The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

Educated: A Memoir

By Tara Westover

(Random House 9780399590504, $28)

"Tara Westover is barely 30; could she really write a necessary and timely memoir already? Absolutely. Raised largely 'off the grid' in rural Idaho--without school, doctor visits, a birth certificate, or even a family consensus on the date of her birth--Tara nevertheless decides she wants to go to college. This is a story in two parts: First, Tara's childhood working in a dangerous scrapyard alongside her six siblings, her survivalist father, and her mother, a conflicted but talented midwife and healer, while fearing Y2K and the influence of the secular world; then, her departure from her mountain home to receive an education. Both halves of her story are equally fascinating. Educated is a testament to Tara's brilliance and tenacity, a bittersweet rendering of how family relationships can be cruel or life-saving, and a truly great read from the first page to the last."
--Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

Indie booksellers have selected Educated: A Memoir (Random House), the debut from Tara Westover, as their top pick for the March Indie Next List.

Educated is a Winter/Spring 2018 selection for the American Booksellers Association's Indies Introduce program, which highlights debut authors, and one of The New York Times Book Review's "Must-Know Literary Events of 2018." In the book, Westover writes about her Mormon childhood living off the grid in the mountains of Idaho. Despite growing up without ever setting foot in a classroom, Westover manages to teach herself enough to get into Brigham Young University and ultimately earns a PhD at Cambridge.

Westover graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young in 2008 and subsequently traveled to the U.K. on a Gates Cambridge scholarship. She earned a master of philosophy degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She later returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

We spoke with Westover about her unorthodox upbringing and what it was like to write about it in her new memoir.

Family dynamics are tricky--what's absolutely normal to a member of a family can seem bizarre to a visitor. You had a deeply unconventional upbringing, but when did it actually begin to seem that way to you?

I think I always knew that it was unconventional because my family took a lot of pride in being unconventional. We didn't go to school and I knew other people who didn't go to school, and we were a bit odd for not going, but I really thought that we were correct. I thought that we were doing the right thing and that other people were making a mistake. It took me quite a while to come to terms with that.

I think it was easier for me to see my family as dysfunctional through my brother's violent behavior and the silence with that. It took me much longer to see dysfunction in other aspects of my upbringing, like the injuries at the scrapyard. I was well into writing the book, I would say, before I had any kind of perspective on that.

What inspired you to write about your experience?

I've had a lot of moments where people have said to me I needed to write a book, and I always pulled away from it. After I finished my PhD, there was a long time where I thought I would write a book just about my education because I had this kind of unusual educational experience. It took me a long time to realize that the story of my education and the story of my family were essentially the same story, and that I couldn't really tell either one of them without telling the other. If I hadn't left the mountain and tried to get an education, I think things with my family would have gone very differently.

How did writing the story of your upbringing influence, shift, or alter your perspective of it?

It made me remember the good things about my life and the things that I missed about my upbringing and my childhood. When I started writing this, I had a firm grasp on the abuse in my family, the violence in my family, the denial, the gaslighting, and all the reasons why I couldn't go back. And what I hadn't come to terms with as much were the good things in my childhood. Those ended up being a lot harder to write about. I thought that it would be harder to write the traumatic memories, and it really wasn't, because I felt very far from that. I felt like a very different person than the person I had been when all that happened. But it was hard to write about the things about my childhood that I missed the most, like my mother and the way that she looked when she was doing tinctures, or the beauty of the mountain in the wintertime--things like that were really hard to think about.

Was writing the book an emotional journey for you?

Certainly, yes. I had never written narrative before. I had learned academic writing and I'd never written a word of a story in my life, so I was a bit disappointed to discover that the writing skills that you need for academic writing did not translate at all to narrative writing. I spent about four months just trying to teach myself how to write. I did that through short stories, through the New Yorker Fiction podcast, through grammar and sentence structure lessons online. After about four months, I started producing work that I thought wasn't dreadful (because before that it was dreadful), and then I spent about eight months writing the book.

My parents said to us often, you can teach yourself something better than anyone else can teach it to you. They probably took that principle a bit too far, but I think it is a good one. I'm grateful, in a way, that I was armed with that kind of knowledge. Writers love to mythologize writing, and they like to say it's something you can't teach people. I think that's probably true. I don't know if writing can be taught, but I'm convinced it can be learned. 

