Welcome to Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.
Today I’m happy to be sharing titles that weren’t right for the Summer Reading Guide, but are certainly worth sharing. The Kingsolver and Wood selections probably give you a hint I’m happy to not be reading new and forthcoming releases nonstop.
Not included: the three Jane Austen novels I re-read last week. I intended to just read one and then I couldn’t help myself.
I've loved Kingsolver's novels from the past ten years; I've been meaning to revisit her older work for ages and this month I finally did it. This is her 1987 debut, and it was striking to see so many of the same themes she spent the next 30 years (and counting) exploring: her Kentucky roots, immigration, unlikely families, the American southwest, and young girls with lots of growing up to do. The title of this one never appealed to me, and I was surprised to discover the reference at the same time my own backyard wisteria was coming into bloom. (Not a spoiler, I promise.) More info →
I adored Wood's new novel The One-in-a-Million Boy and was eager to read more of her work so I picked this up and I'm so glad I did. This is Wood's story of her childhood in the oddly named Mexico, Maine, home to the Oxford Paper Company, and the death of her father when she was just 9 years old. The story was so well done, and I especially enjoyed the audio version, narrated by the author herself. More info →
This psychological thriller was good enough to make the Summer Reading Guide, but I ran out of room! A British single mother gives her 8-year-old son permission to run ahead a little on their evening walk in the park ... and he disappears, without a trace. MacMillan invites the reader to come along on the hunt for the boy, alternately focusing on police procedure and family drama. The tight writing and sharp execution made this hard to put down. I've seen a lot of comparisons to The Girl on the Train, but instead I'd recommend this one for Tana French fans. More info →
The action in this new suspenseful novel centers around a beautiful private communal garden in London. Most of the neighbors have lived there for years and trust each other implicitly; one family felt lucky to find their new flat when they were displaced from their home after a tragic fire. In the prologue, one of these new neighbors, 12-year-old Grace, is found in a corner of this supposedly idyllic garden, injured and unconscious after a neighborhood party. Jewell flashes back in time to introduce us to all the neighbors, and we discover much to mistrust as we try to figure out what happened to Grace. I read this as a Summer Reading Guide contender, and while it held my attention, it wasn't a favorite. Published June 7, 2016. More info →
This debut autobiographical fiction from screenwriter Rowley is at once poignant and kooky. This is the lightly fictionalized tale of the author's last 6 months with his beloved dachshund and the brain tumor ("octopus") that ended her life. This little book provided me with one of my more bizarre reading experiences, because the great similarity between Lily and my own beloved lab were uncanny (even if Harriet and I never played board games or compared the two Ryans, Gosling and Reynolds), so much so that when I described the book to my husband right after finishing it (with tears streaming down my face) we both collapsed in helpless laughter. Definitely a strange book, but a sweet and strangely powerful one for anyone who's loved a dog. More info →
I blurbed this title and am thrilled to see it's finally on bookstore shelves! I know I’m not the only one who’s stood in the middle of the children’s section at the library or bookstore knowing I’m surrounded by good books to read but wishing someone would point me toward which ones to choose—and which to pass over. Jamie's done the hard work: is here to help me do just that. She’s done the hard work for you: this is a big list of annotated book recommendations, broken down by region, along with plenty of tips on using literature to foster a love of reading and a global awareness in the kids in your life. Published June 7, 2016. More info →