Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

From My Shelf

Reading Southwest of Here

I live in the Northeast, and traveled to the Southwest for the first time in January to attend a conference, after which I drove from Albuquerque, N.Mex., to the Grand Canyon's South Rim and back. Though I was speedreading much of the terrain through the windows of my rental car, I still marked places to reread someday when I return.

I read books, too. Perched at the edge of the Grand Canyon (well, in a hotel), I read First Impressions: A Reader’s Journey to Iconic Places of the American Southwest by David J. Weber and William deBuys (Yale University Press), which shares accounts by non-native early explorers, missionaries and other travelers to iconic sites in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado.

And suddenly I found myself thinking about Edward Abbey. "In recording my impressions of the natural scene I have striven above all for accuracy, since I believe that there is a kind of poetry, even a kind of truth, in simple fact," he wrote in Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Touchstone).

Nothing is simple. I first read Desert Solitaire a half-century ago, when I was 19, and it made a big impression. But his legacy has not weathered well over time. Intriguing books like Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness by Amy Irvine (Torrey House Press) and Charles Bowden's The Red Caddy: Into the Unknown with Edward Abbey (University of Texas Press) tempered my idealism.

Still, Abbey's words continued to resonate as I pored over The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim (Rizzoli). Photographer Pete McBride teamed up with author Kevin Fedarko to chronicle their 750-mile backpacking trip. High Country News noted that the "overall impression... reinforced by grit-and-dirt adventure photography--is that the Grand Canyon still offers much-needed relief and refuge, and not just to Homo sapiens."

Accuracy, poetry, truth, fact.

After returning to the Northeast, I reread Layli Long Soldier's brilliant poetry collection, Whereas (Graywolf Press). I've got a lot more reading to do before my next pilgrimage to the Southwest. --Robert Gray

Sleeping Bear Press: When You Go Into Nature by Sheri M Bestor, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

The Writer's Life

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman: Listening to What's Real

photo: Vanessa Borer

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is the author of Sounds Like Titanic, a thoughtful and humorous memoir about her years as a violinist with a fake--yet wildly popular--musical ensemble led by an eccentric musician named the Composer. She has "performed" on PBS and at concert halls worldwide. Hindman's writing has appeared in McSweeney's, the New York Times Magazine, Brevity and Hippocampus. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Texas. She teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky University. Sounds Like Titanic (reviewed below), was just published by W.W. Norton.

After reading your book, I'm guessing a lot of people will be wondering who the Composer is. Have you been in touch with him about the book?

You know, I'm not sure how aware he is of the book. I do understand the very human impulse to want to learn his identity, yet I certainly didn't set out to write an exposé or anything like that. He has many great attributes and by the end of the book I'm relating to him, in a way, with my own flaws and insecurities.

How long did this take you to write?

I began drafting it as an article in fall 2005 with no intention to write a memoir. I imagined this as some sort of highbrow cultural criticism of classical music in America. But I ended up going to graduate school for an MFA and everyone was writing a memoir. It seemed pretentious; at 25, I didn't think I had much to say about myself. As the years went on, I was really struggling with the true meaning of this particular story. I realized that it was about my place in that performance and how I ended up working for this ensemble, and about class and that moment in American history, the 1990s. That took a few years to get some distance from. So, all told, it took 13 years to write, but I wrote most of it in a three-month period in 2013.

This story, which took place two decades ago, seems especially pertinent now, with so much scrutiny on what's fake and what's real.

Yeah! That's been the craziest thing. I finished this in 2013, well before the term "fake news" entered our everyday lexicon. It's become even more relevant in ways I could have never imagined.

It seems this is more than an account of touring America while "playing" the violin in a fake ensemble. It's about our universal need to be respected and acknowledged for our talents and what we have to offer the world. You take that a step further and connect that experience to growing up female in the '90s.

With my story, I knew there was a connection between going from a very happy and well-adjusted little girl in the early '90s to becoming very aware that being female would limit me in some way. I needed to take the advice I give my students: take a step back and see what other people have written. I started reading the big critiques of growing up female in the early '90s--books like Reviving Ophelia and Backlash by Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. This process of backing up, of discovering what adult women were writing about girls my age, helped provide that bridge.

In your memoir, you write that your parents instilled in you a love of reading.

