book review

Will McCallum has been at the front of the antiplastics movement in his role at Greenpeace U.K. He recently spent a month in Antarctica with his team, investigating whether plastic is reaching the most remote region on the planet. It is. Plastic waste and toxic chemicals found in remote parts of the Antarctic this year add to evidence that pollution is spreading to the ends of the Earth, environmental group Greenpeace said in June of last year. McCallum delivers grim news — the statistics are staggering — peppered throughout this accessible guide to eliminating plastic from your life, with...
(Gallery Books) It is 1953, and Iran’s intense political upheaval, that culminates with the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh being overthrown, coincidentally orchestrated by the United States, is at its peak. Amid this unrest and cultural shift, two young people meet and fall in love, in the eponymous stationery shop located in the heart of Tehran. The proprietor is not only introducing great works of classic and foreign writers to the young people who frequent the shop, he is also distributing political tracts, in support of Mosaddegh. Bahman Aslan, charismatic, brash...
(Tin House Books) “Costalegre,” Courtney Maum’s slim new novel (smartly designed with a colorful textured jacket), will whisk you away to the beaches along the western coastline of the Mexico. Narrated by Lara — the 15-year-old daughter of Leonora Calaway, an heiress intent on creating an artist’s haven as World War II bears down — a young girl, left mainly to her own devices, desperate for affection, and finding none coming from her mother, who turns instead to the artists who have commandeered her mother’s attention. In particular, she develops a crush on Jack Klinger, a sculptor, whom she...
The Nickel Boys — by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys” is a masterpiece of fiction rooted firmly — and disturbingly — in fact. Inspired by the real life horrors which occurred at a boys’ reformatory in northern Florida well into the 2000’s, Whitehead brings to life the story of Elwood Curtis, a sweet, hardworking boy who, upon being arrested for unknowingly taking a ride in a stolen vehicle, is sent to Nickel Academy. There, Elwood experiences first-hand the segregation, discrimination, and humiliation — to put it mildly — his hero Dr. King spoke out against so...
(Milkweed Editions) “Late Migrations” is, on the surface, a collection of essays. Astute observations and vignettes of natural surroundings, place and wildlife, that set the scene for anecdotes of family, ancestry and heredity. There's remembrance and recognition in the passages; they are precious and inclusive simultaneously. Tales relayed by the author's grandmother are studded with relics of dialect that lodge the stories firmly in time. These stories paint a portrait of a family, a child’s view of a family at first, and then a shift in point of view, as the observer becomes an adult....
(Viking) Named a best book of Summer 2019 by Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, LitHub and others — “Bunny” is the book to read if you want to be “in.” This new novel, by the up and coming young author of “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” (a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), introduces Samantha, a talented but friendless grad student who suffers from writer’s block, now, now when she is finally accepted into the writing workshop of her dreams. Thankfully, she bonds with the independent Ava, who encourages...
(Balzer + Bray) It’s easy to slip into the “summer at the lake” mood created by Sarah Dessen, the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, and see what unfolds. Emma, known as Saylor to her late mom, unexpectedly finds herself at her mom’s family establishment on the lake for three weeks. And while everyone seems to know her and her story, she only feels a vague sense of familiarity, but yet also comfort. She encounters the dueling contingents of wealthy yacht club people and locals, i.e. her family and the other families who run the businesses that support the...
(Globe Pequot Press) When nocturnal hijinks (and, by the way, a fantastic hair-raising start to a rollicking read) land two cousins, heirs to a merchant shipping company, in hot water, the uncle to Joseph Carlo and father to Suchet, decides a stint serving on the ship will give them the needed “encouragement” to become more serious about their futures. What seems like a successful idea to achieve just that is ambushed by unanticipated and disastrous events, the boys are forced to grow up even faster. No longer the favored members of a happy extended family, their ability to endure life on the...
(Berkley Books) Seraphine’s life has long been defined her family, born, as she was to influential parents and grandparents, as one of the infamous Summerbourne twins. Their lives and legacy are shrouded in mystery, shaped by the house itself, rife with rumors. Her older brother barely recalls the day Seraphine and Danny were born, the same day their mother tragically took her own life. Now, in the aftermath of her father’s suspicious and untimely death, Seraphine discovers a previously unseen photograph of her mother holding just one new infant. Which baby is it? Is it possible Seraphine isn...
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) This collection of previously uncollected essays showcases an artisan of creative nonfiction, John McPhee, in a two-part book — Part I focuses on the sporting life, and Part II — a reworked amalgamation of fragments from magazine articles and other publications, which may sound messy but is actually quite polished, like a gem plucked from his oeuvre. Accounts of fly-fishing, golf ball hunting, men’s lacrosse and more figure in the first part. Brief biographical sketches of notable figures and visits to notable places, passages plucked from both public and private...

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