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I’ve been an Ann Patchett fan since college. I regularly recommend her writing, enjoying both her non-fiction and her novels over the years, but this is definitely her best work yet. I love this fairytale-like novel of two siblings Danny and Maeve, told through the eyes of the younger brother Danny, and spanning from their childhood to middle age. It is the story of how our personal history is created partially by imagining the inner lives of those within our family orbit. Ultimately, it is the characters’ confrontation and grappling with their childhood perceptions of familial roles and situations that propel the novel. A thoughtful meditation on the shifting sands of personal histories and how the stories we tell ourselves, often clouded by misconceptions, can be radically altered with a little empathy.
Layla and Rafiq come to America, a land that holds no past for them, but one in which they must make a future in. Both are immigrants from India looking to create a fruitful life together. We witness them try their best to raise their children Hadia, Huda, and Amar, and instill a deep reverence for their Muslim faith. This proves a challenge in a defiantly indifferent America. The novel blooms as it follows each child's struggle in their path to adulthood. These alternating perspectives provide a nuanced portrait of the ways we reconcile the lives we wish to pursue and the ones our parents envision for us. Heartbreaking, timely, and genuinely moving.
Meet Auntie Poldi, a sassy 60-something widow who retires to Sicily to live out her days imbibing on vino, savoring good food, and admiring a view of the sea. That is until the handsome handyman who is helping her renovate her villa goes missing and is found murdered. Poldi immerges as Sicily’s new amateur sleuth – but her snooping into the lives of the townsfolk proves irksome to the sexy police inspector in charge of the investigation. Giordano, a writer of both books and screenplays, has a knack for cinematic writing with snappy dialogue and page-turning plot twists. For fans of international mysteries set amid beautiful landscapes and filled with quirky, lovable characters.
One of the Boys is a stark portrait and unforgiving look at a young boy’s coming-of-age. It is also a survival story of two brothers under the care of their drug-addled, abusive, and manipulative father. He pits the boys against their mother, then against one another, in an attempt to gain their unrivaled love and support. All along, all the narrator wants is to be loved and to be, as his father frequently says, “one of the boys.” But this desire to belong creates unforeseen consequences as both the narrator and his brother get caught up in their father’s manic behavior and, at times, go to reprehensible lengths to try to prove themselves worthy. With sharp, simple language Magariel conveys the confusing feelings of two boys who desperately try hold their father together despite his impending self-implosion. With amazing insight and beautifully raw language One of the Boys transcends its bleak subject matter to become its own kind of distilled novelistic triumph.
My favorite book of 2017. Ward is master storyteller and so graceful in showing us the depths of grief, the pain of emotional suffering, the grip of sadness. We see generation after generation of a family endure loss. Smell the blood of those gone and see it spill from those still here. Witness not just with eyes, but with heart, the hardship of those that came before and those that come after. But the novel is equally adept at showing us love, not matter how subtle. We see how love can be carried, not matter how small, and can become a tiny gem that allow the characters to bear what life brings. Even with the heavy weight of sorrow running through the novel, the book is somehow lightened through Ward’s generously beautiful prose. She shows us what it is to live, to love, to die. What an extraordinary book. One I will take with me the rest of my life.
For thirty-five years, Hanta has been compacting wastepaper and books, and it's his love story. Set in Prague under Communist rule, Hanta sees thousands of books destroyed under his watch. But he "saves" as many as he can and collects them in his home. He may be simple, and at times just plain foolish, but he loves his books as ardently as any intellectual. My favorite book of all time, I reread this book over and over again, and its beautiful, rambling sentences become my own kind of devotional. I absolutely love this book for its silly, misguided narrator and his compulsive love for the written word.
A quiet green notebook with "Provence, 1970" scribbled on the cover was found by M.F.K. Fisher's nephew buried in a storage unit afer her death. From the notebook, letters, and her diaries, he pieces together the story of one winter spent in Provence cooking, musin, and collaborating with Paul and Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, and a number of mid-century chefs. You'll delight in the peculiarities of the personalities, the elaborate menus, and the remembrances of a life well liked.
I dare you not to finish this book in one sitting. Everyone I know who has read it, including myself, has been unable to put it down. The author chronicles her battle with a rare autoimmune disease that swiftly attacked her brain with symptoms that included psychotic breaks, seizures and catatonia. The doctors didn't know the cause and raced against time to find a cure. A fascinating look at how we diagnose and treat disease -- and how family, friends, and doctors came together to save a life.
This quietly beautiful story collection explores human relationships with animals and our frequently changing role within the animal kingdom. And it also shows us our own ruthless, reckless animal instinct. Her writing is playful and curious -- reminding me of Amy Hempel (who she studied under) and even the great Alice Munro. Highly recommended.
One of the best debut novels I've ever read. Period.