Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Poisoned Pen Press: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

From My Shelf

Jennifer Weiner: Living in Girl World

Jennifer Weiner has topped the New York Times bestseller list with her women's fiction and, recently, her first children's book, The Littlest Bigfoot. Her newest book is Hungry Heart, a collection of essays reviewed below. Read our full interview with Weiner here.

Photo: Maarten de Boer

One of the essays in this collection--"The F Word"--recounts Weiner's daughter Lucy using the off-limits slur "fat." Her account of their mother-daughter heart-to-heart over this transgression left me wondering about her thoughts on how we should be talking to our young boys about this topic. She told me, "Here's the truth--I live in Girl World... my two daughters, and my assistant, Meghan, and Terry, who helps with the house stuff and childcare. During the summers, I'm in Cape Cod with my daughters, plus my mom and her partner (and my poor husband who, I joke, will probably get his period some day if he does this long enough). I work in publishing, which is run, largely, by women. Aside from the occasional bruising Twitter scrap, I can go weeks--months--in this utopian bubble, where women's voices are heard and respected, because women's voices are all there are.

"Then, occasionally, I get jolted back to reality. So how do we talk to boys about it? I think we start by just talking. Just the act of speaking your truth, with the implicating that your female voice and your female story matter, are both important. You make sure that what you're showing your boys is what you want them to grow up believing. If you want them to believe that there is beauty beyond a 25-year-old white, blonde, size zero, then you act like you believe it, too. If you want them to believe that women's stories matter, then you read books by women. If you don't want them to judge women based on their appearances, you can't do it, and you can't surround yourself with people who do." --Jen Forbus, freelancer

The Writer's Life

Tom Cotter: Classic Cuban Cars

Tom Cotter

Author Tom Cotter and author/photographer Bill Warner, along with friend Wellington Morton III, traveled to Cuba several times to revel in the faded beauty of Cuba's cars. The result is Cuba's Car Culture: Celebrating the Island's Automotive Love Affair (Motorbooks, $35).

Cotter's business card reads "Certified Car Geek." He has authored 10 automotive books, including most of the popular In the Barn series for Motorbooks, contributed articles to the New York Times and to Road & Track magazine, and recently appeared in a 10-episode web series called The Barn Find Hunter. His heart pumps motor oil.

photo: Bill Warner

In 2009, 50 years after Fidel Castro's revolutionary army's tanks rolled into Havana and the United States slapped a total travel and economic embargo on Cuba, three graybeards from the southeastern United States finagled special visas to visit the island to study its famous "classic" cars. They were not ordinary tourists or journalists.

Tom Cotter--car salesman, garage mechanic, head of public relations for the Charlotte Motor Speedway, founder of a very successful racing PR firm, avid car collector and author of several books about scouting for old cars (Barn Find Road Trip, 50 Shades of Rust)--wanted to see the famous Cuban car world in person. His friend Bill Warner came along for fun and photos. Fellow car collector, co-author and contributing photographer for Road & Track, Warner is also the founder of the Concours d'Elegance annual charity car show on Amelia Island, Fla.--one of the top five in the world. Rounding out the team was Wellington Morton III, another car collector nut who drove his restored 1921 McFarlan Phaeton at the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011. Cotter, Warner and Morton are serious car freaks, and Cuba's Car Culture is the extraordinary photo-story of their colorful trip back in automotive time.