They really encouraged me to read anything and everything. By the time I was 11, I was kind of precocious and was reading adult books. My dad had the Les Misérables cassette tape, which made me want to read Victor Hugo's book. It took me all of fifth grade. I remember putting it in my little denim backpack and the pages were falling out. My teacher gave us points for reading, and I worked out some sort of system with her to let Les Misérables count for 10 points.

Is there a book you have faked reading?

Oh, I love that question--especially in relation to this memoir! One of my colleagues at Northern Kentucky University is one of the world's most renowned scholars of Moby-Dick. I am perfectly comfortable saying that I never read it. I would probably not have been comfortable saying that in grad school.  

Is there an author or a book that has changed your life in some way?

I assign Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas every semester. It's one of those books that I think is very comforting, humorous and insightful. It always gives me a sense of peace that there's going to be an older person in charge of the narrative. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

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The Librero Entropía bookcase is a "reflection on stability and safety following the Mexico earthquake of 2017," Bookshelf noted.

Great Reads

Rediscover: Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy, a British author of Jamaican descent known for her works about Caribbean immigrants and Jamaican history, died last week at age 62. Levy was the fourth child of a working-class family in London. She studied textile design and worked as a costume assistant for the BBC and the Royal Opera House. Levy claims to have not read a book until age 23, after which she grew infatuated with the craft. When she sought black literature, she discovered almost all of it came from the United States, with little reflecting her own experience. She wrote her first novel, the semi-autobiographical Every Light in the House Burnin', in 1994. Levy also wrote Never Far from Nowhere (1996) and Fruit of the Lemon (1999).

Levy's fourth novel, Small Island (2004), explores the Afro-Caribbean diaspora after World War II, specifically the "Windrush generation" of Commonwealth subjects invited to fill shortages in the British labor market. Small Island won the Orange Prize for Fiction and, a decade later, was voted Best of the Best Orange Prize novels. In 2010, Levy published her fifth and final novel, The Long Song, which chronicles the final years of slavery in Jamaica and was a finalist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Small Island and The Long Song are both available from Picador. --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


Aerialists: Stories

by Mark Mayer

Cover iconography that depicts a circus and story titles like "The Clown," "The Ringmaster" and "Strongwoman" might lead readers to believe a series of big-top tales awaits them in Mark Mayer's excellent short story collection, Aerialists. That, much like a circus itself, is a bit of a ruse. Mayer's characters and settings are various and multifaceted, sometimes linking up to the proposed theme of the work, and sometimes downright undercutting it. It's best to ignore the theme altogether and jump into these nine poignant tales about what one owes others, and oneself.

"The Ringmaster," the final piece, is the most affecting, a somber story of a man nearing the end of his life with nothing to leave behind. Mick, a lifelong bachelor, has devoted himself to building an intricate model train set, hand-fashioning almost everything. He wakes up one day to realize it is finished, but with no one to give it to or to appreciate it, the model becomes a giant metaphor for his own impoverished life. That description might sound like Mayer closes on a sour note, but the author never loses his deep empathy for Mick, drawing the reader into his personal tragedy instead of reveling in it.

Mayer is interested in people whose connections to their friends and family are strained and tenuous, and his stories explore how easily those connections can be repaired or severed. Most of the pieces in Aerialists are tragedies in one way or another, but they always feel genuine, brought on by mistakes and failures of character. Mayer is well aware of how easily things can go wrong, and how precious it is when they go right. --Noah Cruickshank, director of communications, Forefront, Chicago, Ill.

Discover: This short story collection expertly probes the tenuous connections between friends and families.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 304p., 9781635572179

A Weekend in New York

by Benjamin Markovits

Featuring as its epigraph the first half of Tolstoy's well-known aphorism about happy and unhappy families, Benjamin Markovits's eighth novel is a wise anthropological study of this most intimate grouping of human life.

A Weekend in New York follows three generations of the Essinger family as they gather on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the days leading up to tennis pro Paul's first-round match in the 2011 U.S. Open. Ranked No. 82 in the world and now approaching his mid-30s, Paul realizes his middling career is nearing an end. His older brother, Nathan--a Harvard law professor who's being considered for a job in the Obama Justice Department--has unhelpfully calculated his odds of winning at 1,200 to 1. So Paul divides his attention between the formidable task at hand and the urgency of making "the transition from player to former player gracefully and maybe even lucratively," with his girlfriend Dana, a former model, and their toddler son.

