Spoiled Brats is ridiculous in the very best way. It’s a short story collection that avoids the usual pitfalls because the stories work well together and don’t lose steam as they go along. A common theme (spoiled rich kids, mostly) keeps these stories cohesive, and author Simon Rich holds our interest with a unifying style—each chapter is very funny, and they’re all based on a different outlandish premise.
Self-control. Whether it’s getting to the gym, sticking to that diet, quitting smoking or keeping our tempers under wraps at work, most of us wish we had more of it. And certainly as parents we want our children to have the ability to practice self-control, set goals and be resilient in the face of failure.
Set in the wealthy fictional town of Haverport, New York, The Doubt Factory is the story of one teen’s determination to fight society’s most overlooked evil—the public relations industry that covers up and spins corporate atrocities, even if the worst firm happens to be headed by her own father.
Anyone who thinks the compact novel of ideas is dead would do well to turn to Canadian writer David Bezmozgis’ second novel, The Betrayers. In scarcely more than 200 pages, this tension-packed story explores themes of betrayal, forgiveness, moral courage and its opposite that are both contemporary and timeless.
It may be hard to imagine growing up as a young girl in Sudan, raking cow plop, but with gentle restraint, award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney brings readers into the heart and mind of Amira, whose life is forever changed by the Janjaweed’s attacks in Darfur.
On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr., stepped into the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City and delivered a thunderous sermon opposing the war in Vietnam. In that now-famous moment, King denounced the strident militarism of the American government—describing it as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today"— and outlined what he saw as the connections between the war effort, racism and poverty.
Southern writer Tony Earley’s excellently written and highly readable Mr. Tall consists of six stories and a short novella. The characters are a mix of country folks and city people, except for the novella, which contains a mix of real people and mythical characters. Mostly, the stories are about how men and women meet and how they live out their lives together.
It’s estimated that around 500 women passed themselves off as men so they could fight in the Civil War. In the haunting Neverhome, Laird Hunt deftly imagines one such situation and its heartbreaking repercussions.
In 12-year-old Mysti Murphy’s imagination, she wears a beret and rides a bicycle by the Eiffel Tower. In the real world, she’s counting cans of dog food and rolls of toilet paper to help her family “hold on” until her dad comes home from the hospital. Mysti also keeps a secret: Her mother never leaves the house. To make matters worse, Mysti’s best friend, Anibal, has abandoned her to join the hipster crowd.
Stories of human survival and hope after an apocalyptic event are well worn at this point. As a result, the themes and tropes of these tales often feel so trodden and predictable that they become little more than echoes. Then, there are stories like California.