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  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2019/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , Fiction, firestarter, , , pet semetery, , suffer the little children, , , the institute, , , the waste lands   

    12 Unforgettable Young Protagonists in Stephen King Books 

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    Any list of the scariest horror stories likely includes at least a few on your list featuring young protagonists. Children and teenagers are well-represented in horror for a few reasons: They represent powerlessness, as most kids lack the freedoms adults enjoy, making them especially vulnerable to supernatural terror, and not especially well-equipped to deal with it. Kids themselves can be a little spooky to adults who have lost their connection to that imagination-fueled, morally simple time in their lives. And kids generally embody innocence, making them ideal prey for the monsters under their beds. For teenagers, on the other hand, the parallels between the loss of that childlike innocence and exposure to the often troubling realities of adulthood make for potent fuel for storytelling.

    No one knows all of this better than Stephen King, the master of modern horror. If you compile a list of his best-loved novels, a large proportion of them will feature kids as primary protagonists. Below, find 12 young King lead characters for whom “suffer the little children” isn’t just an old saying.

    Luke Ellis in The Institute
    Luke is a special kid, with special abilities. One night his parents are brutally murdered during an apparent home invasion that turns out to be something more. Luke is kidnapped by the killers and forced into the titular Institute, where Luke and other children are overseen by a sinister staff led by Mrs. Sigsby, who hopes to extract their powers, which range from telekinesis to telepathy. Luke soon discovers that eventually all the kids in the Institute graduate to the “Back Half,” from which point they are never seen again. In announcing this novel earlier this year, King specifically invoked past favorites like Firestarter and It (prompting me to imagine what would have happened if pyromancer Charlie had the benefit of a Loser’s Club of her own, one full of similarly superpowered kids). Dark powers forcing a vulnerable, orphaned child with powers beyond understanding to grow up too soon? This one covers all the “young horror protagonist” bases.

    Carrie White in Carrie
    Carrie’s not just a kid—she’s actually very obviously a sheltered one, her development stunted by her mother’s fanaticism and cruelty. King’s debut novel can be seen as a metaphor for adolescence and the loss of innocence, as Carrie’s abilities are directly connected to her physical maturation and sexual awakening. King has said he intended to write a feminist story, and that still scans, despite some dated elements. Certainly Carrie’s rage after seeing her life turn into a series of one humiliation after another will resonate with girls raised in an era of cyber bullying and social media, as she is shamed and deprecated for her power at every turn. In some ways, Carrie is the ultimate young King protagonist, stepping cautiously into the adult world and being revolted and disappointed by what she finds. She is a tragic hero—but a hero nonetheless.

    Danny Torrance in The Shining
    Danny Torrance is a victim of child abuse, and the lingering trauma from his father’s violent acts infect the whole story. Danny also suffers because of his “shine,” the mental powers he exhibits, which expose him to a darkness no young kid should have to face. No sooner has the Torrance family’s snowbound isolation in the remote, otherwise empty Overlook Hotel begun than does Jack Torrance’s mental breakdown and recruitment by supernatural forces into murderous rampage begin. And all of it is really just illustrating the subtext of Danny’s life, which is marked by post-traumatic stress disorder (he copes with the help of an invisible friend Tony who lives in his mouth) and sheer terror, made text. It’s remarkable how much of a kid Danny remains despite his suffering, including the way he clings to the idea that his father still loves him. That’s part of the psychological richness of the book, as is the masterful way King brings Danny’s terrifying experiences to visceral life.

    Gage Creed in Pet Sematary
    Gage is just three years old when he’s hit by a truck and killed. A sweet, loving little boy, his death is a powerful moment in the novel, despite coming so early in the story. The sweetness King establishes in him before that point magnifies the horror when Gage is brought back by the animating force of the Sematary but it no longer Gage at all. Interpretations of the character usually focus on imagining the horror of your own child returning from the dead not-quite-right, but there’s so much going on psychologically in this novel—from the fear of your children changing into people you don’t recognize, to the way we can be blind to problems when it comes to our loved ones (even when they’ve turned into murderous, undead demons). King’s weaponization of hope and love is almost cruel, and makes this one of his most terrifying books.

