Also published on this date: Wednesday, November 11, 2020: Maximum Shelf: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Shambhala: Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair by Cuong Lu

Other Press: Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation by Claudio Lomnitz

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

News

Owner, Employee of DreamHaven Books Attacked and Robbed

Greg Ketter, owner of DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis, Minn., and an employee were attacked and robbed while closing the store on Monday night, File770 reported. Ketter discussed the incident in a Facebook post, recounting that while he and his employee were closing down for the evening, two assailants entered the store, attacked them and made off with Ketter's wallet as well as the day's cash.

Ketter managed to grab a baseball bat from behind the counter, at which point the assailants ran from the store. He gave chase, but they had an accomplice waiting in a car across the street and they sped off before Ketter could get the license plate number. He noted that several bookshelves were scattered and his employee will be taking a few days off to recuperate.

In a comment on the Facebook post Ketter wrote: "I think we'll all be OK. Tomorrow is [the employee's] day off and I'll check in with him to make sure he's all right. We have some shelves to fix up and books to sort out but it's mostly minor stuff. It's mostly emotional damage for me--I'm just so tired of this stuff."

In late May DreamHaven suffered extensive damage when rioters broke into the store, looted it and ransacked the place, though an attempt to set the bookstore on fire did not succeed. In early June Ketter launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with the clean-up and restoration costs, which has since raised $25,523.


Aftershock Comics: Kill a Man by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Alec Morgan


International Update: BA Contends Bookshops Are Essential, Iceland Anticipates 'Great Book Flood'

Posted by Harris & Harris Books, Clare, Suffolk, England

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland has called upon the British government to categorize bookshops as essential retailers. In a letter to government ministers (via the Bookseller), BA managing director Meryl Halls wrote that while the association supported England's second lockdown due to Covid-19, "it has become increasingly obvious that current guidance has created huge inconsistencies within the retail sector. Specialist bookshops, such as Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwells, and more than 900 independents have had to close their doors at the very moment when they were poised to start making up lost ground from the first lockdown and three months of lost sales. Meanwhile other retailers, deemed essential under current regulations, are arguably exploiting the situation, putting specialist retailers at a massive disadvantage."

Calling the decision "potentially ruinous commercially" and also "morally problematic," Halls said BA's booksellers and their customers "believe that retail is already a safe, managed environment. Massive investment has gone into making bookshops Covid-compliant and responsible retailers have ensured that staff and consumer safety is at the top of their priority list. And we know that there is no demonstrable evidence for retail locations being the locus of infections....

"For this lockdown, as we go into dark winter nights, products and activities such as books and reading are a vital a way of keeping the nation's spirits up whilst they're locked in their homes. We urge the government, therefore, to categorize bookshops as essential retailers. This has been undertaken in other countries, and the 'essential' categorization will acknowledge the crucial role that bookshops play in our culture, economy and wider society."

After listing an array of benefits bookshops deliver, Halls observed: "Bookshops are resilient and creative, and this is not a case of special pleading; this is a request for an acknowledgement that books matter, and that therefore bookshops matter and should be allowed to stay open.

"I understand that it must be very difficult to pull the legislation and guidance together at such short notice, and moreover, we understand that the public health agenda is clearly the most important in order to get coronavirus under control. We are eager to help achieve that, but we also know that our bookshops are lanterns of civilization and, for many, beacons of hope. We urge you to consider classifying them as essential retailers."

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today program, James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, agreed with Halls: "I think bookshops are a clear candidate to be kept open now and, indeed, in European countries, that is what happens.... An arbitrary line can be drawn and it can be catastrophically unfair on some people. The question is has the line been remotely sensibly drawn and I think, in this case, not. If you've got an all-singing all-dancing website then you're all right. If you don't, which of course small independents do not, then you're in big trouble. Books are available of course but they're not easily available and if you are going to keep some retailers open, bookshops would be an entirely sensible, humane and reasonable one to do so."

