Continued on p. 22
In accessible, unwavering prose and without any heavy-handedness,
Shamsie addresses an impressive mix of contemporary issues, from
Muslim profiling to cultural assimilation and identity to the nuances
of international relations.
—Sarah Johnson, on Home Fire
How to Find Love in a Bookshop.
By Veronica Henry.
Aug. 2017. 352p. Viking/Pamela Dorman, $25
When Julius Nightingale’s young wife
dies suddenly, he’s left with a baby daughter,
Emilia, and a bookstore, Nightingale Books.
Living above the store, Julius and Emilia become closely entwined with the residents of
this small British town. Julius develops a loyal
following of customers who open up their lives
to him over shared cups of tea. His death leaves
a hole in the community that Emilia tries to
fill. She has her father’s love of books and gift
for matching books with readers and wants to
keep his spirit alive. But she soon realizes that
the store is deeply in debt, and to survive she
must make changes. While she’s determined to
preserve her father’s legacy, she also needs to
find a place for herself and a way to overcome
her grief. As Emilia reaches out for help, she
finds love and friendship in unexpected places.
Henry’s sweet novel, filled with likable characters and shaped by a love of books, will appeal
to fans of tender fiction who find bliss in bookstores and libraries. —Candace Smith
YA: Teens might emphasize with Emilia’s
search for self. CS.
If the Creek Don’t Rise.
By Leah Weiss.
Aug. 2017. 320p. Sourcebooks/Landmark, paper, $15.99
Life in the remote highlands of a North
Carolina mountain allows few options to those
who choose to stay. Sadie Blue, on the edge of
adulthood, let herself be swayed by what she
wanted to be true and is soon
pregnant by, then married
to, a no-good man. What her
family, friends, neighbors,
and the new schoolteacher
think of the situation inevitably shapes her future.
Set in the 1970s, but with a
timeless quality that comes
from focusing on people rather than things and
events, Weiss’ debut novel reveals the best and
worst of human nature. Giving voice to multiple characters and allowing them to reflect on
their choices, as well as the choices of others,
demonstrates how an individual’s perspective
changes his or her understanding of the truth.
The author’s masterful use of language, including dialect unique to the area, builds another
layer of connection between these characters
while she develops a greater sense of inner
isolation and distance from those outside the
community. Weiss’ novel is a great suggestion
for fans of the Big Stone Gap books, by Adri-ana Trigiani, and the Mitford series, by Jan
Karon. —Stacey Hayman
Impossible Views of the World.
By Lucy Ives.
Aug. 2017. 304p. Penguin, $25 (9780735221536).
Paul Coral, head cataloger for the Central
Museum of Art, in New York City, is dead.
Stella Krakus, a young assistant curator, finds
a map in his office that she is sure was left
for her. The map shows the fictional land of
Elysia, “a place where no one mourns, / And
nothing irreplaceable is lost, / And nothing
lost is irretrievable,” which leads her into
the archives to discover a Wonderland-esque
book from the 1840s. As she travels further
down the rabbit hole of secret societies and
bequests, her personal life continues its sham-
bling trajectory—her ex-husband won’t stay
away, and it turns out having an affair with
her boss was a pretty bad idea. Stella is like
Hannah Horvath from Girls—smart, with an
equal tendency toward snark and introspec-
tion—living in From the Mixed-Up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The novel sends up
the museum world, with pretentious art folks
courting corporate dollars and the usual office
politics, but maintains a sense of something
larger, even magical, working in the back-
ground. Brainy, hipster fun. —Susan Maguire
Keep You Safe.
By Melissa Hill.
Aug. 2017. 368p. MIRA, $26.99 (9780778330462).
Madeleine Harrington and Kate O’Hara just
wanted to keep their children safe. As any parent knows, the decisions are often plentiful,
and the consequences are often murky. Are you
a helicopter parent or a free-range one? Do you
buy the pricey organic food or what’s on sale?
Do you swaddle, co-sleep, or just grab a minute
of shut-eye when you can? Kate and Madeleine
find themselves at the center of a vaccination
debate that rocks their small town of Knockroe,
just outside Dublin. When a measles outbreak
threatens the life of Kate’s daughter and gains
worldwide attention, the formerly tight-knit
town takes sides. Kate and Madeleine have to
defend their positions in a high-profile legal
case, airing opinions they’d only ever shared
with closest friends and family. Hill has her finger on the vaccination zeitgeist, offering savvy
and well-researched points on a touchy subject.
The driving pace and small-town setting make
this perfect book-club bait, ideal for discussing tough decisions and happy endings with
friends and loved ones. Fans of Meg Wolitzer
and Emily Giffin will devour this introspective
and enlightening novel. —Stephanie Turza
A Kind of Freedom.
By Margaret Wilkerson Sexton.
Aug. 2017. 256p. Counterpoint, $26 (9781619029224).
Evelyn, Jackie, and T. C. are complex and
authentic generations of a New Orleans fam-
ily. The novel’s title captures reality for all three:
free people trying to exercise free will while the
webbing of race and class prevents them from
finding free opportunity. In the 1940s, Evelyn’s
family is among the most successful African
Americans in town, and her love for Renard,
son of a janitor, causes them legitimate con-
cern. In the 1980s, Jackie, Evelyn’s daughter
and herself a new mom, attempts to reconcile
with her husband, Terry, whose crack addiction
was born in part by his less-than status among
his white peers. In the 2010s, Jackie’s son,
T. C., is released from prison and must find a
way to provide for his own newborn son. Sex-
ton’s characters share the traits of kindness and
struggle, and her first novel disavows any no-
tion that prejudice is history: perhaps changed
in form, it is still passed along with the genera-
tions. This novel sparked a competition among
literary agents, and for good reason. This fam-
ily is worth every minute of a reader’s time.
By Sara Taylor.
Aug. 2017. 304p. Hogarth, $26 (9780451496850).
Alex, the narrator of this coming-of-age
road-trip novel, is 13 and barely awake when
Ma packs the two of them into the car, heading
not-sure-where and leaving Alex’s dad behind.
Confusing everyone they encounter as they
wonder whether Alex is a boy or a girl, Alex
confidently feels like both without a need to
explain. Alex likes the excitement of making
tracks with Ma but hates not knowing her full
plan and asks too many questions. Occasion-
ally, Ma lets fly harrowing tales from her youth
spent in, out of, or running away from foster
homes. In various cities at different stages of
her life, Ma knew Lauras, the first being the
best childhood friend, who Ma thinks some-
how led her to all the others. While the pair
crisscross the country in search of Lauras and
others, Alex survives upsetting assaults and
experiences tender first love. Ultimately, under-
standing Ma’s past and pathological restlessness
deepens Alex’s love for them both. Taylor (The
Shore, 2015) packs vastly observed stories of
mothers, children, and memory into her im-
pressive second novel. —Annie Bostrom
YA/M: Literary style and the trauma
Alex and Ma experience mark this for
older readers, who will be amazed by
Taylor’s portrayal of a gloriously gender-
nonconforming teen. AB.
Little Fires Everywhere.
By Celeste Ng.
Sept. 2017. 370p. Penguin, $27 (9780735224292).
Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a by-the-books
kind of town. Longtime residents know the
well-established rules of conduct. Newcom-