    The Losers Club in It
    King returns to childhood over and over again, exploring is the idea that all kids are tormented or damaged in some way large or small. (In his novel’s, the torments are usually… not small.) It’s inevitable: life isn’t safe, and the moment we can start making our own decisions, we’re in danger (of course, the real horror comes in the realization that we are always in danger). That understanding informs all of King’s work, but never more effectively than as embodied by the Loser’s Club. All the kids in this gangly gathering of like-aged friends is struggling with a different sort of damage, but together, they find the strength to not only survive their own traumas but to resist an immense evil terrorizing their home town (which, not coincidentally, preys on children, using their innocent imaginations as a weapon against them).

    Jack Sawyer in The Talisman
    Jack, the hero of King’s foray into portal fantasy, co-written with fellow ’80s horror master Peter Straub, faces truly nightmarish circumstances in his quest to save his dying mother, but remains a stalwart hero throughout, battling epic forces of evil as her travels through the otherworldly alternate world known as the Territories. Jack is introduced as an independent, intelligent, and cynical 12 year-old, older that his years thanks to his mother’s illness. But his fierce dedication to her, and his lack of hesitation when it comes to risking his life to track down the mystical Talisman that might cure her, demonstrate the best aspects of childhood—loyalty, innocence,  a stubborn persistence of hope, and an unflagging ability to adapt (even to the realization that you’ve traveled to a parallel universe).

    Jake Chambers in The Waste Lands
    It’s not a spoiler to say Jake Chambers dies more than once before the end of Stephen King’s epic, seven-volume Dark Tower series. The first time he’s pushed in front of a car in New York City and wakes up in another world—that of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger. In short order, Roland chooses his obsession with the Man in Black over saving Jake’s life, and is haunted by the decision. Later, a bit of time travel magic gives him a chance to undo Jake’s first death, but the decision has disastrous consequences for them both. In the third novel of the series, The Waste Lands, Jake becomes a second lead of sorts, spending the first portion of the book trying to make sense of his fractured memories and find his way back to Roland’s world. As he grows and matures across the remainder of Roland’s quest for the Dark Tower, Jake becomes one of King’s most well-rounded young creations—sensitive and smart, funny and faithful, and very good in a fight.

    Ray Garraty in The Long Walk
    King was just a kid himself—only 18—when he wrote this novel (though it wasn’t published until years later, under his onetime pseudonym Richard Bachman), so it’s not hard to imagine 16 year-old Ray as a stand-in for King himself, placed within a story that tests him to his very limits. Every year in its dystopian alternate America, 100 teenage boys are selected via lottery to simply start walking, and continue doing so until only one of them is left alive. Considering the time in which it was first written, it seems a clear allegory for thefates of all those boys who went off to die in the Vietnam War—the draft making it a real world example of a death lottery for the young. Ray is a very normal kid, but King skillfully positions him as a bit of an outsider—he’s not athletic, and his passions include dancing and cooking. Ray’s motivations for winning are prosaic and universal: the prize is basically anything he wants (including not dying, I suppose), but his true goals are left open to interpretation.

    Arnie Cunningham in Christine
    King skillfully builds this surprisingly down-to-earth killer car story around a villainous protagonist. Arnie Cunningham is 17 and a stereotypical nerd when the story begins.He has just one true friend and nothing but a life of bullying and misery to look forward to every day. When he acquires a 1958 Plymouth Fury from a creepy old man, he begins to be possessed by a malevolent spirit that unleashes his inner demons, leading to vehicular mayhem. King transposes the sort of adolescent play-acting kids go through when they’re trying to figure out how to adult, transforming it into full-blown horror. Arnie slowly evolves into a cartoonish caricature of what a teenager thinks being a grown man is supposed to look like, all surly cynicism and superficial cool. The story likely hits home for any parent who goes to bed one night with a sensitive, caring kid in the other room and wakes up the next morning to a monosyllabic, sex-obsessed monster. King also injects a careful optimism into the book as, amid terrible events, Arnie actively struggles to remember who he really is.

