What motivated Adolf Tolkachev to begin spying for the CIA? Was it for money? Did he require an ego boost? Was it based on his hatred of the Soviet system? It likely was a combination of all three. But what mattered most to the CIA was that Tolkachev was delivering a treasure trove of Soviet military secrets during a critical period of the Cold War. Tolkachev’s daring exploits are described in riveting detail in David E. Hoffman’s The Billion Dollar Spy.
There’s probably no place that’s ideal for a teenage boy to realize he’s gay, but among the truly suboptimal locations consider San Antonio, Texas. The heat melts all the product out of your hair, and there’s a good chance your classmates know your secret before you do and are prepared to start torturing you well in advance of your coming out. So it was for David Crabb.
Nowadays, the title of a nonfiction book is almost invariably followed by a phrase hyping the contents, including words like incredible, survival or secret. No such subtitle is needed for two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough’s latest book, The Wright Brothers, even though it contains all three elements.
Tad the tadpole’s dad is a phenomenal frog. With large, noisy Dad as inspiration, Tad learns to sing loudly (especially early in the morning), swim fast and snap up flies with his sticky tongue. Tad follows Dad everywhere, preferring Dad’s lily pad to his own cozy pondweeds. But as Tad grows from happy tadpole to spirited frog, Dad’s lily pad gets smaller, as does Dad’s patience for sleepless nights.
In this sprawling, emotionally enrapturing and mostly autobiographical tale, a talented lad comes of age in the harsh shadows of Northern England’s shipyards.
YA novels have been written in the form of letters, diary entries, text messages . . . and now, in a long-anticipated follow-up to John Green and David Levithan’s collaboration Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the script of a musical theater production. In Green and Levithan’s original book, the 16-year-old openly gay, bodily large and ironically named “Tiny” Cooper writes and directs a musical, which fans now have the chance to read in its entirety.
It takes a special talent for an author to tap into the mind of a character who is radically different from himself, and first-time novelist David Arnold has uncannily captured the voice of a 16-year-old girl with beauty and style in Mosquitoland.
Crime fiction groupies can usually form a pretty quick mental picture of the cop, PI or little old lady detective in any new mystery novel, and that take remains, embedded in the reader’s imagination, for the duration of the story.
David Treuer’s fourth novel, Prudence, is set in northern Minnesota, near the Leech Lake Reservation where he grew up. It opens in August 1942, as Frankie Washburn is returning to the Pines, the resort owned by his parents, for a brief visit before joining the war as a bombardier. The reunion is fraught with negative memories from the past, especially the distance between Frankie and his father, Jonathan. Frankie’s sexual orientation, although never mentioned, is planted like a wall between them. Frankie’s mother is oblivious, her main concern in life being the upkeep of the Pines itself.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has become a joke in our culture. We label ourselves OCD if we prefer our socks folded a certain way or our desktop arranged just so. In The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought, David Adam exposes the insensitivity of these casual mentions by sharing his own struggle with this crippling mental illness. His book puts the OCD diagnosis in historical context, but he combines this broader frame of reference with his personal story, which adds humor, pathos and authority.