Cotter wastes no time capturing the scene. Stepping off their charter flight, they walk smack into "the set of the early Leave It to Beaver television series... U.S. banks? Nope. U.S. credit cards? Nope. U.S.-friendly ATMs? Personal checks? Cell phones? Nope, nope, nope." But the cars--instantly they are surrounded by the colorful taxis and limos of the golden age of American cars. Like some kind of gearhead conquistadores, they think they have found the mythical El Dorado of Detroit Iron. With translator in tow, they begin approaching owners and drivers to learn about the history of the cars. Experienced junkyard scouts and automotive restorers, they soon find that these "classic" Cuban cars are held together with duct tape, coat hangers and tinfoil chrome. Heads under hoods and scooting beneath bodies on creepers, they discover the heart of Cuban car culture: you do whatever it takes to keep your whip rolling. What in the States are called "30-footers" (cars that look good from 30 feet but are seriously flawed up close) are 100-yarders in Cuba. A '59 Oldsmobile V-8 with Hydramatic transmission and power steering, like the one Castro drove when he climbed down from his tank, might now be riding on tractor axles made in Soviet Belarus, with a 4-banger engine from a Russian-made Chaika. (Cotter: "I naively thought I could 'sneak' into Castro's garage and document the car collection I thought he might own. But once I saw all those guys standing around with machine guns, and found out about people spending years in prisons for going places they were not authorized, I quickly dropped that idea.") With the embargo slamming the door on not only imported cars, but also car parts, Cotter suggests that "the car owners of Cuba have become, by necessity, possibly the most competent mechanics on the planet."

photo: Bill Warner

The men had translators the entire trip; Cotter never sensed they were holding out: "Quite the opposite, in fact. They told us much I could not write about in the book for fear that someone might wind up in prison. They were very open and totally honest, telling us things we never expected to hear." He never felt they were being followed, although he felt more scrutinized during the 2009 trip than the 2015 trip. "Bill Warner, though, on his third or fourth trips to Cuba, had the feeling he was being followed when he went to a clandestine, night-time Cruise-in/Drag Race."

In page after page of interviews peppered with garage lingo about push rods, camshafts and single-barrel downdraft carburetors, Cotter takes us down the main streets and back alleys of Cuban car culture. Without Warner's dramatic colorful photographs, however, this might be just another piece of gearhead ephemera. His pictures are the best kind of engineering and design eye candy--the ride is front and center, but the Cuban architecture and proud car owners tell the real story. Cubans love their cars. In 1952 there were 77,000 cars registered in Cuba, and most are likely still running today--either cobbled together with Frankenstein parts or used for parts themselves. As Cotter explains, "EVERY CAR survives in Cuba. There are no junkyards. Even the biggest PIECE OF S**T is repaired and used." In visiting Hemingway's San Francisco de Paula finca, he even discovers Papa's 1955 Chrysler New Yorker convertible (with its "big a** Hemi" engine) on blocks but in process of being restored by actor David Soul (Hutch of Starsky and Hutch).

photo: Bill Warner

Cuba's Car Culture also includes archival photos of Cuba's last International Grand Prix in 1958, won by Sterling Moss, who provides the book's foreword, cheering the authors: "The depth of enjoyment they were able to experience in essentially a police state is admirable, if not a little bit dangerous." That authorial "enjoyment" is evident in Cotter's friendly interviews with Cubans, the authentic mojitos shared at Hemingway's old watering hole La Floridita, home-cooked meals he was invited to, Cuban cigars, even a floor show at Havana's grand Hotel Nacional (Cotter: "Scantily clad women danced and smiled, but I got the feeling they weren't really enjoying what they were doing."). The resulting book is a gorgeous homage to an automotive life that will no doubt change as the island begins again to trade with the United States. Cotter said, "I'm so glad that I was able to visit Cuba before it became Americanized. I think the floodgates will soon open, but visitors will see a 'cleaned up' version of what I experienced. Once Home Depot, AutoZone and McDonald's break ground, the country becomes South Miami."

--Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan. (who has seen his share of steering knuckles, damper forks, brake calipers, differential carriers and cases, and exhaust manifolds)

Book Candy

'The Magic of Falling in Love'

Bustle featured "17 book quotes on the magic of falling in love."


Pop quiz: "A screaming comes across the sky." Buzzfeed challenged: "Can you guess which classic books these opening lines are from?"


"Show & tell: A book made from 'Washington's Tree' " was showcased by Mental Floss.


