Carol’s Staff Pick – “Lust and Wonder”

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Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

Fans of Running with Scissors and Dry will adore this latest memoir from Burroughs. After a lapse of a few years, he’s back with his sweet, hilarious, and at times heartbreaking story.

This is the story of his love life – love gone bad – and ultimately finding the perfect partner where he least expects its.

Read, relish, and thoroughly enjoy!

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Susan’s Staff Pick – “Homegoing”

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is an amazing book by an exceptional author!

The range and beauty of this book is difficult to fathom and almost impossible to explain in words. On the surface it is the story of two young black girls in 18th century Ghana. They are half-sisters, grew up in different tribes in different villages, each not knowing about the other. One marries the British officer who directs the operations at the “Gold Coast Castle” which is the embarkation point for ships leaving the African coast with their cargo of slaves. The other is one of those slaves, sent to America. Succeeding chapters tell the story of a descendant in each succeeding generation from the African family line and the American family line. Through their beautifully told details we actually learn about 300 years of history through the personal stories of these descendants.

Amazing and well worth reading!

Marianne’s Staff Pick – “Lazaretto”

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Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

I hadn’t heard of the quarantine hospital in the port of Philadelphia nor the author Diane McKinney-Whetstone. I am delighted to discover both. Whetstone brings the post-Civil War era alive right in nearby Philadelphia. Her characters are vibrant and strong and she weaves a moving tale centered on the lives of Philadelphia’s black community; their struggles and triumphs in the face of continued oppression from whites and class divisions within their own culture. Beautiful imagery and universal themes of family, friendship, love, independence, courage, and perseverance makes this an enjoyable and meaningful read. I look forward to discovering more books by Whetstone!

New in August

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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; available August 2

“The Newest Oprah Book Club 2016 Selection
From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor; engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.”

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson; available August 9

“For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories and transports her to a time and a place she thought she had mislaid: 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything.

August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away.

Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up. In prose exquisite and lyrical, sensuous and tender, Woodson breathes life into memories, portraying an indelible friendship that united young lives.

Another Brooklyn is an enthralling work of literature from one of our most gifted novelists.”

 

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“‘Are you happy with your life?’
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back, my friend.’
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.”

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Riverine: A Memoir From Anywhere But Here by Angela Palm

“Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, her house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.

Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy that she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course.”

 

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The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stamback

Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Born deformed, yet mentally keen with a frighteningly sharp wit, strong intellect, and a voracious appetite for books, Ivan is forced to interact with the world through the vivid prism of his mind. That is, until a new resident named Polina arrives at the hospital. At first, Ivan resents Polina: she steals his books, she challenges his routine, the nurses like her–she is exquisite. But soon, he cannot help being drawn to her, and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of.

 

 

 

Bill’s Staff Pick – “LaRose”

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LaRose by Louise Erdrich

This novel begins with a horrible hunting accident in which Landreaux Iron kills his neighbor’s — and best friend’s — youngest son. Following an old Native American tradition, he and his wife give their son, LaRose, to the grieving parents as retribution. Thus these two already close families are joined in a variety of new ways. The working out of this tragedy and the attempt to set it right is full of consequences no one, including the reader, can and will be able to foresee. This beautifully written, often tense, sometimes funny, always riveting novel explores loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart and is another in a long line of Erdrich novels that reveals so much of what it means to be human. I loved this book and you will, too!