What do you hope readers of Educated will come away with a greater appreciation or better understanding of?

I would never want that responsibility, especially because the book is about family and everyone's family situation is so different and particular to them and complicated in unique ways. I wanted to write a book, and I wrote it when I was young, about 28, and in a lot of ways the situation of my family was unresolved. It took me a while to realize that what I should do is just write all of that gray area and all of that complexity. I want people to take out of this whatever feels truest to them. I'm quite happy with the idea that someone will read the story and impose whatever meaning on it that feels right to them.

What was the key factor that helped you achieve everything you have achieved in your life so far? Was it mainly your drive and desire? Was it a personal quality of yours, or was it your upbringing?

It's probably all of those things, but it's also the help I got along the way. I had a lot of professors intervene in my education and make sure I got what I needed to do well. The first and probably most important intervention was when my brother Tyler came home and said, "This isn't a good place for you. You need to get out, and I'm going to help you get there." I don't think I would have passed the ACT if Tyler hadn't taken the time to teach me trigonometry. I couldn't learn it on my own--I was motivated, I was trying, but I just couldn't do it. So it's a combination of those things, and I was lucky enough that whenever two of those three factors weren't enough, there would be some intervention that would provide me with the third.

You wrote about discovering certain thinkers for the first time at college, like Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. What was it like to be introduced to the concepts of feminism for the first time and to recognize the connections with your previous life?

Well, I was at Cambridge the first time I ever met someone who identified as a feminist and I just stared at these two women like they were exotic birds or something. I'd never heard anyone say they were a feminist. At Brigham Young, that was kind of an insult--you wouldn't ever say that you're a feminist at BYU. For me, there was something very mysterious about it. I had thought about it as this insulting word, and here were these people who were wearing it like a badge.

I grew up in a culture and a family that had very prescriptive ideas about women. The characteristics of women were very much known--that they were passive, they were nurturing--while other attributes, like ambition and aggression, were very much male attributes. I had always been confused because I often identified with these attributes that I identified as male. Through meeting these two women, I started reading Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill, and when I read the line in his work "Of the nature of women nothing final can be known," that was a powerful moment. It had never been the case for me that the absence of knowledge had made me feel stronger somehow, and this was one case where it felt like not knowing something meant that there were actually a lot of possibilities. --Liz Button and Sarah Bumstead

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Don't Skip Out on Me

By Willy Vlautin

(Harper Perennial 9780062684455, $22.99)

"Horace Hopper, the Irish-Paiute Indian protagonist in Don't Skip Out on Me, dreams of erasing the shame of childhood abandonment by reinventing himself as a professional boxer. His boss and surrogate father, an elderly sheep rancher, wrestles with the choices of his own history, and does his best to maintain a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Vlautin intertwines the lives and fates of these two men in a work of astonishing beauty and heartbreak, and guides the reader to an ending that is as true and real as it gets. Willy Vlautin has been literature's best-kept secret for far too long. He may well be our own Steinbeck, but with a haunting steel-guitar sensibility all his own."
--Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, AZ

Anatomy of a Miracle

By Jonathan Miles

(Hogarth 9780553447583, $27)

"A priest, a doctor, and a reality TV producer walk into a convenience store... Actually, the notable walker in this story is Cameron Harris, a paralyzed soldier who inexplicably rises from his wheelchair and starts walking in the Biz-E-Bee parking lot. Anatomy of a Miracle follows Harris and the aforementioned sundry characters in the aftermath and dissection of this reported 'miracle.' Was it science? Was it divine? Was it a hoax? Will it make for a hit TV show? Jonathan Miles' charming--and often humorous--novel explores the varying perspectives on faith, truth, and the unexpected consequences of the miraculous."
--Lelia Nebeker, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA


By Laura Lippman

(William Morrow 9780062389923, $26.99)

