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Black History Month Week 1

BLACK HISTORY MONTH WEEK 1

February is Black History Month. To celebrate, we are featuring books that are written by African American and black writers each week.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf
by Marlon James

As with his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, James’s first foray into fantasy demonstrates epic sweep, an intensely layered structure, and raw if luscious language that pins readers to the page with enough concrete detail to discourage a breezy skim-through. Placed firmly in the genre by its dark magic, unstoppable twists and turns, dangerous kingly aspirations, and imperfect but essential fellow-creature bonding, the narrative is refreshingly distinctive in its grounding in African history and folklore. Its protagonist is the Tracker, a tough-talking loner whose sense of smell leads him to his quarry and here to a momentous task. The opening pages show the Tracker as a young man leaving home both to escape his family and confront his people’s enemies, as he refines his skills, discovers a shocking secret about his parentage, helps a group of children (e.g., Smoke Girl, Giraffe Boy) abandoned for their weirdness as cursed, and meets the sardonic, shapeshifting Leopard , with whom he forms a close but testy relationship. But the journey’s the thing, as the Tracker is later engaged by a slaver to find a kidnapped child, reputedly the son of a North Kingdom elder who riled the king and was slaughtered with his family. In his efforts, the Tracker grudgingly allows himself to be joined by the Leopard , the Moon Witch Sogolon, the perfidious Nyka, and others. As they move through the Darklands and subsequent fraught territories toward the Southern Kingdom, they encounter witches and demons, flesh-eating trolls, splendidly dressed mercenaries, vampires, necromancers, ancient griots, and a wise, magisterial buffalo. References to harsh pansexual encounters often shift events forward, and the entire story is framed as a tale told to an inquisitor, though we are a long way from understanding from whence he came—this is the first in the “Dark Star” trilogy. VERDICT As the Tracker realizes, “The only way forward is through,” and it’s the same for readers. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers who welcome a grand new challenge, as James launches an unglorified if gloriously delivered story that feels eminently real despite the hobgoblins, and for literary readers, eager to see the world—and James’s particular talents—in a new light. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/18; Editors’ Spring Picks, p. 22.] –Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed 02/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 2, p68)


Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernardine Evaristo

Shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker Prize, Anglo-Nigerian writer Evaristo’s (Mr. Loverman, 2014) courageous and intersectional novel explores Black British identity and unfolds in a single night, or over the course of 100 years, depending on how readers look at it. It opens with the story of Amma, a formerly fringe, lesbian playwright whose newest work, The Last Amazon of Dahomey, opens tonight at London’s National Theatre. Her daughter, Yazz, uber-confident thanks to Amma’s emotionally affirming parenting, goes next, followed by Dominique, Amma’s longtime friend and one-time partner in artistic consciousness- and hell-raising. Following chapters expand the novel’s web three characters at a time (a table of contents lists their names, but it’s exciting to be surprised by the revelation of who will take center stage) until there are 12: 11 women  and 1 nonbinary person. Evaristo uses minimal punctuation and fluid paragraphs for a high-velocity style of exposition. And, oh, what is exposed. Hearing from mothers and their children, teachers and their students across generations, readers might expect that they’ll get to see just what these characters can’t know about one another, but they won’t imagine the dazzling specificities nor the unspooling dramas; they will be entertained, educated, and riveted. — Annie Bostrom (Reviewed 11/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 116, number 5, p17)


Call Me American: A Memoir
by Abdi Nor Iftin

Nor Iftin’s experience was the “gory terrorism” of Mogadishu, Somalia, the setting of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down. His pastoral parents retreated to the city when drought decimated their herds. A brief period of prosperity soon descended into warfare with Islamic terrorist activity infiltrating the city and affection for American  ways endangering one’s life. Nicknamed “Abdi American ,” the author had a love of Western movies that was dangerous. He quickly parlayed that affinity into learning English fluently and met reporter Paul Salopek, who featured him in a 2009 Atlantic article. Opportunities for public radio reporting generated American  connections that finally led him to resettle in Maine. While focusing on his life in Somalia, the horror and tribulations of his family become explicit. Sadly, the volume ends with President Trump’s stance on immigration, which prevents Nor Iftin from visiting his family in Somalia and them from joining him in America. VERDICT A harrowing success story of escaping terrorism, overcoming government bureaucracy, and experiencing pure luck, this insightful debut yields an inside look at a largely forgotten conflict that continues to rage. –Jessica Bushore (Reviewed 05/01/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 8, p72)

