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9 Books to Watch For in July


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The premise of this thriller is chilling: Your daughter has been taken, and the only way to get her back is to kidnap another child. That’s the predicament that Rachel, the story’s central character whose daughter is taken at the school bus stop, and other parents face. It’s a deeply unsettling story about the limits of morality, raising questions about the nature of good and evil and the depths of parental love.

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Three longtime friends converge on Martha Vineyard to reminisce, but come laden with secrets and unresolved histories. Lincoln, Teddy and Mickey met in college and all loved the same woman, Jacy, who vanished on the Vineyard forty years earlier, and whose disappearance still haunts the men. Russo’s hallmark themes — the intricacy of male friendships, one-sided love, the collision of the past with the present — are on full display in this new novel.

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It’s 1960s Baltimore, and Maddie, who’s just left her husband to pursue a more independent life, is helping the Baltimore Police Department find the body of a missing African-American girl. Her efforts help her get a job at the city newspaper, where she soon becomes obsessed with an unsolved case: the killing of Cleo Sherwood, whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake. Lippman, the author of “Sunburn,” has written another taut, psychological thriller, capturing the city and its contradictions.

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A noted historian, Alexievich is known for her book “Voices From Chernobyl,” a compilation of interviews with survivors of the nuclear reactor accident. For this book, the author interviewed dozens of Soviet survivors of World War II, both witnesses and soldiers, examining the lasting effects of the war on a generation.

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In these 44 selections, the critically-acclaimed writer explores the nature of storytelling and fleeting connections whose consequences are felt throughout characters’ lives. The title story is propped up by the narrator’s memories of his onetime lover, a young cellist named Maggie Brown, and of his college roommate, both of whom exited his life long ago.

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Motherhood is a monstrosity in this engrossing novel, which opens with a mother clutching her children, fearful she hears an intruder. She doubts herself — not only about whether she’s imagined the break-in, but about how to exist as a mother. The story is maddening, panicky and full of black humor, much like parenthood itself.

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In Jim Crow-era Florida, the Nickel Academy is known as a reformatory for “wayward” boys. Behind the scenes, though, the staff is vicious, physically and sexually abusing students. For some, the nightmare grows even more dire for some, with students disappearing, never to be seen again. The book is based on the real-life discovery in 2014 of an mass unmarked graveyard in Florida, and engages with many of the same themes that propelled Whitehead’s historical and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Underground Railroad.”

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In this debut novel, Helen moves to Appalachia with her boyfriend to live off the land. When he abandons her and their plan, she invites a nearby couple, Karen and Lily, expecting a baby to move in with her. The narrative shifts perspectives between Helen, Karen, Lily and the child, Perley, as he, as they navigate their self-made family and the encroachment of the outside world.

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Taddeo set out to understand female desire in America, and spent nearly a decade reporting this book. She settled on three subjects: Lina, a married homemaker having an affair with her high school boyfriend; Maggie, a teenager in a clandestine relationship with her teacher; and Sloane, a restaurant owner whose husband likes watching her with other men. Their stories were chosen, Taddeo says, because of their relatability, though each woman is young, white and more or less heterosexual. The resulting books offers a window into specific experiences, tinged with a pessimistic view of men, women and power.

[ Read our review. ]



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