    Marty Coslaw in The Cycle of the Werewolf
    Marty is ten years old and a paraplegic—a double-down on the perceived vulnerability of a child. Marty is attacked by a werewolf and manages to survive, only to find that no one—not one adult—believes him. It’s left to him to investigate, identify, and oppose the creature. The idea that children are receptive to concepts that adults are closed off to is a pretty classic trope, and King twists it by making them party to insights more horrifying than magical:  Marty isn’t living in a world of pure imagination that gives him special perspective and powers, he’s struggling to survive against a predator. In the end, it is brains and determination that win the day, not physical prowess—showing kids can sometimes be the strongest among us.

    Trisha McFarland in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
    While the horror bonafides of this short, strange novel can be argued, King leaves the door cracked open just enough to allow you to believe all the supernaturally tinged weirdness Trisha McFarland experiences after she becomes lost in the woods really happens, and can’t be chalked up to a hallucination brought on by exposure, hunger, and dehydration. King plays with very straightforward young protagonist tropes—as she searches for a way home, Trisha is both completely vulnerable and extremely resourceful, forced to deal with her own fears (both literal and metaphorical) without any help from parents, friends, or even society (but a little help from a vision of her hero, a baseball player for the Boston Red Sox). Childhood can be dark and full of terrors, and King makes the struggle to get through it visceral by placing Trisha all alone in the middle of nature. The fact that her inner strength—coupled with the emotional scars inflicted upon her by a tumultuous home life—is what enables her to survive her ordeal is a celebration of the resiliency of children.

    Charlie McGee in Firestarter
    Mentioned above, the telekinetic Charlie is in many ways a typical eight-year-old girl, although we never get to see her living a normal life. Her mental abilities, which manifest mainly as the ability to non-spoiler alert, start fires, are as awesome as they are deadly, but she actually only uses them purposefully to hurt someone once in the story, and only then when her father’s life is threatened. Otherwise, she’s a pretty cheerful and friendly kid whose abilities only slip out of her control unintentionally, causing damage. Just like any other kid that age, Charlie struggles with emotional control and proper social behavior—only her tantrums result in things near her being burned to a cinder. An interesting element in narrative is the fact that she inherits her powers from her parents, who gained their own abilities through a drug experiment, a bit of mad science that underscores a primal fear experienced by many parents: not only are they incapable of protecting them from the evil in the world, they may have also doomed their offspring to suffer their same mistakes.

    Who’s your favorite young protagonist in a horror novel?

    The post 12 Unforgettable Young Protagonists in Stephen King Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 3:00 pm on 2019/05/08 Permalink
    Tags: abby geni, andrea barrett, bonnie jo campbell, , delia owens, Fiction, gabriel tallent, karen russell, must readalikes, my absolute darling, once upon a river, ship fever, swamplandia!, the wildlands, where the crawdads sing   

    5 Books to Read Next if You Loved Where the Crawdads Sing 

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    Delia Owens’ debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing zoomed up the bestseller list last year and continues to attract more readers, thanks to Reese Witherspoon’s selection of it for her Hello Sunshine book club, stoking word-of-mouth praise. The novel tells the story of Kya Clark, who grows up almost completely on her own in the coastal wetlands of North Carolina in the 1950s and 60s after her family abandons her. Kya, known to townsfolk as “The Marsh Girl,” spends her days collecting and cataloging the wildlife of her surroundings, until she becomes the suspect of a murder investigation. The novel, with its poignant theme of loneliness, is at once contemplative and suspenseful as Owens sets the developments in the murder case against the story of Kya’s desolate upbringing. Where the Crawdads Sing has sold more than 1.5 million copies across all formats and should garner even more readers now that Witherspoon has signed on to produce a movie version. If you loved this novel, what should you read next? Here are five suggestions.

