Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 20, 2016: YA Maximum Shelf: If I Was Your Girl

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Severn House Publishers: Night Watch (First World Publication) (Michael Cassidy Thriller #3) by David C. Taylor

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

Other Press: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, translated by Willard Wood

News

IBD 2016: Booksellers Getting Ready

There's just over two weeks to go until Independent Bookstore Day 2016, and stores around the country are getting ready. This week, Shelf Awareness takes another look at the plans and ongoing preparations.

In Washington, D.C., and Ankeny, Iowa, two new indie bookstores are having their grand opening celebrations on IBD. On Capitol Hill in Washington, East City Bookshop will host events from 10 a.m. until 8 pm. The festivities will include author readings for children, teens and adult, with prizes given out at the start of every reading; a literary scavenger hunt; and food, drinks and musical acts in the evening. In Ankeny, Plot Twist Bookstore will feature visits from local authors and a Curious George story time, along with door prizes and refreshments.

Women & Children First in Chicago, Ill., will celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with coffee and doughnuts in the morning, followed by a live performance from musician, writer and Northwestern University lecturer Freda Love Smith (Red Velvet Underground: A Rock Memoir, with Recipes). And later in the afternoon, authors Ana Castillo (Black Dove: Mamá, Mi'jo, and Me) and Cyn Vargas (On the Way) will discuss Castillo's most recent work.

On April 30, Pegasus Books in downtown Berkeley, Calif., will host science writer Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal) for an hour of "Ask Mary Anything." At the store's Pegasus on Salon location, there will be a special party for the store's "dogstomers" (dog customers), and Pegasus in Oakland will have live music by the Dusty Case Duo. Throughout the day, there will be in-store specials, prize drawings, treats and brand new "Pegasus swag."

Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif., is celebrating IBD with refreshments, activities and prizes. In the morning, the store will offer coffee courtesy of a local coffee roaster and a Shakespeare costume design workshop from 10 until noon, followed by a Shakespearean insult workshop from noon until 1. The afternoon will feature a Walt Whitman Flash Mob in honor of National Poetry Month and a pop-up museum led by Subjects to Change, a teen collaborative of the Museum of Art & History. And, finally, the evening will include a Coloring Book Happy Hour and the bookshop's third annual literary trivia night with refreshments by Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing.

In San Francisco, Calif., the Booksmith is throwing a "Print Is Dead! Long Live Print!" celebration in honor of IBD. The store will partner with a local letterpress to host printmaking demonstrations and a "Letter Writing Saturday" session. The day will also feature an assortment of custom Booksmith swag (including literary themed condoms) and sign-ups for the store's reward program offering discounts throughout the year.

At Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., the day begins with a special storytime session at 10:30. At 11, there will be a tea time for kids and adults, during which Left Bank will unveil its new signature summer tea blend. In the afternoon, YA author Antony John (Five Flavors of Dumb) will be on hand to "critique your British accent," and in the evening there will be a ticketed Coloring Book Happy Hour. And throughout the day there will be an interactive magnetic poetry display, a photobooth, a raffle benefiting the Left Bank Books Foundation, and special offers from local eateries.

The Book House, another St. Louis indie, will also join the fun on IBD. There will be door prize giveaways and raffles, along with a used book sale throughout the day and a Curious George story time. Customers will also be able to enjoy an open mic poetry session, a coloring book "Meet 'n' Greet," rare-book appraisals and live music and local beer.

In the Twin Cities, 10 bookstores are sharing a Bookstore Day Passport created by Minnesota illustrator and cartoonist Kevin Cannon (who last year created a poster featuring drawings of some 30 Minnesota bookstores).

Customers who have the passport stamped at all 10 stores on April 30 receive a $10 gift card from each store, for $100 in total. They then take a picture of the completed stamp page and send it to the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association via twitter (@MidwestBooks). MIBA will gather contact information and send winners their gifts.

Oblong Books and Music will have celebrations at both its Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Millerton, N.Y., stores on April 30. There will be free snacks, chances to win discounts and books, and a host of activities. Customers will be able to pin their favorite books to Oblong's wall of books, join in an Alice and Wonderland temporary tattoo chain, and go on a 'Blind Date' with a book for charity.