The Essingers are smart and acutely self-aware. Along with its precisely observant prose, the main pleasure of Markovits's novel lies in its firm grasp of the complex geometry of life in a family that "pushed you into arguing with them," a group of "talkers not touchers." For all their verbal sparring, Markovits pinpoints the bedrock affection that enables Essingers to unite fiercely against any outsider. Beneath the surface particularities of their lives, there's a universality to this portrait that will bring at least a rueful nod of recognition to any reader. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Discover: Benjamin Markovits smartly surveys the complex dynamics of life in one modern family.

Faber & Faber, $24, hardcover, 352p., 9780571350087

Leading Men

by Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani's Leading Men imagines the real-life relationship between mercurial American playwright Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner, Frank Merlo, an Italian American actor who died of lung cancer in 1963. It also presents an entirely fictional friendship between Frank, Tennessee and Anja Bloom, a glacially beautiful Swedish actress of Castellani's invention. With grace and wit--and taking respectful liberty with historical truths--Castellani (All This Talk of Love) weaves together multiple timelines, settings and Frank and Anja's oscillating perspectives to tell a moving story of love, loss, memory and regret.

It all begins at a wild party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, in the summer of 1953. Frank, then a young man struggling to define himself against Tennessee's towering persona, is drawn to Anja, an aloof teenage beauty of mysterious origin. Their fateful, fast friendship leads to a summer of wine-soaked dinners, lazy swims and wild drives up and down the coast--as well as dramatic events that alter the courses of their lives.

Literature lovers will enjoy Castellani's rendering of Tennessee Williams and his contemporaries. Frank Merlo proves to be quietly but equally compelling. Moreover, Anja is such a fascinating, singular character that readers may find themselves Googling her name to make sure she didn't exist after all.

From the Italian Riviera of the 1950s, in all its earthy glamour, to the luxurious sanctuary of an aging film star's modern-day Manhattan apartment, Christopher Castellani's Leading Men transports readers across time, place and its characters' aching, flawed hearts. --Hannah Calkins, writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

Discover: Haunted by nostalgia, memory and regret, Leading Men is a transporting adventure that imagines a decades-long love story between Tennessee Williams, his partner and a Swedish film icon.

Viking, $27, hardcover, 368p., 9780525559054

Rain and Other Stories

by Mia Couto, trans. by Eric M.B. Becker

Long considered one of Mozambique's most prominent writers, Mia Couto (Woman of the Ashes, Confession of the Lioness) astonishes with his fiction collection, Rain and Other Stories. Written in the aftermath of his country's civil war, the stories were originally published in 1994 in Portuguese. This English edition was translated by journalist Eric M.B. Becker. Combining fabulism with pointed critiques of war, the collection reveals that Couto found his distinctive voice early in his career. 

The opener, "The Waters of Time," tells the tale of a young boy who watches his grandfather dive into a river to give himself over to whatever spirits live there. Its stunning imagery draws power from unexpected comparisons: "I recall seeing an enormous white egret cross the sky. It looked like an arrow piercing the flanks of the afternoon, making all the firmament bleed." In another standout, "Felizbento's Pipe," war comes to a peaceful land. It begins with a government official telling an old man he must vacate his home. The man refuses, choosing instead to dig up the trees in his yard in protest. After days of this, he disappears into one of his holes with his favorite pipe, and years later, a small tree growing out of the hole puffs smoke at sunset.

Playful and poignant, Rain and Other Stories cements Couto's reputation as one of the finest writers in the Portuguese language, and proves Becker's talent as a discerning and perceptive translator. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

Discover: This stunning collection by one of Mozambique's most renowned writers brims with strange and moving stories about war and family.

Biblioasis, $14.95, paperback, 168p., 9781771962667

Nothing but the Night

by John Williams

In Nothing but the Night, John Williams's first novel, now reprinted by NYRB, a young man grapples with his repressed childhood trauma. Arthur Maxley exists in the realm of waking nightmare, imagining scenes of violence overlaid upon the raucous parties he attends in New York. The lonesome routine of his days is interrupted when his estranged father visits in an attempt to reconnect. Reeling from the encounter, Arthur descends even further into the dark and increasingly carnivalesque world of late-night Manhattan, seeking solace, with explosive results, in the bodies of others. There, he rediscovers not only the original trauma that led him to this moment, but his own ability to perpetuate it.