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Bokabud Forlagsins in Reykjavik, Iceland

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Icelandic publishers "are not especially worried sales will drop during this year's Christmas Book Flood," the annual surge in new titles known as Jólabókaflóðið, RÚV reported (via Iceland Review). Although restrictions limit the number of shoppers in bookstores, sales remain steady and online sales are up. The Jólabókaflóðið period is not only one of "increased literary and cultural discussion, it is also financially crucial for many publishers, who rely on sales during the flood to stay afloat," RÚV noted.

"There is so much uncertainty that both are possible. You can be optimistic or you can be pessimistic," said Guðrún Vilmundardóttir, head of the publisher Benedikt bókaútgáfa. "It's much better for the soul and the nerves to be optimistic so I'm just going to allow myself to be that."

Borgar Jónsteinsson, director of sales at Penninn-Eymundsson, Iceland's largest bookstore chain, noted: "You could say the action hasn't started yet. But book sales are nice and even and pretty much on par with the same time last year. I'm very optimistic because I also see that publishing is good now." --Robert Gray


GLOW: Beacon Press: Boyz n the Void: a mixtape to my brother by G'Ra Asim


ReadingGroupGuides to Host Virtual Speed Dating Friday

ReadingGroupGuides is hosting a virtual Book Group Speed Dating event this Friday, November 13. Scheduled to run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern, the event will feature representatives from 18 publishers sharing new and upcoming titles that they think will be great fits for book groups. Advance sign-up is required, and e-galleys will be available for selected titles.

Participating publishers include Agate, Bellevue Literary Press, Bloomsbury, Dzanc Books, Grove Atlantic, Harlequin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Knopf, Milkweed Editions, Random House Publishing Group, Red Hen, Simon & Schuster, Soho Press, Sourcebooks, Tin House, Welbeck, William Morrow and W.W. Norton.

Interested parties can register here.


Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto


How Bookstores Are Coping: Holiday Bombardment; Training Customers

In Omaha, Neb., The Bookworm of Omaha has remained open throughout the pandemic, reported co-owner Phillip Black, though the store did slightly reduce hours between late March and June. After an initial dip at the start of the pandemic, sales have largely recovered, though the store is no longer doing in-person events either offsite or at the store.

Black noted that they've had some successful virtual events, but even those have been "nothing like what we once did." As booksellers, he and his team now spend much more time fulfilling telephone and Internet orders than actually handselling books.

The Bookworm is following CDC guidelines and the now-standard safety precautions: masks are required, hand sanitizer is available for customers and staff, surfaces are cleaned frequently and social distancing is practiced. The store is also doing curbside pick-up and discounted shipping for those who do not want to enter the store. Over the holidays the Bookworm will open an hour earlier each day for people over the age of 65 and in other vulnerable groups.

Black added that they've had no problems with customers refusing to wear masks or follow distancing guidelines--one of the advantages of running a bookstore is they "almost universally have educated and well-informed customers."

The brightest spot over the past several months, Black continued, is how staunchly customers have supported the store. The Bookworm's online business has grown substantially and they "keep picking up new customers." The "buy local" message also seems to have really penetrated, with many of the new customers from the local area.

On the subject of holiday buying, Black explained that he and his wife, Beth Black, did the bulk of it over the summer, long before they could have had a clear idea of what the holidays would look like. They've bought books at about the same level as years past, but they are being more conservative with sidelines and gifts. They expect supply chain problems to worsen as the holidays near, so they've done more "defensive buying" than normal.

Last month they began "bombarding" their customers with the early-shopping message, and many people seem to be responding. October sales were strong, and-November is off to a good start.

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Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar in Denver, Colo., reported that her store reopened for browsing at the beginning of October. In order to keep things as safe as possible, she and her team removed all of the store's interior seating, including at the bar. They also reorganized the store's layout to allow for more books, and, as "heartbreaking" as it was, to remove all of the seating. Still, "the store looks great and we're really loving the layout."

There is now a check-in desk at the front door, and they've set up a reservation system through Square that allows customers to make appointments for browsing, since the store is allowing only 10 people in at a time, including staff members. Sullivan said there's been some pressure to reinstall at least some of the store's seating, but it feels much safer without giving customers an excuse to linger in one place for too long. And to make sure that everyone keeps their masks on at all times, food and drink is no longer allowed in store, though is still available to-go and on the patio.