**MAINE AUTHOR**


The Old Drift
by Namwali Serpell

Serpell’s debut is a rich, complex saga of three intertwined families over the  course of more than a century. The  epic stretches out from a single violent encounter: in the  early 20th century, a British colonialist adopts North-western Rhodesia (now Zambia) as his home, settling in the Old Drift , a settlement near Victoria Falls, where the  colonist gets into a fateful skirmish with a local hotelier. After this, readers first meet Sibilla, the  hotelier’s granddaughter, a woman born with hair covering her body, who runs away to Africa with a man who frequents the  wealthy Italian estate at which her mother is a servant; then, in England, there’s Agnes, the  colonialist’s granddaughter, a rich white girl and talented tennis player who goes blind and falls in love with a student who, unbeknownst to her, is black; and Matha, the  servant’s granddaughter, a spirited prodigy who joins a local radical’s avant-garde activism. In part two, Agnes’s son, Lionel, has an affair with Matha’s daughter, which leads to a confrontation that also involves Naila, Sibilla’s granddaughter. Serpell expertly weaves in a preponderance of themes, issues, and history, including Zambia’s independence, the  AIDS epidemic, white supremacy, patriarchy, familial legacy, and the  infinite variations of lust and love. Recalling the  work of Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez as a sometimes magical, sometimes horrifically real portrait of a place, Serpell’s novel goes into the  future of the  2020s, when the  various plot threads come together in a startling conclusion. Intricately imagined, brilliantly constructed, and staggering in its scope, this is an astonishing novel. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Mar.) –Staff (Reviewed 01/07/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 1, p)

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Walker's Bookshelf

Non-fiction Friday: History Books

Non-fiction Friday: History Books

Renowned historian David McCullough once addressed the graduating seniors of Wesleyan University and said, “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” If you’re looking for titles that explores the past to help understand the present, here is a list of recently published history books you can borrow now.

This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving
by David J. Silverman

What it’s about: the complex 50-year alliance between the Wampanoag tribe and European colonizers that ended with King Philip’s War, a three-year conflict that almost completely annihilated the Wampanoag.

Why you might like it: This impassioned narrative centers the Wampanoag people’s experiences, offering insights into why the alliance was brokered and how the tribe persisted in the face of devastation. 

Don’t miss: profiles of Wampanoag activists, including Frank James (1923-2001), who established the National Day of Mourning in 1970. 

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era
by Gareth Russell

What it is: an extensively researched, evocatively detailed account of the Titanic‘s fateful voyage as experienced by six first-class passengers.

Featuring: Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes, who rowed a lifeboat full of passengers to safety; Jewish American immigrant Ida Strauss, who chose to die with her husband rather than board a lifeboat without him.  

Don’t miss: Author Gareth Russell’s debunking of many of the popular conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the ship’s sinking.  

Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
by Jessica McDiarmid

What it is: a heart-wrenching exposé on British Columbia’s Highway 16, known as the “Highway of Tears” because of the disappearances or murders of many Indigenous girls and women in the area.

Why it matters: Journalist Jessica McDiarmid’s “powerful must-read” (Booklist) illuminates how these unsolved and under-reported crimes are a microcosm of the systemic forces that continue to fail vulnerable Indigenous populations throughout Canada.

Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth
by Iain MacGregor

What it’s about: how Cold War tensions spurred the construction of Checkpoint Charlie, the border crossing separating East and West Germany that became a powerful symbol of the era.

Why you might like it: This dramatic, well-researched account was published to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

What sets it apart: never-before-seen interviews with border guards, intelligence operatives, and escapees.

Broke: Hardship & Resilience in a City of Broken Promises
by Jodie Adams Kirshner, foreword by Michael Eric Dyson

What it is: an eye-opening portrait of Detroit, Michigan following the city’s 2013 bankruptcy filing. 

What’s inside: profiles of seven Detroit citizens trying to make a better life while facing poverty, urban blight, and government negligence. 

Try this next: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and Detroit native) Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy similarly surveys the lives of everyday citizens navigating the Motor City’s tumultuous changes. 

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News

Annual Valentine’s Tea Party

You are invited to the library’s annual Valentine’s Tea Party on Saturday, February 8th from 12pm to 4pm.

There will be food, music, and crafts for everyone to enjoy. The event will be taking place in the beautiful historic wing of the library, and everyone can come in any time between 12pm to 4pm. We hope you can join us!

This event is hosted by the Friends of Walker Memorial Library, a dedicated group supporting and promoting Walker Memorial Library. To find out more about them, please visit https://walkerlibrary.org/friends.

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Walker's Bookshelf

Winter Weather Whodunit

There is something about mystery/crime fiction that goes well with the winter season. If you crave the gritty, atmospheric, and claustrophobic feeling that this book genre offers, here is a list of recently published books that you can borrow from the library now.

