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Book(s) of the Month!

June Hardcover Book of the Month
Parakeet
by Marie-Helene Bertino

Ambivalent brides and bad mothers are not usually the stuff of novels I fall in love with, but Parakeet blew me away. Marie-Helene Bertino’s protagonist is a woman a week out from marrying a man she doesn’t love, whose dead grandmother has come back to taunt her in the form of a wisecracking bird right before a wedding she dreads. At once funny and devastating, smart and tender, tough and weird, what the NYT called “a Homeric quest to reclaim control over the heroine’s own life and sanity,” Parakeet is about forgiveness, identity, trauma and loss, a story that is disquieting and darkly comic, with a protagonist who is vulnerable and true, struggling with social conventions and her own sense of self. Bertino’s sharp, staccato prose crackles with insight, and several gut-wrenching scenes startle and kick you in the gut. Quirky and memorable, Ed loved and highly recommends!

 

June Hardcover Book of the Month
Tokyo Ueno Station
by Yu Miri

This wonderfully strange and affecting novel is narrated by a voice from the dead. Kazu, a construction worker from Fukushima, has died and his ghost is doomed to haunt Tokyo’s Ueno Park. Unlike most ghost stories from the traditional horror genre, Miri relies less on fright and more on nuance and tenderness. Through the splintered narrative, Miri explores many themes framed by a narrative of loss; the death of family members, the chasmic divide between the wealthy and the poor, the mistreatment of homeless populations, and the regrets of a life only half-lived. Melancholy and dream-like, this slim but poignant book is a wonder to read. Shane loves!

 

June Paperback Book of the Month
The Nickel Boys
by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys is a potently concentrated drama pinpointing the brutality and insidiousness of Jim Crow racism, turning on the story of Elwood Curtis and Jack Turner, and inspired by horrific events that transpired at the real-life Dozier School for Boys, brutalities that went on for over 110 years. The Nickel Boys is more than a litany of horrors; it is a vehicle where a whole brotherhood of broken boys finally get to tell their story, through the vividly created fictional characters of Elwood and Turner. Whitehead has succeeded in giving us a great novel that also instructs, showing us the backward wickedness that was America, but also showing us the way forward—how to survive trauma and oppression, how to maintain one’s personhood without being broken or permanently diminished. A powerful, devastating story, simply told, that dares to confront the past and jog our collective memory. Ed loved and highly recommends!

 

June Paperback Book of the Month
The Yellow House
by Sarah M. Broom

The Yellow House is Sarah Broom’s deeply personal story of growing up in East New Orleans, the youngest of 12 siblings; from celebration to devastation, it is an homage to place, to family, to the people who called 4121 Wilson Avenue, New Orleans, home. Displaying a gorgeous lyricism and a righteous fury, it is a tribute to the multitude of stories a small, shotgun house in the poorest section of New Orleans can contain-- from the fullness of family to the inevitability of displacement and loss. Literary non-fiction that soars, exemplifying the best of what memoir can be, where the specifics of the life and times of a single house, occupied by a single family over half a century, becomes something much bigger—a portrait of modern black America, a sweeping oral history of our times. Ed loved and highly recommends!
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