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Bookshop Santa Cruz staff recommendation:

The following books are recommended by our staff as great choices for book groups. Sign up for our Book Ends email newsletter to receive more great book group recommendations.

Whoever you are, whatever your political leanings, I urge you to read this story of two boys who fled their country, El Salvador, for a better life in the United States. Told with honesty and a lot of heart, The Far Away Brothers chronicles their journey, from their harrowing passage through the desert to their battles with the legal system in order to remain in a country where their lives are unthreatened. - Jax

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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101906200
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - May 22nd, 2018


This is one of the strangest—and best-written—memoirs I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Michael’s aunt Harriet who, along with her husband Irving, is a very successful screenwriter. (She and Irving wrote Norma Rae, among other big movies.) Because Harriet has no children of her own, and because she senses “great potential” in Michael, she zeroes in on him when he’s still a very young child and essentially steals him (emotionally speaking) from his own family. Great awkwardness and emotional confusion follows. - Rico

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The Mighty Franks: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374537807
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 29th, 2018


This book is laugh-out-loud amazing! Ramsey tells her story of being boosted suddenly into the limelight via YouTube and of all of the good (and bad) things she was able to use her platform to discuss. For those who are struggling to learn about the racial morass this country finds itself in, or wanting to find a way to speak compassionately to those who are a little dumb about it, this is the book for you. - Jax

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Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781538761038
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 22nd, 2018


Tessa Fontaine’s The Electric Woman is enthralling. Moving between the sustained emergency of a collapse in her mother’s health, the complicated, flawed relationship she has with her mother, and her 5 months as a crew member in the traveling sideshow the World of Wonders, Fontaine writes of the layer after layer of heartache and grind. With lovely, clear prose, she invites the reader in to her attempts to explore and escape reality through the hard and fascinating traveling sideshow life. A tenderly written, captivating memoir. - Chorel

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The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374158378
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 1st, 2018


Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize–winningauthor and refugee himself, has brought together a powerful collection of essays from writers with a myriad of immigrant experiences. Twenty pieces explore the complexities of leaving, of arriving, and of the barriers both seen and unseen that exist far beyond the actual crossing. Reyna Grande, Joseph Azam, Fatima Bhutto, Vu Tran—their stories demand that we see the refugee crisis for what it is, the real lives of so many affected, persevering and thriving in spite of it. - Melinda

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The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives Cover Image
By Viet Thanh Nguyen (Editor)
$25.00
ISBN: 9781419729485
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - April 10th, 2018


Roxane Gay has put something together here that is almost indescribable. The very essence of rape culture has permeated our society so subtly that we often don’t think of rape other than in the most physical sense of the word. But in this collection of essays, writers of all backgrounds talk about how their lives have been affected by rape culture. It is a masterful collection, unflinching and relatable. - Karena

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Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062413512
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - May 1st, 2018


Told in pieces of the past, present, and future, The History of Bees is is a beautifully written story about our relationships with each other and with the world we share. I will never again see a bee and have it not remind me of our responsibility to respect the balance of power in nature. Lunde’s novel has illuminated the path of the bees and in turn has given us a beacon of hope for our future. - Jenny

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The History of Bees: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501161384
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - June 5th, 2018


Reading this book was like listening to a beautiful, heartbreaking piece of music. Prepare yourself for a full sensory experience as Jesmyn Ward pulls you into the lives of 13-year-old JoJo and his family in rural Mississippi. The reality of their struggle is palpable. This is a story of contradictions; we hit when we mean to hug, the hurts in our past have a place in our healing, a daughter’s best moment in her life is when she is present for her mother’s death. Despite the profound sadness, the last pages leave you with a lyrical sense of hope. - Jenny

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Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501126079
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 8th, 2018


With Isadora, Amelia Gray takes the life of a great modern artist and turns it into breathing poetry. A novelized version of a key moment in Isadora Duncan’s tragic life, Isadora is a meditation on humanity, grief, and family. Gray is at her career best here, stringing a tightrope attached at one end to consuming sadness and another to irreverent vitality. In honor of her subject, perhaps, she doesn’t just walk it, she dances. - Jessica

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Isadora: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250183095
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 8th, 2018


In this tender and uplifting novel, set in a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian immigrants are trying to find their place and identity in American culture. “No One Can Pronounce My Name is a warm, life-affirming story of reckoning with past secrets, forging unexpected bonds, and finding the strength to be yourself. This bighearted, utterly charming novel explores immigrant experience and family life with humor and compassion.” —Celeste Ng

No One Can Pronounce My Name: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250112125
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 8th, 2018


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