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

In Denfeld’s second novel, Naomi Cottle returns and focuses her attention on a case close to her. Naomi wants to find her missing sister, whom she left behind when she fled captivity as a child. But how would Naomi solve the mystery if she cannot remember the time before or during her captivity? While in Portland, Oregon, figuring out the mystery of her missing sister, Naomi learns that missing girls are ending up dead. The story explores how people deal with traumatic experiences. This mystery is for those who enjoy fast-paced and compelling stories in the style of Harlan Coben’s Runaway and Lisa Gardner’s Love You.

Heaven, my Home by Attica Locke

Nine-year old Levi King has disappeared. His family has ties to the Aryan Brotherhood. His father, Bill “Big Kill” King, is known for killing a black man but never being convicted for it. Levi was last seen on Caddo Lake in Jefferson, a community steeped in antebellum history. When African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is sent to investigate, his initial suspicions are confirmed that there is more to the child’s disappearance than familial problems. Attica Locke’s second novel does not disappoint. It is a well-written and compelling crime novel that explores the mindset and culture of a small-town community in the Southwest. If you enjoy crime stories by Walter Mosley, Greg Iles, and Thomas Mullen, you will enjoy Attica Locke’s Heaven, My Home.

Gallow’s Court by Martin Edwards

Set in London in 1930, Rachel Savernake, a 24-year old heiress turns her interest to sleuthing. When she beats Scotland Yard in solving a recent murder, Rachel attracts the interest of both police inspectors and Fleet Street reporters, specifically one by the name of Jacob Flint, who has started looking into the case a bit more. Jacob slowly finds that Rachel has something to hide. This atmospheric mystery is intricately plotted with suspense that will keep readers turning the page. If you like Rhys Bowen and Agatha Christie, you will enjoy Martin Edwards’ latest novel.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man is Soren Sveistrup’s (creator and writer of the Danish TV Series The Killing) first foray into writing novels. He covers all the bases about what makes a great crime fiction story. Set in Copenhagen, a woman is found murdered with a small doll made of chestnut beside her. Newly paired Detectives Naia Thulin and Mark Hess are asked to investigate the case. When they find a fingerprint of a missing girl on the chestnut doll, both Detectives Thulin and Hess know that they have serial killer on the loose. With unexpected plots and twists, Sveistrup leaves his readers with bated breath as we follow the unlikely heroes as they race to catch the killer known as the “Chestnut Man”.

The Truth Behind the Lie by Sara Lovestam

Swedish children’s and young adult author, Sara Lovestam’s debut mystery novel first appeared in 2015 and won both the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Award and the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere. The story revolves around two characters who live on the fringe of society. Kouplan, an undocumented Iranian refugee, is struggling to survive in Stockholm, Sweden. He decides to place an ad online claiming that he is a private investigator, even though he has neither credentials nor any prior experience. When Pernilla’s six-year-old daughter goes missing, she sees the ad online and decides to hire Kouplan. Despite his fears of the police and deportation, Kouplan diligently investigates the missing person’s case. Lovestam’s novel slowly builds and readers will find themselves invested in its two fully-realized characters, Kouplan and Pernilla.

Bad Axe County by John Galligan

In 2004, Heidi White has just given a speech as the Wisconsin Dairy Queen when she learns that her parents have been shot on their farm. The police concludes that it was a murder-suicide, but Heidi believes that is not the case. Fifteen years later, Heidi finds herself the first female sheriff of Bad Axe County, Wisconsin. Still known as the Dairy Queen, she not only struggles with endless crimes in the town but also with sexism. Upon hearing that the old sheriff of Bad Axe County is dead, Angus Beavers, a long-time native who used to be known as the local baseball star, returns home and pursues a cold murder case. Slowly, John Galligan brings the stories of these characters together in a mystery that involves misogyny, human trafficking, child abuse, and murder. A portrait of the midwest that’s never seen before, Galligan’s Bad Axe County is all you could ask for in atmospheric noir fiction.

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Walker's Bookshelf

Library Passes

Looking for places to visit and things to do? Walker Memorial Library offers library passes for local museums, parks, and cultural sites for free or at a discount.

SOUTHWORTH PLANETARIUM

MAINE NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD CO. & MUSEUM

PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM & THEATRE OF MAINE

  • 50% discount on general admission for up to four people.
  • Visitors with this pass are welcome to attend any and all programs that are free with admission.
  • This pass is not accepted on the first Friday of each month. The Museum & Theatre offers $2 admission from 5pm to 8pm on this day.
  • Website: https://www.kitetails.org/

MAINE WILDLIFE PARK

  • Visitors who are four-years-old and up will be charged $3.50 admission fee. Maine Wildlife Park only accepts cash or checks.

