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Books are her best friend and cats her lifelong obsession. She's an Arizona native but considers herself half New Yorker after living in the Big Apple for 10 years. Michelle primarily reads literary fiction and nonfiction (memoirs, essays) and books delving deep into pop culture phenomenons (i.e., The Bachelor) and our cultural consciousness. Books that changed her life include I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez, Motherhood by Sheila Heti, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and There There by Tommy Orange. But she's also a sucker for a good romance and will always recommend anything written by Sarah MacLean, Jasmine Guillory and any story involving Tartan and the Highlands. She loves the Outlander series the way most people love Harry Potter.
The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehsis Coates first foray into fiction, is a marvel. It's Underground Railroad meets magical realism. I cannot put this book into words. All I can say, read this book. I implore you to please read this book.
Stay and Fight by Madeline Ffitch is a triumphant debut. Ffitch's prose is sharp and sparse and full of wit. When Helen's boyfriend suddenly leaves her and she's left to navigate her new home in Appalachia she's at a loss - until she meets Karen and Lily who live on the Women's Land Trust and are expecting their first child together. But when their child, a boy, is born a string of events occur that threaten the life they've lived and the land that is their home. Stay and Fight questions everything we know about family, love, land and home and America. Stay and Fight has depths only a few debut authors are able to go. It was an honor to read.
This is the book we need right now. It is smart, dark, witty, subversive and spot on in the way it depicts the complexities of female friendships, trauma, anxiety and mental health, rape culture, the female body, women, and relationships both platonic and romantic. The anger, rage and at times outlandish things some of the characters say reminded me a bit of Fleabag. I seriously love this book and read it in one sitting and bet you'll do the same. Please pick up this book.
"But that afternoon there was an orchestra playing," and so begins Jacqueline Woodson's remarkable new novel. The novel opens mid-thought, right in the middle of the main event - Melody's 16th birthday at her grandparent's home in Brooklyn - an event seeped in history and memory for Melody's parents and grandparents. In the sparest of prose Woodson dissects the insidious ways generational trauma moves through family lines. She unpacks the deep layers of misunderstandings, resentments, sadness, longing, hope, and love that passes almost unawares from one generation to the next to exploit dreams and possibility. Woodson's words are poetry that bring to mind Ocean Vuong and Morgan Parker. But don't be fooled by it's slim size. At 208 pages, RED AT THE BONE will leave you breathless. It's an exceptional novel that is a necessary read for the times we live in.
Téa Obreht's Inland took my breath away. Eerie and atmospheric like an old school Jim Jarmusch film, the novel follows the lives of two very complicated and haunted protagonists in the Arizona Territory in 1893: outcast and orphan Lurie, and Nora a frontierswoman with ghosts of her own. And these characters aren't just metaphorically haunted by their pasts, actual ghosts follow them throughout the story. There is a definite "I see dead people" element that with her capable pen is clever, not overdramatic, and handled with extreme care. In fact, ever since reading this book, I too feel haunted by Lurie and Nora. Their stories seep into your skin. The novel is a beautiful blend of magical realism and classic western. Read this book. Trust me, you must.
If the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were a book, it would be this book. But instead of doctors being able to wipe your mind, it's bookbinders who are able to erase your mind. And those erased memories - a person's most sacred history and past - are transposed within the pages of a book. In The Binding, books are dangerous. Books are secret. But what happens when you discover there is a book about you? That's what happens to Emmett, a farmer whose chosen to be a bookbinder. The Binding is part-mystery, part-fantasy and is absolutely thrilling. Read this book!
Pete Fromm's A Job You Mostly Won't Know How To Do is a tender novel of family, fatherhood and second chances. When Taz's wife Marnie dies during childbirth, Taz is left not only broken-hearted, but left to care for their newborn daughter Midge. Although he feels very much alone, he is not. A host of friends and family come to his side, to help him adjust to fatherhood, single parenthood, and his new life. The prose is direct and honest and hits your gut. A Job You Mostly Won't Know How To Do is a love story supreme: the love of a man for his wife and child, a mother for her daughter, platonic love, new love and the love of a community for their neighbors and for the land they call home.
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is laugh out loud hilarious and full of joy. If the films Shaun of the Dead and Walking Dead were to have a baby, it would be this book. What happens when zombies take over the world? Well we've already been given the stories of how we humans would react, but what about the animals? What would it mean for the birds and the trees and natural life as we know it? That's what Hollow Kingdom tries to answer. At turns bizarre and brilliant, devastating and brimming with hope, this is a book that questions everything we know about the world, about storytelling and perspective. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's a definite must-read. I absolutely loved this book!
Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum is witty and caustic, revelatory and tragic. The novel is told somewhat in reverse, starting with the main character Bunny, describing life in a psych ward. What ensues is the story of what happened before and an explanation of why she's been committed. Interspersed are bits from her creative writing class at the hospital that are illuminating. Rabbits for Food is whip smart and has plenty of bite. You can't help but laugh at Bunny's dark humor about her situation. But underneath the humor is a great sorrow. Kirshenbaum writes with candor, insight and empathy about the everyday and what's locked in the mind of someone with a mental illness. Bunny reads like a fictional Carrie Fisher - keenly aware of the darkness that looms large in her mind, with an acid tongue but full of heart and undeniably brilliant.