"From King Lear to Père Goriot," author Ross King shared his picks for the "top 10 books about old men" with the Guardian.


"Which famous American invented bifocals?" featured a "history of eyewear quiz."

Great Reads

Rediscover: The Breach

When Bill Clinton began his second term as President in 1997, he vowed to "repair the breach" that had so divided the country's political parties. Instead, by the end of his term, the Monica Lewinsky scandal proved this breach was more of a deep-sea trench, a chasm that has not just persisted, but grown far wider in the ensuing decades. The scandal has been dug up and thrown into the spotlight during the 2016 presidential election. The behavior of Hillary Clinton during this tumultuous time in her husband's tenure has become the subject of wide-ranging political attacks, making a an accurate and concise chronicle of that period a relevant read.

Peter Baker, current White House correspondent for the New York Times, was a Washington Post reporter for 20 years, where he co-authored the article that broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal. His 2000 book, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton, is a definitive, behind-the-scenes account of those harrowing and embarrassing days when lawmakers with their own full closets were frothing at the mouth to dethrone a sitting president. Baker's most recent book, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House (2013) was a New York Times top 10 book of the year. The Breach was last published in 2012 by Scribner ($27.99, 9781476730073). --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


A Change of Heart

by Sonali Dev

Acclaimed for combining Indian American life with a touch of Bollywood glamour, Sonali Dev (A Bollywood Affair) dives into the soul-shriveling aftermath of violent crime, with a hero and heroine who find love against all hope.

Ever since thugs from a black market organ theft ring murdered his wife, Jen, in Mumbai, Indian American doctor Nikhil Joshi has been at sea figuratively and literally, working as a cruise ship doctor by day and losing himself to a numbing alcoholic stupor by night. Then Jess Koirala, a gorgeous Bollywood backup dancer, appears on the ship claiming that she received Jen's heart in a transplant and has a message for Nik from his dead wife. Naturally he scoffs, but when she shows him her transplant scar and tells him details that could have come only from Jen, he cannot explain away the connection. Even a man of science like Nik must consider the possibility that his wife somehow lives in this stranger, and that she wants him to bring to justice the men who murdered her. Although the specter of Jen hangs over them, Nik is drawn toward desperate, vulnerable Jess.

Meanwhile, in India, a brutal gangster waits impatiently for the moment he can destroy them both.

Dev walks straight into the fire, building her narrative on an unlikely foundation of wrenching grief, gender discrimination and sexual assault trauma, addressing each issue thoroughly and with incredible compassion. Nik and Jess's eventual bond feels organic and gloriously regenerative. A Change of Heart cements this author's standing as not only one of the best but also one of the bravest romance novelists working today. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: A doctor foundering after the murder of his wife meets the mysterious woman who received her heart.

Kensington, $15, paperback, 352p., 9781496705747

Winter Storms: Winter Street Book 3

by Elin Hilderbrand

The Quinns of Nantucket reunite again in the final installment of the Winter Street series. As in Winter Street and Winter Stroll, Elin Hilderbrand juggles an ensemble cast in a holiday setting. This time, however, the plot is structured amid four seasons, culminating at Christmas.

Winter Storms launches in the spring. Family patriarch Kelley Quinn--a twice-married father of four adult children and the owner of the Winter Street Inn in Nantucket--is battling prostate cancer. He offers the inn for the wedding of his first wife, Margaret--a TV journalist and mother to three of the children--who has decided to remarry. Before the family convenes for the summer nuptials, Margaret and daughter Ava take a trip together, which complicates Ava's continued romantic woes. Patrick--the oldest child, having served prison time for insider trading--resumes life with his stressed, over-achieving wife, a closeted prescription drug addict. Kevin--the dithering middle child--opens a beachfront food venue that changes the dynamic with his long-term girlfriend. Throughout the seasons, Bart--a soldier stationed in Afghanistan, the son of Kelley and his second wife--remains missing in action.

