We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas’ epic first novel, was 10 years in the making and, upon completion, the subject of a vigorous publishers’ bidding war. Readers will understand why.
When 43-year-old John F. Kennedy assumed the U.S. presidency in January 1961, he appeared to have little in common with 66-year-old British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The latter, son of an American mother and a British father, was a publisher, conservative politician and statesman and a wounded hero of World War I. Despite many personal differences, the two leaders shared a love of books and reading. Christopher Sandford writes engagingly of their close relationship during some of the most important years of the Cold War in Harold and Jack: The Remarkable Friendship of Prime Minister Macmillan and President Kennedy, a fascinating glimpse into the role of personal relationships in diplomacy.
Who cares that the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Florida State University won the 2013 Bowl Championship Series college football championship? The Southeastern Conference ran away with the previous seven consecutive titles, saw a conference member finish second in the 2013 series and pitted conference members head-to-head for the 2011 title.
Art and life are both equally intense for high school junior Addison Stone. When her art teachers arrange for her to leave her small town and spend the summer immersed in the New York City art world, no one expects that the whirlwind of city life will eclipse her senior year . . . or that the following summer, her body will be found in the East River under mysterious circumstances.
A notable tourist attraction in Thailand is the bridge “over the River Kwai”—part of the Death Railway built during World War II by the Japanese using the labor of Allied POWs under atrocious conditions. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Australian Richard Flanagan, follows the Australian contributors to this grandiose project, as well as its Japanese administrators, many of whom were destined to become prisoners themselves.
In her debut novel, Season of the Dragonflies, Sarah Creech delivers a masterly portrayal of sisterly sibling rivalry, Southern style. Creech’s own experience growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a house brimming with women storytellers with a penchant for the mystical inspired the novel’s setting and plot, which unfolds as the latest generation of Lenore women are swept up into a fragrant family crisis.
In Kim Boykin’s latest Southern-steeped novel, Palmetto Moon, a young woman struggles for independence and the right to choose her own life path in 1947 South Carolina. Vada Hadley is young, beautiful, college-educated and determined to choose a future that is certain to shock her very rich, privileged parents in post-war Charleston, South Carolina. Before she can move forward, however, she must summon the courage to walk away from the society wedding of the year—her own. To do so will disappoint her mother, outrage her father and deeply annoy her wealthy fiancé.
These days it seems dogs are everywhere. We have dog detectives (Spencer Quinn’s delightful Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults), lost dogs (Chris Raschka’s Caldecott-winning A Ball for Daisy) and even, apparently, dogs with blogs. So, do kids (and adults) need another dog book? The answer, as any dog lover will tell you, is a resounding yes, especially when the book is created by the talented David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken.
“We all forget things,” says a character in one of the four engaging novellas Mary Gordon collects in The Liar’s Wife. “We must.” Yet despite this sage observation, it is really the act of remembering past associations that serves as a common thread in this beautifully-rendered book. Gordon writes about young, intelligent women and men in the throes of self-discovery at formative junctures in their lives.
Size matters. Or does it? And aren’t things like “big” and “small” relative concepts anyway? You bet they are, as husband-and-wife author-illustrator team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant make clear in their debut children’s book, the spare and thought-provoking You Are (Not) Small.