Staff Reviews of New Releases
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (publication date: January 3)
Goodreads Description:One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.
But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.
In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.
Katherine's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) Both a haunting and moving book. The characters are realistic and written in such a way as to be likeable even though they do things that are not likeable. I really enjoyed the nuanced characters - people doing good and bad things with complex reasons. There are a lot of plot lines which makes it hard to say exactly what this book is about. Is it about early-onset dementia, shocking violence and its aftermath, or a story of redemption? Even though there's a lot going on in this book you don't feel rushed or overwhelmed by everything going on. A powerful story and enjoyable read.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (publication date: January 3)
Goodreads Description:The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
Jill's Review:(4 out of 5 stars)This is the first book I have read by Roxane Gay, and I urge anyone who has not read any of her books to give her a try. Short stories are typically more difficult for me to connect with, but her writing connected immediately and moved me. Her stories are powerful, raw & complex (just like the lives of many women). Even though some of the material is difficult emotionally, her writing transforms it into something beautiful and strong.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (publication date: January 3)
Goodreads Description:Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her 'Freak', or 'Commie'. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for. Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family's orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; but if she doesn't, their son may die.
Jill's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) A beautifully written page turner which I had trouble putting down. I especially enjoyed the dreamlike quality of the book. All along I was never quite sure if what I was reading was the truth or a troubled teenager's version of the truth. The descriptions of the woods & the water made me feel like I was right there in the story. Lovely and tragic yet hopeful.
Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (publication date: January 10)
Goodreads Description:At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.