"Sunburn pays homage to the novels of James M. Cain, offering up crooked cops, handsome drifters, and, of course, a femme fatale. Watch the secrets unravel as a runaway wife with an ugly past takes up in a small town. Lovers of noir will delight in the familiar tropes. We know she's bad, but how bad is she? Will an affair between two untrustworthy people turn into true love? Sunburn is the perfect book to take on that spring break to a sunny locale. Pour the lemonade and lay out your beach towel."
--Sarah Sorensen, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Sometimes I Lie

By Alice Feeney

(Flatiron Books 9781250144843, $26.99)

"I feel messed up after finishing this, which is what I look for in a thriller. The twists and turns are dizzying, leading to an ending you won't see coming. Amber is recovering from a car crash, and since she's not quite out of her coma, we get to see flashbacks of her life and the events that brought her to where she is today. Everything--her radio job, her writer husband, and her perfect sister, Claire--is not what it seems. But then, neither is Amber. A perfect thriller to discuss and deconstruct with your book club!"
--Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories

By Michael Andreasen

(Dutton 9781101986615, $25)

"It is a rare thing when a collection of short stories absolutely blows your mind, and Andreasen's collection packs a wallop. His uncanny world-building, using animals and strange mythologies to describe a world so much and slightly unlike our own, gives him the gift of nailing such deep concepts and providing such profound insights into the human character. How can we explain to aliens the difference between 'having relations' and 'having a relationship?' When an ideal exists that we all strive for, what will our lives be like if we actually achieve it? Magnificent, enchanting, and full of literary verve."
--Raul Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

By Mario Giordano

John Brownjohn (Transl.)

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 9781328863577, $24)

"Introducing Auntie Poldi, a sixtyish amateur sleuth who stars as the heroine of Giordano's new series of delicious mysteries. She's sexy, outrageous, can't mind her own business, and has just retired to Sicily, where she intends to lay about and drink good wine for the rest of her days on the world's most fabulous island. Of course, things are soon stirred up by the murder of her hot young handyman, and Poldi becomes deeply involved. Great characters, fun plot, Italian charm--and what could be better reading for the chilly months than a novel set in sun-soaked Sicily? Don't miss what the Times Literary Supplement calls 'a masterful treat.' "
--Lisa Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS


By Minrose Gwin

(William Morrow 9780062471710, $25.99)

"I could not put this book down. I felt like I was trapped in Gwin's tornado, wandering through the devastated streets and blown-apart buildings, feeling the chaos and brokenness. In the midst of it all, I could also feel the strength and determination of Dovey and Jo and experience their humanity, honesty, obstinance, and kindness. With all the fires, hurricanes, and floods we've had around the country recently, along with continuing racial tensions, this story, though set in 1936, speaks loudly to us today."
--Serena Wycoff, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

Eat the Apple: A Memoir

By Matt Young

(Bloomsbury USA 9781632869500, $26)

"To take the memories of a combat veteran and transform them into something funny, tender, and even whimsical at times is a delicate dance. Matt Young's Eat the Apple does this in frank flashes, exposing the senseless acts of cruelty inherent in military training and its psychological effects on soldiers. His unrelenting refusal to be pitied and the humor in his self-awareness are what make this memoir especially readable. Although you'll cringe with him during vulnerable and humiliating moments, his ownership of these experiences translates into a sort of wisdom you can take away, making Eat the Apple both a playful and cautionary war tale."
--Aubrey Winkler, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

Rosie Colored Glasses

By Brianna Wolfson

(MIRA 9780778330691, $26.99)

"Readers who loved Half Broke Horses will wholly embrace debut author Brianna Wolfson's Rosie Colored Glasses. Loosely based on Wolfson's own family story, Rosie Colored Glasses follows 11-year-old Willow through the divorce of her parents, the navigation of two homes, the extreme and outrageous outpourings of love from her mother, Rosie, the stoic steadfastness of her father, and the ultimate realization that Rosie's behavior, although loving and caring, may not ultimately be healthy for either of them. A quick, powerful read that will stick with you long after you turn the final page."
--Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues

By Nova Jacobs

(Touchstone 9781501175121, $25)

"Isaac Severy has died and taken the secret of his last mathematical equation with him. Except that he has also hidden clues to a hiding place for this final work and shares these clues with his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, who he has charged with finding his hidden treasure and getting it into the hands of a trusted colleague. But she's not the only one looking for his equation, and some of the other searchers are dangerous indeed. This inviting mystery allows us to follow along as Hazel makes her way toward the answer, so be prepared to put on your thinking cap and get out your best clue-solving approach--you'll need all the help you can get. I absolutely loved this debut!"
--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems

By Tarfia Faizullah

(Graywolf Press 9781555978006, $16; trade paper)

"'Why do you always ask what can't be answered?' Registers of Illuminated Villages is a collection of immense physical, emotional, and spiritual hunger. Faizullah explores the boundaries of open, unending questions as she looks for a timeline for grief, a god to fulfill the duties of a god, and a home that doesn't resemble home anymore. Contemplative and beautiful, this book should be held close to feel the power of its vulnerability."
--Nicole McCarthy, King's Books, Tacoma, WA

Speak No Evil

By Uzodinma Iweala

(Harper 9780061284922, $26.99)

" 'This is who I am.' 'This is what happened to me.' These are the simplest of expressions, yet the ability to speak them fully is a privilege not shared by the teenaged protagonists of this novel. Nigerian immigrant and Harvard-accepted aspiring doctor Niru is not able to tell his conservative religious parents that he is gay. The daughter of D.C.'s political elite, Meredith is not able to tell the world what really happened in an alley outside a bar on a hot spring night. Speak No Evil describes how loving relationships are strained, how trust is shattered, and how bodies can be broken when the truth is silenced. This heartbreakingly beautiful story will stay with you for a long time."
--Jill Zimmerman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

The Hush

By John Hart

(St. Martin's Press 9781250012302, $27.99)

"The Hush, set 10 years after The Last Child, explores what Johnny Merrimon has made of his life. Despite all the publicity around the events of his childhood, Johnny tries to keep a low profile, staying hidden in the swamp of Hush Arbor, where he feels a connection to his land. The only person he wants to see is his childhood friend, Jack, who senses an evil presence in the swamp Johnny loves so much. When bodies start piling up on Johnny's land, the sheriff is convinced that Johnny had something to do with the deaths. Hart does not disappoint with his newest book, a story about friendship, family, and connection. His writing will draw you in from the first chapter, and you'll be hooked until the end."
--Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC


By Jesse Ball

(Ecco 9780062676139, $25.99)

"Jesse Ball, you brilliant weirdo, how did you do it? Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. Sentences inspire double takes, characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters. As the end of the alphabet approaches, the landscape becomes more haunting, and the reader learns more about love and death than I thought was possible in a single book."
--Halley Parry, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Tomb Song

By Julián Herbert

(Graywolf Press 9781555977993, $16; trade paper)

"Julián Herbert's English-language debut is a stunner. Meshing memoir and essay, Tomb Song is the rough, darkly comic tale of a writer finding his voice while coming to terms with his mother dying. Switching between the past and the present, the author reflects on a childhood spent in poverty and a decade lost to drug use. A rare glimpse into the lower ranks of Mexican society without hyperbole or stereotypes of narco traffickers, Tomb Song is vibrant with humor, passion, and the realization of a family's profound importance."
--Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Some Hell

By Patrick Nathan

(Graywolf Press 9781555977986, $16; trade paper)

"The teen years are difficult for most young people, but 14-year-old Colin is having a particularly devastating experience. In the aftermath of his father's suicide and an epic betrayal by his best friend, Colin tries to come to terms with his budding sexuality and his role in the new dynamics of his troubled family. His father's diaries and a road trip with his mother open new horizons for Colin as he attempts to find his place in an uncertain future. Author Patrick Nathan takes a brutally honest look at coming of age in the wake of tragedy. Prepare for an unflinching look at the life of the modern family in this stunning debut by a talented and fresh voice in fiction."
--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

I Found My Tribe: A Memoir

By Ruth Fitzmaurice

(Bloomsbury USA 9781635571585, $25)

"Life's journey is not fair. It isn't. But you cope, as Ruth Fitzmaurice did and does. The book's short vignettes read like fables--as if the author is above, looking in on herself, her life. Reminiscent of the humor of Anne Lamott and the candor of Joan Didion, I Found My Tribe is a memoir about a resilient woman who finds ways to cope with her husband's debilitating disease: daydream, become a superhero, swim in the frigid waters of Ireland, and, of course, find her tribe in family and friends."
--Mindy Ostrow, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY

The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

By Elaine Weiss

(Viking 9780525429722, $28)

"Over the course of two steamy weeks in August 1920, hordes of suffragists, anti-suffragists, lobbyists, and lawmakers descended on Nashville in a fight to make Tennessee the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. This was the final chance, and both sides would do whatever it took to win--bullying, bribery, blackmail, and even kidnapping. I was on the edge of my seat. I had no idea how close the suffragists came to losing. This is narrative nonfiction at its best."
--Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

A Long Way from Home

By Peter Carey

(Knopf 9780525520177, $26.95)

"Carey uses the Australian cross-country Redux auto trials of the 1950s to explore how the need to be accepted directs our motivations and, accordingly, our fates. Titch and Irene Bobs join up with their neighbor Willy Bachhuber, a maps expert, to race the Redux. For Titch, an opportunistic car salesman, the race represents the chance to seize national fame--and the respect of his larger-than-life father. Through the journey, Carey delves into Australia's virulent racism toward its indigenous populations and its embedded intolerance of miscegenation. As the miles accumulate, Irene and Willy's lives change in profound ways, and we, in turn, experience Carey's wit, heart, and intelligence, as well as his skill in bringing these characters and this place and time so vibrantly to life."
--Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX

Abandon Me: Memoirs

By Melissa Febos

(Bloomsbury USA 9781632866585, $17)

"Melissa Febos has one of those minds that's as good at describing scenes as it is at clearly breaking down a complicated idea or articulating ambivalence. Abandon Me is a powerhouse collection--each essay can be enjoyed on its own, but taken together, they form a striking autobiographical portrait of a talented young writer and thinker. You won't want to abandon a voice this powerful, and you won't forget it either."
--John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

All Our Wrong Todays

By Elan Mastai

(Dutton 9781101985151, $16)

"Tom Barren is a time traveler. From 2016. A different 2016 from ours, that is. It's complicated. You see, he travelled from his techno-perfect utopian 2016 back to 1964 and really messed things up, leaving us with our current world.  Now, the 2016 Tom-in-our-world, given the chance to return to 1964 and fix what he broke and return the world to the spiffy state he knows, faces the dilemma of loyalty to friends and family from his world versus the possibility of settling down with the love of his life in our grungy world. Whichever he chooses, people he loves will cease to exist. I predict the clever, witty, and poignant All Our Wrong Todays will be a huge bestseller for screenwriter and first-time novelist Elan Mastai."
--Clay Belcher, Signs of Life, Lawrence, KS

Edgar and Lucy

By Victor Lodato

(Picador 9781250096999, $18)

"Edgar and Lucy is about a terribly broken family that faces crisis after crisis yet never gives up trying to be a family. The main narrator is eight-year-old Edgar, a child brilliant beyond his years but who has a problem relating to almost everyone except his grandmother, Florence. Edgar's mother, Lucy, loves him in her own way but thanks to Florence, Lucy really doesn't need to make much of an effort. When Florence dies, everything changes. A stunning novel, dark at times, raw and bold, written with an uncanny feel for life and death, Edgar and Lucy kept me spellbound waiting for its conclusion but unwilling for the story to end."
--Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

By Susan Perabo

(Simon & Schuster 9781476761480, $16)

"I was surprised by the lasting impact of this novel. Though it speaks to a horrible crime, it is not the crime that becomes the plot, but rather the crime's impact. This book is an intimate look at adolescence—of how gritty and hard it can be. Through Meredith's eyes, we are reminded of the tug-of-war between needing family and needing independence, the way that friendship and loyalty can get lost in the status wars of high-school cliques, and how innocence and wisdom twist together to leave behind something much more complex. I loved this book for its intimacy rather than its sensationalism."
--Susan McCloskey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Fever Dream

By Samanta Schweblin

Megan McDowell (Transl.)

