It is hard to believe that this is a first novel—the writing is so deeply rooted with truth and lyrical brilliance. It would be a mistake to view this book as only a story of loss and tragedy, as it is instead a story about growing up, and the sharp beauty that comes with the discovery of how to live truly and honestly. My soul responded—what more is there to say?
Arcadia, a beautiful and raw novel, is centered around a boy named Bit, nicknamed for his small size. I am unsure how to describe the scope of this novel—the way Groff’s language brings us into Bit’s world, the intimacy, the wonder, the confusion, the worry and the hope he holds as a child, and then the shattering grief, and quiet, determined bravery he develops as a man.
When I finished this book, I turned it over and read it all over again. Seriously. Every chapter left me with a hauntingly beautiful image of life at the turn of the century. From the perspective of a lonely laborer named Robert Grainier looking back at the events of his life, there is a feeling of wonder and discovery in the realization of the American frontier. I loved this book.
Heft is a novel that slowly brings together two characters: Arthur, a 500 lb professor who hasn’t left his house in ten years, and Kel, the son of one of Arthur’s former students. Each is in desperate need of the other, though it takes them some time to find one another. Ultimately hopeful, and never for a moment saccharine. One of my favorites of the year.
Emma Donoghue is a writer with a healthy appreciation for the archive. While researching her novels, she often comes across stories that seem too good to be true, but have been buried by time. Donoghue uses her sparkling talent for character and voice to bring these people and places back to life, and the result is a collection that illuminates wonderful and bizarre moments in history.
True story: when I finished this book, I was crying so hard that my cat jumped onto my bed and started licking the tears from my face. So, you know, fair warning. But don’t be afraid. Only John Green could take the story of two teenagers battling cancer and falling in love and turn it into such a stunning, joyful and believable novel. And if you don’t believe me, ask just about anyone else on staff.
I’ve never read anything quite like The Forgetting Tree. There is something hypnotic about Soli’s descriptions of soil and skies and endless rows of orange trees - by the fifth page, you can taste the dust on your tongue. A startlingly true story about family and belonging, and what it means to love the place you live, even when everyone else has left.
During World War II, Berlin became a city of women - working women with husbands on the front, struggling to maintain a facade of normalcy in a time of rations and secret police. City of Women centers around one woman in particular, who falls in with a group of underground aid workers and finds herself utterly changed. A beautifully detailed, suspenseful page turner.
Set in 1970s London, Sweet Tooth is the story of Serena Frome, a recent Cambridge graduate who takes a secretarial position at the M15. Serena is beautiful and loves to read, qualities that make her a perfect candidate for a mission of literary espionage. I practically inhaled this novel in about three sittings - this is the book to give to the reader in your life.
This book was, for me, the pure definition of a page turner. Yet the eternal dilemma of the bookseller still remains: I cannot really tell you what was so wonderful without giving away all the good parts. Therein lies the rub. I can say: I loved the journal-entry style narration, how my loyalties were constantly changing, and the scary plausibility of it all.