The biggest bright spot, Sullivan continued, has been the store's increase in online sales. Prior to the pandemic, she and her team found it very difficult to "train" customers to shop online with BookBar instead of Amazon, but now it seems that customers have finally made the switch. The store has also gotten more creative with ways to serve customers, including putting together themed book bundles with wine or beer, a novel and a cookbook. The team has also created an online form that customers can complete in advance of visiting the store, to allow staff to do some pre-shopping.

Today BookBar announced a new monthly book club called Supper Salon, which the store created in partnership with Bonanno Concepts, an award-winning restaurant group in Denver. Each month, they invite a local author to pick a book for discussion, which they will co-moderate with BookBar staff. Bonanno Concepts will create a meal and optional cocktail pairing that will be delivered to attendees before the event. The $40 fee will include a ticket to the event, a paperback copy of the book and the chosen meal.

On the subject of holiday buying, Sullivan said she ended up buying "exactly the same" this year compared to previous years, though her initial quantities were too low and she had to revise several orders. Although she's received a lot of advice about ordering big on the top 25, she couldn't bring herself to do it. Instead, she'll be "gambling on educating customers on why we might be sold out of some of the most popular titles and why it is a great opportunity to discover new authors and titles."

She noted that BookBar is down around 50% in sales overall, but the majority of that is because of the massive reductions in bar sales. Book sales, on the other hand, are more or less even with 2019.

Since March, BookBar's nonprofit wing BookGive has grown "by leaps and bounds," and just marked the 25,000-book donation milestone. The organization is hosting a holiday book giveaway the day after Small Business Saturday, and on SBS itself BookBar shoppers will be encouraged to buy two books and donate one to the drive. The BookBar author bed & breakfast, meanwhile, has been converted into a Writers in Residence program in cooperation with Lighthouse Writers Workshop and is booked through May 2021. And, finally, Sullivan and the team just recently launched BookBar Press, which will be releasing its first two books next month. --Alex Mutter


Obituary Note: Sharon Propson

Sharon Propson

Sharon Propson, a publicist at Bantam Doubleday Dell and then Random House for more than 20 years, died on Saturday, November 7. She was 44 and was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago.

Gina Centrello, president & publisher of Random House, called Propson "one of the most talented publicity specialists on our team. A life-long reader and lover of story, Sharon was not only an expert at crafting bestselling book publicity campaigns, but she also had an innate ability to build a trusting collaboration with authors. She possessed a unique mix of tenacity, unwavering optimism, and deep empathy for writers and their stories. Her fierce determination to share information with the world brought some of the world's most renowned authors to countless readers, including Lee Child, Sophie Kinsella, Sister Helen Prejean, Glennon Doyle, Jonathan Kellerman, Kelly Corrigan, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Piper Kerman, Melanie Benjamin, Jodie Patterson, Catherine Steadman, Gail Caldwell, Katie Arnold, Kate Hope Day, Margalit Fox and Jenny Rosenstrach, among many others."

Centrello also said that Propson was "a consummate collaborator. She shared some of her most special gifts with her colleagues--her passion, generous heart, boisterous laugh, her patience, and unwavering attention as she mentored and supported junior staff and colleagues. A steadfast cheerleader, her excitement and incredible energy were contagious. She was an essential member of the Integrated Marketing PR Department and will be deeply missed."

A funeral mass will be held this Friday, November 13, at 10 a.m. Eastern at Father Solanus Casey Center, St. Bonaventure Chapel, 1780 Mt. Elliot St., Detroit, Mich.

The family, who include her husband, David Propson, and children Penelope and Theodore, asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in her name to Paint a Miracle, 400 Water St., Rochester, Mich. 48307; 248-652-2702 or Susan G. Komen, 13770 Noel Road, Suite 801889, Dallas, Tex. 75380; 1-877-465-6636.


