Reviews

Love, Africa

This memoir by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will make you feel as though you have boarded a jet and begun a new life.

Jeffrey Gettleman, nineteen-year old college student, wanders his way into East Africa, does community service work, and falls in love with the landscapes, people, swirl of languages, and colorful clothing there. In fact, he eventually decides he must come back to live in the region, not just visit.

Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World

Say you've just finished your graduate degree in writing from Boston College, and a rich donor provides you with funds to travel anywhere in the world. Where do you pick? Tahiti, Paris, Buenos Aires? For British citizen Nell Stevens, it's none of the above. Instead, she chooses the remote Falklands Islands, where South America meets Antarctica—in June, which is winter there.

In Stanley, the Falklands' capital, Nell researches the archives for her first novel, and also meets some of the less-than-friendly Falklanders there. After a few weeks, Nell hops a plane for even more remote Bleaker Island, about which a writer friend quips, “Oh, you’re writing Bleaker House.”

What Should I Read Next? Staff Picks from the Ground Floor

Need a book for the road trip, the beach, or the pool? Try our Staff Picks for Teens. Better yet—come see us in person in The Ground Floor at the Downtown Library, the Ellettsville Branch, or on the Bookmobile. We love talking about books, and can help you find one that makes you laugh, cry, or get transported to a far-off world (or all three!).

Becky: "I loved The Hate U Give—the story pulled me in quickly and had an emotional punch. My cry count ended up at twelve. The characters felt real, the dialogue was fast-paced, and the plot was very intense. SO GOOD! Have you read it yet? Try the audiobook!"

A Gentleman in Moscow

During the first half of the twentieth century, thousands of Russians suffered fates much worse than life-long imprisonment. Joseph Stalin sent many artists, writers, and politicos to the Gulag—or killed them outright.

This is the fictional story of Count Rostov, an educated aristocrat devoted to the literary arts, who found after the first Russian Revolution that being a count was not only illegal, but dangerous. The Count traveled to Paris, and unlike many of his contemporaries visiting abroad, decided to return home. But in the 1920s, under Stalin's Article 58 banning counterrevolution, Rostov stood before a tribunal, and was sentenced to permanent imprisonment at the luxury Metropol Hotel—for writing a poem that he never wrote.

Between Them: Remembering My Parents

It's a life-changing experience in adulthood when you begin to see your mother and father as individuals, separate from their parenting roles.

Richard Ford wrote a memoir of his father decades ago, as well as one of his mother, penned more recently. Now, in this joint memoir, he again remembers his parents, Parker and Edna, who both grew up in Arkansas.

Exit West

Several books use the concept of a magical door to provide characters entry into other worlds, or to better places in this one. Exit West, a timely novel about refugees by Man Booker Prize winner Mohsin Hamid, employs this device—but because of the power of his plotting and beauty of his prose, it's highly believable.

The novel begins when a young man, Saeed, meets Nadia in an adult evening class in an unnamed country at some point in the near future. Civil war wracks the country; terrorists and militants roam the streets.

Hillbilly Elegy

Many in the media and politics keep trying to figure out why our new President attracts so many Rust Belt and Appalachian voters. This memoir of a young man’s coming of age in both regions may offer some insight.

At only thirty-one, J.D. Vance admits he's way too young to have penned a memoir. He hasn’t done anything extraordinary (though he did graduate from Yale Law School, a major accomplishment for a kid from a single-parent home in a working-class town in Ohio, where many did not finish high school).

Vance writes most vividly of Jackson, his dirt-poor but beautiful ancestral home in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. He also describes his people: a great-grandmother who once killed someone, and his own Mamaw who often threatens to do the same to her husband when he comes home drunk. In fact, J.D. relates, one night he saves his Pawpaw after Mamaw poured gasoline over him and lights a match.

Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan

Mega Girl was the best superhero around—until she gave up her lifestyle of punching bad guys and saving the world. Now, ex-Mega Girl Alison Green is trying to live a normal life, go to college, and figure everything out. As she works to save the world without a mask, finish her homework, and attempt to cope with the past, Alison learns that heroism can take many forms.

Rumble, Vol. 1: What Color of Darkness by John Arcudi

An ancient god of war out for vengeance, a lonely bartender, and an angry fire demon all walk into a bar. Sounds like the start of a joke, right? Well, that's almost correct.

What Color of Darkness imagines a world where ancient gods and monsters feud over thousands of years to decide the fate of humanity. Humans have a mighty champion in the war god Rathraq, who fights to make sure humankind can flourish in safety—but he's betrayed and imprisoned for thousands of years. Now Rathraq's soul has been released and forced to inhabit a scarecrow, but this won't stop his quest for revenge. Aided by the bartender Bobby, who's just trying to get by in life, Rathraq hunts for the monster queen who stole his body, clashes with an outsized fire demon, and confronts a world starkly different than the one he remembers.

Winner of the 2017 Rosie Award: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award winner for 2017 is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Winners are decided by Indiana high school students who choose from twenty-five nominated titles [PDF]. This year's honor titles are Cory Doctorow's In Real Life and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Trust us: you'll love All the Bright Places! Its publisher describes it this way:

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