Reader, Come Home by Maryanne WolfReader, Come Home
by Maryanne Wolf


A cognitive neuroscientist considers the effect of digital media on the brain. Wolf draws on neuroscience, psychology, education, philosophy, physics, physiology, and literature to examine the differences between reading physical books and reading digitally. The author cites Calvino, Rilke, Emily Dickinson, and T.S. Eliot, among other writers, to support her assertion that deep reading fosters empathy, imagination, critical thinking, and self-reflection. An accessible, well-researched analysis of the impact of literacy.

Genre: Nonfiction; Books About Books; Science

Similar: Imagine: How Creativity Works (Jonah Lehrer)


Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane GayNot That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
edited by Roxane Gay


In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

Genre: Nonfiction; Essays; Society and Culture

Similar: A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America (T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong)


Melmoth by Sarah PerryMelmoth
by Sarah Perry


It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy. But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .

Genre: Historical Fiction; Fantasy; Gothic

Similar: Bellman & Black (Diane Setterfield)


The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi LeeThe Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
by Mackenzi Lee


A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators. But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. Once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction

Similar: The Diviners (Libba Bray)


Rosewater by Tade ThompsonRosewater
by Tade Thompson


Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless - people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn't care to again -- but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.

Genre: Sci-fi

Similar: Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel)


The Silence of the Girls by Pat BarkerThe Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker


Queen Briseis and the women of Lyrnessus watch helplessly from the citadel as Achilles destroys the city, slaughtering their husbands, fathers, sons. When Briseis is made Achilles’ slave as a prize of war, the one comfort in this horrifying new existence is Patroclus, Achilles’ comrade and friend. When Agamemnon attempts to claim Briseis as his own, it changes the tide of the Trojan War. In graceful prose, Barker, renowned for her historical fiction trilogies, offers a compelling take on the events of The Iliad, allowing Briseis a first-person perspective, while players such as Patroclus and Achilles are examined in illuminating third-person narration. 

Genre: Historical Fiction; Mythology; Retellings

Similar: Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)


In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird HuntIn the House in the Dark of the Woods
by Laird Hunt


In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes. On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along.

Genre: Horror; Historical Fiction

Similar: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (Stephen King)


The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath


The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

Genre: Modern Classics; Literary Fiction; Autobiographical Fiction

Similar: Our Lady of the Forest (David Guterson)


My Life as a Goddess by Guy BranumMy Life as a Goddess
by Guy Branum


From a young age, Guy Branum always felt as if he were on the outside looking in. Self-taught, introspective, and from a stiflingly boring farm town, he couldn’t relate to his neighbors. While other boys played outside, he stayed indoors reading Greek mythology. And being gay and overweight, he got used to diminishing himself. But little by little, he started learning from all the sad, strange, lonely outcasts in history who had come before him, and he started to feel hope. In this collection of personal essays, Guy talks about finding a sense of belonging at Berkeley—and stirring up controversy in a newspaper column that led to a run‑in with the Secret Service. He recounts the pitfalls of being typecast as the “Sassy Gay Friend,” and how, after taking a wrong turn in life (i.e. law school), he found stand‑up comedy and artistic freedom. He analyzes society’s calculated deprivation of personhood from fat people, and how, though it’s taken him a while to accept who he is, he has learned that with a little patience and a lot of humor, self-acceptance is possible.

Genre: Celebrity Memoir; Humor; Nonfiction

Similar: Bossypants (Tina Fey)


The Darkling Bride by Laura AndersenThe Darkling Bride
by Laura Andersen


The Gallagher family has called Deeprath Castle home for seven hundred years. Nestled in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, the estate is now slated to become a public trust, and book lover and scholar Carragh Ryan is hired to take inventory of its historic library. But after meeting Aidan, the current Viscount Gallagher, and his enigmatic family, Carragh knows that her task will be more challenging than she’d thought. Two decades before, Aidan’s parents died violently at Deeprath. The case, which was never closed, has recently been taken up by a new detective determined to find the truth. The couple’s unusual deaths harken back a century, when twenty-three-year-old Lady Jenny Gallagher also died at Deeprath under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind an infant son and her husband, a renowned writer who never published again. These incidents only fueled fantastical theories about the Darkling Bride, a local legend of a sultry and dangerous woman from long ago whose wrath continues to haunt the castle. The past catches up to the present, and odd clues in the house soon have Carragh wondering if there are unseen forces stalking the Gallagher family. As secrets emerge from the shadows and Carragh gets closer to answers—and to Aidan—could she be the Darkling Bride’s next victim?

