Broken River: A Novel
"Imagine a sentence that has the slow-burn intensity you feel when reading your favorite mystery novels and the nuance and music of your icons of prose style. Now imagine a whole book of them. Set that book in a small town in Upstate New York, move a family of city folk into a Shirley Jacksonian home, and tell part of the story from the point of view of an 'Observer' who could represent the reader, the author, a house spirit, God, or something else entirely. Now cede your imagination to J. Robert Lennon, whose new novel will transport and move you. A perfect union of breezy and deep, Broken River has something for everyone."
— John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
May 2017 Indie Next List
Inspired Recommendations from Indie Booksellers
The harrowing true story of The Radium Girls is a compelling and forthright portrayal of a dark, insidious mystery and the 'shining girls' who revealed it. Author Kate Moore takes the reader from Orange, New Jersey, to Ottawa, Illinois, following several women who work at factories that specialize in painting watch faces and instrument dials with the glow-in-the-dark wonder element radium. As these women fall ill in various and dire ways in the ensuing years, they seek answers and relief from the very companies that would deny them. In The Radium Girls, Moore, like the 'shining girls' before her, casts a bright light on these lives lost too young.
— Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD
In a novel both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Benjamin Ludwig draws you into Ginny Moon's world and has you holding your breath until the last page. Told from Ginny's perspective, the story gives readers the unique advantage of seeing the world in all its confusion through the eyes and mind of a 13-year-old autistic girl. Taken from an abusive mother when she was nine, Ginny has struggled within the foster care system for several years, finally ending up with her current 'forever family.' Ginny is lovable yet frustrating, and totally unforgettable!
— Maxwell Gregory, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, IL
One of the most horrific chapters in American history is brought back to the national consciousness with alarming detail in Killers of the Flower Moon. After the Osage Indian Nation strikes oil, its members become rich beyond their wildest dreams, only to encounter a vast and murderous conspiracy that will leave more than 60 members of the nation dead. David Grann reconstructs those murders and the subsequent investigations with astonishing care and reveals the depths of a conspiracy that stretched from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. This story will certainly be one of the most important books of 2017.
— Steven Shonder, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
Eleanor Oliphant has quickly become one of my favorite fictional characters, and this novel one of my favorite books. Eleanor is completely original and the right kind of weird. Her life and her past, combined with such kindhearted characters, made for a compulsively readable, heartwarming story that I did not want to put down. I can't wait for this book to come out so many more can fall in love with Eleanor. Highly, highly recommended.
— Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
Anything Is Possible merges the interlocking story form of Strout's Olive Kitteridge with the characters from My Name Is Lucy Barton. No one captures both the decency and cruelty of small towns the way Strout does-the kindness of a school janitor, the merciless taunts an impoverished child must endure. Mothers and daughters are a frequent theme, too, and the story of Mississippi Mary, about a woman visiting her mother in Italy, just might break your heart. Every story in this amazing collection is about the events that can make or break us - war, abuse, poverty, illness - and how we respond. I loved this marvelous book, and you should absolutely read it.
— Jill Zimmerman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
After a family tragedy, former NHL player Peter Andersson moves his family back to Beartown, where he's gotten a job as general manager for the local hockey club. Beartown is on its way back up, riding the heels of its most successful junior team in years. On the cusp of that victory, news breaks of a crime that shakes the community to its core. When the worst happens, who do you stand by - your team, your community, your family? In Beartown, Backman shows us, once again, that human beings are anything but predictable.
— Julia Turner, Itinerant Literate Books, Charleston, SC
Jay Baron Nicorvo's novel envelops you in a world most civilians never know, where homeless veterans gather to work on regaining their hearts and minds. The reader is a listener, learning about these characters through each of their voices, accents, idioms, and military jargon - sometimes mean and ugly, sometimes only vaguely understood. Even in their hidden Catskills retreat, there is a realization that they are not beyond the reach of a sinister corporate world waging another, more personal war for oil. The Standard Grand is sculpture, a work of art with every word, every detail, perfect.
— Diane Marie Steggerda, The Bookman, Grand Haven, MI
Emma is an apprentice baker in a small Normandy village during the Nazi occupation whose quiet determination to keep her friends and grandmother alive is heroic and heart-wrenching. Forced to bake ten loaves of bread for the Kommandant each day, Emma stretches her supplies to make extra loaves to help feed the starving villagers. While she refuses to think she is part of the resistance and has lost hope of the Allies arriving, Emma epitomizes the French spirit of survival. Once again, we learn that the bravest among resistance fighters are often little more than children themselves. What a beautiful book to recommend to book groups and customers seeking a well-written story.
— Patricia Worth, River Reader LLC, Lexington, MO
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Accomplished poet Hala Alyan exceeds the brilliance of her excellent collections of poems in her moving, deeply felt, powerfully realized first novel, Salt Houses. I can't think of many writers who have so adeptly written of family relationships -here, spanning five generations, all against a vividly rendered backdrop of exile and migration. From Palestine to Jordan, Lebanon to Kuwait, Boston to New York, this is a story of people losing, finding, and making their way. Salt Houses gives voice, body, and love to people whose lives in this country tend, at most, to be featured anonymously in news accounts - and at that, in the negative. This is real life, beautifully written and graciously enlarging the sense of who we are.
— Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
This collection of stories scrambled my brain, in the best possible sense. They made me reread, wonder, turn the book upside down and shake it a bit to see what other fantastical imaginings would fall out. Girls turn into eels and men into foxes, a house is obsessed with a woman, and a bloodsucking girl gang preys on Internet dates. A few stories broke my heart, too. Johnson has a way of manifesting loneliness and loss into physical pain and malady that shocks the senses. Startling, unusual, and sneakily profound, Fen is an unforgettable collection.
— Stefanie Kiper Schmidt, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH
Sarah Gerard is a Southern writer for the 21st century. In Sunshine State, the sacred lies right next to the profane; the weird is always inextricable from its own beauty. These essays reach out toward the people and places of Gerard's childhood, family, and history while also reaching within to examine her own complicity in the creation of her life's story. You'll want to linger in these strange, quiet corners with her, and you will struggle, as she does, to understand the mysteries that motivate the people we love.
— Elizabeth Anderson, Charis Books & More, Atlanta, GA
Saints for All Occasions is a riveting story about family and the secrets they keep. Nora Rafferty receives some devastating news that sets in motion a slow reveal of a longstanding secret between Nora and her sister Theresa, who immigrated from a small Irish village to Boston in the 1950s. It is also the story of Nora's relationships with her own adult children and the secrets they hide from their mother and each other. Sullivan's writing is lovely, and she has brought to life characters who are stronger than they think.
— Woody Chichester, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY
A published poet, Lockwood's first memoir is a hilarious and contemplative narrative written with precise, flowing prose that baptizes the reader. Calling it an honest portrayal is a severe understatement, as Lockwood describes a father who converts to Catholicism and becomes a priest due to a little-known loophole that allows him to continue his 'normal' relationship with his wife and three children. Her understanding of what appears, from the exterior, to be bizarre behavior in the guise of religion is a peek under the sheets of a cold embrace. Loved it!
— Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI
Lilian Girvan is a young widow going through the motions: mother of two, newly unemployed, and navigating life's daily aggravations. When she grudgingly signs up for a weekly gardening class, she's surprised to find support, wisdom, and the possibility of a new relationship. Lilian is a funny, sassy everywoman who will make you laugh out loud, cry a little, and cheer as she takes tentative steps toward her own small beginnings of happiness. Abbi Waxman's debut novel will be enjoyed by fans of The School of Essential Ingredients and anyone who believes that happiness can be a choice regardless of what life brings.
— Cindy Pauldine, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
Four women, five decades, and one Las Vegas nightclub come together in a powerful story of lust, grief, and family ties. Laura McBride spins a richly evocative tale of the glory days of Las Vegas and the women who inhabit this world. Their stories are intertwined both with and without their knowledge, and together they forge a future that none of them could foresee. Taking readers from the depths of grief and then sending them soaring with emotion, 'Round Midnight is an awe-inspiring novel that deserves to be on the bookshelf of every avid reader.
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
WOW! I began this book and couldn't put it down until the last page. Shreve is a masterful storyteller who mesmerizes with her marvelous characters. Grace is a woman who is stronger than she knows and the adversity she faces proves that point. I loved her resilience and zest for life. The men in her life - Gene, her husband; Aiden, the pianist who loves her; and John, a doctor and friend - are beautifully developed and kept me engaged to the end. A terrific read. Loved it!
— Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
Deming Guo's first six years of life were spent with his immigrant mother in New York, then China with a grandfather he's never met, and America again. After his mother disappears from her job at a nail salon, Deming is adopted by two professors and dropped into what feels like an alien, all-white suburb upstate. This pattern of early upheaval sets Deming - now Daniel Wilkinson - on a path marked by difference and isolation. As Deming's story unfolds, his mother's side of the story gradually comes to light, filling in holes and ripping others open, until finally, side by side, their disparate journeys form one complete portrait of the resilience of the spirit. This is a heartbreaking, poignant, beautiful book that will stay with you for a long time.
— Caroline Froh, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
In this achingly raw graphic memoir, Marissa Moss untangles the seven whirlwind months between her husband's ALS diagnosis and his death. Forced to balance Harvey's increasingly complex medical needs and the needs of their three young sons, Moss struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy for her family in the midst of crisis. Absent are movie-perfect declarations of love and reconciliation; Moss lays bare the emotional devastation left in the wake of Harvey's illness with her understated drawings and text. But there are moments of joy, too, reminding us beauty can be found in the darkest of times. Powerful, heartbreaking, and, ultimately, hopeful, Last Things challenges readers with its unflinching look at marriage, family, love, and loss.
— Beth Wagner, Phoenix Books, Essex, VT
Charmaine Craig's Miss Burma is nothing short of stunning. Based on the lives of her mother and grandparents in Burma, Craig deftly tells the epic story of one family as they try to survive the horrors of World War II, independence, and then civil war. What distinguishes this book from others is its frank look at who and what survives under such perilous conditions. Especially for readers unfamiliar with Burma, like me, Miss Burma is a chronicle of loss and love in a country too long neglected by the world.
— Michael Triebwasser, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC
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