Reviews of the Week with Sharon Harrigan, Melissa Bashardoust, and More!

The Review of the Day has always been a brief, early way to spotlight exceptional upcoming titles 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.

It’s a short week but we have packed in two riveting titles with twins at the center, a multigenerational story of an Indian family in New York, and a vibrant picture book depicting the teacher’s strike in Selma, Alabama, in this week’s #ReviewsoftheDay. Put all of these starred reviewed titles on your to-be-read list now. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, June 29

Half, by Sharon Harrigan

Twin girls Paula and Artis seem to speak as one, feel as one, think as one. Raised by a powerfully abusive father and a mother who bends to his whims, the twins share a psychic connection so deep that they sense one another’s pain. As the girls grow older, they begin to understand their separate talents and their places in the world—and that they won’t always have to cower from their father. College brings freedom, new friends, and a new understanding of themselves, but family ties are strong. When their father passes away, Paula and Artis return home for the first time in years, but everything has changed. Now parents themselves, they wonder if their shared identity was ever meant to last.

Tuesday, June 30

Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust

Soraya has always known the story: a girl saved a young woman who was being held captive by a div, a monster. The angry div laid a curse upon the girl so that her firstborn daughter would be poisonous to the touch. That is why Soraya wears gloves and remains sequestered among her rose gardens, hidden from the public, while her twin brother, Sorush, prepares to become shah. As Sorush’s wedding approaches, a hero arrives in the palace, one who is said to have performed heroic deeds. Instead of fleeing from Soraya, he seems desperate to save her, and though she has convinced herself that she is content in her isolation, Soraya feels, for the first time, the stirrings of a more dangerous impulse. But in the dungeons of the palace is another div, one who understands more about Soraya’s curse than Soraya does herself, and who may carry the key to breaking it—if only Soraya, unmoored by the attraction she feels to both man and demon, can bring herself to trust her.

Wednesday, July 1

Well-Behaved Indian Women, by Saumya Dave

Three generations of Indian women living in India, New Jersey, and Manhattan try in vain to do what is expected of them and all fail in the same year by following their dreams instead. Simran is finishing her master’s degree in psychology and planning her wedding to Kunal, an altruistic medical student, when she meets someone who changes the way she sees herself. Nandini is anticipating her empty nest with a sense of dissatisfaction with her distant husband and her job in a family practice clinic where the bottom line is everything, when a former colleague gets in touch about an amazing opportunity. Mimi is enjoying a peaceful widowhood in her village in India, visiting the local school to teach girls around the edges of what the curriculum offers, when parental complaints bring her to the attention of the superintendent.

Thursday, July 2

The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History, by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace and illustrated by Charly Palmer

This stunningly powerful book by a team of award-winning creators should be part of every classroom library and teacher-preparation program. It’s the true story of the Reverend F. D. Reese, who taught high school science—as well as freedom and equality. He led by example, organizing marches in Selma to push for voting rights for African Americans. Seeking a more powerful angle, he decided that if the schoolteachers of Selma marched together, they could make a noticeable statement. The narrative provides an unvarnished view of the deep levels of racism and violence that permeated society and aimed to thwart civil rights activism in the 1960s. The Wallaces pack their account with well-researched details so that readers get to know Reverend Reese and others as people as well as activists, and Palmer’s vibrant acrylic paintings intensify the urgency of the moment.



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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