As each of the Quinn children comes to terms with personal dilemmas, Kelley reflects on his life. And when a nor'easter threatens to disrupt big celebratory plans for Christmas, the tightknit Quinns demonstrate what they mean to each other. Hilderbrand's trilogy reaches a well-resolved conclusion infused with a perfect mix of love, tears and joy. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: Winter Storms concludes a warm-hearted trilogy about a complicated Nantucket family whose loyalties and love run deep.

Little, Brown, $26, hardcover, 256p., 9780316261173

The Flower Arrangement

by Ella Griffin

With The Flower Arrangement, Ella Griffin (The Heart Whisperer, Postcards from the Heart) perfectly captures the subtle influences in life that tether people to one another. In this case, the connections are formed with flowers from Blossom & Grow, the tiny Dublin shop that Lara owns. Grieving the death of her infant son, Lara opened the flower shop in order to bring joy to others, even though she continues to exist in limbo. As events unfold around her, Lara experiences even deeper grief, followed by shocking and surprising joy.

Her flower arrangements have an effect on many people--including Becca, a single mom struggling to raise her curious son; Mia, an uptight accountant who falls for a free-spirited artist; Emily, an indecisive bride; and Lara's brother Phil, a bicycle courier who's never been in a relationship that lasted longer than a few months. As time passes, these characters' stories intersect in unforeseeable ways, mingling heartache and happiness, and resulting in some surprising new relationships.

Writing beautifully, Griffin demonstrates how something as simple as a bouquet of flowers can make all the difference in a relationship. With themes of sorrow, contentment and new love, The Flower Arrangement is addicting fiction. Its Dublin backdrop is lovely, and its character nuances resist a too-tidy ending; it is sure to appeal to readers of Marian Keyes and Jenny Colgan. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A lovely novel about Lara, owner of a small flower shop in Dublin, and the connections her flowers create for those around her.

Berkley, $15, paperback, 352p., 9781101989739

The Ferryman Institute

by Colin Gigl

In a fantasy debut reminiscent of the classic film Death Takes a Holiday and Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality, Colin Gigl introduces Charlie, a hero with the ultimate bummer job description--sending the newly dead onto the next plane--and the adventure that will either cure his case of burnout or kill him for good, something of an accomplishment considering his occupation comes with a lifetime supply of immortality.

He is an employee of the shadowy Ferryman Institute, and centuries of never aging, never feeling cold, hunger or pain, and watching an endless parade of tragic deaths have left Charlie empty and exhausted. His thousands of applications for release have met with rejection, and so Charlie limps through his malaise, until he receives a special assignment from the president of the Institute--to see to the soul of one Alice Spiegel, a soon-to-be suicide--and is surprised with options: "Be a Ferryman or save the girl. Your choice."

Gigl pays homage to Greco-Roman mythology while poking fun at corporate structure, but this fast-paced fantasy has its serious side, taking the real-life problem of getting stuck in a dead-end job to a more mystical but still weighty extreme. Gigl seems to realize his concept treads familiar ground; readers will find easy laughs here, but more introspection than in novels with similar premises. A wild ride with plenty to ponder, The Ferryman Institute reaffirms that it is the bitter in life that lets us taste the sweet. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: An immortal Ferryman suffers a terrible case of job burnout after centuries of guiding souls to the afterlife.

Gallery Books, $16, paperback, 432p., 9781501125324

Mystery & Thriller

Coffin Road

by Peter May

Peter May (The Blackhouse) returns to the Outer Hebrides setting of his mesmerizing Lewis trilogy in the standalone thriller Coffin Road. The Hebrides are rugged land that take on a life of their own in May's skilled hands, and one morning their churning ocean spits a man onto the beach after taking his memory. With few clues at his disposal, he needs to figure out who he is, what he's doing on the Isle of Harris, and who doesn't want him doing it.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, a troubled young girl searches for the cause of her father's suicide and a detective investigates a bludgeoned body found at a remote lighthouse station. Soon the amnesiac, the detective and the teenager are caught up in high-stakes mysteries fraught with the potential for violence with a fascinating environmental issue at their core.

