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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.

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

When outspoken, determined Theo (one of the few Asian-Americans and only gay kid at his small high school) and shy, secretive Gabi are thrown into a joint venture, things are tense. Can these seemingly opposite personalities go from enemies to frenemies to something more? This is a fun and fresh rom-com that reminds us that being a teenager isn’t just about growing into who you are meant to be, but also about letting go of some of who you thought you were.  —S.M.C.

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Café Con Lychee Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780063210271
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - May 10th, 2022

The Summer of June by Jaime Sumner

This book reminded me that libraries are a community’s heart, that poetry is a balm to hard conversations, and that 11-year-old kiddos are brilliant and brave—none more so than June. June is a worrier whose worry interferes with sleep and makes her body feel out of control. But with help from her lovable crew, she starts opening up and doing small things each day to tame her worry and work with, not against, it. You cannot read this book without loving every character—but, oh, how you will especially love June! 

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The Summer of June Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534486027
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - May 31st, 2022

Who Is Wellness For? An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind by Fariha Róisín

Speaking to her own struggle with chronic illness and trying to heal from trauma, Róisín, a Bangladeshi Muslim, looks at wellness through the lens of advocacy and social justice. Blending memoir and journalistic inquiry, she offers both the argument for and resources to inclusive self-care—while also bringing to light the disparity and appropriation that runs so deeply in the wellness culture. This is a fascinating read.  —S.M.C.

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Who Is Wellness For?: An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780063077089
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Harper Wave - June 14th, 2022

We Refuse to Forget A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power by Caleb Gayle

Looking at the complexity of the Black Creeks’ story (whose Creek Nation citizenship was suddenly revoked by tribal members and Congress in the 1970s), and weaving history with present day, Caleb Gayle writes to the question of what is racial and ethnic identity in a country that has been rooted in white supremacy since its beginning. Gayle’s prose is stunning and the historical sections of his book leap off of the page, while he equally gives poetic justice and grace to the voice of today’s Black Creek members and their examination of race and belonging. I could not put this book down and it has risen to the top of my favorite nonfiction reads. Wow.  —S.M.C.

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We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593329580
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Riverhead Books - June 7th, 2022

Somewhere We Are Human Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings Edited by Reyna Grande & Sonia Guiñansaca

This powerful collection of essays, poems, and art is authored by 41 migrants, refugees, and Dreamers who are all living in the United States undocumented. Their brutal honesty, resilience, hope, anger, fear, beauty, and talent had me turning each page in awe. Every contribution added a layer to the view of what it means to be undocumented in a country that does not always echo integrity back.   —S.M.C.

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Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063095779
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: HarperVia - June 7th, 2022

Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

In the summer of 1999, twelve-year-old Fe-Fe’s world is filled with the innocence of Double Dutch and candy runs situated, though, right next to gang wars and drug trafficking. When Fe-Fe and her friends welcome a new girl to their childhood trio, that decision, overlaid with the city’s demolition of their home, upends each of their lives forever. This debut novel is a heartfelt rendering of the way childhood bonds can have lasting impacts, how racial and economic institutions permeate the core of every family, and how forgiveness and redemption are not something that happens once, but can be revisited throughout a lifetime. I am still stunned by the quiet depth and power of this novel—put this at the top of your summer reads. —S.M.C.

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Last Summer on State Street: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063209749
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: William Morrow - June 14th, 2022

Center Center by James Whiteside

American Ballet Theater principal dancer James Whiteside details his rise to fame and his life beyond ballet in this energetic and humorous memoir. Knowing he was gay at an early age, Whiteside thought that ballet “was doing something super gay” only to be disappointed by the heteronormative roles that male dancers were cast in. While keeping up with the demands of ballet, he also ventured out into becoming a New York drag queen and breaking into the pop-music scene in order to stay connected to his true self. While Center Center doesn’t delve into the details of dance technique or the wonders of performances, it’s a fun read detailing the flair and determination it takes to reach the top.—S.M.C.

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Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593297834
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Viking - August 17th, 2021

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich’s new novel is narrated by Tookie, an Ojibwe bookseller with a harried past. Tookie’s determination to live a peaceful life following her complicated youth is upended when a past customer returns to the bookstore as a ghost with a particular quest for Tookie. The novel deepens as our own lived current events merge into Erdrich’s fictional world. With the start of the pandemic, and then George Floyd’s murder, we watch Tookie navigate not just the ghost, but also the haunting of racism so deeply rooted in America’s history. With Erdrich’s uncanny ability to include humor with depth, Tookie’s story unfolds in a way that is both desperate and uplifting. —S.M.C.

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The Sentence Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062671127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - November 9th, 2021

There I Am by Ruthie Lindsey

If Glennon Doyle, Anne Lamott, and Brené Brown were somehow to produce a love child, Ruthie Lindsey would be it. At 17 in her small Louisiana hometown, she was in a car accident that left her with a 5 percent chance of survival and a 1 percent chance of walking again. Yet, miraculously, after only two months and a spinal fusion surgery, she walked out of the hospital, went to college, and put the incident mostly behind her. But years later, she was struck by debilitating pain. One of the wires used for her original surgery had broken free and was now penetrating the base of her brain stem. Without another emergency surgery, any move could be her last. With honesty, buoyancy, self-deprecation, Southern wit and intelligence, Lindsey examines not “just…the magic of optimism, but the work of it.” — S.M.C.

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There I Am: The Journey from Hopelessness to Healing—A Memoir Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982107925
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Gallery Books - April 20th, 2021

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

This is a wonderful can’t-put-it-down literary mystery for fans of Tana French or Rene Denfeld. Set in Mendocino County, the story focuses on Anna Hart, a San Francisco detective who has fled to her hometown after a family tragedy. When a local teenager goes missing, Anna finds herself instinctively drawn to the crime, and  the reader bears witness to the ways that Anna’s past and present start to merge in startling ways. This is a smart, captivating read, blending trauma theory, atmospheric writing, and an intimate character study of one woman’s quest to learn how to find trust in herself again. — S.M.C.

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When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593237892
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - April 13th, 2021

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