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S.M.C.'s Reviews

Susan McCloskey has worked at Bookshop Santa Cruz since graduating from UCSC in 2000. She is the former Event Coordinator at Bookshop and continues to consult for the store. In her other life, she is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She believes in story, and loves the meld of working with books, narrative, and people.

Invisible Son by Kim Johnson

Andre, a wrongly convicted Black teenager living in Portland, Oregon, is finally being released on probation in February 2020—just in time for the world to turn on its head. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 lockdown, Andre is swept up in a love story and into a mystery of a missing boy. I was moved, I was enraged, I was enthralled. This page-turner of a book will shift your perspective and engage your heart.  —S.M.C.

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Invisible Son By Kim Johnson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593482131
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ember - May 14th, 2024

Tree. Table. Book by Lois Lowry

I have loved Lois Lowry since her Anatasia Krupnick series, and her newest book has captured that same magic. Eleven-year old Sophie and her 88-year old neighbor, also Sophie, are best friends despite their age difference. When concerns about elder Sophie’s memory arise, younger Sophie is determined to help. What follows proves the love between these two ordinary–extraordinary characters, and just how much being curious, listening, and the right amount of stubbornness really matters.  —S.M.C.

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Tree. Table. Book. By Lois Lowry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063299504
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - April 23rd, 2024

Somehow: Thoughts on Love by Anne Lamott

In Somehow: Thoughts on Love, Anne Lamott touches on all of the different aspects of love—from the romantic, to the odd love you feel with a stranger in a shared moment, to that for the child who is a little too good at telling you the truth. Her celebrated self-deprecating humor, witty storytelling, and ability to pull hope and wisdom from her own stumbling is in top form. The renewed sense of hope and light I felt at the end of this book makes me wish that there was a national Read Anne Lamott Day.  —S.M.C

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Somehow: Thoughts on Love By Anne Lamott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593714416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - April 9th, 2024

The Moth Presents: A Point of Beauty: True Stories of Holding On and Letting Go by The Moth

When I am driving and NPR’s The Moth Radio Hour is mid-story, I find it impossible to get out of the car. Reading the stories (versus listening to them) has the same effect. The theme of holding on and letting go is prominent in this collection: a child who, in surprise, literally drops her uncle’s fake eye into the sea when it accidently pops out; a grief-stricken mother who ends a pregnancy on her own terms. It is a wonderful book; my recommendation is to just make sure you read it when you don’t have to be anywhere on time. —S.M.C

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The Moth Presents: A Point of Beauty: True Stories of Holding On and Letting Go By The Moth (Editor), Mike Birbiglia (Foreword by) Cover Image
By The Moth (Editor), Mike Birbiglia (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780593139035
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - March 19th, 2024

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

Young sisters Flora and Hazel are sent to the country to escape the London bombings of World War II. To distract her from her fears, Hazel begins telling Flora stories about a magic land she made up called Whisperwood. Flora tragically disappears one day along a river’s edge, upending Hazel’s life. Over a decade later, Hazel comes upon a mysterious book of American fairy tales that seem to mirror the stories of Whisperwood, and she begins a search that ends up testing the bonds of sisterhood. This is the perfect read to get lost in!  —S.M.C.

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The Secret Book of Flora Lea: A Novel By Patti Callahan Henry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668011843
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - April 2nd, 2024

All Fours by Miranda July

Here is a novel about being alive, about rediscovering and flipping everything sideways to reveal a new normal. Our protagonist, a 45-year-old performer, artist, mother, and wife, starts a 2-week drive across the country, but when she detours just 20 miles from her own house, she has a chance encounter that sets this whole story into motion. From the sex (so much sex), to the choices to the connections Miranda July gives voice to the actual bravery that outgrowing paradigms looks like.  —S.M.C. 

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All Fours: A Novel By Miranda July Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593190265
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 14th, 2024

Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Is it possible to have a crush on a book? If so, I have one on Sandwich. The premise of the novel seems simple: A family goes on vacation to the same spot they have gone to for almost two decades. But this year, Rocky, the narrator, is sandwiched between her adult children and her aging parents. When a surprise is revealed only a few days into the trip, it thrusts Rocky into relooking at something from her past that she has long kept a secret. I was so struck by how much this unassuming story moved me. I cried and I laughed, then I cried and I laughed again. A wonderful, timely, hilarious, heartbreaking, perfect read.  —S.M.C. 

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Sandwich: A Novel By Catherine Newman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063345164
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Harper - June 18th, 2024

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Starling House crosses many genres—think an odd blend of Stranger Things meeting a modern-day Wuthering Heights. When Opal’s mother dies in a car accident, Opal is left to raise her much-younger brother in their small Kentucky town and takes odd jobs doing anything she can in order to get her brother into a good school and out of the town. She is offered a job with ample pay, cleaning the “haunted house” on the edge of town—a house long rumored to be at the center of the town’s mysterious history of disappearances and misfortune—and she can’t say no.  


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Starling House: A Reese's Book Club Pick By Alix E. Harrow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250799050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - October 3rd, 2023

Of Time and Turtles Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery

In Of Time and Turtles, Sy Montgomery (Soul of an Octopus) opens up to us the world of turtle rehabilitation (and really all things turtle). Montgomery works as a volunteer in a well-respected turtle rescue organization and does a wonderful job of describing the amazingness of turtles along with the hardships they face in living among humans. A snapping turtle heals himself from paralysis; a tortoise seemingly comes back from the dead; another is a picky eater who enjoys cuddles. You will find yourself holding your breath and cheering on behalf of these incredible spirited souls.  


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Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell By Sy Montgomery, Matt Patterson (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Sy Montgomery, Matt Patterson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780358458180
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 19th, 2023

This Wheel of Rocks by Sister Marya Grathwohl

Sister Marya Grathwohl became a nun in 1963 and was eventually assigned to an order in Montana that worked closely with the Crow and Northern Cheyenne people. Deeply moved and educated by traditions in both tribes, she is faced with the expanding and unlearning she has to do about her own belief systems. She realizes also that she feels most connected to God through nature, and works to promote environmentalism as a way of living. Her memoir offers fascinating insight into the seldom-seen world of a young woman who dedicates her whole life to one of faith.  


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This Wheel of Rocks: An Unexpected Spiritual Journey By Sister Marya Grathwohl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594487309
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - November 14th, 2023


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