Written while Williams was serving in World War II and published in the war's immediate aftermath, Nothing but the Night is haunted by internalized violence. With winding, disjointed syntax and horror aesthetics, William's words craft the world Arthur sees as not "a social endeavor that had to do with flesh and blood" but "a dumb show, a horrible grotesque and childlike thing of terror with all the idiot simplicity of a marionette ballet." Each sentence trembles with rage and physicality that, as the book burrows deeper and deeper into Arthur's consciousness, slowly embeds itself within the reader's own perception. A more interior book than Williams's later Butchers Crossing or Stoner, Nothing but the Night offers a stripped-down look at a generation of hollowed-out Holden Caulfields who exist not in the world of intellectual promise or adventure, but in the blaring, unspeakable reality of their own minds. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Part gothic, part noir, Nothing but the Night offers new insight into the potential horror and psychological power of John Williams's literary oeuvre.

NYRB Classics, $14.95, paperback, 144p., 9781681373072

Biography & Memoir

Sounds Like Titanic

by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

When college student Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is hired as a violinist for "an award-winning ensemble," her intuition tells her something isn't quite right. "Professional ensembles do not place advertisements on college listservs," she writes in her hilarious memoir. Moreover, by Hindman's own description, she isn't even very good at playing the violin, despite 13 years of childhood lessons.

Hindman writes in an accessible, forthcoming and incredibly humorous style, contrasting her years growing up in Appalachia with her time spent touring the U.S. with the ensemble. Her lack of talent as a violinist doesn't matter to the Composer, the eccentric musician orchestrating what Hindman quickly discovers is an elaborate ruse. With the Composer at the helm, the ensemble's live performances--and their nationally televised PBS specials--consist of the group standing in front of dead microphones, lightly playing over loudly amplified instrumental recordings of the exact same songs. Most of their selections resemble those on the Titanic movie soundtrack, intended to appeal to the tastes of an unsuspecting yet adoring public.

Hindman's intent with Sounds Like Titanic isn't to expose the musical chicanery. Rather, she uses this experience as the stage for an insightful and reflective commentary on work, culture and women's issues. When she joins the Composer's national tour, she reconciles the grueling travel and performance schedule with her instilled work ethic and the unease of earning a considerable amount of money through false means. In an era when truth is incessantly questioned, Sounds Like Titanic resonates as a story ideal for this particular moment in time. --Melissa Firman

Discover: A violinist from Appalachia performs throughout the country as part of an acclaimed (but fake) musical ensemble.

W.W. Norton, $25.95, hardcover, 256p., 9780393651645

Essays & Criticism

Nobody's Looking at You

by Janet Malcolm

The journalist Janet Malcolm has weathered--or should that be courted?--her share of controversy throughout her storied career, but readers won't find much to get their dander truly up in her third essay collection, Nobody's Looking at You. Rest assured, this is no kinder, gentler Malcolm. (On the poet Ted Hughes's biographer: "That it was [Jonathan] Bate of all people who was chosen to write Hughes's biography only heightens our sense of Hughes's preternatural unluckiness.") But the feather-ruffling potential is restricted to unassuming moments, as when the liberal Malcolm calls for sympathy for a certain former governor of Alaska.

Nobody's Looking at You offers 18 essays culled from the holy trinity of literary periodicals: the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review. The pieces are bundled into three unnamed sections that might have been labeled New York's Finest (subjects include Eileen Fisher and Rachel Maddow), What Technology Has Wrought (the docuseries Sarah Palin's Alaska, e-mail etiquette) and Literary Criticism (Anna Karenina, Quentin Bell's Bloomsbury Recalled, Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series). Malcolm's genius lies in seizing on subjects that the reader might not have realized badly needed examination. In "The Art of Testifying," she's like an ace commentator for the sporting event that is the confirmation hearings of three U.S. Supreme Court justices. And in "Three Sisters," through observing the daily ministrations of the sisters who own and run Manhattan's Argosy Bookshop, Malcolm tells nothing less than the story of American industry. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: The peerless journalist Janet Malcolm's essay collection is perceptive and witty and just a mite caustic.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, hardcover, 304p., 9780374279493

Psychology & Self-Help

The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life

by Katy Butler

In The Art of Dying Well, Katy Butler (Knocking on Heaven's Door) provides a roadmap to navigating a good death. Despite the inevitability of death, she observes, most people remain unprepared for it. Advances in modern medicine help us live longer, but science "wards off death far better than it helps us prepare for peaceful ones." We find ourselves paralyzed by a bewildering, complex health care system that fails to support the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their caregivers.