(Riverhead Books 9780399184604, $16)

"Haunting, foreboding, eerie, and ominous, Schweblin's Fever Dream is the first of the Argentine author's books to appear in English. Despite its brevity, Fever Dream throbs with a quickened pulse, as heightening tension is its most effective quality. An intriguing yet purposefully vague plot adds to the story's mystique, one of peril, poison, and the unexplained terror of worms. Metaphorical in scope, Schweblin's impressively constructed tale leaves much to the imagination but is all the richer for doing so. Unsettling and compelling, this is a delirious, potent novel not to be overlooked."
--Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

Girl in Disguise

By Greer Macallister

(Sourcebooks Landmark 9781492652731, $15.99)

" 'I'm a resourceful and strong young woman, there is no other option.' That's the concept behind Greer Macallister's telling of the real, honest-to-goodness life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. Kate is a widow with no money and no honest prospects, and she is desperate. Her unconventional upbringing taught her flexibility, and, spotting Pinkerton's ad, she won't take no for an answer. She is hired as an agent and, having proved her value, is soon hiring and training more female agents and serving as a spy as the U.S. prepares to split apart. Girl in Disguise is a delight: entertaining and a sure nonstop read."
--Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

The Heart's Invisible Furies

By John Boyne

(Hogarth 9781524760793, $17)

"A love song to John Irving, this new novel from John Boyne, acclaimed author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, may just be his masterpiece. The story follows the life of Cecil Avery, an adopted child raised in repressed Ireland by unconventional parents. Hilarious and awkward, heartbreaking and beautiful, the pains and small triumphs of its characters leave you feeling hopeful for the future. I loved this book!"
--Whitney Kaaz, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Her Every Fear

By Peter Swanson

(William Morrow Paperbacks 9780062427038, $15.99)

"Swanson builds tension in Her Every Fear like a chess grandmaster slowly revealing his game. Kate Priddy tries to escape her dark past with a move to Boston, only to discover that she is not the only one trying to hide their secrets, and that many are darker than her own. Moving seamlessly between each character's point of view, Swanson's heart-stopping thriller draws readers into this terrifying and twisted tale of revenge and holds them until the surprising end."
--Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Idiot

By Elif Batuman

(Penguin Books 9780143111061, $16)

"Batuman's voice is bitingly original and her protagonist, Selin, brings vitality to the pages through her odd, serious, and slightly sardonic naïveté. The honesty of Selin's self-exploration during her first year at Harvard struck a chord with me. Her frank sense of observation as she navigates first love, friendship, and freshman year are a breath of fresh air. I have not read anything quite like The Idiot and I doubt I will again. I loved it."
--Kisky Holwerda, Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY

One of the Boys

By Daniel Magariel

(Scribner 9781501156175, $15)

"The intensity of this novel is such that you'll be relieved that it is not longer than its 176 powerful pages. When 'the war' with his wife ends, a man uses devious methods to win custody of his two sons, 12 and 14, packs them in his Jeep, and heads from Kansas to start a new life in Albuquerque. The boys are aware that their father uses drugs, but their loyalty to him and their youth keep them trapped in a home that soon becomes little more than a torture chamber as their father sinks further into his addiction. Narrated in excruciating detail by the younger son, this is a moving story about how parent/child love can be turned on its head by drug abuse. Excellent writing keeps one riveted in hope that the boys will survive."
--Alice Meloy, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

By Kate Moore

(Sourcebooks 9781492650959, $17.99)

"The harrowing true story of The Radium Girls is a compelling and forthright portrayal of a dark, insidious mystery and the 'shining girls' who revealed it. Author Kate Moore takes the reader from Orange, New Jersey, to Ottawa, Illinois, following several women who work at factories that specialize in painting watch faces and instrument dials with the glow-in-the-dark wonder element radium. As these women fall ill in various and dire ways in the ensuing years, they seek answers and relief from the very companies that would deny them. In The Radium Girls, Moore, like the 'shining girls' before her, casts a bright light on these lives lost too young."
--Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD

Small Great Things

By Jodi Picoult

(Ballantine Books 9780345544971, $17)

"Picoult can be relied upon to find the themes that are most important to our national conversation and then to explore them with wit, warmth, and skill. In Small Great Things, she illuminates the racial divide in our country through the vivid stories of a black nurse, a white supremacist, and the public defender who intervenes when the worst happens. This excellent, timely novel is sure to be loved by Picoult's fans and is certain to create new ones."
--Michael Hermann, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, NH