Notes

Image of the Day: Bookstore Love Story

photo: Lizzy Fasching

Bookseller Bronwen Crenshaw and fiance Mike Magne had their engagement photos taken at her happy place, Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn. The couple met when Bronwen started working at Valley Bookseller and they will be married at the end of this week in an outdoor ceremony.


Still North: A New Bookstore Deals with the Pandemic

The Dartmouth offered a q&a with Allie Levy, a Dartmouth alumna who opened Still North Books & Bar last December in Hanover, N.H. Our favorite exchange:

Q: How has business been during the pandemic?

A: It's been crazy. We actually started out with the idea that we were going to focus entirely on the in-store experience. Last year at this time, we were getting ready to open up, and I was like, we're not going to have our website or sell books online because we're going to focus on what's going on in store, and I don't want to spread ourselves too thin. So, I thought e-commerce was going to come a little bit later. That had to change really quickly in March. In about a week, we decided that we had to start selling books online.

We got our website up and running--I had an amazing employee who helped me with that. It's been amazing to see just how the community has embraced us right off the bat. It has been challenging, and the cafe side of things is the most challenging in terms of the pandemic because we still don't feel comfortable with people eating and drinking inside. We are figuring out how to ramp back up our food offerings while staying safe, which has been a fun challenge. Hopefully soon, by mid-November, we will be introducing some food options back.


New Release Tuesdays at Inkwood Books

Posted on Facebook by Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, N.J.: "If you ever wondered why we decided to take our one day off on Sunday instead of Monday--this mountain of boxes illustrates it perfectly. For reasons we have never learned, new books are always released on Tuesday, which means our Monday deliveries are like this.  We rest up on Sunday, and happily work every Monday to get all the great new books ready for you! And after the pandemic, when our exposure is not a concern and we don’t have mask and capacity enforcement stress, we plan to open back up 7 days/week for longer hours. Right now though, bear with us and feel free to shop 24/7 at Inkwoodnj.com!"


Personnel Changes at Tin House; Workman Publishing

Becky Kraemer is joining Tin House as publicity director, effective December 1. For the last 11 years, she has run her own book publicity firm, Cursive Communications & Marketing, representing clients such as Counterpoint Press, Akashic Books, Oneworld Publications, and Faber & Faber. She was also responsible for the marketing and publicity campaign that launched Bookshop.org. She has more than 20 years of experience in subsidiary rights, special sales, editorial, marketing, and publicity and earlier worked at Simon & Schuster, Hyperion, and Melville House. She will work remotely from her home in the New York City area.

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Zoila Peña has been promoted to assistant manager of customer service for all Workman Publishing imprints. She began at Workman in 2016 as a customer service representative.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Harold McGee on Fresh Air

Today:
Good Morning America: Jamie Oliver, author of 7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week (Flatiron Books, $35, 9781250787576).

Fresh Air: Harold McGee, author of Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594203954).

Tomorrow:
Kelly Clarkson Show: Kate Biberdorf, author of The Great Escape (Kate the Chemist) (Philomel, $12.99, 9780593116586).


Movies: Let Him Go & Mitchell Kaplan

"No matter what you're buying in this pandemic year, 'shop local' has become something of a mantra," the Miami Herald noted in reporting that the theory goes for movie tickets as well. Last Friday, Let Him Go, based on the novel by Larry Watson and starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, opened at Coral Gables Art Cinema, directly across the street from Books & Books. The bookstore is owned by Mitchell Kaplan and the new film is from the Mazur Kaplan Company, which he runs with Paula Mazur.

"I loved the fact it was basically a love story between two mature people and a road movie at the same time, plus it's also a thriller, which gives it more of a wonderful kick," said Kaplan, who did a q&a session after the 7:30 showing of the movie. He's also introducing some of the evening showings.

Releasing a movie during a pandemic is not easy, but Kaplan credited studio Focus Features for its attention to details leading up to the release, the Herald noted. Originally scheduled for August, the film is opening on 2,500 screens in theaters operating at 25% or 50% capacity.