And last but not least, a group of more than 20 New Jersey independent bookstores have collaborated to promote each other and IBD with a New Jersey Independent Bookstore Map bookmark. Spearheaded by Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., the bookmark displays the locations of all participating bookstores on a map of New Jersey along with those stores' addresses and contact information. The physical bookmarks will make their debut on April 30, and a digital version of the map will also be available. The participating bookstores will encourage customers to take a selfie with the bookmark at a New Jersey indie and share the picture with the hashtag #NJIndies. --Alex Mutter


GLOW: ECW Press: Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir by Alison Wearing


Sourcebooks Forms Data & Analysis Dept.

Sourcebooks has created a data and analysis department that brings together "experts from supply chain, editorial, and sales" to streamline data functions and offer a higher level of analytical support to departments, partners and customers.

The department is headed by Christy Droege, manager, data and analysis, and includes Stephanie Lewis, business data specialist, Jennifer Sterkowitz, product data associate, and Molly Wojda, order data associate.


Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters


New Publishing Director at Granta Books

Alex Bowler

Alex Bowler, deputy publishing director at Jonathan Cape in the U.K., is leaving to join independent Granta Books as publishing director, the Bookseller reported. He will start at Granta in July. Bowler, a 10-year veteran at Jonathan Cape, assumed his current position last July, alongside the appointment of Michal Shavit as the imprint's next publishing director.

Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing said Bowler's "tastes are closely aligned with Granta's, and I am also excited about his publishing nous, which combines a passion for his books and authors, excellent editing skills, and a sound commercial sense. We will benefit enormously from his long experience at Cape, and I look forward to Granta's next phase."

In other company news, Laura Barber has been appointed to the role of publishing director of Portobello Books. Rausing praised her "meticulous attention to detail, her exceptional editing skills, her range and her passionate commitment to her authors, to her colleagues and to the Granta and Portobello lists. Portobello Books will thrive under her guidance."


Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King


Obituary Notes: Ruth Hamilton; Peter Janson-Smith

British author Ruth Hamilton, a native of Bolton, where she set for many of her novels, died April 14, the Bookseller reported. She was 76. Hamilton's books include The Corner House, Midnight on Lime Street, Meet Me at the Pier Head, A Mersey Mile, A Whisper to the Living and the Liverpool trilogy.

Wayne Brookes, publishing director for fiction at Pan Macmillan, said: "To call Roofy (as I always knew her) a 'character' was a vast understatement. She was more like a force of nature and one incredible storyteller. We laughed, cried and screamed at each other for six years, and today I lost a friend and a sparring partner. It's true to say that there will be a huge Roofy shaped hole in my life."

Her agent, Caroline Sheldon, said Hamilton "was a wonderful writer. She had a rare power to tell a story and involve the reader in the lives of her characters. I had the pleasure of being her literary agent for 12 years and her death is an enormous loss. The phrase we will not see her like again can be a cliché but, in the writer Ruth Hamilton's case, it is totally appropriate."

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British literary agent Peter Janson-Smith, who represented Ian Fleming, has died, the Bookseller reported. He was 93, Janson-Smith worked for agent A.D. Peters from 1946-1949 and then joined Curtis Brown as manager of its foreign language department, before setting up his own agency, PJS Ltd., in 1956. After Fleming's death, he became chairman of Glidrose Publications, which is now Ian Fleming Publications.

Janson-Smith's client list also included Gavin Maxwell, Eric Ambler, Richard Holmes and C. Northcote Parkinson, the Bookseller wrote, adding that he represented Anthony Burgess "until the author's move to Deborah Rogers Ltd., selling Burgess's seminal novel A Clockwork Orange in the early 1960s." For over 30 years, he served as the executive trustee of the Pooh Properties Trust (licensing Winnie the Pooh), and for two years was president of the Royal Literary Fund.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Notes

Image of the Day: Authors in Kind Luncheon

photo: Nicola Bailey

Linda Fairstein, Lisa Scottoline, Amanda Freitag and Lesley Stahl participated recently in God's Love We Deliver's annual Authors in Kind Luncheon. God's Love We Deliver is a charity that provides meals to those too sick to cook for themselves. Last year, they provided 1.5 million meals to 6,000 New Yorkers. Pictured l. to r.: Fairstein, a board member and emcee for the annual event, Scottoline, Freitag and Stahl, who all spoke and signed books.


'Bookstore Blind Date' for 90-Year-Olds at Politics & Prose

A Facebook post by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., received a lot of attention Monday. The caption: "We're not crying. We just have something in our eye. :') Harold and Miriam, both in their nineties, met for a blind first date at the bookstore on Sunday."

Today.com investigated and offered the backstory: Miriam Steiner, 93, and Harold Sharlin, 90, were part of "an old-fashioned setup engineered by Sharlin's granddaughter, who waited on Steiner in a restaurant last week."

