The borders in the slums of a large Indian city are porous enough to entangle the lives of three people of different social standing. Each dreams of a different life. Two have the chance to fulfill their dreams if they toss the third to the wolves. Majumdar has set a morality play in a location where morality is a costly luxury. This tender but ultimately brutal tale will raise your empathy and scorch your heart.
— Kay Wosewick
Ottessa Moshfegh is a modern day Camus. An elderly woman finds a note in the woods that proclaims someone is dead. Murdered, in fact. She investigates between dog walks and early evening naps, but soon facts, memories, and suppositions entwine and overlap until the simple act of asking a question can unravel the thread of an entire life. Ponderous, violent, forgetful, and deft, Death in Her Hands is a genre-bender that teases you into asking - is this noir? Horror? A whacked out farce? Or a sly literary trick? I’ll tell you what it is - absolutely brilliant.
— Chris Lee
Danny and his sister Maeve grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mother disappeared, Father remarried, and the wicked stepmother threw them out on the streets. Their whole lives, they’ve been telling this story over and over, parked outside on the street, and wondering not just what’s happened to their home, but what’s happened to the people that they were. But while they are both telling family stories, it turns out they might not be telling the same story. There are so many things I love about Ann Patchett’s latest – from the way that she plays with the iconic spinster image, to the way she puts at the center of the story a heroine with diabetes, while not making the story about a heroine with diabetes, to the almost fairy tale like ambience. And then there’s the writing itself – if Ann Patchett wrote repair manuals, we’d all know how to fix our appliances.
— Daniel Goldin
Who has not passed by their childhood home and "scrolled through the years,” recalling impressions that bring to mind the universal questions of family identity, complete with its losses, forgiveness, hope, and love? An intimate journey into the heart of the Conroy family, whose dream it is to live the perfect life in a suburban Philadelphia mansion, Dutch House, is shaken when Mrs. Conroy abandons her husband and children, 10-year-old Maeve and 3-year-old Danny. Layering the past with the present over five decades and three generations, readers will come to care for this family, recognizing that the powerful grip that connects them to the Dutch House has the pull to not only divide them but to also unite them. This is Ann Patchett at her brilliantly insightful best. Destined to be my favorite read of 2019!
— From Jane's Staff Recommendations
This book is so good it’s giving me anxiety attacks. Jenny has a lot going – break ups, break downs, digital obsessions, maternal intrusions, maybe even a little growing up, and all of it rudely intruding from outside the edges of her phone’s screen. Told in a whirlwind of texts, unsent emails, Instagram comments, and Jenny’s mumbling, razor-tongued ruminations, which range from deadpan riffing to screaming-in-a-pillow angry crying, this is a sweaty palms, grinding teeth, visceral experience that’ll have you doing that taken-aback-laugh-rage-shaking thing – in a good way, I swear!
— Chris Lee
The anxiety is REAL. This book started out feeling like a phone-crazed Black Mirror episode but quickly turned into a mother-daughter relationship evaluation in the midst of a personal crisis. Jenny’s in her mid-thirties and wants desperately to actually live the life she presents on social media, but instead is spiraling into a mind-numbing, constant anxiety that sinks further when her extroverted, dare I say ridiculous, “psychic” mother decides to live with her. I was worried this book would be just another “the younger generation and those phones!” where our protagonist learns some kind of unplugging lesson, but it is so much deeper. Jenny deals with real problems women face, including the struggles of both motherhood and infertility, largely through her frantic yet comedic e-mails, social media posts, and inner monologues. I especially appreciated how it deals with infertility, as reproduction is so often considered a woman-defining ability, making it a silent struggle not often discussed. I cannot stress enough how well this book handles the stigmas and struggles that women face, including female relationships that are much more than catty bickering. Grown Ups makes you want to hug your best friends and call your mother.
— Madi Hill
Emma Jane Unsworth's Grown Ups is a quirky, she's-already-come-of-age novel with a cast of characters that you can't stand and can't believe you so clearly identify with. Reminiscent of Black Mirror's “Nosedive,” Jenny McClaine's perfectly posh social media feeds would have you believing anything but the truth - that is, her life is an actual bona fide mess, her relationship of nearly a decade just crashed & burned, and her neurotic, new age mama is moving in. Through Jenny's texts, emails, email drafts, and social media messages, Unsworth gifts her readers with a critique of the keep-scrolling-til-the-dopamine-hits culture of the 21st century that has every woman you know feeling like there's no damn way to keep up. Initially, more than a few of Jenny's actions come across as deplorable, but the deeper we dive into her psyche, the more understandable, and frankly, 100% relatable, she becomes. I want to give this book to all of the women I know, and I dare them to read it without checking their phone every couple of pages. #obsessed
— Kira McGrigg
Jenny McLaine's life is perfectly instagrammable. A nice photograph, with the right filter, and a witty caption, with the perfect amount of "!'s" and emojis. Well, most of her life anyways - she still has to deal with her complicated relationship with her ex-boyfriend, her crumbling friendships, her dying job, and worst of all, her mother. Grown Ups is a hilarious and scarily relatable novel that explores the complicated way that social media has begun to influence us and our IRL relationships. These characters and their antics made me laugh-out-loud, cringe, and shudder in horror when I saw myself reflected in them. Jenny and just about everyone else in this book seriously suck. But sometimes, so do we all, and maybe if we try a little harder, and post a little less, that can be okay. Unsworth tosses the falling tree and the forest aside and asks the question, "if I don't post about it did it really matter? And what happens if no one cares?"
— Parker Jensen
Whoo, where to begin with Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth? This book is like being chased uphill by a monster that’s all teeth and tentacles, through waist deep mud with a full English tea set, trying not to spill anything, and enjoying it. I have never felt more conflicted writing a review because I absolutely 100% adore Muir’s work, but my brain has been pummeled by a herd of stark raving musk ox. I was lost from page one, and I was still lost by page five hundred and seven, but I have never delighted more in slogging through a book in my life. I have drunk the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, survived, and I am now an addict. Muir is a master of expletives and insults. Her world building is pretty stellar (pun intended), her knowledge of anatomy disgusted and thrilled me, and her ability to keep the reader guessing is unparalleled. This sci-fi series is incredible, this book is incredible, but readers be warned: this is a book you will battle. It will leave you exhausted. But by the end you’ll own a pair of aviator sunglasses and long for the power of the necromancer.
— Kelli O'Malley
There's a humanity to this novel that runs deeper than most, a gradual but constant movement through the earthy details of life and love. It's powerful, like the glaciers that form a vital part of the setting, and the longer I read the more it overtook me. We see the members of one family, several generations apart, and find the connections between a man who becomes a legendary survivor in 1890s Norway and a woman looking for the meaning of family and happiness in present-day Minnesota. Their struggles are timeless and universal. We know the descendants will continue, their blood crossing generations in defiance of personal isolation and beautiful but treacherous landscapes. I wondered at times how they did it. So did they, but their love is the greatest answer to how and why. I understand Geye's characters, and I think they would understand me. What greater compliment could I give a novelist?
— Tim McCarthy