Chapters cover the stages of decline, beginning with the earliest signs in late middle age; checklists at the beginning of each chapter can help readers identify their stage. Butler stresses the importance of building a social "bank account" of friends, neighbors and family members early, to share in caregiving as you age. She discourages the use of "halfway technologies" that delay death but fail to restore health, favoring palliative care and a network of ancillary health-care workers that provide comfort. When decline is irreversible and death is imminent, say goodbye to loved ones, "enjoy your red velvet cake" and meet your demise on your own terms.

Confronting mortality and slowly losing cognitive and physical abilities can be a confusing and devastating experience for the dying and those who care for them. The Art of Dying Well is an empowering guide that clearly outlines the steps necessary to avoid a chaotic end in an emergency room and to prepare for a beautiful death without fear. --Frank Brasile, librarian

Discover: A sensible and necessary guide to living your best from the beginnings of old age to the very end of life.

Scribner, $26, hardcover, 288p., 9781501135316


Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow Through Our Lives

by Mark Miodownik

For most people, a transatlantic flight is an opportunity to read a book, nap the time away, anxiously endure every bit of turbulence or wonder about the stranger sitting next to you. For materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik, it's an opportunity to consider the myriad roles liquids play on an aircraft, and beyond.

In his first book, Stuff Matters, Miodownik gave readers a tour of "dependable solid stuff." In Liquid Rules, he examines fluids, which, when not contained, are "seeping, corroding, dripping, and escaping our control." Kerosene's ability to be burned in a controlled manner not only revolutionized indoor lighting, but also enabled fuel for air travel. Miodownik soberly discusses how the explosive power of engine fuel caused the Twin Towers to collapse on 9/11.

While filling out a customs form with the humble ballpoint pen, he considers ink. While permanence is its greatest asset, efficiently controlling the flow of a substance that dries quickly took hundreds of years to perfect. Stickiness--not a property of liquid, but rather how it interacts with a specific material--explains how adhesives work and hold modern planes together. And, no less important, Miodownik describes the commonplace, such as how surface tension reveals the level of alcohol in a glass of wine, and how to enjoy the perfect cup of tea.

Liquids give us life, but they can also compromise it. The revolution in refrigeration led to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that, when discarded, damage the atmosphere. And Miodownik looks beyond the plane to consider the destructive force of tsunamis and the impact of our water footprint. With this amiable delivery system, the science of liquid is anything but dry. --Frank Brasile, librarian

Discover: Brisk and approachable, Liquid Rules reveals the power, peril and promise of fluids in our lives.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, hardcover, 256p., 9780544850194

Reference & Writing

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

by Benjamin Dreyer

There are many ways to write, but to communicate clearly requires consistency in style. Lucky for readers of Dreyer's English, Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief of Random House, has something more: panache. This is no stuffy grammarian's treatise on language and usage. Although unabashedly opinionated, Dreyer never claims to have all the answers. In fact, he openly discusses instances in which he has come to recognize his own errors over time (like the spelling of Danielle Steel's name). Maintaining that tone, he guides readers through the issues he frequently addresses, while conceding much else to higher powers like Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style.

This framework leaves plenty of room for fun. And, yes, as unlikely as it may sound, the mechanics of writing are consistently fun with Dreyer at the helm. Whether addressing punctuation, spelling, cliché or any number of pitfalls a writer or editor may encounter, he is ready with a sharp, memorable example. Explaining which clauses need to be set off with commas, he suggests Liz and her spouses as the best illustration: "Elizabeth Taylor's second marriage, to Michael Wilding [vs.] Elizabeth Taylor's second marriage to Richard Burton." One little comma can tell an entirely different story.