Kaplan said the health and safety of the audience was a priority for Coral Gables Art Cinema: "They've really done an excellent job in making it safe. You can't take your mask off at your seat, and they're taking seats away for social distancing. I feel very comfortable inviting people to come see it."



Books & Authors

Awards: Scotiabank Giller Winner, PNBA Shortlist

Souvankham Thammavongsa won the C$100,000 (about US$75,920) Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife. Finalists each receive C$10,000 (about US$7,590). Thammavongsa will be honored at the 2021 virtual San Miguel Writer's Conference & Literary Festival in January.

The jury said How to Pronounce Knife is "a stunning collection of stories that portray the immigrant experience in achingly beautiful prose. The emotional expanse chronicled in this collection is truly remarkable. These stories are vessels of hope, of hurt, of rejection, of loss and of finding one's footing in a new and strange land. Thammavongsa's fiction cuts to the core of the immigrant reality like a knife--however you pronounce it."

Elana Rabinovitch, executive director of the prize, commented: "Warmest congratulations to Souvankham, tonight's top winner for her exquisite collection, How to Pronounce Knife. In this most unusual moment in history, the jury--in what they described as the most intimate book club ever--chose this work for its excellence and this author as 2020's fully realized rising literary star."

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The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has announced a shortlist for the 2021 PNBA Book Awards, selected by a committee of members. Winners be named in early January and promoted by PNBA member stores during the winter and spring. The shortlisted titles are:

Cedar + Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field and Sea by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus (Touchwood Editions)
The Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot (Milkweed Editions)
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker (Catapult/Counterpoint)
Nature Obscura: A City's Hidden Natural World by Kelly Brenner (Mountaineers Books)
Birdsong by Julie Flett (Greystone Books)
Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera (Levine Querido)
This Is My America by Kim Johnson​ (Random House Books for Young Readers)
The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E.J. Koh (Tin House Books)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
rough house by Tina Ontiveros (Oregon State University Press)
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads/Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)
The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl (Knopf)


Reading with… Kathleen Flenniken

photo: Elizabeth Flenniken

Kathleen Flenniken won the Washington State Book Award for her poetry collection Plume. Her first book, Famous, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Flenniken's other awards include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust. She served as Washington State Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014. Her third collection, Post Romantic, is available now from the University of Washington Press.

On your nightstand now:

Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese's by Tiffany Midge (University of Nebraska Press). I've been a fan of Tiffany's poems, now here are her witty and thoughtful essays on American culture and a Native American life. It was a finalist for the 2020 Washington State Book Award.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Blue Fairy Book and The Yellow Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang. I learned some unfortunate tropes about love that will take a couple of lifetimes to undo.

Your top five authors:

This is impossible.

Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bishop
Richard Ford
Denis Johnson
George Saunders

I was only able to deal with this question by pretty much leaving out poets. I absolutely could not choose my top five poets. 

Book you've faked reading:

It's not that I actively lied about reading books, but before I started writing (in my 30s) and reading became my master class, I used to be quite gifted at picking up on reviews and what other people said about books I hadn't read and then adding in my own two cents (oh I had opinions). But Dante's Inferno.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore. I learned I love reading letters. Moore is authentically odd for her time (she refers to herself as "rat" and third-person "he") and brilliant, and her letters serve as a guide to the poets of the early and mid-20th century.  

Book you've bought for the cover:

Can I please substitute a record album? Because I have an immediate won't-ever-forget-it answer: Tom Waits, Rain Dogs. I didn't know what Tom Waits sounded like when I bought it. That was a surprise.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Happy Hooker. 

Book that changed your life:

Or if not changed, deepened? Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke. It's hard to change in one's 50s, hard to be changed by a book, so the mark Duino Elegies left on me is all the more remarkable. It became my lodestar for probably a year. I read Gary Miranda's translation first (from wonderful Tavern Books). It's a brilliant companion to translations by Stephen Mitchell and Edward Snow. Many of the poems in Post Romantic were written in conversation with Duino Elegies, sometimes explicitly.

