It’s hard to write about the Dust Bowl without tipping over into melodrama, and at times it felt as if the only thing moving the story forward was the next disaster. The relationships between the women in THE FOUR WINDS kept me invested. Elsa is a bit of a sad-sack, but her daughter Loreda is fierce and as she ages, she challenges Elsa to overcome her fears.
THE GREAT CIRCLE is a big book – not just because it is nearly 600 pages long – but because of the breadth of the subject matter – art, aviation, prohibition, noncomformity, war, isolation, connection – and the period it spans 1909-2014 – give or take a few decade gaps. There will be So. Much. To. Discuss. with your book group! Maggie Shipstead has a keen understanding of longing and what it means to be human.
The choices Stella and Desiree make, and the outcomes of those choices, reveal the ugly inventions of race and sex and class in America. Hobbled by those definitions, Bennett’s characters push and pull against them. Stella sacrifices family and true connection for a false identity. Desiree surrenders to her identity and sacrifices her dreams.
Powerfully conveyed through shifting narratives, SEND FOR ME is not a lament, but rather an ode to family and a love that transcends time and place. I recommend SEND FOR ME for fans of Kristin Hannah and Geraldine Brooks. Listen to my interview with Lauren Fox on Superior Reads, May 27 at 7:00 pm.
I cannot recommend EARLY MORNING RISER enough. EARLY MORNING RISER brims with love and hope and humor. Heiny redefines family in this enchanting novel and I felt my heart lifted from the heaviness of the past year. Her characters are complex and quirky – they’re your mother, your brother, or your neighbor – they are just like all those complicated people you encounter on a daily basis. Whether you live in a small town, or your village of people is in a big city, you’ll recognize them and after reading EARLY MORNING RISER, you’ll find the things that may have previously annoyed you, endearing. Heiny is like that – through her lens, you’ll see things differently.
BROOD brims with hope in the midst of grief and tenderness in spite of loss. “Life is the ongoing effort to live,” Polzin writes, “some people make it look easy. Chickens do not.” BROOD is an honest look at life, love, loss, and to some extent, chickens.
Hyde’s characters are often one-dimensional and her plots simplistic, but the relationship between a cast-off young man and a disillusioned elderly woman who has watched her neighborhood devolve into a place of bigotry and fear, is like putting a warm blanket over 2020. Could I look more hopefully into the face of 2021? Maybe — if I let myself believe that the good people in HAVE YOU SEEN LUIS VELEZ exist outside of its pages.
AMERICAN GOSPEL will be out in October and is Lin Enger’s third novel. The plot revolves around the apocalyptic vision of an old man whose message resonates with a nation in turmoil. Like his other novels, Undiscovered Country and High Divide, AMERICAN GOSPEL flawlessly weaves together personal stories of fractured families with historical events resulting in a satisfying, yet surprising resolution.