"My Jenny was so impressed with Miriam's pep and vigor that she said, 'You'd make a great date for my grandfather!' " Sharlin said.

He called the next day and they made plans to meet for lunch at Politics & Prose in its recently renovated cafe, a favorite hangout for Sharlin. "Upon arrival, Steiner tipped off the info desk that she was meeting a date," Today.com wrote. "After catching sight of the twosome, the smitten staff asked if they would be willing to pose for a photo. Sharlin and Steiner happily obliged before returning to their conversation."

"We spent the whole afternoon together," said Sharlin.

"It was very pleasant," added Steiner.


The American Who Owns the 'World's Most Beautiful Bookshop'

"On the Greek island of Santorini in the Aegean sea lies what is arguably the world's most beautiful bookshop, Atlantis Books," FvF reported, adding that the shop is in a "whitewashed villa built into the cliffs that looks out over a small village and a stunning, wide open bay." Atlantis Books also topped National Geographic's recent Top 10 Bookstores list.

The owner is Craig Walzer, an American originally from Memphis, Tenn., who first visited Santorini in 2002 during a break from his studies at Cambridge University. "I went with my friend, Oliver," he said. "We were there for a week and did very little. We weren't active tourists. We walked to the restaurant each day and stumbled back from it at night. Playing cards, reading books, eating tomatoes, staring at the view--that was it for a week. It was great. Then we ran out of books. We had nothing to read and there was only this really shitty news-stand. We were like, 'Urgh, that sucks. We should totally open a bookstore!' "

The rest is bookselling history (partially recounted in his 2012 TED Talk "Artful lies and shelves of fiction"), with an amazing view.


'Independent Bookstores Thrive on L.I.'

On Long Island, "newer independent sellers have joined some old favorites," Long Island Report noted in a piece headlined "Independent Bookstores Thrive on L.I." Huntington's Book Revue "has been around since 1977 and draws readers in with a selection or new and used books, as well as frequent author events.... Other independent bookstores have expanded their non-book product offerings, featuring gift sections that are nearly as big as certain genres."

In Rockville Centre, Turn of the Corkscrew Books and Wine co-owner Carol Hoenig said, "The community and those outside of the community absolutely love what we have done. The publishers are thrilled as well, since we are events driven and love to host authors for their books."


Cool Idea of the Day: Summer Story Time in the Park

Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Greenlight Bookstore "is heading outside for the summer" to hold its monthly Story Time series at the Fort Greene Park Redoubt, with appearances by children's authors like Fran Manushkin, Julia Sarcone-Roach and Giada Crispiels, DNAInfo New York reported. Books in the series will feature images of public parks in celebration of public green space.

Greenlight co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo said the park "is one of our most wonderful neighborhood resources, and it's great to celebrate it along with some of our favorite authors and artists. A Sunday afternoon with books and crafts in the sunshine at the Redoubt: what could be better?"

Julian Macrone, Fort Greene Park Conservancy's director, added: "The Summer Story Time Series will bring together our park users and incredibly talented local authors, and we're lucky to be able to celebrate Fort Greene's front yard alongside a neighbor as important to our community as Greenlight."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Elder Robison on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Arlene Heyman, author of Scary Old Sex (Bloomsbury USA, $26, 9781632862334).

Tomorrow:
Fox & Friends: Christopher Andersen, author of Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne (Gallery, $28, 9781476743950).

Fresh Air: John Elder Robison, author of Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780812996890).

Diane Rehm: Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice (Random House, $28, 9781400068326).

NPR's On Point: Andrew Solomon, author of Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change (Scribner, $30, 9781476795041).


TV: Game of Thrones

HBO released another trailer for Game of Thrones "just in time for its much-anticipated Sunday, Season 6 premiere," Indiewire reported, adding that "the new sneak peek may confirm the flashbacks that many have been waiting to see. The clip does provide some fresh voiceover from Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) as he prepares for battle, warning: 'Wherever you are, wherever you go, someone wants to murder you'.... The first episode is titled "The Red Woman" and according to the synopsis--and the footage of the promo--we can once again confirm that Jon Snow is dead. Fans will also get to see Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) meet a strong man and Cersei (Lena Headey) will see her daughter again."



