The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
"Cantu personalizes the U.S.-Mexican border and all of its complexity in a way I've never seen. His writing is beautiful, with haunting and detailed descriptions of the desert, the immigrants, the cartels, and his own fears about violence and identity confusion. The criminalization of searching for a better life and the dehumanization of the process is looked at from several angles, and his journalistic approach does not make judgments, but clearly tells the facts. A great new writer to follow."
— Pat Marsello, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
February 2018 Indie Next List
Inspired Recommendations from Indie Booksellers
Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone is a powerful, compelling story of survival - survival of the natural elements and of the human spirit. It's 1974, and 13-year-old Leni Allbright lives with her devoted mother, Cora, and abusive father, Ernt, who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam. America is changing after the war, and Ernt thinks their best chance at a fresh start is to move off the grid, to America's last frontier - Alaska. Grizzlies, wolves, and dropping temperatures are Leni's worries outside of her family's cabin, but as Ernt's battle with his demons rages on, it's no safer inside. The result is a beautifully descriptive, heart-wrenching adventure.
— Hillary Taylor, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS
Both incredibly poignant and unceasingly charming, How to Stop Time is the story of a man who has an abundance of time and a scarcity of love. Tom Hazard ages very slowly, so slowly that nothing feels new to him as memories from the past crowd every moment of his present. He has also discovered that time without the people we love loses all meaning. Matt Haig takes us from Shakespeare's London to the Roaring Twenties in Paris, from conquering the new world with Captain Cook to present-day Los Angeles. Scenes both familiar and exotic thrum with life, but the real magic is in how he makes us believe in this 439-year-old man who is only now learning how to live.
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Tayari Jones comes in fierce with An American Marriage. Delving into the lives of the newly married Roy and Celestial, this is a novel that pulls no punches from beginning to end. I won't ruin the surprise, but they're hit with a harrowing event that will define not only their relationship, but each of their lives, forever. Writing with an intensity and pace worthy of Donna Tartt, Jones yanks us into her characters' lives with a grip that never lets up. I cannot wait to put this in people's hands!
— Angela Spring, Duende District, Washington, DC
Maggie O'Farrell's memoir left me breathless and heart-sore. There were times I literally had a fist to my own heart in sympathy. The encounters told according to each limb or organ is a genius device; it is as though each distinct part of her body had its own voice and wanted my sole attention. Even the spaces of years between each event were full of meaning and nuance. This is one of the most mesmerizing memoirs I have ever read. The breadth and scope of Maggie's 17 brushes with death left me gasping for air, and her strong voice is indelible: There is no victim here, and life is to be treasured but not treated too delicately.
— Maeve Noonan, Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
Everything Here Is Beautiful is a remarkable debut about two sisters and the strength of their bond. At the heart of this story is Lucia - a sister, mother, and woman who struggles with mental illness. Told from alternating points of view, Mira T. Lee gives an honest and emotional look at living with mental illness and its impact on not only your own life but the lives of those you love most. Captivating doesn't begin to cover this novel. You will find me eagerly waiting on the edge of my seat for the next book by this talented author.
— Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
An unforgettable first line propels this debut novel about two brothers on the Australian frontier who are drawn into a world of conflict and revenge that tests their beliefs and morals to the ultimate degree. The age-old conflict between settlers and indigenous people is played out on the southern continent much as it was in the American West and Russian East. As the brothers become deeply embroiled, they enter a savage and unforgiving landscape, both physically and culturally, and it becomes the ultimate test of their growth and humanity. This is a work that is as unrelenting as the world it describes and will long linger with the reader.
— Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS
I never understood what it meant for someone's writing to be 'lyrical' until I picked up Red Clocks. With beautiful prose, Leni Zumas tells the story of a young girl seeking an abortion in a world where abortion is illegal and dangerous; a woman on the quest to have children when in-vitro fertilization is illegal and folks aren't allowed to adopt without a partner; a woman in a dead-end marriage desperate to escape from her husband and children; and a woman considered a witch by most who provides homeopathic reproductive healthcare, including illegal abortions. Zumas beautifully weaves these stories together and gives each individual a strong and unique voice, while also maintaining suspended disbelief. These characters felt real and this world felt possible. I suspect this will be one of the best books published in 2018.
— Hanna Foster, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst working on Russian sleeper cells. She is good at her job, and dedicated. But what she discovers will blow apart everything she thought she knew about her life. What do you do when the choice is country or family? How do you protect your children - and Vivian cares deeply about her children - while walking a tightrope between two superpowers? What do you do when the betrayer is closer than you could have ever imagined? There are twists and turns aplenty as Vivian steps into a dangerous game that could destroy everything she loves and values. Karen Cleveland keeps the tension going right to the very last page.
— Deon Stonehouse (P), Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR
Eternal Life is a stunningly moving and lively investigation of mortality. It is also a story of profound love - young love, eternal love, and the love of parents for their children. Rachel, whose inability to die animates the plot, is a strong, willful, and complex woman. Dara Horn, whom I have long admired, infuses the book with her profound knowledge of Judaism, without ever becoming dull or didactic. This is an ode to the joys, sorrows, and brevity of existence as seen through the improbable lens of eternal life - and it made me cry! Highly recommended.
— Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA
In a time of memoirs that help a reader understand vulnerability and the experience of facing down fear, Terese Marie Mailhot's cathartic, moving Heart Berries is one of the bravest and most fearless of such books. Her coming-of-age on a First Nation reservation, Seabird Island in Canada, is particular to that vividly evoked place, but also carries larger, universal lessons for the human spirit and its survival. A necessary book.
— Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
A full and arresting examination of the search for a sense of belonging to one's self, Freshwater reads like the result of a successful dinner party hosted by Chimamanda Adichie, with a guest list featuring Octavia Butler, Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Helen Oyeyemi, and several preeminent cultural and sociological scholars. Freshwater follows Ada, a child born with 'a foot on the other side,' through her early life in Nigeria and her emigration to America, where she is trailed by many forces from the lands she left behind. It gives us new vocabulary and territories for exploring the awkwardness of intersections that we encounter - gender, culture, tradition, history, personal mythology - and how one might go about locating herself in the pull of so many competing influences.
— Sarah Bumstead, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
It has been many years since I can recall encountering such a moving collection of essays. Dawn Davies paints a searing account of her life, from the dating years through the joys and the darkness of motherhood. This engaging debut combines striking prose with fearless honesty to create a profound and thoughtful work. It is a completely immersive experience and one that will leave readers with much to contemplate long after they turn the last exquisite page.
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
Malmquist's debut autobiographical novel opens at top speed as we meet Tom in the hospital and learn that his pregnant girlfriend's life is in danger. With a velocity unlike any hospital drama, Malmquist captures the chill of the medical staff and his forced navigation of a clinical, emotionless world. Malmquist's writing style is unlike any I've recently experienced. He captures the ordinariness of daily life and the mundane choices we must make as citizens of this world. His ear for dialogue makes you feel present and privileged to be part of the conversation. I have not experienced such skillful, unrelenting examination by a writer tackling life-and-death circumstances and what it means to live in a changed world as I have with this book.
— Janine de Boisblanc, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA
The minute I opened The Unmade World, I was knocked off my feet. The grace with which Steve Yarbrough tells the story of Richard, a journalist from California who loses everything one night, and Bogdan, the down-on-his-luck Polish man who's the inadvertent cause, is sheer magic. You are in the hands of a master storyteller at the top of his game, and you will eagerly follow him from a dark winter night in Poland to a football stadium in Fresno, through the hearts and minds of a fascinating cast of supporting characters. A stunning, character-driven noir that will appeal to fans of Philip Kerr and Amor Towles, and, without question, Steve Yarbrough.
— Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA
I am not the main mystery reader in my household, but I loved The Mitford Murders. With perfect timing for all things Great Britain, Jessica Fellowes definitely deserves her uncle Julian's blessing to place the real-life Mitfords in a fictional Downton Abbey-like setting. It absolutely kept me guessing and satisfied all my English cravings. Well, at least until the royal wedding in May!
— Sue Roegge, Chapter2Books, Hudson, WI
Denis Johnson is one of those writers whose work you read, no matter the topic or reviews. Even in his strangest stories, he manages to conjure just the right turns of phrase to put the reader within his wacky world. I was so excited to get my hands on his posthumously published collection of short stories, which reminds me of his breakout collection, Jesus' Son. The stories are wry, expertly written, and laced with similarly hazy, under-the-influence characters. It was bittersweet to read his final published works, but he certainly didn't let us down.
— Courtney Flynn, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Boston, MA
A company team-building weekend in the thick Australian bush goes awry when the women's team gets lost. Hidden feelings between team members complicate their mission to get back to the camp. When four of the five return, they each have a different story about what happened to Alice. After his debut in The Dry, Aaron Falk returns to solve this mystery and resolve some personal issues, but this time we have wet, cold wind creating the most miserable conditions imaginable for those who are lost, hungry, and quickly becoming suspicious of each other. The complicated plot, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and vivid description of the rugged Giralang Ranges will keep you breathless.
— Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
This book ravaged and then healed my weary soul. A micro and macro look at the exhaustion and triumph of black womanhood, Jerkins' essays are poignant enough on their own. When linked together in her book, the pieces become the subtle knife cutting through the membrane of gender and racial disparity that covers our country. Jerkins uses herself not simply as a reference point, but as a dissection, laid on the table and explained.
— Hannah Oliver Depp, WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Lorena Hickok, the most prominent female reporter in America, meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Almost immediately, Hick and Eleanor connect passionately and deeply, and Hick moves into the White House as 'First Friend.' The story of their bond is told with art and grace and a bit of intrigue by the wise and gifted Amy Bloom. A love story and historical novel, based on a true romance and unabashedly sensual, White Houses is extraordinary.
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
Now in Paperback
Indie Next List Selections Come to Paperback