Many have observed that travel sharpens self-awareness. This effect occurs for me with Alice Kaplan's triptych of young women from mid-century America, a compelling history of the transformative effects of a student year abroad in Paris. Because these three influential women--Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis--are from three successive generations and diverse social spheres, a broad picture of the era emerges, exploring women's history and social class mobility and mores. For personal history and feminist history fans, not to be missed.
This is the funniest book I’ve read this year. It features a family headed west from Birmingham for California where the evangelist father of two very different daughters expects to get the best seats available for the coming Rapture. Their drive through the south is full of hysterical characters and family struggle. The sister who tells the story is a believer;the other is a cynic. Mary Miller is a master of character and situation. I expect to see many other books from this new novelist.
There seem to be an abundance of "end of the world" tales lately, but White Horse presents us with a terrifying and intense experience. A plague has killed off 90% of the population. The war between China and the US has depleted resources. Scientific experiments with weather have irreparably damaged the climate. Of the 10% of humans that survived the disease, half seem untouched while the other half have suffered horrific mutations. Our heroine, Zoe, guides us through this nightmare of a landscape, alternating her narration between "before" and "after" chapters. She is determined to stay alive as she works her way from America to Greece, hoping against hope to reunite with her lover before her baby is born. Fierce, violent, shocking, this is a haunting book. And even though it's part of a projected trilogy, White Horse has resolution and closure. An amazing debut from Ms. Adams.