All library passes are generously provided by the Friends of Walker Memorial Library and can only be used once a day. Please check each museum, park, or cultural site for their operating hours. For more questions, please check at the front desk or contact the library at 207-854-0630 or info@walkerlibrary.org.

If you’re interested in joining the Friends of Walker Memorial Library, please visit walkerlibrary.org/friends or e-mail friends@walkerlibrary.org.

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Walker's Bookshelf

Snowblind

There is something beautiful and eerie about the wintry landscape of Iceland, which is why it’s a perfect setting for a murder mystery. In Ragnar Jonasson’s debut, Snowblind, he takes you to an isolated, small fishing town north of Reykjavik.

Ari Thor Arason is a police-officer-in-training from Reykjavik, when he is offered an opportunity that is difficult to refuse – his first job. He moves to Siglufjordur, a small town known for its herring. On the surface, Ari Thor’s new home looks idyllic, with its winding roads and mountains, until two local deaths shake up the town.

Jonasson begins Snowblind with a vivid visualization: “The red stain was like a scream in the silence.” Throughout the book, there are eloquent descriptions of the landscape of Siglufjordur. Readers will feel as though they are walking the snow-filled streets with Ari Thor. When the weather declines and the anxiety around town builds up, the novel takes on a grim atmosphere that one can almost touch. This sense of unease makes Jonasson’s Snowblind a compelling potboiler. Jonasson has mastered how to build tension by creating well-developed characters and wrapping the setting with a claustrophobic feeling.

With a slew of crime fiction getting published nowadays, Jonasson’s Snowblind stands out for its believable characters, sweeping landscapes, and riveting atmosphere.

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Walker's Bookshelf Youth Services

Saturday Hours and New Books

The library will now be open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm starting January 4th. To celebrate, here is a list of new books that you can borrow.

Salsa Lullaby
by Jen Arena

When nighttime falls, it’s time for baby to go to sleep. In this household, that means it’s also time for mama, papa, and baby to baila/dance, canta/sing, salta/jump, and more all the way to bedtime!

Just Because
by Mac Barnett

Why is the ocean blue? What is the rain? What happened to the dinosaurs? It might be time for bed, but one child is too full of questions about the world to go to sleep just yet. Little ones and their parents will be charmed and delighted as a patient father offers up increasingly creative responses to his child’s nighttime wonderings.

Please Don’t Eat Me
by Liz Climo

When a carefree bunny is approached by a voracious bear in the woods, Bunny has just one request: “Please don’t eat me.”
But the bear has a never-ending list of requests, and Bunny realizes maybe Bear isn’t as hungry as he’d let on…maybe he just wants his new friend’s company for a while.This witty and poignant exploration of predator and prey will have children and parents alike roaring with laughter–and looking for their next meal.

Just In Case You Want to Fly
by Julie Fogliano

A joyful, inclusive cast of children fly, sing, and wish their way across the pages, with everything they could ever need–a cherry if you need a snack, and if you get itchy here’s a scratch on the back–to explore the world around them.

The Perfect Secret
by Rob Buyea

Gavin, Randi, Scott, Trevor, and Natalie are back for seventh grade, and they have a big goal for the year: to get their teachers Mrs. Magenta and Mrs. Woods to mend their broken relationship. Although the five friends have discovered their teachers’ secret , that they are mother and daughter, this won’t be the only secret the kids find themselves keeping over the course of the school year.

Weird Little Robots
by Carolyn Crimi

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose loves creating little robots from discarded bits and pieces. She creates Sharpie from dentures, iPam from a cell phone, and Fraction from a calculator. Still, she’s lonely. When she overcomes her shyness and befriends Lark, they share a fascination with science and with making things. Soon they also share a remarkable secret: the robots are alive!

Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur
by John Patrick Green

Marmalade and her crew of construction kittens are in high demand! Their latest assignment (and biggest job yet) is to build the new Mewburg bridge. But with the bridge comes the one thing that cats hate most of all—water! As the team struggles to face their fears and do their jobs, they are forced to get help from some unlikely allies. . . slobbery, car-chasing DOGS.

Look Both Ways
by Jason Reynolds

How do you invest a reader in a short-story collection? Begin with the promise of “a school bus falling from the sky.” This tease kickstarts the book, exciting the imagination before embarking—like a bus—on a neighborhood tour. Ten stories are told in parallel, each following different middle-graders home from school (Ronny Khuri, Booklist, v.115, n.22).

The Beautiful
by Renée Ahdieh

When Celine arrives in New Orleans fresh from Paris, she’s looking for a new start. It’s 1872, and options for a woman alone are limited, but Celine, who has dark secrets in her past, is determined to find a way. Celine finds herself falling in love with New Orleans, which, in the middle of carnival season, has a wild, seductive beauty. But the city has its dangers: Celine meets Bastien, a man she is attracted to but resists, who is at the forefront of a mysterious group active in the city’s underworld. And a vicious serial killer begins stalking the city (Maggie Reagan, Booklist, v.115, n.22).

