Staff Selections

Kathleen

A History of Wolves
Emily Fridlund

The teen girl protagonist of Fridlund’s History of Wolves lives in Laura-Ingalls-style squalor as the daughter of ex-commune hippies in 1970’s Minnesota Lake Country. Her world is changed when some exciting new neighbors move in across the lake with a sickly boy for her to babysit, and a new teacher from out of town (wearing a gold earring! In the ‘70’s! ) stirs up the locals. This is an engrossing book about an intriguing outsider in a lost time.

 

Liz

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara

This novel shattered me. At first, the story seems to be about four young men, college friends, building their adult lives in New York City. But the narrative ultimately settles on one of the men, Jude, slowly revealing the extraordinary brutality of his childhood, the physical and psychological scars of which shape the rest of his life. Yanagihara is unflinching in her exploration of the terrible violence visited upon Jude, but almost more startling is how boldly, how hopefully, she writes of love. This is not a heart-warming book, but it’s a full-hearted one. You’ll think and worry about these characters long after you finish reading, as if they were real people you once knew.

Mary

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler

The plot turns on the bond between species and lessons learned from species co-habitation, but Fowler's novel isn't a feel-good manifesto for animal rights. The “politically correct” ballast front-loaded into the central circumstance of this novel is farcically dispatched with a stolen Madame Defarge marionette.  Underlying issues of identity and perception, and stories of how families succumb to guilt and grief, are intellectually examined by a passionate stakeholder, and are performed, not preached.  This book offers great suspense and pathos, and provides a lot of points to ponder.  You will want to share it.

Paul

The Jesus Cow
Michael Perry

Michael Perry once again takes us to small town Wisconsin, where his main character, Harley Jackson’s already complicated life is further complicated when a cow in his barn gives birth to a calf, bearing the image of Jesus Christ on its side, you know, the image that somehow shows up on tortilla chips from time to time, bringing its discoverer 15 minutes of fame.  Harley senses trouble on the horizon.  Perry does this kind of small town deadpan humor as well as anyone.  His first novel is a pleasure all the way through. 

 

Terry

Blood Brothers
Ernest Hafner

A hyper-realistic account of a gang of boys living on the streets of Berlin on the cusp of the Nazi take over. Haffner's prose is spare but has a depth of detail that gives the novel an immediacy that makes you feel as if you are in the midst of it.

Tim

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two young people -- a blind girl living in Paris with her father, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, and a boy who lives with his sister in an orphanage in Essen.  Covering the years of 1934 to 1944, we follow these youths as Marie-Laure flees Paris and the Nazis to the ancient walled city of St. Malo on the Atlantic coast and Werner becomes a member of the Hitler Youth and then a radio engineer in the German army.  Their lives will intersect in an almost inevitable way in this exquisite novel of war, love, hope and dreams.  Lyrical, heart-breaking and stunning.  I can't recall a book such as this, that I was able to see every detail as I read it.  Highly recommended.

Deb

The Essential Best Foods Cookbook
Dana Jacobi

A great hot weather cookbook, with economical recipes that are extremely delicious!