    Once Upon A River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell
    In Where the Crawdads Sing, Kya Clark depends on her boat to survive, using it to gather mussels and escape to safety. In Bonnie Jo Campbell’s 2011 novel set in the 1970s, the heroine is 15-year-old Margo Crane, who sets out on her boat to find her wayward mother after her father is killed. Campbell expertly conveys both Margo’s inner life and the natural world of her surroundings in Michigan. While Kya fishes for food, the Annie Oakley-influenced Margo hunts, shooting well enough to hit a muskrat through its eye, so as not to damage its pelt. Margo and Kya are both extremely beautiful, attracting unwanted male attention. And both are determined to survive, despite the challenges that nature and disappointing humans throw their way.

    Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell’s 2011 novel, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, also features a girl growing up in a wetland environment. In this case, Ava Bigtree lives with her family in the Ten thousand Islands off the coast of Florida, where they run the alligator-wrestling theme park after which the book is titled. When Ava’s mother, the theme park’s most accomplished alligator wrestler, dies, the family is imperiled, with Ava’s father becoming despondent, her sister developing a strange obsession, and her brother leaving to work at a theme park called The World of Darkness. Ava embarks on a quest to save her family and Swamplandia! in this novel that is as full of aquatic life as is Where the Crawdads Sing, but is funny and quirky instead of serious and melancholy.

    The Wildlands, by Abby Geni
     Abby Geni’s winning second novel, 2018’s The Wildlands, features a family of orphans and a keen interest in nature, just like Where the Crawdads Sing. When a tornado ravages the home and farm of the McCloud family of Mercy, Oklahoma, killing their father, the eldest sister Darlene abandons her plans to go to college and instead focuses on raising her three younger siblings. She agrees to any media appearance that pays money, earning enough to buy a trailer and keep the family together, but also acquiring for them the title of “the saddest family in Mercy.” Darlene’s brother Tucker chafes under the media spotlight and leaves, after becoming increasingly obsessed with the animal kingdom and angry about humanity’s role in nature’s imperilment. When the youngest sister turns up missing, and Darlene begins to hear reports of an environmental vigilante making his way across the country, she suspects her siblings are involved. The Wildlands is moving, funny, surprising, and it invites the reader to ponder humanity’s connection to the natural world, just as Owens’ novel does.

    My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent
    Like Kya, 14-year-old Turtle in Gabriel Tallent’s 2017 debut novel suffers terrible abuse at the hands of her father and escapes into the wilderness for safety and solace. In this case, the wilderness is the Pacific coast of Mendocino, California, where Turtle lives in the woods, off the grid, with her frightening and dominating father. Turtle, like Kya, knows nature and its creatures intimately, and Tallent details her connection to nature with lavish prose. When Turtle meets two teenage boys and develops a crush on one, she realizes she’s got to escape her father, and relies on all her survivalist training as she attempts to do so.

    Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett
    Although Where the Crawdads Sing was Owens’ first novel, it wasn’t her first book. For years Owens, a trained zoologist, lived in Africa studying wildlife and co-wrote several books about nature with her husband. If you were entranced by Owens’ precise and loving descriptions of nature, you’ll love this 1996 National Book Award winner by Andrea Barrett. In “The Behavior of the Hawkweeds,” Barrett takes the reader inside Gregor Mendel’s famous studies of plants that transformed the field of genetics. In the title novella, a Canadian doctor must contend with an outbreak of illness among Irish immigrants in 1847. And in “The English Pupil,” Barrett catches up with the aging Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who gave science its system of nomenclature for organisms. Try this collection even if you normally don’t read short stories—each tale give the reader a novel-like immersion in a fascinating and detailed world.

    What readalikes would you recommend for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing?

    The post 5 Books to Read Next if You Loved <i>Where the Crawdads Sing</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 7:30 pm on 2019/05/06 Permalink
    Tags: Fiction,   

    The Bride Test, and 5 More Books with Differently Wired Protagonists 

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    I fell hard for Hoang’s debut romance, The Kiss Quotienta genderbent retelling of Pretty Woman that featured an autistic heroine and a kind-hearted male escort. I’m thrilled that Hoang, herself on the spectrum, is back with a companion novel set in the same universe. If you’re looking for more terrific reads featuring autistic or otherwise differently wired protagonists, check out these compelling recent releases.