All-American Muslim Girl
by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Living just outside Atlanta, Allie Abraham is the daughter of a Texas-born American history professor who is Circassian. Allie has hazel eyes, pale skin, and blonde hair, and she’s always been encouraged to keep her Muslim heritage secret for safety and convenience, but when she’s out with her father, people “take one look and decide he’s clearly From Somewhere Else.” Now, feeling compelled to embrace the religion her father turned away from, she begins to explore what it means to be Muslim while encountering prejudice in the American South, including from those who don’t consider her “Muslim enough” (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 39).

The How & the Why
by Cynthia Hand

Being adopted as a baby has given Cass a good life with loving parents and the best friend ever. But now that she’s 18, she feels the urge to search for the woman who gave her life. Little by little—while still mindful of her parents’ feelings—Cass chips away at the blank wall dividing her from information she desperately needs in order to complete her sense of self. The narrative is told via two alternating voices that are rich and distinct: Cass’, as she moves through her senior year, and her 16-year-old birth mother’s, relayed in a series of letters written to the baby while she was pregnant. Their individual issues, dreams, needs, and visions are beautifully rendered and superbly shaped (Jeanne Fredriksen, Booklist, v.116, n.2).

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
by Keigo Higashino

When three delinquents hole up in an abandoned general store after their most recent robbery, to their great surprise, a letter drops through the mail slot in the store’s shutter. This seemingly simple request for advice sets the trio on a journey of discovery as, over the course of a single night, they step into the role of the kindhearted former shopkeeper who devoted his waning years to offering thoughtful counsel to his correspondents (Publisher).

The Secret Commonwealth
by Philip Pullman

Twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage, and eight years after those of the His Dark Materials trilogy, this second volume in Pullman’s Book of Dust series blends spy thriller, otherworldly travelogue, and philosophical musing. Twenty-year-old Lyra Silvertongue’s student life in Oxford is upended when her daemon, Pantalaimon, witnesses an incident that entangles them with a covert agency to which Malcolm Polstead belongs, impelling Malcolm to investigate a shift in the global power balance. Meanwhile, Lyra’s fascination with a logic-obsessed, daemon-omitting novel causes Pan to decamp in search of her imagination. Tracked by a young alethiometer savant named Bonneville, Lyra furtively sets out for the Levant, searching for a rumored refuge for separated daemons (Publisher’s Weekly, v.266, i.40).

Cursed
by Thomas Wheeler

Nimue’s druid mother lies dying, she charges her daughter with delivering something to the mage Merlin. The package contains the fey-created Sword of Power, aka the Devil’s Tooth, whose possession marks the One True King—or queen in Nimue’s case. Nimue, Arthur, Morgan, and their allies seek peace and a home for her people, but the Pendragon King Uther, among others, is intent on claiming the sword for himself, and Nimue knows the sword is both weapon and curse for those who own it (Cindy Welch, Booklist, v. 115, n.22).

Beyond a Reasonable Stout
by Ellie Alexander

In this third mystery featuring amateur sleuth Sloan Krause, she and her partner in crime (and in business) Garrett Strong are stocking up on a new line of craft in their small brewery after the Oktoberfest. When Kristopher Cooper, council member, runs for re-election, he promises to ban alcohol in Leavenworth. Folks in town do not like the idea. Soon, Cooper is found stabbed to death. Will Krause be up to the case?

Celestial Bodies
by Jokha Alharthi

Alharthi’s ambitious, intense novel—her first to be translated into English and winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize—examines the radical changes in Oman over the past century from the perspectives of the members of several interconnected families. With exhilarating results, Alharthi throws the reader into the midst of a tangled family drama in which unrequited love, murder, suicide, and adultery seem the rule rather than the exception (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 33).

Future Tense Fiction
Edited by Kirsten Berg

Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Nnedi Okorafor, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen F. McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Lee Konstantinou, and Mark Stasenko—Future Tense Fiction points the way forward to the fiction of tomorrow (Publisher description).

Galway Girl
by Ken Bruen

In this 15th Jack Taylor novel, the Irish cop-turned-sometime private investigator is still mourning the murder of his daughter, though he has avenged her death. Meanwhile, someone is systematically killing members of the Garda, and Jack is asked to investigate quietly. Nothing is simple in a Taylor tale, however. Terry Stapleton blames Jack for the death of his father, Amy Fadden tries to frame Jack for the death of her son’s killer, and a psycho female named Jericho plots Jack’s death while taunting him with cryptic messages. Jack and Jericho take turns attacking each other’s friends before a bizarre finale brings some closure (Roland Person, Library Journal, v. 144, i.10).