Books & Authors

Awards: BTBA; Stella; Margaret Wise Brown

Finalists in both poetry and fiction categories have been selected for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, sponsored by Three Percent. The two winning books will be announced May 4 in New York City. Each receives $10,000, half to the author, half to the translator. There will also be a celebration May 11, during BookExpo America, at 57th St. Books in Chicago. This year's BTBA finalists are:

Poetry
Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan (Brazil, Phoneme Media)
Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di & Jennifer Stern (China, Graywolf)
Load Poems Like Guns: Women's Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan, edited & translated from the Persian by Farzana Marie (Afghanistan, Holy Cow! Press)
Silvina Ocampo by Silvina Ocampo, translated from the Spanish by Jason Weiss (Argentina, NYRB)
The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper by Abdourahman A. Waberi, translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson (Djibouti, Seagull Books)
Sea Summit by Yi Lu, translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain (China, Milkweed)

Fiction
A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Angola, Archipelago Books)
Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated from the French by Donald Winkler (Canada, Biblioasis)
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)
The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Bulgaria, Open Letter)
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Mexico, And Other Stories)
Moods by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Israel, New Directions)
The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (Brazil, New Directions)
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)
War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Spain, Open Letter)
Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie (France, Wakefield Press)

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Charlotte Wood won the $50,000 (about US$38,795) Stella Prize, which celebrates Australian women's contribution to literature, for The Natural Way of Things. Chair of judges Brenda Walker said the winner "is a novel of--and for--our times, explosive yet written with artful, incisive coolness. It parodies, with steely seriousness, the state of being visible and female in contemporary Western society. With an unflinching eye and audacious imagination, Charlotte Wood carries us from a nightmare of helplessness and despair to a fantasy of revenge and reckoning. The Natural Way of Things is a riveting and necessary act of critique."

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Winners were announced for the inaugural Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature, which showcases the most distinguished picture book manuscript or manuscripts as selected by a panel of judges. This year's recipients are Phil Bildner for his book Marvelous Cornelius; as well as Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, co-authors of You Nest Here With Me. Hollins University established the award as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America's most beloved children's authors. Winners receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize.


Book Brahmin: Jennifer S. Brown

photo: Jim Pogozelski

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of the novel Modern Girls (New American Library, April 5, 2016), about a mother and daughter in New York City in 1935 who must face the consequences of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Brown has a BFA in film and television from New York University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, Seattle. She has published fiction and creative nonfiction in Fiction Southeast, The Best Women's Travel Writing, the Southeast Review, the Sierra Nevada Review and Bellevue Literary Review, among other places. Her essay "The Codeine of Jordan" was selected as a notable essay in 2012's The Best American Travel Writing.

On your nightstand now:

The pillar of books on my nightstand threatens to topple and crush me in my sleep. The books that are on the top of the pile and being read at the moment are: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum; Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent, which I'm reading for research for my current writing project; Hover, a breathtaking book of poetry by a former MFA classmate, Erin Malone; and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves). Next to those is my to-read stack: The Lake House by Kate Morton, Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner and Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My favorites always changed with my mood. My first favorite was a picture book called Beady Bear by Don Freeman, and I still own it. I named my teddy bear (which I also still own) after the character. Once I started to read for myself, I devoured books by the library cart, and at any given moment, my favorite could be The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, or any book by Judy Blume. For a long time, I idolized Harriet the Spy in the eponymous novel by Louise Fitzhugh, and I tried to keep a notebook with observations, though I frequently lost it. My observations, however, were much less interesting than Harriet's so losing it was never a big deal.

Your top five authors:

Again, this list changes depending on which way the wind is blowing, but today, my favorites are Dorothy Parker, John O'Hara, Milan Kundera, Andrew Sean Greer and Paula McLain.

Book you've faked reading:

I wouldn't say I've faked it per se, but I do try to sound like I know what I'm talking about when Jonathan Franzen's name comes up. I have a number of his books on my shelf, and I intend to read them, but it just hasn't happened yet.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was forced on me by a friend. It's not a book I would have ever thought to read on my own: a story about a cranky old guy? Pass! But from the first page, I was laughing, and then I was crying, and then I was laughing again. I made my husband read it, I bought it for everyone for holiday gifts, and I'm trying my darnedest to convince my 12-year-old son read it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. So many beautiful elements to this cover: Washington Square Park pulled me right in because I love New York historicals, but the colors have a moodiness that hints at the haunting nature of the story. The font is wonderful, harking back to ancient times. Happily, the cover's promise did not disappoint and I enjoyed the novel greatly.

