Most non-poetry-reading Americans first encountered Richard Blanco in 2013, when he was the presidential inauguration poet. On that occasion, his moving poem “One Today” made passing reference to his Spanish-speaking mother who rang up groceries for 20 years and his father who cut sugarcane so Richard could move ahead in the family’s new country.
In this standalone companion to the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Elijah of Buxton, author Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the Canadian town founded in the 1860s by former African-American slaves. Although few of the original settlers still live in Buxton in 1901, one of their descendants, Benji Alston, stands out. An aspiring newspaper reporter, Benji understands the power of the written word and enters an apprenticeship with Miss Cary, the daughter of real-life Mary Ann Camberton Shadd, an abolitionist and journalist in neighboring Chatham. Also residing in Chatham is Alvin “Red” Stockard, who is often mistreated by his bitter and racist grandmother, who suffered during the Irish immigration to Canada during “The Great Hunger.”
Lucy Stone usually lets the mysteries come to her quaint hometown of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, but in the 21st installment of the Lucy Stone Mystery series, the popular sleuth is unexpectedly whisked off to the romantic streets of Paris. It’s not a first for Stone, as prolific series author Leslie Meier has sent her on junkets to Manhattan and England on occasion. Still, in French Pastry Murder, she’s a little out of her element.
Following the success of her best-selling adult novel The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer brings her considerable talents to her first young adult title, Belzhar. Wolitzer returns to a subject that occupied her as a senior in college, when she was completing her first novel: the poet Sylvia Plath.
When Valentine Millimaki, a troubled young sheriff’s deputy, begins spending long hours at the county jail talking from opposite sides of prison bars with a career killer, he doesn’t expect to see a reflection of himself in the murderer’s own complicated past. At 77, John Gload has spent a lifetime working as a gun-for-hire, and is so adept at his craft that he is only now facing the prospect of a prison sentence. Millimaki is an underling in the Copper County sheriff’s department, whose marriage was splintering even before he drew the night shift. The unlikely pair develop a friendship that takes an unexpected turn as an act of violence leaves the two tied together by the secrets they share and the rugged country they love.
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is such an iconic military figure that he is legendary to Civil War scholars and schoolchildren alike. So it’s hard to imagine an author breaking new ground with another Jackson biography. But S.C. Gwynne does just that in Rebel Yell, which deserves comparisons to Shelby Foote’s three-volume The Civil War for its depth of knowledge and graceful narrative. Gwynne, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Empire of the Summer Moon, casts Jackson as a human being, not as a bronze figure towering over a battlefield. Readers will come away from Rebel Yell with an understanding of the man that goes beyond his military exploits.
After 117 years of operation, the Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione, California, shuttered its doors forever. Inspired by lives rebuilt and destroyed by the school, Peyton Marshall’s Goodhouse imagines an alternate future in which the school never closed—and juvenile corrections are based not on past behavior, but genetic makeup.
As host of “The Thistle & Shamrock” on National Public Radio (NPR), Fiona Ritchie has bewitched many a listener with carefully curated playlists of traditional Celtic tunes, stories of her native Scotland, and, of course, that accent—mellifluous with a bit of a burr. No one is better qualified to take stock of Scots-Irish music than the NPR host, and in Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, she does just that.
In the vein of authors like Deborah Harkness and Katherine Howe, magic and reality are perfectly blended in bookseller Chrysler Szarlan’s debut novel, The Hawley Book of the Dead—the first installment in a planned quartet. Revelation “Reve” Dyer is a woman graced with a touch of magic, but plagued by a malicious spirit that seeks to destroy her.
Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a stunning coming-of-age story that tracks New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s rise from a poverty-stricken childhood in Louisiana to the respected journalist he is today. An introspective and poetic memoir about race, masculinity and sexuality, it also reckons with the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the core of his identity.