    The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang
    Khai Diep (cousin of Kiss Quotient’s Michael Phan) takes center stage this time around, with beautiful results. Khai is autistic, and his self-worth has taken a hit because he doesn’t think he’s capable of love or relationships. Khai’s mother insists on setting him up with Esme Tran, a mixed-race girl from Vietnam whom she hopes will marry Khai. For her part, Esme is determined to make the most of her trip to America, but she doesn’t count on falling in love with Khai, who slowly learns that his way of processing and expressing emotions is just as authentic and real as anyone else’s.

    The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves
    During their senior year at the University of Illinois, college sweethearts Annika and Jonathan’s love story abruptly ended, and the two parted ways. As a high-functioning autistic woman, Annika eschewed crowds and difficult social situations, preferring to spend her time playing chess and reading. Ten years after her breakup with Jonathan, Annika is working her dream job as a librarian when the two meet by chance and a tentative new relationship forms—but can they overcome the heartache of the past and truly move forward together? An uplifting, poignant read.

    Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)
    This is a love story between a woman and convenience store. Not only will you understand why they’re meant to be together, but you’ll root for them to be left alone in their symbiotic serenity. The only time thirtysomething Keiko Furukura feels at peace is when she goes to work at Smile Mart, Tokyo’s version of 7-Eleven, where every interaction is scripted and her day proceeds precisely as planned. As a part-time employee and something of a loner, she’s considered odd by her peers. When the pressure to conform to society’s priorities overwhelms her, she shifts her focus away from the store and misery ensues. This quick but brilliant and extremely affecting novel won the Akutagawa Prize in Japan.

    Meet Me in Outer Space, by Melinda Grace
    In this compelling #ownvoices book with spot-on disability rep, Edie’s central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) isn’t something most people know about, and she rarely brings attention to it. During sophomore year of college, however, French class has become more difficult than Edie could have imagined, and her professor doesn’t seem willing to accommodate her. Her fervent wish to study abroad in Paris suddenly feels impossible—but luckily her new tutor, Hudson, is up to the challenge, and doesn’t hide the fact that he’s also crushing hard on Edie. Their burgeoning romance makes her worry her plans may fall by the wayside—can she have a relationship and stay true to her goals?

    The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle, by Leslie Connor
    The product of a “walk-away daddy” and a mother who recently died, twelve-year-old Mason Buttle lives with his grandmother and uncle in a rundown house while he recovers from the suspicious death of his best friend. The local police are convinced Mason knows more than he’s been willing or able to share with them. His dyslexia is so severe he has trouble reading and writing, and the only person at school who treats him kindly is his social worker, Ms. Blinny. Then he makes a new friend, Calvin, and a pattern seems to emerge in Mason’s behavior when Calvin goes missing, too. Mason’s narration is beautifully and sensitively portrayed, and as the truth about the hidden tragedies slowly rises to the surface, you’ll be moved beyond measure by this critically acclaimed National Book Award Finalist.

    The State of Grace, by Rachael Lucas
    In this relatable YA novel, high school student Grace has Asperger’s Syndrome, sometimes referred to as “high-functioning autism.” While no two autistic people are the same, for Grace this diagnosis means she thrives in familiar environments, but has difficulty navigating situations outside those arenas. She feels at home at the horse stables and alongside her best friend, Anna, but dealing with judgmental classmates, a younger sister who seems to be hiding something, and a father who’s out of town a lot prove to be trickier. When Grace’s crush on Gabe seems to be reciprocated, and Leah’s standoffish behavior gets explained, life spirals out of control for Grace, who fears she’ll never be “normal” when she doesn’t know (or necessarily care) what that means. A compelling read for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong (i.e., everyone).

    The post <i>The Bride Test</i>, and 5 More Books with Differently Wired Protagonists appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 4:00 pm on 2019/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: armando lucase correa, ask again yes, blessing in disguise, , , , , , Fiction, , , , light from other stars, liv constantine, mary beth keane, , queen bee, resistance women, , sarah blake, the daughter's tale, the guest book, the last time i saw you, ,   

    May’s Best New Fiction 

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    This month kicks off summer beach read season and we couldn’t be more delighted by the historical fiction and sweeping family sagas in our TBR pile. Whether you’re in the mood for a lowcountry tale of two sisters intrigued by the same widow, a murder mystery in high society Baltimore, or tales of resistance in Nazi Germany, there’s plenty to keep you company while the waves crash against the shore.