Favorite line from a book:

Currently it's a line from Duino Elegies that serves as the epigraph for Post Romantic:

"Isn't it time/ that our loving freed us from the one we love?" The layers in it!

Five books you'll never part with:

My dad's Collegiate Webster's Dictionary, 5th edition, with a "Vocabulary of Rhymes" and "Pronouncing Gazetteer." It was my steady homework companion when I was growing up and helped spark my interest in words.

My dad's copy of The Bog People by P.V. Glob, with glossy photos of thousands-year-old dead people, still with hair and skin, forehead wrinkles and fingernails. It was an object of fascination and the punchline of many family jokes and games.

Folklore and Fable: Aesop, Grimm, and Andersen, which is No. 17 from "The Five-Foot Shelf of Harvard Classics." It got me through many hours of adolescent boredom and ingratitude at my uncle's ranch.

The cookbook that my mother and dad compiled of their favorite recipes, and the memories that go with them, one copy for each of their children. Mother hoped it would get splattered and stained with years of cooking and family life, and it has.

The Book, a gorgeous letterpress handbound anthology created by the late Julius Friedman and edited by Dianne Aprile. It's a work of art.

Obviously, these are all dear to me as physical objects, not just writings. They're portals to my past. I can buy replacements for most favorite books.

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

Flying Blind by Sharon Bryan (Sarabande). I still remember finding this beautiful book of poems in a used bookstore, and discovering its smart, heady, soulful voice and mysterious avoidance of the "I." As proof of the book's impact, I later wrote to Sharon, a stranger, and asked her to be my poetry mentor, and she agreed. Now she's my dear friend.

Book for this time and this world:

Some of our problems are new, but some, sadly, don't change. The books I go to for answers are changing. I'm learning from and moved by Audre Lorde's Collected Poems, and grateful for her fire and wisdom across the years.


Book Review

YA Review: The Project

The Project by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books, $18.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 13-up, 9781250105738, February 2, 2021)

Courtney Summers wants to break your heart. She makes no secret of this. Sadie, her sixth book for young adults, received praise for its captivating format, fluid writing and harrowing plot. Of her seventh YA book, The Project, Summers said it's "just going to ruin your day." She's right. This gripping depiction of love, abuse, control and loss will steal your time--there is simply no putting it down--and Summers doesn't coddle feelings.

Six-year-old Bea didn't want a sister. But then Lo was born. "Having a sister," her mom explained to her, "is a promise no one but the two of you can make--and no one but the two of you can break." When Bea was 19, a semi crashed into her parents' SUV, killing them both on impact. Bea was at a movie and doesn't "know if the credits were rolling by the time they got the Jaws of Life to pull Lo from the wreckage." When Bea got to the hospital, she discovered her 13-year-old sister near death. Desperate, Bea went to the chapel: "God, she whispers... over and over and over again. God, I'll do anything. Please, God... And then He appears."

Six years later, Lo is alive, mostly well and pursuing a career in journalism. She has spent the past half decade almost completely cut off from Bea, first living with her Great Aunt Patty, then living on her own after Patty's death. While Lo was still recovering, her older sister joined the Unity Project, a group run by the enigmatic Lev Warren that "posits the sins of humanity have cut us off from God's grace, and the collective good works of The Project will atone for our sins and bring salvation to the ends of the earth." Lo, certain the Unity Project is holding her sister against her will, decides to prove her journalism chops and get her sister back by taking down the cult. But the group--and Lev--are significantly more powerful than she could have imagined. Will Lo be able to save her sister? Will she be able to save herself?

Cult books are popular in contemporary YA but few have done what Summers does here: create ambiguity, humanize those involved in the group and painstakingly blur the line between loving care and abusive control. Both Bea and Lo tell their stories linearly, but the time difference between them--both young women are 19 when they begin--builds the mystery and creates intense suspense. Every single choice Bea and Lo make is understandable, making both protagonists wholly believable and sympathetic. Yes, The Project will ruin your day. Yes, you want it to. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In this compelling and absorbing YA novel, two sisters make the most painful of choices based on their love for one another.


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