Family Life by Akhil Sharma contains a quiet firecracker of emotion. Eight-year-old Ajay Mishra has high hopes when he and his older brother move from Delhi to join their father in America. However, tragedy suddenly spirals Ajay’s life into the impossible choice between duty toward one’s loved ones and duty towards oneself.
The Avett Brothers’ newly released album True Sadness shows off the continued evolution of the band’s blended sound of indie rock and folk. While the band of four address the natural sadness experienced throughout life, there is more upbeat rhythms and hope than the album title may suggest!
Favorite song: “Ain’t No Man”
Favorite lyric: “Call the Smithsonian I made a discovery, life ain’t forever and lunch isn’t free.” (from “Smithsonian”)
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I started The Turner House for the modern Detroit setting, its National Book Award nomination, and curiosity for how Angela Flournoy would tell the story of 13 adult siblings. I was easily won over by the authentic and heartfelt exploration of the growing pains of a struggling family growing older together.
“I was thinking I might want to study public health, but I was also thinking I might want to move to the forest and eat berries and mushrooms and hibernate with the bears in the winter.”
Through the ten stories in Barbara the Slut and Other People, Lauren Holmes is able to echo emotional truths you aren’t aware you have (why yes, I do just want to hibernate with bears) and provide ridiculous, often hilarious, story lines.
Jenny of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani
A painful story of identity, Chris Abani uses vivid descriptions and striking turns of phrases to share the emotionally horrific story of a young Nigerian girl named Abigail. Her mother and namesake died during her birth and Abigail’s father has turned into a lonely, angry, and depressed drunk. Abani’s writing borders into poetry, allowing for ambiguity and distance to help digest the horrors Abigail is put through. The novella switches from the past to the present, covering Abigail’s forced relocation to London and her struggle to fight for herself. Excruciatingly honest, Becoming Abigail is for the reader looking to sink into a beautiful yet haunting story of a heart that seems so broken, it’s unfixable.
For more lyrical yet understated books, try….
Set in 1950s Bakersfield, California, Muñoz pieces together the story of two young beautiful locals falling in love, the filming of what would become a famous horror movie, and a murder in this atmospheric story of longing.
Infatuated with a guy he has only glimpsed, a man locks himself away in a room with a woman to talk about their obsessions of love in this intensely charged story of desire.
An educated woman with big dreams, Enitan shares the trials of growing up in military-ruled Nigeria after the Biafran war.
Centered around the Biafran War, the lives of three different people are explored: thirteen-year-old Ugwu who is the houseboy for a university professor, Olanna, the young mistress of the professor, and Richard, an Englishman in love with Olanna’s twin sister.
Sammar, a widowed Muslim, falls for a faithless Middle-Eastern scholar and must grapple with the cultural differences and grief that comes with falling in love.
Kate Forsyth takes us back to the Napoleonic Wars and into the story of Dortchen Wild, a dreamy girl responsible for telling the Brothers Grimm several of the stories found in their collections. Taut with the tension of trying to believe in the magic and beauty of fairy tales while being faced with life’s cruelties, The Wild Girl vividly seeps into your heart leaving a lingering enchanting darkness.
This poetic gem translated from Italian is weighted with sorrow. Written in flashbacks spanning three generations, a girl shares the story of her Sardinian grandmother who has been in search for perfect love and declared mad as a result. Milena Agus’ From the Land of the Moon is a study of unreliable narrators, misunderstanding, and the reaches of the heart.
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is an achingly beautiful fairy tale retelling. Sorcha has lived an idyllic childhood in the Sevenwaters Kingdom until her mother dies, her father marries a cruel woman, and her brothers are turned into swans. Now alone, Sorcha begins the painful journey of trying to get back everything she lost.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey is filled with fascinating details on how famous creators scheduled their days, covering everything from how long they would work to their various quirks (Beethoven had a very unusual bathing routine). While the information may not be very useful, this little book is great for anyone interested in how people spend their time.