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Holiday Fiction Picks, 2011

Bookshop staff's holiday picks: the best books of the season that make great gifts.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Dana is the secret daughter of James, who is married and has another family across town. Set in Atlanta in the 1980s, and struggling with her shame and anger when she realizes that she is the illegitimate daughter, Dana becomes obsessed with her half-sister Chaurisse, who has no idea that Dana and her mother exist. And then one day, Dana and Chaurisse’s paths inexorably cross, and the secrets kept, begin to unravel. This is a disquieting coming-of-age novel that examines the obligations and bonds that make up love and family.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Silver Sparrow Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616201425
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - May 8th, 2012

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

I have not been able to shut up about this book for six months now, and I'm pretty sure I will continue to talk about it for a very long time to come. This is the novel to give the people who need books in their lives, the people who crave amazing fiction and know all to well the sway that literature can have over a person.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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The Borrower Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780670022816
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Viking Adult - June 9th, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl

Starting with a phone call that leads to a child, drugged but alive in a suitcase, this Danish mystery is a perfect blend of Tanya French and Stieg Larsson—as psychologically driven as it is plot driven—a page turner so riveting that you may want to gear up if you plan to sit within arm’s length to this book’s reader.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Boy in the Suitcase (A Nina Borg Novel #1) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781569479810
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Crime - November 8th, 2011

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

This novel is a great fit for John Irving fans, with its blend of humor, deep pathos, and wrought exploration of family and friendships. Irma Voth is a Mennonite girl whose family moved from Canada to a small and even more insulated Mennonite community in Mexico. When Irma marries a local and is ostracized by her father, she must discover on her own the way of the world in order to survive. This is an amazing, original novel that should be at the top of anyone’s wish list.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Irma Voth: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062070180
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - September 6th, 2011

Chime by Franny Billingsley

This is one of the most lushly imagined books I've read in a long time, and it also happens to be one of the best love stories I've read in awhile as well. It's about a tortured young woman named Briony who is convinced that she is a witch, and that she was somehow responsible for her stepmother's untimely death. The language is an incredible blend of old-world English and modern-day poetry.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Chime Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780803735521
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Dial Books - March 17th, 2011

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Oh, but for the wonder of dysfunctional families. When a family crisis calls these three sisters to return home, we are suddenly thrown in to the delightful, chaotic, and endearing Andreas family. Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia (three points if you can name the plays) are daughters to a Shakespearean scholar father who breaks into pentameter and a mother who is rightfully determined to live her life independently regardless of her failing health. With leaning towers of books and their own secrets and baggage to back them, we watch as this family yields, rallies, and surrenders to the bonds that tie them together and to the poignant realities that will pull them apart. As the Bard says, all the world’s a stage—and this one is well well worth the read.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
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The Weird Sisters Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780399157226
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam - January 20th, 2011

Claire DeWitt & the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

The main character of this novel, private investigator Claire DeWitt, reminds me a bit of Sherlock Holmes – she has addictions, and isn't very friendly most of the time – but with a New Age twist (imagine Holmes using the I Ching to find clues, if you can). The story is set in New Orleans six months after Katrina, a time and place that is viscerally well realized.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Claire DeWitt Novels #1) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780547428499
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - June 2nd, 2011

Touch & Go by Thad Nodine

Local author Thad Nodine has done the impossible and written a novel that is funny, telling, original, and heartfelt. I know on their own perhaps those adjectives might not stand out, but together they make a whirlwind of a read. Narrated by Kevin, a blind and recently unemployed journalist, we are introduced to a make-shift family that has as many unlikable traits as they do likeable. As the family sets out on a road trip, we find ourselves rooting for them, wanting them to figure it out, to grow up and listen to one another. This is that book that has you shaking your head in exasperation, laughing, and tearing up all at the same time. What a read!

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Touch and Go Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781609530617
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unbridled Books - September 27th, 2011

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

This was by far one of my favorite novels of the year—and it turns out—one of the New York Times too. Landing itself on the coveted NYT’s best ten books of the year list, this novel is an incredible debut. Telling the tale of 13-year old Ava who has grown up on an island in her family’s alligator-wrestling theme park (I know, I know, but it works) Russell introduces us to by far one of the most valiant and true heroine’s I have read in a long time. The bravery and pluckiness Ava has in her determination to hold her family together when circumstances threaten to tear them apart is beautiful and stoic. This is an original, incredible, and touching novel—a great read for fans of The Secret Life of Bees.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307276681
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - July 26th, 2011

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

A wonderful woven tapestry that centers around one small town in America with a legendary garden Hoffman takes us through three hundred years of history. Starting with the town’s founder, a brave young woman from England who has no fears of bears and ending in modern day with a desperate young man who craves solace after being an EMT in New York City , Hoffman has crafted an exquisitely magical book whose characters are vivid and unexpected. For fans of Isabel Allende, this is one of those magical books that tells a true tale of humanity with a bit of magic thrown in.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Red Garden Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307405975
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - August 2nd, 2011

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