The Remaking
by Clay McLeod Chapman


The Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek is an urban legend based on Ella Louise Ford and her daughter Jessica, who in 1931 were blamed when a baby was stillborn after the mother took one of Ella’s herbal remedies, and were burned as witches. The townsmen buried Ella in the woods and then buried Jessica under six feet of concrete in a grave surrounded by crosses. Locals say that Jessica rises from the grave on the anniversary of her death. When a former resident comes home to make a film based on Jessica’s story, he unleashes a series of events that show why it’s best to leave ghosts alone (Lynnanne Pearson, Booklist, v. 166, #2).

The Innocents
by Michael Crummey

In this fifth novel from Giller Prize short-listed Crummey, Evered and Ada live in a shack with their parents in an isolated cove somewhere along the coast of Newfoundland. When their parents die, the children are left to fend for themselves, and with barely a notion of the outside world, they struggle tenaciously to rise above the deprivation suddenly thrust upon them (Stephen Schmidt, Library Journal, v. 144, i.8).

I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer
by Ahmet Altan

A Turkish political prisoner opposes his imagination to the grim reality of oppression in this sometimes harrowing, sometimes luminous memoir. After the failed 2016 coup attempt by members of the Turkish military, novelist Altan was arrested along with his brother Mehmet by President Recep Erdogan’s government and prosecuted for sending “subliminal messages” to coup plotters on a TV show, being a “religious putschist,” and being a “Marxist terrorist,” and was sentenced to life in prison (Publisher’s Weekly, v.266, i.33).

The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town
by Edward Berenson

NYU history professor Berenson provides a comprehensive look at a little-known episode of American anti-Semitism in this thoughtful history. In 1928, shortly after four-year-old Barbara Griffiths failed to return home from an errand, rumors circulated in her Upstate New York town that she had been the victim of Jews who intended to use her blood for ritual purposes. That baseless theory was endorsed by both the mayor of the village of Massena and the lead police investigator, who called in the local rabbi for an interrogation. The slander was rebutted when an unharmed Barbara resurfaced the next day, explaining that she’d gotten lost and had fallen asleep in the woods (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i.26).

A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence is Redefining Who We Are
by Flynn Coleman

A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are examines the immense impact intelligent technology will have on humanity. These machines, while challenging our personal beliefs and our socioeconomic world order, also have the potential to transform our health and well-being, alleviate poverty and suffering, and reveal the mysteries of intelligence and consciousness. International human rights attorney Flynn Coleman deftly argues that it is critical that we instill values, ethics, and morals into our robots, algorithms, and other forms of AI (Publisher’s description).

Stealing Green Mangoes: Two Brothers, Two Fates, One Indian Childhood
by Sunil Dutta

Dutta (Bloodlines: The Imperial Roots of Terrorism in South Asia) tells the story of his life and that of his brother, Raju, both of which began similarly but continued down very different paths owing to the choices they made. Dutta explains how members of his Muslim family were victims of violence in their home country. Their crime: practicing a faith unaccepted by the majority, which resulted in their fleeing the region once the Hindus gained control in 1947. This memoir begins with the author learning about a troubling incident involving Raju, then travels back in time, detailing the author’s life chronologically, starting as a young boy who heard of daily violent acts committed against people because of their faith (Susan E. Montgomery, Library Journal, v. 144, i. 5).

Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter
by Robert Hutton

In this meticulous WWII espionage history, Bloomberg UK correspondent Hutton (Romps, Tots and Boffins) relates the story of British spy Eric Roberts and the Fifth Column, a secret MI5 operation to identify Nazi sympathizers in the U.K. Posing as Gestapo agent “Jack King,” Roberts recruited more than 500 British fascists to help prepare for the German invasion of England. In reality, the would-be saboteurs were under close watch by MI5’s countersabotage division (Publisher’s Weekly, vol. 266, i.36).

How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time
by Will McCallum

How to Give Up Plastic is a straightforward guide to eliminating plastic from your life. Going room by room through your home and workplace, Greenpeace activist Will McCallum teaches you how to spot disposable plastic items and find plastic-free, sustainable alternatives to each one. From carrying a reusable straw, to catching microfibers when you wash your clothes, to throwing plastic-free parties, you’ll learn new and intuitive ways to reduce plastic waste (Publisher’s description).

Nancy: A Comic Collection
by Olivia Jaimes

In 2018, Olivia Jaimes became the first woman to write and illustrate the classic comic strip Nancy. Her fresh, irreverent take on the classic comic strip has become a sensation with readers and has earned praise from dozens of media outlets, several of which have named it the best comic of the year. This hardcover collection includes the first nine months of Jaimes’ run on Nancy, along with an introduction, essay, interview with the author, and a special gallery of Nancy fan art by the author.

