Educated: A Memoir
"Tara Westover is barely 30; could she really write a necessary and timely memoir already? Absolutely. Raised largely 'off the grid' in rural Idaho - without school, doctor visits, a birth certificate, or even a family consensus on the date of her birth - Tara nevertheless decides she wants to go to college. This is a story in two parts: First, Tara's childhood working in a dangerous scrapyard alongside her six siblings, her survivalist father, and her mother, a conflicted but talented midwife and healer, while fearing Y2K and the influence of the secular world; then, her departure from her mountain home to receive an education. Both halves of her story are equally fascinating. Educated is a testament to Tara's brilliance and tenacity, a bittersweet rendering of how family relationships can be cruel or life-saving, and a truly great read from the first page to the last."
— Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
March 2018 Indie Next List
Inspired Recommendations from Indie Booksellers
Horace Hopper, the Irish-Paiute Indian protagonist in Don't Skip Out on Me, dreams of erasing the shame of childhood abandonment by reinventing himself as a professional boxer. His boss and surrogate father, an elderly sheep rancher, wrestles with the choices of his own history, and does his best to maintain a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Vlautin intertwines the lives and fates of these two men in a work of astonishing beauty and heartbreak, and guides the reader to an ending that is as true and real as it gets. Willy Vlautin has been literature's best-kept secret for far too long. He may well be our own Steinbeck, but with a haunting steel-guitar sensibility all his own.
— Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ
A priest, a doctor, and a reality TV producer walk into a convenience store... Actually, the notable walker in this story is Cameron Harris, a paralyzed soldier who inexplicably rises from his wheelchair and starts walking in the Biz-E-Bee parking lot. Anatomy of a Miracle follows Harris and the aforementioned sundry characters in the aftermath and dissection of this reported 'miracle.' Was it science? Was it divine? Was it a hoax? Will it make for a hit TV show? Jonathan Miles' charming - and often humorous - novel explores the varying perspectives on faith, truth, and the unexpected consequences of the miraculous.
— Lelia Nebeker, One More Page, Arlington, VA
Sunburn pays homage to the novels of James M. Cain, offering up crooked cops, handsome drifters, and, of course, a femme fatale. Watch the secrets unravel as a runaway wife with an ugly past takes up in a small town. Lovers of noir will delight in the familiar tropes. We know she's bad, but how bad is she? Will an affair between two untrustworthy people turn into true love? Sunburn is the perfect book to take on that spring break to a sunny locale. Pour the lemonade and lay out your beach towel.
— Sarah Sorensen, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
I feel messed up after finishing this, which is what I look for in a thriller. The twists and turns are dizzying, leading to an ending you won't see coming. Amber is recovering from a car crash, and since she's not quite out of her coma, we get to see flashbacks of her life and the events that brought her to where she is today. Everything - her radio job, her writer husband, and her perfect sister, Claire - is not what it seems. But then, neither is Amber. A perfect thriller to discuss and deconstruct with your book club!
— Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA
It is a rare thing when a collection of short stories absolutely blows your mind, and Andreasen's collection packs a wallop. His uncanny world-building, using animals and strange mythologies to describe a world so much and slightly unlike our own, gives him the gift of nailing such deep concepts and providing such profound insights into the human character. How can we explain to aliens the difference between 'having relations' and 'having a relationship?' When an ideal exists that we all strive for, what will our lives be like if we actually achieve it? Magnificent, enchanting, and full of literary verve.
— Raul Chapa, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Introducing Auntie Poldi, a sixtyish amateur sleuth who stars as the heroine of Giordano's new series of delicious mysteries. She's sexy, outrageous, can't mind her own business, and has just retired to Sicily, where she intends to lay about and drink good wine for the rest of her days on the world's most fabulous island. Of course, things are soon stirred up by the murder of her hot young handyman, and Poldi becomes deeply involved. Great characters, fun plot, Italian charm - and what could be better reading for the chilly months than a novel set in sun-soaked Sicily? Don't miss what the Times Literary Supplement calls 'a masterful treat.'
— Lisa Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS
I could not put this book down. I felt like I was trapped in Gwin's tornado, wandering through the devastated streets and blown-apart buildings, feeling the chaos and brokenness. In the midst of it all, I could also feel the strength and determination of Dovey and Jo and experience their humanity, honesty, obstinance, and kindness. With all the fires, hurricanes, and floods we've had around the country recently, along with continuing racial tensions, this story, though set in 1936, speaks loudly to us today.
— Serena Wycoff, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL
To take the memories of a combat veteran and transform them into something funny, tender, and even whimsical at times is a delicate dance. Matt Young's Eat the Apple does this in frank flashes, exposing the senseless acts of cruelty inherent in military training and its psychological effects on soldiers. His unrelenting refusal to be pitied and the humor in his self-awareness are what make this memoir especially readable. Although you'll cringe with him during vulnerable and humiliating moments, his ownership of these experiences translates into a sort of wisdom you can take away, making Eat the Apple both a playful and cautionary war tale.
— Aubrey Winkler, Powell's Books, Inc, Portland, OR
Readers who loved Half Broke Horses will wholly embrace debut author Brianna Wolfson's Rosie Colored Glasses. Loosely based on Wolfson's own family story, Rosie Colored Glasses follows 11-year-old Willow through the divorce of her parents, the navigation of two homes, the extreme and outrageous outpourings of love from her mother, Rosie, the stoic steadfastness of her father, and the ultimate realization that Rosie's behavior, although loving and caring, may not ultimately be healthy for either of them. A quick, powerful read that will stick with you long after you turn the final page.
— Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
Isaac Severy has died and taken the secret of his last mathematical equation with him. Except that he has also hidden clues to a hiding place for this final work and shares these clues with his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, who he has charged with finding his hidden treasure and getting it into the hands of a trusted colleague. But she's not the only one looking for his equation, and some of the other searchers are dangerous indeed. This inviting mystery allows us to follow along as Hazel makes her way toward the answer, so be prepared to put on your thinking cap and get out your best clue-solving approach - you'll need all the help you can get. I absolutely loved this debut!
— Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA
'Why do you always ask what can't be answered?' Registers of Illuminated Villages is a collection of immense physical, emotional, and spiritual hunger. Faizullah explores the boundaries of open, unending questions as she looks for a timeline for grief, a god to fulfill the duties of a god, and a home that doesn't resemble home anymore. Contemplative and beautiful, this book should be held close to feel the power of its vulnerability.
— Nicole McCarthy, King's Books, Inc., Tacoma, WA
'This is who I am.' 'This is what happened to me.' These are the simplest of expressions, yet the ability to speak them fully is a privilege not shared by the teenaged protagonists of this novel. Nigerian immigrant and Harvard-accepted aspiring doctor Niru is not able to tell his conservative religious parents that he is gay. The daughter of D.C.'s political elite, Meredith is not able to tell the world what really happened in an alley outside a bar on a hot spring night. Speak No Evil describes how loving relationships are strained, how trust is shattered, and how bodies can be broken when the truth is silenced. This heartbreakingly beautiful story will stay with you for a long time.
— Jill Zimmerman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
The Hush, set 10 years after The Last Child, explores what Johnny Merrimon has made of his life. Despite all the publicity around the events of his childhood, Johnny tries to keep a low profile, staying hidden in the swamp of Hush Arbor, where he feels a connection to his land. The only person he wants to see is his childhood friend, Jack, who senses an evil presence in the swamp Johnny loves so much. When bodies start piling up on Johnny's land, the sheriff is convinced that Johnny had something to do with the deaths. Hart does not disappoint with his newest book, a story about friendship, family, and connection. His writing will draw you in from the first chapter, and you'll be hooked until the end.
— Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
Jesse Ball, you brilliant weirdo, how did you do it? Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. Sentences inspire double takes, characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters. As the end of the alphabet approaches, the landscape becomes more haunting, and the reader learns more about love and death than I thought was possible in a single book.
— Halley Parry, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
Julian Herbert's English-language debut is a stunner. Meshing memoir and essay, Tomb Song is the rough, darkly comic tale of a writer finding his voice while coming to terms with his mother dying. Switching between the past and the present, the author reflects on a childhood spent in poverty and a decade lost to drug use. A rare glimpse into the lower ranks of Mexican society without hyperbole or stereotypes of narco traffickers, Tomb Song is vibrant with humor, passion, and the realization of a family's profound importance.
— Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
The teen years are difficult for most young people, but 14-year-old Colin is having a particularly devastating experience. In the aftermath of his father's suicide and an epic betrayal by his best friend, Colin tries to come to terms with his budding sexuality and his role in the new dynamics of his troubled family. His father's diaries and a road trip with his mother open new horizons for Colin as he attempts to find his place in an uncertain future. Author Patrick Nathan takes a brutally honest look at coming of age in the wake of tragedy. Prepare for an unflinching look at the life of the modern family in this stunning debut by a talented and fresh voice in fiction.
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
Life's journey is not fair. It isn't. But you cope, as Ruth Fitzmaurice did and does. The book's short vignettes read like fables - as if the author is above, looking in on herself, her life. Reminiscent of the humor of Anne Lamott and the candor of Joan Didion, I Found My Tribe is a memoir about a resilient woman who finds ways to cope with her husband's debilitating disease: daydream, become a superhero, swim in the frigid waters of Ireland, and, of course, find her tribe in family and friends.
— Mindy Ostrow, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
Over the course of two steamy weeks in August 1920, hordes of suffragists, anti-suffragists, lobbyists, and lawmakers descended on Nashville in a fight to make Tennessee the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. This was the final chance, and both sides would do whatever it took to win - bullying, bribery, blackmail, and even kidnapping. I was on the edge of my seat. I had no idea how close the suffragists came to losing. This is narrative nonfiction at its best.
— Lisa Wright, Oblong Books And Music,LLC., Millerton, NY
Carey uses the Australian cross-country Redux auto trials of the 1950s to explore how the need to be accepted directs our motivations and, accordingly, our fates. Titch and Irene Bobs join up with their neighbor Willy Bachhuber, a maps expert, to race the Redux. For Titch, an opportunistic car salesman, the race represents the chance to seize national fame - and the respect of his larger-than-life father. Through the journey, Carey delves into Australia's virulent racism toward its indigenous populations and its embedded intolerance of miscegenation. As the miles accumulate, Irene and Willy's lives change in profound ways, and we, in turn, experience Carey's wit, heart, and intelligence, as well as his skill in bringing these characters and this place and time so vibrantly to life.
— Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX
Now in Paperback
Indie Next List Selections Come to Paperback