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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
Rich and Pretty reads like a romance between two friends, exploring the ups and downs that occur in any long friendship. Since they were eleven, Lauren and Sarah have been best friends, and now in their thirties, Sarah is getting married and their relationship will evolve once again. Alam gets the little things right, building and surveying their relationship perfect detail by perfect detail, including their lives and secrets separate from one another. By the end, we know these two women as individuals, as a unit, and feel lucky to have seen their friendship in all its iterations and, truly, its beauty.
Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam ($25.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
This is the kind of book that changes the reader alongside the change of the characters. I felt the coin drop just as the characters did and marveled at the skill displayed on each page by Wolas. This is a feminist novel through and through--one that fits the time we are in now--but this is all subtext. The story and the characters are why I couldn't bear to put this down until I followed it through to the end.
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.
The book itself is small and brightly colored. On the cover is a popsicle stick with a fragment of frozen purple goodness hanging on. Inside are delightful morsels that are both heart-rending and side-splitting. You'll want to devour them all in one sitting, but try to savor them. Get a little juice on your chin.
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly ($22.95, Norton), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Such a wonderful book. For a few days after I finished it, I actually missed reading it - where's my daily dose of Morrigan Crow? I hear that the author has a 9 book cycle planned, and my most fervent wish is that by the time it's over, it would be just as famous as Harry potter.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.
Claudia tends to keep to herself at school, only coming out of her shell at home with her best -- pretty much only -- friend. When a series of events conspire to throw Claudia together with the resident mean girl, Iris, they end up having to participate in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's not all bad, though, as Claudia and Iris start to become friends, and a cute boy shows interest in Claudia. But Claudia has to learn to navigate her relationships -- new and old, with siblings, friends, and romantic interests -- which is not as easy as it seems like it should be. Claudia's extreme snark had me laughing out loud, and the poignancy of her friendships had me wiping away a stray tear or two. Emma Mills remains one of my favorite contemporary authors.
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills ($17.99*, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Two orphans with artistic souls survive poverty in Montreal during the Great Depression. Separated as teenagers, they spiral into a dark underworld but are eventually reunited to revisit a shared childhood dream. I was enchanted by this novel from the moment I started it. O’Neill’s writing is whimsical and haunting — the most cinematic reading experience I’ve had in a long while.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
What a well-written, entertaining trashing of the King of Culture Vultures, Jann Wenner, and his coterie of drug-addled, revoltingly ambitious and very attractive nest-prodders. There’s genuine dish on every single page; as a very young man who read and was consciously influenced by the writing in Rolling Stone, I feel personally insulted and maimed by what these people did to steer the "counterculture", but I have respect for the cohesive and thorough application of their evil will. A useful, engaging, mirror-smashing exposé, highly recommended.
Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan ($29.95*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.