May is second to none when it comes to sense of place. He writes landscape so artfully even paragraphs-long descriptions don't detract from the pace of the action: "And now I am aware of the wind. Tugging at my clothes, sending myriad grains of sand in a veil of whisper-thin gauze across the beach in currents and eddies, like water." May's lyrical prose brings full color to the scenery, and the narrative intrigues from start to finish as the three arcs intertwine and race to a final showdown. Coffin Road is an atmospheric thriller that delves into issues of identity, sacrifice and the greater good. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Discover: A man with no memory must figure out who he is and what he's been working on before malevolent forces get in the way of his mysterious purpose.

Quercus, $26.99, hardcover, 400p., 9781681443898

The Queen's Accomplice

by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope has always believed women can do anything. Raised by a no-nonsense spinster aunt who taught at Wellesley College, Maggie has used her wits and her mathematical skills to great effect during World War II. First working (and solving mysteries) as Prime Minister Winston Churchill's secretary, then protecting the Royal Family, Maggie is now a highly trained agent for Britain's Special Operations Executive office. In her sixth Maggie Hope novel, The Queen's Accomplice, Susan Elia MacNeal puts Maggie on a case very close to home.

Returning to London after an assignment in Washington, D.C. (Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante), Maggie takes a desk job while waiting for her German half sister, Elise, to be extradited from Berlin. Soon she gets pulled onto a gruesome Scotland Yard case: a Jack-the-Ripper copycat serial killer targeting young professional women--specifically those associated with the British intelligence service. Working alongside a skeptical police inspector, Maggie must use her analytical skills and her gut instinct to pinpoint the killer before she becomes his next victim.

MacNeal brings back many familiar series characters, including Maggie's friend David and her former flatmates Sarah and Charlotte. Maggie struggles against harassment and condescension in the workplace, which feels realistic but becomes heavy-handed at times. Readers with sensitive stomachs should skim the descriptions of Jack-not-the-Ripper's victims, but Maggie's solution to the case is both plausible and elegant. Like all MacNeal's novels, this one ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers eagerly awaiting Maggie's next adventure. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Maggie Hope's sixth mystery adventure finds her tracking a Jack-the-Ripper copycat serial killer in London during World War II.

Bantam, $16, paperback, 368p., 9780804178723

The Lost Boy

by Camilla Läckberg, trans. by Tiina Nunnally

Detective Patrik Hedstrom is in charge of a murder investigation in Fjällbacka, Sweden; his wife, Erica Falck, is a writer with extra time on her hands. She is on maternity leave after the birth of their twins, and it happens that she went to high school with the victim, Mats Sverin, the city's financial director.

Erica and Patrik's relationship is amusing, charming and a nice counterbalance to the more disturbing aspects of the case. The police investigation, with Erica's unofficial assistance, soon expands to include Mats's high school sweetheart, Nathalie, who owns a tiny island just off the coast of Fjällbacka--an island with a murky history of its own.

Camilla Läckberg (The Drowning, The Ice Princess) has a knack for creating very believable characters and for mixing the funny moments in everyday life (like how hard it is to have time for sex while raising small children) with dark and twisty crimes that will keep the reader hooked. Fans of other Scandinavian investigators, like Henning Mankell's Wallander and Stieg Larsson's Blomkvist and Salander, are sure to love Patrik and Erica. Some shocking developments are quite likely to keep the midnight oil burning, although thankfully this novel doesn't end with quite as much of a cliffhanger as some of Läckberg's other titles. In fact, The Lost Boy could easily be read as a standalone, although following Patrik and Erica's relationship from the beginning is much more fun. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: A police detective investigates a murder in small-town Sweden, with his wife's shrewd assistance.

