Fiction

  • The Handmaid’s Tale

    Margaret Atwood

    I had a memory of reading this book, but it’s possible I just picked up enough about it through cultural references over the years to convince myself that I had. Or maybe my powers of recall are failing, because I didn’t notice any of the things that are drastically different in the TV show version...more

  • If, Then

    Kate Day Hope

    An interesting take on counterfactuals or alternate realities… If, Then follows four neighbors who begin seeing hallucinations that are actually glimpses of other possibilities in their lives. Though the concept has a lot of potential, the actuality of the novel is a bit disappointing. The damp Oregon setting is effective,...more

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

    Ocean Vuong

    Dear Ma,
    I am writing to reach you — even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are.

    Though I expected to love this book, honestly I was a little disappointed. I loved the elegiac writing that winds a story around the reality of intergenerational trauma, but I felt the ending was a...more

  • Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

    Celia C. Pérez

    Celia is a friend, so I am biased here. But I’m pretty sure I would love her books even if I didn’t know her. After the success of her first middle grade novel, The First Rule of Punk, she’s back with Strange Birds, embarking on new territory. Four girls in a...more

  • Here Comes the Sun

    Nicole Dennis-Benn

    There are many compelling facets to this book, which is largely the story of a mother and two sisters who live together in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The older daughter Margot is employed at a big resort and has worked her way up, striving towards the management level, partially through her strengths in business but also in part because she learned...more

  • The Clothesline Swing

    Ahmad Danny Ramadan

    Beautiful, elegiac. A play on the concept of Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights, Hakawati takes the role of Scheherazade; many years past (close to the reader’s present) he was a Syrian refugee, a gay man who first experienced violence due to his identity and later due to the brutality of war. But he escaped...more

  • Birds of America

    Lorrie Moore

    A classic collection of short stories, I keenly felt while reading this how many stories I’ve read that have emulated the witty absurdity of Lorrie Moore. But while there may be a layer of quirkiness on top of her writing, not far underneath are more complex, melancholy themes: grief, loneliness, anxiety, illness. The last story “...more

  • There There

    Tommy Orange

    Multilinear novels always take a risk of remaining fragmented, never fully weaving the strands together, and There There struggles with this a bit, its cast of characters all moving toward the Big Oakland Powwow where a violent catastrophe awaits. Starting with a lyrical prologue that briefly encapsulates a progression of Native...more

  • Wolf Hall

    Hilary Mantel

    Whenever I read a historical novel, I make some kind of disclaimer about the genre not being something I’m usually interested in; hence why Wolf Hall sat on my to-read list for many years — on the one hand I felt swayed by all the recognition it received and on the other uncertain, because would I really like a book about Henry...more

  • The Best Kind of People

    Zoe Whittal

    A very engaging story about a stereotypical, seemingly-perfect family in a small Connecticut town suddenly thrown into distress when the father George Woodbury, a science teacher at a private school, is accused of sexual misconduct after a school-related ski trip. Years before he had tackled a gunman in the school, saving students from a...more

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