Clyde Fans
by Seth

Seth presents an intimate epic spanning four decades in the lives of brothers Abe and Simon Matchcard, the owners of an electric fan company in Toronto. Opening in 1997, with an elderly Abe delivering a long, captivating monologue about his successes as a salesman and ultimate failure as a businessman after the advent of air conditioning leads to a decline in demand for electric fans , the story flashes back to 1957 to focus on Simon. A much more sensitive and poetic soul than Abe, Simon endures one humiliation after another during an ill-fated attempt to prove himself a capable salesman before experiencing an epiphany that sets the course for the rest of both brothers’ lives (Tom Batten, Library Journal, v. 144, i. 5).

Commute
by Erin Williams

Williams chronicles the everyday humiliation she feels as a female in this frankly illustrated war cry. The events she recounts are simple: Williams wakes, dresses, takes the train, works, comes home, and cares for her infant daughter. Throughout, she delves into flashbacks of trauma, frustrated fury, experiences with substance abuse and sobriety, self-criticism, and, ultimately, triumphant discovery through friendship and the love of other women and their creativity. In loose-but-evocative, spare lines, often depicting only the barest contours of the body, Williams identifies the persistent harm done to women, through everything from ogling to rape, how that harm is internalized, and how women cope (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 23).

All descriptions are taken from the publisher and/or NoveList Plus, unless otherwise specified.

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Recently Released Fiction

Looking for a good book to read this holiday season?
Here is a list of recently released fiction books you can borrow or request now.

All This Could Be Yours
by Jami Attenberg

What happens: After the megalomaniac real estate developer, Victor Tuchman, died of a heart attack, his family finds a way to reconcile with Victor’s history and move forward.

Why you might like it: Unfolding over the course of only one day, the readers are privy to the innermost thoughts of the characters, who are inscrutable to each other. 

For fans of: Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys or Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. This is a well-written contemporary family saga.


A Tall History of Sugar
by Curdella Forbes

The gist of the story: This is a modern fairy tale about an unlikely love story between Moshe Fisher and Arrienne Christie as well as a compelling story that explores post colonial Jamaican history.

Why you might like it: With a strong sense of place, a touch of magical realism, lyrical writing, and well-crafted dialogue, this is a powerful novel that interweaves social history and romance.

Reviewers say:  “It’s a novel of colonialism and its tragic aftermath of  racism and economic despair. But most of  all, the book is a  journey. The characters so vivid, their depictions so intimate, that the skin of the pages themselves almost pulse beneath the reader’s fingers. A powerful journey into the souls of two lovers, two countries, and the people caught in the wakes of empires (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2019).”


Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
by Kate Racculia

Starring: An eclectic cast of characters, all sent on an inventive treasure hunt across Boston by an unconventional billionaire’s final request.

For fans of: Literary and pop culture references; ghost stories; inheritance drama; loners; bankers who used to be theater kids; Edgar Allan Poe; cape-wearing gentlemen; scavenger hunts; camp, whimsy, and eccentricity. And, of course, Ellen Raskin’s classic kids’ book The Westing Game.

Read this next: Ernest Cline’s nostalgic, sci-fi scavenger hunt, Ready Player One.


Frankissstein: A Love Story
by Jeanette Winterson

What it is: A modern re-telling of the creation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, featuring Mary as a narrator, as well as a modern-day tale in which a trans doctor falls for a professor working to chain AI to a fusion of body parts.

Why you might like it: Ever questioned what makes us human? If so, this one’s for you.

Reviewers say:  “As the subtitle declares, this is a love story, paralleling the relationship between Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley and that between Ry and Victor. The forthright description of non-binary choice forms a replete example of embracing transgender experience, and both Victor Stein and Victor Frankenstein are finally shown to be illusory characters, adding spookiness. Highly recommended (Henry Bankhead, Library Journal).”


Inside the O’Briens
by Lisa Genova

Starring: 44-year-old Joe O’Brien, a cop with a recent diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, his wife, and their four children, who must decide whether or not to be tested for this incurable hereditary condition.

What happens: As Joe’s health worsens, youngest daughter Katie is, at 21, just starting her adult life, and she isn’t sure if she wants to know what her future holds. How the O’Briens cope is both heart-wrenching and riveting.

Why you might like it: If you’ve read and enjoyed Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, you will like this book. This is also similar to Danielle Steele’s Silent Night and Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf.


How Are You Going to Save Yourself
by J.M. Holmes

What it is: The interconnected stories of four friends coming of age in working-class Rhode Island and recognizing the restrictions placed on black men in America.