Book you hid from your parents:

I was quite fortunate in that I had ridiculously liberal parents, and I have never hidden any books from them. In fact, I have a clear memory of being 10 years old and checking out of the library Judy Blume's most-definitely-adult novel Wifey. The librarian looked at my mother and said haughtily, "This is not a child's book." My mother sniffed back and said, "I don't censor what my daughter reads." I read it. I don't think I understood all of it. But I was glad for the opportunity to read it.

Book that changed your life:

Books shape my life on an ongoing basis. Each era of my life has a representative book that was influential. In junior high, Ray Bradbury's short stories showed me that we don't have to confine ourselves to this world. In high school, I read Sylvia Plath's Ariel over and over, appreciating how despair could be captured so beautifully in poetry. College was defined by Milan Kundera. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting taught me that a novel could be so much more than a novel; it could be historical, philosophical and simply amazing. When I traveled in my 20s, books opened my eyes to the culture around me: Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy while I was in Egypt; Amos Oz's My Michael while in Israel; The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth helped me reimagine Austria and Hungary as I experienced them. Books continue to alter how I think and perceive the world around me.

Favorite line from a book:

"In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken." --from "Ten Indians," The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway. I love how that line so beautifully and so succinctly captures the misery of heartbreak. At some point in our lives, we can all relate to that line.

Five books you'll never part with:

My grandfather's copy of The New Yorker Album 1925-1950, my collection of 1930s WPA travel guides, my signed copy of Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, The Complete Poems of Stephen Crane and The Portable Dorothy Parker.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Middlemarch by George Eliot. That book swept me away, and I would love to read it again with fresh eyes. Luckily, my memory is fairly poor, so I'm sure I've forgotten much of the detail, so reading it again would almost be like reading it for the first time.

Book you wish you had written:

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum is everything I dream of in a book: beautiful language, a story that lingers in the mind, an incredibly satisfying ending. This was one of those books I wanted to read quickly to find out how it ended but also read slowly so I could savor every word.


Book Review

Children's Review: Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water by Frances O'Roark Dowell (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, $16.99 hardcover, 288p., ages 10-13, 9781481424639, May 3, 2016)

Callie, Wendell, Jim and Thomas are four children in 1950s Celeste, Ky., who are linked by an old golden retriever, and not much else. Plucky would-be newspaper reporter Callie is an 11-year-old black girl itching for adventure but not finding much, until that unfamiliar yellow dog starts hanging around town. Wendell is a white boy about her age, burning with curiosity about an old cabin in the woods where his father used to play. Jim, who inhabits that cabin, is another white boy, mystified by his seeming invisibility and strange ability to pass through walls. He can't remember how long he's been like this--he doesn't feel dead--or why he gets such a sick feeling when he comes close to the Ohio River. Thomas, the spirit of a once-enslaved black boy who's been in the cabin even longer than Jim, is waiting for someone to "carry me across the river, so I can meet my folks on the other side." 

The stories of these four children wend their way toward each other like the poison ivy-strewn paths through the woods surrounding the cabin. Despite her older brother's question, "You know there ain't no ghosts, don't you?" Callie is sure the cabin must be haunted: "That place felt funny. Felt cold and, well, occupied." Callie and Wendell work together to get to the root of the ever-expanding mystery about the cabin, the agitated yellow dog and a boy who drowned a long time ago. Callie knows a part of the mystery that Wendell doesn't: that the cabin was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

The town of Celeste is not ready for a black girl and a white boy to walk down the street together, let alone join forces, nor are they ready for an action the black newspaper is advocating--to integrate the local swimming pool. Because of the "uneasy peace between white and colored in Celeste," people don't like to "trouble the water." The feeling of injustice is old news to Callie in this "mean old world," but Wendell is just starting to wake up to the sting of it. As both characters ponder whether anything can be done to make a difference, their viewpoints evolve.

Frances O'Roark Dowell (Dovey Coe; Chicken Boy; the Secret Language of Girls trilogy) has written a spooky, slow-burning, multi-layered novel, with lively and pitch-perfect dialogue reminiscent of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The unsettled spirits of Jim and Thomas overlap in the cabin, neither boy ready to cross the proverbial--and literal--river to allow their spirits finally to rest. They are only freed, ironically, by the actions of a town ignited by prejudice. Callie and Wendell--troubled spirits in their own right--form a near-friendship based on what they can share, with a cautious hope for a future without boundaries between black and white. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: In Frances O'Roark Dowell's novel, a feisty black girl and a wary white boy come together in a racially tense 1950s Kentucky town.


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