Genre: Historical Fiction; Mystery

Similar: The Ghost Writer (John Harwood)


The Library Book by Susan OrleanThe Library Book
by Susan Orlean


In this lively and multilayered portrait of the Los Angeles Public Library, the author describes a source as "electrified by everything he told me about the library." The same can be said for Orlean, whose enthusiasm and affection for the nearly 150-year-old institution is contagious. Orlean assembles a panoramic profile from an array of fascinating details, from the library's earliest days as a reading room to its current thriving community presence as a provider of English classes, sheet music for orchestras, services for the homeless, and more, including sketches of its charismatic—sometimes eccentric—directors, staff, and patrons. This sweeping, cheerful history revolves around a singular terrible event: the 1986 fire that ravaged the Central Library, destroying some 400,000 books. Orlean's affecting account of the tragedy and its painful aftermath, as well as the many people it touched, points to a suspect who was never indicted. But the overall tone is warm and engaging, offering a love letter to libraries everywhere.

Genre: Nonfiction; Books About Books

Similar: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (Joshua Hammer)


Mean by Myriam GurbaMean
by Myriam Gurba


Myriam Gurba's debut is the bold and hilarious tale of her coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Mean turns what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, funny, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.
We act mean to defend ourselves from boredom and from those who would cut off our breasts. We act mean to defend our clubs and institutions. We act mean because we like to laugh. Being mean to boys is fun and a second-wave feminist duty. Being mean to men who deserve it is a holy mission. Sisterhood is powerful, but being mean is more exhilarating.

Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction

Similar: Not That Bad (Roxane Gay: editor)


All's Faire in Middle School written and illustrated by Victoria JamiesonAll's Faire in Middle School
written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson


Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she's eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she'll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind--she'll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it's not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don't) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family's unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

Genre: Graphic Novels; Middle Grade Fiction

Similar: Roller Girl (Victoria Jamieson)


Sadie by Courtney SummersSadie
by Courtney Summers


Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him. When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Genre: Young Adult; Mystery

Similar: I Hunt Killers (Barry Lyga)


Baby Teeth by Zoje StageBaby Teeth
by Zoje Stage


Meet Hanna. She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.
Meet Suzette. She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Genre: Horror; Psychological Suspense

Similar: The Good Son (You-jeong Jeong)


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson


First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Genre: Horror; Gothic

Similar: The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)


Ody-C Cycle One by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian WardOdy-C (Cycle One)
by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward


ODY-C, modeled after Homer's Odyssey, is a psychedelic, gender-broke science-fiction epic that tells the story of three legendary warrior-queens returning home after a centuries-long battle. Odyssia, of fair Ithicaa, encounters everything that can get in her way and slow her homecoming -- and realizes with dawning horror that maybe she doesn't want to return. Told in verse with a visual sensibility that redefines the very possibilities of the comics medium, this gloriously oversized hardcover collects issues #1-12 plus exclusive bonus materials including essays by classicist Dani Colman, teaching aids, and a massive ten-page fold-out only available in the sold-out first issue.

Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy

Similar: Saga (Brian K. Vaughan)


Amity and Prosperity by Eliza GriswoldAmity and Prosperity
by Eliza Griswold


Prize-winning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold's Amity and Prosperity is an exposé on how fracking shattered a rural Pennsylvania town, and how one lifelong resident brought the story into the national spotlight. This is an incredible true account of investigative journalism and a devastating indictment of energy politics in America.