While it's a copy editor's job to be a stickler, Dreyer also makes clear that one can carry peeves and peccadilloes right off a cliff if one isn't careful. In a footnote, he questions a certain magazine's feverish use of diaereses and hyphens: "If you're going to have a house style, try not to have a house style visible from space."

Even as language continues to evolve, let's hope Dreyer's English never goes out of style. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Hack through writing's confounding minutiae with this utterly amusing guide to style and clarity.

Random House, $25, hardcover, 320p., 9780812995701

Children's & Young Adult

On the Come Up

by Angie Thomas

In Coretta Scott King and Printz honoree author Angie Thomas's (The Hate You Give) second novel, On the Come Up, high school junior Brianna "Bri" Jackson is an aspiring MC working toward her dream of rap superstardom.

As Bri waits anxiously for the call that will put her in the Ring for her first rap battle, she explains in the first line of the book that she "might have to kill somebody tonight." She gets the call, enters the Ring and does, indeed, annihilate her competition: Milez "with a z," an uninspired challenger whose "Swagerific" bop is hot on the radio. Bri's victory is short-lived, though, when she's assaulted the next day by the security guards at her school. While the video of Bri's performance in the Ring should be going viral, a video of her assault gains traction instead.

On the Come Up takes place almost a year after the police shooting and riots that shook the Garden Heights community in Thomas's THUG. Bri's experiences with the often-overwhelming pressures of being black and poor are intensified by the fact that she is the daughter of a recovering addict and a murdered "underground rap legend." Her narrative is steady and cohesive, even as she is compelled to use her energy to confront institutional violence instead of to build her dream. Thomas's work is multifaceted and unusual; intimate details of life in an underserved and impoverished community are combined with the unjust social and physical brutalities those communities face at the hands of presumed protectors. This book gazes directly at the deeply emotional, moral challenges teens like Bri--teens who dream of hot water and full fridges--face when they are trying to come up. --Breanna J. McDaniel, freelance reviewer

Discover: This  young adult novel breathes life into the art and struggle of "starting from the bottom."

Balzer + Bray, $18.99, hardcover, 464p., ages 14-up, 9780062498564

The Giver Graphic Novel

by Lois Lowry, P. Craig Russell, illus. by Galen Showman, Scott Hampton

Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning middle-grade novel The Giver has been read by millions and reimagined many times over. The latest addition to this line of innovative versions is P. Craig Russell's mesmerizing graphic novel.

As Lowry herself says in a conversation found in the back of the book, Russell's graphic novel sticks "very closely to the original." It is in this extremely faithful adaptation that much of the graphic novel's beauty can be found--Russell's stripping down of text is deliberate, the scenes he chooses to depict give a full view of the story while remaining firmly rooted in the graphic format. This dedicated visual retelling also gives depth, highlighting some of the more mature, intense aspects of the novel. One such example is Jonas's education on what "release" is: Russell dedicates an entire double-page spread to the process of injecting poison into the baby's "teeny-weeny" veins; another two-page spread to boxing up the body and placing it in a "waste" disposal.

Additionally, Russell's envisioning of Jonas's "capacity to see beyond"--Jonas's ability to see snippets of color in a black-and-white world--is gracefully wrought. As Jonas absorbs more memories, the bold colors of our world slowly creep in, until the final pages are entirely in color. To accomplish this, Russell used a technique that creates a "blue/silvery tonal look" which, as he says in an included interview, gives "life to the page" even as it gives "the look of a world without color." The Giver Graphic Novel is a worthy adaptation, similar yet creative enough to win over those already familiar with the story while also inviting new readers in. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: P. Craig Russell's graphic novel adaptation of The Giver is an elegant reimagining likely to please fans and appeal to new readers.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22.99, hardcover, 192p., ages 12-up, 9780544157880


Author Buzz

Dragon Kiss
(A Dragon Kings Novella)

by Donna Grant

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the Dragon Kings! I'm thrilled to bring you DRAGON KISS. The world of the Dragon Kings keeps expanding, and this story brings us Alasdair and Lotti, a powerful couple who have overcome all odds to find love. But a deadly enemy intends to rip them apart.

I can't wait for you to fall in love with Alasdair and Lotti as I have.


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Dragon Kiss (A Dragon Kings Novella) by Donna Grant

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 9, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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