    The Guest Book, by Sarah Blake
    Following the success of The Postmistress, Sarah Blake is back with a gripping new historical novel that depicts three generations of a privileged American family. The Miltons embody the American dream in a manner not seen since the Gettys or Vanderbilts. In the 1930s, they purchased Crockett Island off the coast of Maine as a summertime getaway. Each generation since has enjoyed the secluded, gorgeous setting, but eventually the family wealth dries up and the fate of the homestead rests in the hands of three cousins, each with separate agendas. The island’s origin is steeped in misery—but what, if anything, will the newest generation do to mitigate the sins of the past?

    Queen Bee, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    Fans of Frank will be delighted to re-visit Sullivan’s Island for the author’s twentieth tale, set as always in lowcountry South Carolina. Sibling rivalry rears its head when beekeeper / librarian Holly’s newly separated sister, Leslie, sweeps back into town to wreak havoc. Leslie has set her sights on Holly’s widowed neighbor, Archie, father of two. Problem is, he’s the same man whose young kids Holly has come to view as a key component of her happiness and purpose. Add the sisters’ hypochondriac mother to the mix and you’ve got a warm family saga and pitch-perfect beach read.

    Blessing in Disguise, by Danielle Steel
    If you loved the Mamma Mia films, you’ll devour Steel’s latest in a single weekend. Isabelle McAvoy has loved, lost, and lived to fight another day as the single mother of three daughters. Each daughter has a different father, and the relationships that produced them are as disparate as the circumstances that brought them into Isabelle’s life. From true love matches to ill-advised unions, Isabelle has learned a lot along the way—but it turns out her journey, and that of her daughters, is far from over.

    The Last Time I Saw You, by Liv Constantine
    With her thrilling debut, The Last Mrs. Parrish (picked for Reese Witherspoon’s book club), Constantine proved her skill at creating memorably devious characters. Her new novel, a twisty murder mystery set among Baltimore high society, ratchets up the tension even more. On the surface, Doctor Kate English is living an enviable life. She appears to balance a perfect family, inherited wealth, and a fulfilling career. All that changes when her mother is viciously killed and the only woman Kate trusts to solve the crime is her prickly, estranged former friend, Blaire, a woman not known for treading lightly.

    Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
    Keane’s new book is tender and wise, literary fiction of the highest caliber, and readers will immediately feel pulled in to the story of two families whose lives are forever entwined. As next-door neighbors in a New York suburb, and colleagues at the police department, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope first met in the 1970s. The two men were never exactly friends, but in the ensuing years, their children Peter and Kate grow up together as close as can be. When a shocking act tears the neighbors apart, can either family find a way back from the depths of trauma? Will Peter and Kate’s now-forbidden relationship overcome their parents’ misgivings? Demand this one for your book club: they’ll thank you for it!

    Resistance Women, by Jennifer Chiaverini
    This compelling World War II historical is firmly in Chiaverini’s wheelhouse, based on real people and filled with excitement. It’s the early 1930s and Mildred Fish Harnack from Wisconsin is enjoying her new life in Berlin. Recently reunited with her German husband, Arvid, and pursuing a doctorate in American Lit, she finds the cosmopolitan city invigorating and stimulating. When the political tide takes a horrifying turn, she and three other women—Martha Dodd (the US ambassador’s daughter); Greta Lorke (an aspiring playwright); and Sara Weitz (a student)—vow to resist Hitler’s regime, putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the line.

    The Daughter’s Tale, by Armando Lucas Correa
    A dual-timeline story presented with realistic and harrowing detail, Tale depicts the escape by Amanda Sternberg from Germany when her husband is killed in a prison camp in 1939. Though Amanda sends her eldest daughter to Cuba to live with an uncle, she keeps her youngest daughter, Lina, by her side to face an uncertain future in France. Present-day Lina, now called Elise Duval and living in the U.S., is stunned to discover a series of letters written by her mother that shed light on the past, and the choices Amanda was once forced to make.