Genre: Nonfiction; Environment

Similar: Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance)



 

Ohio by Stephen MarkleyOhio
by Stephen Markley


The debut of a major talent; a lyrical and emotional novel set in an archetypal small town in northeastern Ohio—a region ravaged by the Great Recession, an opioid crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—depicting one feverish, fateful summer night in 2013 when four former classmates converge on their hometown, each with a mission, all haunted by the ghosts of their shared histories.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Similar: A Land More Kind Than Home (Wiley Cash)


Educated by Tara WestoverEducated
by Tara Westover


Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties.

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir

Similar: The Only Girl in the World (Maude Julien)

 

Citizen Illegal by José OlivarezCitizen Illegal
by José Olivarez


In this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories, contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids, bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills, gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in. Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.

Genre: Poetry

Similar: The Tijuana Book of the Dead (Luis Alberto Urrea)


Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig BrownNinety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret
by Craig Brown


She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando tongue-tied. She iced out Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was madly in love with her. For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy. Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding. Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues, and essays, Craig Brown's Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

Genre: Nonfiction; Biography

Similar: The Romanov Sisters (Helen Rappaport)


Circe
by Madeline Miller


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians.

Genre: Fantasy; Mythological Fiction; Literary Fiction

Similar: The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)


Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan CooperOver Sea, Under Stone
by Susan Cooper


Throughout time, the forces of good and evil have battled continuously, maintaining the balance. Whenever evil forces grow too powerful, a champion of good is called to drive them back. Now, with evil's power rising and a champion yet to be found, three siblings find themselves at the center of a mystical war. Jane, Simon, and Barney Drew have discovered an ancient text that reads of a legendary grail lost centuries ago. The grail is an object of great power, buried with a vital secret. As the Drews race against the forces of evil, they must piece together the text's clues to find the grail - and keep its secret safe until a new champion rises. This is the first book in The Dark is Rising series.

Genre: Fantasy

Similar: Try Book 2, The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)

 

Summer of Salt by Katrina LenoSummer of Salt
by Katrina Leno


Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come. When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

Genre: Magical Realism; LGBT; Young Adult

Similar: Bone Gap (Laura Ruby)


Okay Fine Whatever by Courtenay HameisterOkay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went from Being Afraid of Everything to to Only Being Afraid of Most Things
by Courtenay Hameister


For most of her life (and even during her years as the host of a popular radio show), Courtenay Hameister lived in a state of near-constant dread and anxiety. She fretted about everything. Her age. Her size. Her romantic prospects. How likely it was that she would get hit by a bus on the way home.  Refreshing, relatable, and pee-your-pants funny, Okay Fine Whatever is Courtenay's hold-nothing-back account of her adventures on the front lines of Mere Human Woman vs. Fear, reminding us that even the tiniest amount of bravery is still bravery, and that no matter who you are, it's possible to fight complacency and become bold, or at least bold-ish, a little at a time.

Genre: Nonfiction; Self-help; Anxiety

Similar: The No-Bullshit Guide to Depression (Steven Skoczen)


Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne CeltInvitation to a Bonfire
by Adrienne Celt


In the mid-1920s, 16-year-old orphaned refugee Zoya Andropova begins a new life at a posh East Coast boarding school, far from her Moscow roots. It is a rocky start, given fading memories of her parents and homeland and persistent bullying from mean classmates. After graduation, she puts her green thumb to use as the school's new manager of hothouse plants. Another addition to staff that semester is fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov, arriving with his enigmatic wife, Vera. Leo happens to be Zoya's favorite author, and her excitement about his presence at the school soon sparks a relationship between them. But Vera proves to be a formidable complication, and twists and turns abound as Zoya must decide where her allegiances can intersect with her best chance at lasting happiness.

Genre: Historical Fiction; Epistolary Novels; Literary Fiction

Similar: The Blue Flower (Penelope Fitzgerald)


Never Caught by Erica Armstrong DunbarNever Caught: The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge
by Erica Armstrong Dunbar


A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

Genre: Nonfiction; American History

Similar: An Imperfect God (Henry Wiencek)


New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. ErdrichNew Poets of Native Nations
edited by Heid E. Erdrich


New Poets of Native Nations gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry. Heid E. Erdrich has selected twenty-one poets whose first books were published after the year 2000 to highlight the exciting works coming up after Joy Harjo and Sherman Alexie. Collected here are poems of great breadth―long narratives, political outcries, experimental works, and traditional lyrics―and the result is an essential anthology of some of the best poets writing now.

