Reviews of the Week with Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, Megan Rapinoe, Michael Leviton, 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.

Audacious life stories spanning cultures and the stars in this week’s #ReviewsOfTheDay. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, October 5

My Heart Underwater, by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

After the dual shock of her father’s coma following a work accident and her mother catching her kissing Ms. Holden, her history teacher, Corazon finds herself in Manila, capital of the Philippines. Ostensibly, she’s there to visit her older half brother, Jun, but Corazon knows her mother’s true intention—to give Corazon time to “think about her life decisions.” What it does in reality is uncover the dysfunctional family dynamics her parents have shielded her from and how her mother’s choices have echoed through the years and the challenges Corazon grapples with today. Fantauzzo thoughtfully captures the subtle divide between Philippine-born Filipinos and FilAms, or Filipino Americans born and raised in America.

Tuesday, October 6

One Life, by Megan Rapinoe & Emma Brockes

Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe has left a lasting mark with a professional sports résumé that includes two FIFA World Cup Championships, a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and her selection as Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year. One Life is an uplifting memoir that spans from her early childhood to the spring of 2020. Rapinoe grew up in a conservative California town surrounded by a large family, including a twin sister, who nurtured her passion for soccer and supported her career as she rose up through the national ranks. As much as sports fans will enjoy career anecdotes, it’s her refreshingly frank details of self-discovery as a lesbian that will prove equally inspirational and sure to help break down stereotypes.

Wednesday, October 7

Women in the Old West, by Marti Dumas

With nary a saloon girl in sight, this True Book: Women’s History in the U.S. series (5 titles) selection sets the scene of America’s Old West much more honestly than many texts, pointing out the theft of Indigenous Peoples’ land and culture inherent to westward expansion, as well as the presence of enslaved people and Black settlers endeavoring to escape the racism rampant east of the Mississippi River. Only after this does it shift its focus to the women who traveled west, many seeking greater freedom and independence. Some benefits extended to white women included careers in teaching and, in some territories, the ability to vote. The text also reveals how the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed U.S. citizens, regardless of race or gender, to become landowners.

Thursday, October 8

To Be Honest, by Michael Leviton, Read by Michael Leviton

This memoir, read by the author, is a look inside what life is like when you are raised not to lie. Leviton’s parents refused to lie even when small lies could merely make other people more comfortable. His father told Michael once when he refused to let his son win at chess, “With you I don’t play easy, I respect you too much.“ “Honesty without a filter” is how the author describes his childhood. Michael is raised in a shell of brutal truth, and then he goes out into the world where the exact opposite is practiced. Naturally, Michael has mishaps and is seen as aloof and unkind. He has trouble finding employment and maintaining personal relationships. The author voicing this quirky memoir himself definitely raises its authenticity and emotional tenor. 

Friday, October 9

Starcrossed, written and illustrated by Julia Denos

What is it like to be made of stars, and what is it like to be human? Myth and art bring us closer to the answers, and to that end, author-illustrator Denos weaves a tale of celestial friendship full of wonder and discovery. Eridani is a girl who studies the stars. Acamar is a constellation of a little boy who flies a course over Eridani’s planet each night. They’re best friends, but the long distance between them means they’re each missing out: Acamar will never see a sunset, and Eridani will never know the joy of flying. Tragically, they each wish upon a star to be where the other is. As she transforms into stars, he transforms into a human, and they lose their chance to be truly together. But not all is lost.'

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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