. But then a hurricane breezes into town and ruins everything, prematurely ending the library event and throwing Jane into the company of Devon, one of Ms. Fairfax’s snooty, obnoxious sons. The hurricane also unexpectedly brings Jane’s mother back from Hollywood, handsome fiancé in tow. It is, if you will, a perfect storm of events that throws Jane’s life into chaos.

Wednesday, April 15

The Vanshing Half, by Brit Bennett

In 1968, Desiree Vignes returns to her Louisiana hometown more than a decade after she and her twin sister, Stella, vanished overnight as teens. Her companion for this flight is her young daughter, Jude, with skin so dark it shocks locals. The twins’ ancestor, the freed son of an enslaver, founded Mallard, “a town for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes.” Still bruised by the husband she fled, Desiree is in survival mode when the man hired to find her decides to help her find Stella, whom no one has heard from in years, instead. Spanning decades, the story travels to UCLA with teenage Jude, unknowingly nearing Stella’s world.

Thursday, April 16

Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, by Evette Dionne

In 1904, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC) established the motto “lifting as we climb.” Though the NACWC’s goals included suffrage for Black women, the vote was just one piece of the puzzle; they saw it as a tool they could use to improve the lives of all African Americans. It’s from this movement that Dionne, a culture writer, editor, and former teacher, takes the title of her book, which traces Black women’s fight for voting rights in America. Dionne demonstrates how the the suffrage movement was rooted in the abolitionist movement, profiling Black women who were crucial to the fight for the vote (both familiar and lesser-known figures are represented) and showing how the shock waves from these movements have reverberated through the Jim Crow South and present-day. 

Friday, April 17

Dress Coded, by Carrie Firestone

Molly is an eighth grader at Fisher Middle School, where the patriarchal administration is hell-bent on enforcing a dress code that values compliance over comfort and dignity. Female students are regularly “pulled over,” harassed, and shamed by the callous Dr. Couchman and his henchwoman Fingertip—so named for her favorite rule: “hemlines of shorts, skirts, and dresses will reach below the student’s extended fingertips while standing.” After witnessing a friend’s humiliation at Couchman’s hands, Molly decides enough is enough. She begins publishing everyone’s horror stories through Dress Coded: A Podcast, and as the school year progresses, her peaceful protest grows into a movement.



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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