Pegasus Crime, $25.95, hardcover, 496p., 9781681772042

Biography & Memoir

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing

by Jennifer Weiner

Returning to her nonfiction roots, Jennifer Weiner (Who Do You Love) shares life experiences with self-deprecating humor and raw honesty in her first collection of personal essays. Weiner, who started her writing career as a journalist, includes some previously published work, like her New York Times article "Mean Girls in the Retirement Home," but the majority of the pieces are new and focused on her theme, "You fall, you get hurt, you get up again."

From body image to breast feeding, diversity in publishing to Hollywood, Weiner opens the gates on the issues and experiences that have combined to define this popular author of 14 books, mother of two children and daughter of a mentally ill father. Her candid discussion of the turmoil her family endures when their patriarch abandons them physically and financially, growing more and more mentally unstable, and the fear she experiences when he shows up unexpectedly at a book signing, reveal a life complete with battle scars and healing wounds. Nevertheless, the humor she injects throughout reflects insights that comes from hard-learned lessons.

As evidenced in these essays, Weiner has had her share of trips and falls, sometimes of her own making and sometimes forced upon her. But her resilience and gumption are motivating. Fans of her work will appreciate the events that have shaped her work, but readers needn't be familiar with her fiction to find emotional connections in these pages. Those in need of the inspiration to "get up again" will uncover plenty in Weiner's Hungry Heart. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Discover: Jennifer Weiner shares the true stories that have shaped the fictional worlds she creates in her novels.

Atria, $27, hardcover, 416p., 9781476723402

Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family

by Daniel Bergner

A six-foot-five, 300-pound African American man with size 17 shoes may be an unlikely sight on the stage of New York's Metropolitan Opera, but Ryan Speedo Green commands that position as though he was born to it. Sing for Your Life is Ryan Green's story, a tribute to opera and the power of the arts to pull a young man out of a violent broken home in southeastern Virginia and into Lincoln Center. Through extensive interviews with Green and his family, teachers, directors and voice coaches, journalist Daniel Bergner (In the Land of Magic Soldiers) pieces together this remarkable life with an impeccable knack for storytelling.

With an absent father and a mother plagued by violent men, menial jobs and ramshackle low-rent housing, Green grew up angry, poorly schooled and on his way to prison (like his brother) or death. After a teacher took him under wing and made him learn King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and after a football coach put him in the school chorus to get some easy credits, he discovered that his roughhewn bass-baritone voice might be his ticket out. As a black man in a very white world, Green also faced assumptions that his place on stage belonged in the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess or as Joe singing "Ol' Man River."

Green's long journey out of poverty and juvenile therapy to professional success took tenacity, luck, dedicated teachers and an extraordinary vocal gift. Sing for Your Life may be a feel-good story in the end, but in the case of Ryan Speedo Green, its title quite literally says it all. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Sing for Your Life is a first-rate biography of a beaten-down young man who rode the opera train all the way to Lincoln Center.

Little, Brown, $28, hardcover, 320p., 9780316300674

Social Science

"All the Real Indians Died Off": And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Dina Gilio-Whitaker

"All the Real Indians Died Off" sheds light on 21 myths about Native Americans that continue to circulate today. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States) and Dina Gilio-Whitaker dissect harmful stereotypes and reveal how these beliefs contribute to and reinforce a system of injustice and violence against indigenous populations. The authors tackle extensively complicated issues, such as the appropriation of Native culture by non-Native people and the false belief that Native Americans are predisposed to alcoholism.

