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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.

The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thernstrom

Oliver Sacks, meet your match. Melanie Thernstrom’s Pain Chronicles is a wonderful meld of science, memoir, history, and mystery. Thernstrom interweaves her own struggle with chronic pain with amazing research tracing the concept of pain in history—from ancient Babylonian pain-banishing spells to modern brain imaging. Think of it: pain, though universal, in many ways is invisible; when we stub a toe, there is nothing to reflect the pain we feel other than our behavior to it (in the toe-stubbing case, much hopping and hollering). But pain—that thing that travels and channels and blooms and dissipates—what exactly is it?  Thernstrom’s research is masterful at making the invisible visible; her detailed writing, and ever-readable stories, offer insight and meaning as a way to transcend suffering and make it known.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780312573072
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2011

The Kid by Sapphire

Sapphire’s writing has long held a place in my heart. Sharp, taut, brave, and honest, I was overjoyed that she gained an even wider readership when her novel, Push, was made into the movie Precious. Now, 10 years in the making, Sapphire is coming out with Push’s sequel. In The Kid, we are handed the story of Abdul, Precious’ son, and his own journey about how to make it through hardship and come out whole.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Kid Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781594203046
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Penguin Press HC, The - July 5th, 2011

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

Makkai has written a debut novel good enough to put you in a stupor of awe and appreciation. Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, 10-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library with an escape plan and needing her help to carry it out. What follows is a page-turning adventure with heart and depth, questioning how far we should go to rescue someone from their own story, and when we should step back and hope they can survive it and learn for themselves. This book is beautiful, engaging, funny, and heartbreaking (but in a way that works).
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Staff Pick Badge
The Borrower Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780670022816
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Viking Adult - June 9th, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s new novel is so solely its own. Patchett (best-selling author of Bel Canto) has written a moral adventure story whose beauty lies in the description and well, oddity of its setting. In a narrative abound with deadly snakes, harrowing river rides, and malaria-induced nightmares; State of Wonder describes a world where breathtaking beauty stands side by side with wrenching loss. The story begins with Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist working at a pharmaceutical company who is sent to Brazil to track down another elusive doctor who is using research with a tribe in the Amazon to create a valuable new drug. What happens upon Singh’s arrival is a tribute to Ann Patchett’s gift of storytelling. There are images in this book that you will never be able to forget; this is a complex tale of adventure, moral tug-of-wars, and incredible, distinctive beauty.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
State of Wonder: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062049803
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - June 7th, 2011

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