    The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, by Juliet Grames
    This moving debut set in Connecticut and Calabria, Italy, finds the immigrant Fortuna sisters, Stella and Tina, struggling to grow up under the thumb of a domineering father. Did I mention Stella has a penchant for near-death experiences and an independent streak a mile wide? She’ll also do anything to keep her younger sister Tina safe from pain or hardship, which makes their eventual estrangement all the more mysterious. This has the potential to be an excellent read-alike for Kate Atkinson’s Life After Lifewhile also being wholly original.

    Light From Other Stars, by Erika Swyler
    A perfect book for fans of Interstellar, this sci-fi drama, grounded in realism and the bonds of family, follows 12-year-old Nedda and her quest to become an astronaut. Nedda’s father, a former physicist for NASA, is driven to prolong Nedda’s childhood by slowing it down via entropy. As a result, he subsumes the entire town of Easter, Florida, into a sinkhole in time. Yet years later, Nedda finds herself aboard a vessel in space, and it may be Nedda’s mother and grandmother who are responsible for Nedda’s success. This looks to be a mesmerizing and beautiful coming of age story about dreams fulfilled and paths not taken.

    How Not to Die Alone, by Richard Roper
    Years ago, Andrew made a split-second decision to pretend he was a family man in order to secure a job. His seemingly benign lie has come back to haunt him when a new employee and mentee, Peggy, enters his life and his heart. Like the rest of Andrew’s colleagues, Peggy assumes Andrew is married with two daughters, so how can he come clean after all this time? Each moment of his career feels like a glimpse into his own future; as an administrator in the U.K.’s Death Council, Andrew is responsible for going through the belongings of people who have died alone. If Andrew doesn’t make some changes, he may very well share their fate. Alone promises to be a charming and poignant read.

    The post May’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Kawecki 5:30 pm on 2019/04/25 Permalink
    Tags: #showheryouknowher, Fiction, ,   

    Show Her You Know Her With These Perfect Mother’s Day Book Picks 

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    One of the beautiful things about mothers is that no two are alike. Of course, that can make yours incredibly hard to shop for. The right gift has to be more than some generic bouquet: you need something that speaks to the relationship you have, something that shows you get her. No matter what you share with your mom, show her you know her this Mother’s Day with one of these carefully selected, perfectly personalized reads.

    For the Suspense-Loving Mom: The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
    If your mom has shelves full of page-turning thrillers, Michaelides’ debut novel, The Silent Patient, is a must-read. Six years ago, successful artist Alicia Berenson was found standing over the gunshot-riddled body of her equally famous husband, and she hasn’t spoken since. Found guilty, Alicia has spent the past six years incarcerated at the Grove Psychiatric Hospital, sedated and silent. Enter criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber, who’s obsessed with Alicia’s story and determined to uncover her motives—even if it means dredging up the history behind his own. She’s already read it? Try Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister, a page-turning story of two estranged sisters drawn back together by the murder of the man they both loved.

    For the History Buff: We Must Be Brave, by Frances Liardet
    Set in England during World War II, Liardet’s We Must Be Brave tells the story of Ellen Parr, a newlywed who believes she’s come to terms with the fact that she and her husband, Selwyn, will never have children. Then she finds Pamela, a little girl abandoned on a bus of evacuees from nearby Southampton. For three years, Ellen, Selwyn, and Pamela form a happy family amid wartime. Then Pamela’s birth family finds her and takes her back, and Ellen is unprepared for the devastation she feels facing her quiet village life once again. And for a similarly enchanting story of families lost, found, and built out of unexpected circumstances, try A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles.

    For the Funny Mom: Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault, by Cathy Guisewite
    If your mom has a habit of telling (and retelling)her favorite funny stories, she’ll love Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault, an essay collection by the creator of the Cathy comics. Laugh-out-loud funny and full of heart, Guisewite shares autobiographical tales of interactions with her aging parents, fights with her daughter, understanding feminism, and tackling life’s common problems, like exercise and decluttering. Then, be sure to recommend David Sedaris’ Calypso for more hilarious stories of dealing with family and getting older.