Rooted in academic training, research and writing, as well as Native American experience, the examples and arguments the authors present are thoughtful and persuasive. When discussing overtly insensitive and destructive myths, they also offer examples of positive change and progress toward healthy, respectful understanding. Concerning the argument that naming sports teams after Natives is an honor, the authors demonstrate that the ban of native nicknames, mascots and imagery by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) helps protect Native populations from dominant white society exerting control over ideas of "Nativeness." The NCAA also allows exceptions to the ban for specific tribes when those tribes grant permission--giving power over the use to Native people. Much as how An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States reframed the past and reclaimed it for people silenced by racism and genocide, this book demands that the United States--and the world--reshape national dialogues for healthier and more compassionate treatment of Native peoples. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

Discover: This exploration of 21 cultural myths about Native Americans surveys their historical context and modern consequences.

Beacon Press, $15, paperback, 224p., 9780807062654

Children's & Young Adult

Still Life with Tornado

by A.S. King

It can be paralyzing for anyone to be told there are no original ideas, yet that's exactly what the art teacher tells 16-year-old Sarah's high school class. Sarah's friend Carmen insists her freshly drawn still life of a tornado is "original," but Sarah says it's just a funnel. The teacher's bleak outlook shakes Sarah deeply; before she knows it, she's quit school and is on her way to City Hall to change her name to Umbrella.

Printz Honor author A.S. King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz; I Crawl Through It) paints a brilliant portrait of a teenaged Philadelphia artist having a full-on existential crisis. Over the years, Sarah has become numb to her parents' obvious mutual contempt, and she misses her older brother, Bruce, who fled to Oregon six years ago after a traumatic family vacation in Mexico. As the former student wanders the Philadelphia streets, she's occasionally joined by a 10-year-old version of herself (a less numb one) and sometimes a 23-year-old version of herself (one less concerned with originality) and, later, a 40-year-old one who is "a lot cooler." They aren't hallucinations--her mother can see them, too. As Sarah says, "I tell the truth slowly." So that is how the reader is fed Sarah's narrative, including how her abusive father's rage (anger that can smell like "trash day in mid-August") shapes the family... and why she really quit school.

King's ingeniously crafted, deeply engaging Still Life with Tornado will have readers by the collar the whole time as Sarah comes to see that her family is more tornado than still life. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: In this superb YA novel, Printz Honor author A.S. King turns her surrealistic sensibilities to a 16-year-old girl in the midst of an existential crisis.

Dutton, $17.99, hardcover, 304p., ages 14-up, 9781101994887

Every Hidden Thing

by Kenneth Oppel

In the late 19th-century, Rachel Cartland ("with all the flair of a cabbage moth") and Samuel Bolt ("charming, and knew it") both happen to be motherless 17-year-olds with ferociously ambitious fossil-hunting fathers. When they meet at a dinosaur presentation by Sam's father, during which Rachel's father publicly humiliates and discredits him, the stage is set for a rocky Romeo and Juliet–style romance. Each man desperately wants to be the first American to discover the king of dinosaurs, the rex. Their scientifically minded children are equally passionate about finding the rex, if not as unscrupulous in their approach. Eagerly following the same lead, the Cartlands and the Bolts independently set out for the Badlands, little concerned about the treacherous nature of their quest. The landscape is harsh, relations between the Sioux and the Wasicu--white people--are volatile, and the 1870s West isn't called wild for nothing.

Printz Honor author Kenneth Oppel's (Airborn; The Nest; The Boundless) fictional take on a scientifically, politically and socially eventful period in history will keep readers wondering how the tribulations of the star-crossed lovers and their warring fathers can ever resolve. Oppel modeled Professors Cartland and Bolt on real-life rival paleontologists: Edward Drinkwater Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, who discovered more than 100 species of dinosaurs in the 1800s. The story is told in the alternating voices of Rachel and Sam, who are compelling, realistic protagonists in their own right, trying to chisel and hammer their way around a growing distaste for their respective fathers' behavior, family loyalty, societal expectations, sex and young love. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: The teenage children of rival 19th-century fossil hunters are drawn together as both families seek the king of all dinosaurs in the Badlands.

Simon & Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, 368p., ages 14-up, 9781481464161

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