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Reviews of the Week with Zadie Smith, Kelly Yang, Olivia Dade, 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.

This week’s #ReviewsOfTheDay celebrate bold voices from lauded authors and sharply written romance fiction. Booklist wishes you all well.

Tuesday, September 8

Intimations: Six Essays, by Zadie Smith

In her erudite essay collection Feel Free (2018), Smith joyously and acrobatically covers a great swath of contemporary culture from Justin Bieber to Brexit. In this slender gathering of six essays, she writes with the immediacy of a house on fire, illuminating the tumult we are collectively experiencing. In the first essay, “Peonies,” she ponders city flowers and the growing affection for and awareness of their beauty, noting, “It happens that the day I was drawn to those tulips was a few days before the global humbling began,” that is, COVID-19. “Suffering Like Mel Gibson” offers a searing critique of how the privileged flippantly toss around the word suffering while medical staff without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) risk their lives.

Wednesday, September 9

Three Keys (A Front Desk Novel), by Kelly Yang

In this sequel to 2018’s beloved Front Desk, things are looking up for Mia as she enters sixth grade. Her family of first-generation Chinese immigrants now owns the booming Calivista Motel, which she and her best friend, Mexican immigrant Lupe, help run, but life is soured by the rise of a political campaign fueled by racism and xenophobia. This historical novel is set during California’s 1994 gubernatorial race and the vote on Proposition 187, which threatened to prohibit undocumented immigrants from public education and other services. It’s no accident that Yang focuses on events that reflects the attitudes reigning in today’s politics.

Thursday, September 10

Spoiler Alert, by Olivia Dade

April Whittier has come up with some wildly imaginative plots for her fan fiction based on the mega-popular television show, Gods of the Gates, but never in a million years could she have dreamed up a story like this. After posting a photo of herself in her latest show-inspired ensemble, April receives a lot of positive feedback as well as a few body-shaming comments. However, these comments are what prompt Marcus Caster-Rupp, the outrageously hot actor who plays Aeneas on the show, to invite April to dinner. Is this just a PR stunt, or could it turn into something more real and romantic?

Friday, September 11

It Only Happens in the Movies, by Holly Bourne

Her parents get a nasty divorce, her boyfriend dumps her after an awkward first sexual experience, and boom: Audrey’s over love. So over it, in fact, that she swears off not only romance but also romance films, even beginning a media studies project where she deconstructs all their tropes. When she begins a job at the local indie movie theater, everyone, from her brother to the other employees, warns her about Harry, her magnetic flirt of a coworker, but Audrey reassures them that she’s the last person who’s going to fall for a charmer. Except in the midst of her downward spiral, Audrey’s abandoned all of the activities she used to love, including drama, where she was a star—and Harry’s a film buff who’s making a zombie movie, and he’s short a lead actress. As Harry treats her less like a conquest and more like a person, Audrey begins to fall for him despite her best intentions.'

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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