After weeks of searching for a pithy way of saying Ben Lerner is the most original young American author today, here’s what I got: Ben Lerner is the most original young American author today.
Lily Proctor has had enough of the real world. Sure, her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, might have an interesting history, but she’s tired of her best friend Tristan’s romantic wanderings, her mother’s public outbursts and, most of all, the perpetual fevers and allergic reactions that keep her from having a life. So when an otherworldy voice offers to transport her to a place where she can be powerful and strong, Lily readily agrees.
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.
Zac knows all the statistics about his leukemia—the survival rate, the chance the cancer will return even if his new bone marrow gives him a temporary clean bill of health. But he’s still hopeful he can get back to his old life after months in solitary with only his mother for company—his mother, and the faceless girl fighting her own battle next door.
Jaden is sure that his parents aren’t satisfied with him. And why would they be? They adopted a kid who lights things on fire, hides food in his closet, steals tip money from restaurants, and has to be sent from one therapist to another. In Half a World Away, written by Newbery Award-winner Cynthia Kadohata, Jaden knows that his mother in Romania didn’t want him, and now his parents in America, Penni and Steve, are trying to replace him. That’s right; he’s so disappointing that his adoptive parents are going to adopt another child.
In Hyper: A Personal History of ADHD, author Timothy Denevi writes, “One of my goals, here, has been to examine the mountains of material on ADHD from the point of view of a patient; to retell a narrative that in the past has been the exclusive province of the people prescribing, as opposed to the people receiving, treatment.” After finishing this riveting and monumental book, I’m happy to report that Denevi has achieved his goal.
Five years after retirement due to health, Father Tim Kavanagh is still reeling. What he sees at first as the "yawning indifference" of his church family is hurtful, but time has passed and an exciting trip to Ireland with his wife Cynthia has served to cushion the blow. Still, he finds the idea "to withdraw someplace for the sake of seclusion"—and to stay there—far too inviting.
BookPage Teen Top Pick, September 2014
Set near the San Francisquito Canyon in Los Angeles County, 100 Sideways Miles is the coming-of-age tale of one teen who learns to live with the tragedies and oddities of his life using his own unique type of mathematical coping.
Three novels exploring the complexity and resilience of the human spirit make great picks for reading groups this month.
September is a big month for mysteries this year, both in terms of excellence and page count (close to 2,000 pages in the four books here—truly a reviewer’s marathon!). If ever there were a month deserving of four Top Picks, this is it.