    For the Mom With a Well-Stocked Library: Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
    In Owens’ beautiful, haunting fiction debut, Where the Crawdads Sing, Kya Clark is a local legend in her small North Carolina town. Known as the “Marsh Girl,” Kya has grown up virtually alone, surviving in the coastal swamp with birds and wildlife for friends. So when handsome, popular Chase Andrews is found dead in her swamp, Kya is the chief suspect. Alternating between the murder investigation and Kya’s coming of age as she first befriends local boy Tate and then begins a relationship with Chase. Or, try Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six for another gripping coming-of-age story: this time following Daisy, a talented, hard-living singer who joins one of the most iconic bands of the 1970s.

    For the Mom Who Inspires You: The Path Made Clear, by Oprah Winfrey
    Every mom is an inspiration, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need some motivation of her own. In her latest release, Oprah guides readers through finding personal fulfillment and purpose in their lives. With stories from her own life and insight from experts, The Path Made Clear is a resource for listening to your true calling, whatever it may be. Plus, the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition includes a sixteen-page workbook to complete as you read along. Find more empowerment in The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates, a guide to the impact gender inequity has on society, and how we can all help fix it.

    For the Book Club Mom: Lost Roses, by Martha Hall Kelley
    From the author of Lilac Girls comes Lost Roses, a companion novel set a generation earlier that focuses on Caroline’s mother, Eliza Ferriday. In 1914, Eliza is traveling through Russia with her best friend, Sofya, a Russian aristocrat, when war breaks out. While Eliza returns to America, Sofya and her family remain in Russia with Varinka, a local girl who works in their household. Worried for her friend as the Russians revolt against the royals and their relatives, Eliza begins doing all she can to help the former nobility find a new life in America. Then, try Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women, another lush historical tale.

    For the No-Nonsense Mom: The Honey Busby Meredith May
    If your mom is a fan of true stories, The Honey Bus is a must-read. In this captivating memoir, May reflects on her life after her parents’ divorce, when her mother brought May and her younger brother to live with her grandparents. With her mother sinking into isolation, May spends most of her free time with her grandfather, a beekeeper who slowly teaches her the art of caring for bees—and herself. Follow it up with Bridgett M. Davis’ The World According to Fannie Davis, Davis’ portrayal of her mother’s unapologetic efforts to build a better life for her family.

    For the Mom Who Loves to Talk: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, by Mira Jacob
    In this graphic memoir, Jacob explores the impact of politics and racism through snippets of conversations with family and friends. Prompted by questions from her six-year-old son, Jacob approaches difficult topics with vulnerability, honesty, and love. Relatable for any mother who has ever had to answer her child’s impossible queries, Good Talk is a celebration of the power of conversation. Then, try Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb’s account of her work as a therapist and the impact therapy can have.

    For the Movie-Night Mom: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
    If you and your mom are looking for the next show to binge-watch together, HBO’s new series My Brilliant Friend is a must. But first, read the books together: in the series opener, Ferrante introduces Lila and Elena, two ten-year-olds who become best friends as they grow up in Italy in the 1950s. Over four books, Lila and Elena grow from children to young women to mothers and beyond. Already discovered it? Try feminist coming-of-age memoir Shrill, by Lindy West, then watch the new Hulu series!

    For the Traveling Mom: See You in the Piazza, by Frances Mayes
    Is your mom busy planning her next vacation? Inspire her with Frances Mayes’ (author of Under the Tuscan SunSee You in the Piazza, in which Mayes and her husband travel the entire length of Italy, eating, drinking, and shopping at all the best out-of-the-way places. Or, help her brainstorm with National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime, a guide to five hundred destinations. From the popular to the less-traveled, this practical beauty offers maps, tips, and photography that’ll have you both searching for your passports.

    The post Show Her You Know Her With These Perfect Mother’s Day Book Picks appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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