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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.

Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Virji, M.D.

While working in a large hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Virji realized that due to the number of his patients he was assigned, he was practicing “turnstyle” medicine. Upon hearing of a shortage of doctors in rural communities, he and his family moved to a town of 1400 people in Minnesota, where he opened a clinic. After a few years, he was finally practicing personable medicine in a community that seemed warm and welcoming. Then the 2016 elections hit. Virji, a devout Muslim, woke to find a swastika on his sidewalk. The atmosphere in the town seemed to shift overnight and things got dangerous and intense. At the verge of leaving entirely, a town meeting was called and Virji found himself in the burdened position of having to educate and explain his religion to a less-than-open crowd. Love Thy Neighbor offers a view of the bravery that is required and the shifts that can take place when compassion and faith are used to combat fear. - S.M.C.

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Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525577201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Convergent Books - June 11th, 2019

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About edited by Michele Filgate

When Michele Filgate, the editor of What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, wrote an essay about her stepfather’s abuse, she revealed the fracture that the abuse caused between her mother and her. The essay went viral and Filgate realized that there was much to be learned about what happens in the intimate bond between mother and child when things go unsaid. Filgate gathered 15 writers to explore the topic. Some of the essays are hilarious; others heartbreaking; but there is such strength and resilience in this collection. I kept recalling Leonard Cohen’s line, “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” - S.M.C.

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What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence Cover Image
By Michele Filgate (Editor)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781982107345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 30th, 2019

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe

After She’s Gone, named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy, is captivating. Famed psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön is found alone, hurt, and confused in Sweden’s rural woods, with little access to her recent memories, and realizes her partner is nowhere to be found. When the murderer that Hanna and the missing detective were investigating starts to threaten the entire town, the urgency grows. Only one person, a local boy with a desperate secret of his own, can help Hanna, and as the inexplicable relationship between the two grows, so does the race against time. This is a wonderful page-turner.  

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After She's Gone: A Novel (Hanne Lagerlind-Schon #2) Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780425284407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - February 26th, 2019

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

In celebration of its paperback release, I have started and restarted this review many times, as it seems nearly impossible to convey the brilliance and impact of this novel. I can tell you it is my favorite novel in years; I have recommended it to so many, only to have them pass it on. There are throat-caught sentences and marvel when those of us that have read it try to talk about it. The book alternates between two storylines, one following Yale, a young gay man in Chicago in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis; the other following Fiona, 30 years later, a mother in a desperate search to find her missing adult daughter. The intersection of these two stories is nothing short of brilliant. Love, redemption, and life at its fullest are bound in these pages. Read this book. —S.M.C.

 

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The Great Believers: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735223530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 4th, 2019

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

This is a delightful, moving read for fans of Ann Patchett, Celeste Ng, or Alice McDermott. As the story weaves in and out of a narrative that covers 40 years, the reader gets an intimate view of a Chicago couple and their four daughters and of what happens when a family secret resurfaces. There is such realness in each character that it is impossible not to find yourself simultaneously exasperated and in love with each family member. The novel explores the complex ties of parenting and sisterhood, and how love can be a weight as well as salvation. This is a wonderful, amazing debut. - S.M.C.

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The Most Fun We Ever Had: A Novel Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780385544252
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Doubleday - June 25th, 2019

In Pieces by Sally Field

Unlike some celebrity memoirs that focus on art and fame, actress Sally Field’s memoir is much more personal, and includes her life before she was famous. She reveals that as a child, she was sexually abused by her stepfather and talks about how that shaped her decisions regarding her partnerships, which roles she took, and even how she mothered. As an artist, she was drawn to the roles that “spoke of outrage,” but in writing her memoir, you can feel the connection that Field has found with herself. - S.M.C.

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In Pieces Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781538763025
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - September 18th, 2018

What If This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky

I loved this collection of essays. Sharp, political, intelligent, and witty, Havrilesky’s voice reminded me of a merge between Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar and Rebecca Solnit. Havrilesky points out how our culture’s emphasis is tuned to a constant tirade of consuming and reaching—we are to seek out more technology, buy newer apps, climb the ladder, improve our minds, finesse our rooms, spruce ours cars, balance our diets, deepen our relationships…and the list just keeps going. Enough! With heart, humor and insight, Havrilesky helps show that if we stop seeking happily ever after, we might be surprised by just how connected and content we can actually feel. - S.M.C.

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What If This Were Enough?: Essays Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780385542883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - October 2nd, 2018

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem

Phoebe Siegler, a Manhattan woman who finds herself shattered and floundering after the results of the presidential election, jumps to volunteer to find her close friend’s runaway daughter. Following leads to the California desert, Phoebe meets an obscure private detective known for his ability to find and aid runaways and strays. In search of the missing girl, the two set out on a journey that feels chimerical and twisted. The pair must rely on the desert’s fringe inhabitants, and the story starts to hint of violence and turmoil. This novel/mystery/love story is both an enigmatic tale of being lost and found and a frame for the subtext of a divided America, one where truth, power, and the haves and the have-nots are in need of deep scrutiny. - S.M.C.

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The Feral Detective: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062859068
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018

Standing at the Edge by Joan Halifax

Joan Halifax is a scholar, anthropologist, activist, and Buddhist teacher. She has works with neuroscientists, psychologists, politicians, caregivers, teachers, and activists and has named five psychological territories she calls Edge States—altruism, empathy, integrity, respect, and engagement—that epitomize strength of character and can also be the root of suffering. Halifax notes that if we can teeter on the edge of each state and observe our behaviors and impulses from there, we can travel the range of the human experience and do so with openness and courage. - S.M.C.

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Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet Cover Image
By Joan Halifax, Rebecca Solnit (Foreword by)
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250101341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - May 2018

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home by Natalie Goldberg

When Zen practitioner and author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) was diagnosed with a dangerous blood cancer, she was suddenly thrown into the world of hospitals, medical lingo, and life-threatening urgency. Months into her own treatment, her partner was also handed a cancer diagnosis. With her Buddhist practice and steadfast spiritual gaze, Goldberg speaks to the importance of recognizing that it is the dance between the dark and the light, the hard and the easy, that makes life full and worthy of living. - S.M.C.

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Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781611805673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Shambhala - June 5th, 2018

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