Genre: Poetry

Similar: Flood Song (Sherwin Bitsui)



 

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan BradleyThe Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
by Alan Bradley


Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey are over—until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. But who’d do such a thing, and why? Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What about Porson’s charming but erratic assistant? All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help.

Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction

Similar: The the next book in the seris: A Red Herring Without Mustard (Alan Bradley)


The Great Believers by Rebecca MakkaiThe Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai


Another ambitious change of pace for the versatile and accomplished Makkai, whose characters wrangle with the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic at its height and in its aftermath. In the first of two intertwined storylines, Yale and his partner, Charlie, attend an unofficial wake for a dead friend, Nico, held simultaneously with his funeral service because his Cuban-American family has made it clear they don't want any gay people there. It's 1985, and Makkai stingingly re-creates the atmosphere of fear, prejudice, and sanctimonious finger-pointing surrounding the mortally afflicted gay community, even in a big city like Chicago. Nico's younger sister, Fiona, has rejected their family and attached herself to his friends, with emotional consequences that become apparent in the  second storyline, set 30 years later in Paris. As is often the case with paired stories, one of them initially seems more compelling, in this case Makkai's vivid chronicle of Yale's close-knit circle, of his fraught relationship with the obsessively jealous Charlie, and his pursuit of a potentially career-making donation for the university art gallery where he works in development. Fiona's opaque feelings of guilt and regret as she searches for her estranged daughter, Claire, aren't as engaging at first, but the 2015 narrative slowly unfolds to connect with the ordeals of Yale and his friends until we see that Fiona too is a traumatized survivor of the epidemic, bereft of her brother and so many other people she loved, to her lasting damage. As Makkai acknowledges in an author's note, when a heterosexual woman writes a novel about AIDS, some may feel she has crossed "the line between allyship and appropriation." On the contrary, her rich portraits of an array of big personalities and her affecting depiction of random, horrific death faced with varying degrees of gallantry make this tender, keening novel an impressive act of imaginative empathy. As compulsively readable as it is thoughtful and moving: an unbeatable fictional combination. - Kirkus reviews

Genre: Literary Fiction

Similar: A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara)

 

There There by Tommy OrangeThere There
by Tommy Orange


Orange's debut novel offers a kaleidoscopic look at Native American life in Oakland, CA, through the experiences and perspectives of 12 characters. An aspiring documentary filmmaker, a young man who has taught himself traditional dance by watching YouTube, another lost in the bulk of his enormous body—these are just a few of the point-of-view characters in this astonishingly wide-ranging book, which culminates with an event called the Big Oakland Powwow. Orange, who grew up in the East Bay, knows the territory, but this is no work of social anthropology; rather, it is a deep dive into the fractured diaspora of a community that remains, in many ways, invisible to many outside of it. "We made powwows because we needed a place to be together," he writes. "Something intertribal, something old, something to make us money, something we could work toward, for our jewelry, our songs, our dances, our drum." The plot of the book is almost impossible to encapsulate, but that's part of its power. At the same time, the narrative moves forward with propulsive force. The stakes are high: For Jacquie Red Feather, on her way to meet her three grandsons for the first time, there  is nothing as conditional as sobriety: "She was sober again," Orange tells us, "and ten days is the same as a year when you want to drink all the time." For Daniel Gonzales, creating plastic guns on a 3-D printer, the only lifeline is his dead brother, Manny, to whom he writes at a ghostly Gmail account. "People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them," James Baldwin wrote in a line Orange borrows as an epigraph to one of the book's sections; this is the inescapable fate of every individual here. In this vivid and moving book, Orange articulates the challenges and complexities not only of Native Americans, but also of America itself. - Kirkus Reviews

Genre: Literary Fiction; Contemporary Fiction

Similar: Love Medicine (Louise Erdrich)