Fiction

B
Haven

Haven is perhaps the shortest Emma Donoghue book I’ve ever read.  Compared to long sagas such as Frog Music and Room, it’s a hop, skip and a jump lengthwise but packs in her trademark sense of worldbuilding and character observation, making it a slow read.  But if you’re a fan, then it provi ...

B+
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow gives its readers a perfectly flawed group of central characters to both root for and against. As they muse about mortality – the nature of partnership and the Big Stuff Of Life – a partnership forms and anchors the novel. California native Samson Masur is a ...

A-
Keya Des's Second Act

Keya Das’s Second Act – a story of deep regrets, fresh starts, and moving on - is a big warm hug of a novel.  Sopan Deb’s take on domestic agonies and blisses feels incredibly fresh, enough to make you feel like you’re in the hands of a master. The Das family is in a state of flux. Dr. S ...

B+
The Truth About Ben and June

The Truth about Ben and June was a difficult book for me to properly rate. It’s by turns a harrowing portrait of the horrors of postpartum psychosis, a romance that is touching and realistic, a story about mourning, a mediation upon Greek mythology, and a tale of motherly angst. Ben and June ha ...

C+
Tracy Flick Can't Win

Tracy Flick Can’t Win, Tom Perotta’s return to the world of the darkly comic Election, which spawned the cult hit film of the same name, is engrossing, but too many point of view chapters from other characters spoil the soup. Indefatigable achiever, throat-cutter and go-getter Tracy Flick - w ...

C-
The Lioness

The Lioness is a shockingly messy book given the skill and experience of the author. I was flummoxed on how to grade it upon finishing it and still find myself trying to balance the good and bad to arrive at a rating that is fair. When Hollywood super star Katie Barstow marries struggling gallery ...

A-
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is an eloquent meditation on grief, guilt, and how both can wreak, destroy, change and heal lives. Sally Holt stands on the cusp of entering the eighth grade during an eventful summer that will change her life forever.  It seems to pass along lazily enough at f ...

B+
Olga Dies Dreaming

Olga Dies Dreaming is a lot of things.  An urgent remark upon America’s colonization of Puerto Rico and subsequent refusal to allow them state’s rights. A character study about two siblings, one closeted and HIV positive, the other coming into her own as a Latina woman who won’t settle for wh ...

A-
The Unsinkable Greta James

Whew, this one hurt - but in a good way.  If you’ve ever experienced the death of a parent and then had to learn how to get on with a parent you weren’t particular close to, The Unsinkable Greta James is a touching experience that will strike a chord with you.  If you haven’t, it’ll still ...

A-
Violeta

Has anyone ever chronicled (and added magic to) the lives of women with such grace and beauty as Isabel Allende?  If you’ve read one of the author’s books you don’t need me to tell you what you’ll find between the beautiful covers of Violeta.  Magical realism.  And the story of one woman ...