Narrated by: Gio, Dub, Rye, and Rolls, each with their own advantages, flaws, and struggles, who get out of Pawtucket, or don’t, on their own or with the help of the women in their lives.

Reviewers say: “The stories are by turns comedic, bawdy, heartbreaking, and grisly. What links them all is the heady style deployed throughout; language with the same taut rhythm and blunt imagery as the best hip-hop yet capable of intermittent surges of lyricism that F. Scott Fitzgerald in his own precocious stories of youthful romance and remorse could summon. The publisher says Holmes is working on his first novel. This collection makes you thirst for whatever’s coming next. (Kirkus Reviews).”


Find Me
by André Aciman

What it is: This is a follow-up to Call Me By Your Name, revisits Elio, Samuel (Elio’s father), and Oliver decades after they meet.

Is it for you? Readers who loved the meditation on love found in the earlier book will want to pick that story up again here.

But what about Elio and Oliver? You’ll have to be patient to find out if they ever get back together


Nothing to See Here
by Kevin Wilson

What it’s about: When 28-year-old Lillian Breaker accepts a job working for her former roommate, Madison Roberts (who is now wife to a senator eyeing a chance to be secretary of state), Lillian has no idea what she’s in for. Lillian’s job is to be the governess for the senator’s twin children, ten-year-olds Bessie and Roland. What’s the catch? The twins randomly burst into flames when agitated. Lillian guides the children in how to control their emotions.

What happens: Lillian, whose life has stalled ever since she was kicked out of school, has no experience with children. And yet she starts to love these two unloved kids. The relationship that develops between Lillian and the twins is something readers will easily identify with.

Why you might like it: Flawed, quirky characters and offbeat humor make this a wry, engaging read. If liked Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you will enjoy this book.

Book buzz: Nothing to See Here was selected for the Today show’s book club.

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Online Room Reservations

Are you in need of a space to study, research, read, or write? Online room reservations are now an option the library offers to the public. Here is how to reserve a room:

  1. Go to https://walkerlibrary.org/ and click CALENDAR.
  2. On the right-hand side, underneath Study Rooms, click the Reserve Study Room button.
  3. Click Library Study Rooms.
  4. Select the date and time.
    • Green = available room
    • Red = not available
  5. Provide your first name, last name, and an e-mail address.
  6. You will receive an e-mail confirmation. If you do not confirm your room reservation, it will automatically be canceled.

Some important notes to remember:

  • Study rooms can only be booked FOUR hours at a time.
  • Study rooms can be booked 30 days in advance with a limit of TWO reservations per month.

If you have a special study room request or do not have an e-mail address, please call the reference desk at 207-854-0630 ext. 4258.

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National Book Award Fiction List

One of the great ways to discover books is to look at literary awards. If you’re looking to explore new stories, here is a list of the National Book Award Fiction that you can borrow in the library now.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi – National Book Award Fiction Winner

“That whole thing about fiction not being the truth is a lie,” one character admonishes another in Choi’s fifth, and finest, novel. Returning to the multilayered teacher-student power struggles seared into My Education (2013), Choi’s Trust Exercise  should immediately put readers on alert: it will appear four times as a title—of the novel itself and as the repeated title of the book’s three sections. Despite being a reference to a soul-baring acting exercise , “trust ” will have little correlation to truth. “Trust Exercise ” number one introduces Sarah and David, two 15-year-old students at a suburban performing-arts high school, precariously entangled with each other, overseen (manipulated) by their magnetic theater teacher, Mr. Kingsley. “Trust Exercise ” number two picks up 14 years later, after more than 100 pages, revealing number one to be a large portion of Sarah’s newly published novel, and its last page is where Sarah’s former best friend, Karen, stopped reading. What happened (or not) thus far gets deconstructed, then expanded, culminating in a series of dramatically (of course) orchestrated reunions. “Trust Exercise ” number three will render all that came before unreliable while exposing tenuous connections between fiction, truth, lies, and, of course, people. Literary deception rarely reads this well. — Terry Hong (Reviewed 2/15/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 12, p25)


Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James – Finalist

As with his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, James’s first foray into fantasy demonstrates epic sweep, an intensely layered structure, and raw if luscious language that pins readers to the page with enough concrete detail to discourage a breezy skim-through. Placed firmly in the genre by its dark magic, unstoppable twists and turns, dangerous kingly aspirations, and imperfect but essential fellow-creature bonding, the narrative is refreshingly distinctive in its grounding in African history and folklore. Its protagonist is the Tracker, a tough-talking loner whose sense of smell leads him to his quarry and here to a momentous task. The opening pages show the Tracker as a young man leaving home both to escape his family and confront his people’s enemies, as he refines his skills, discovers a shocking secret about his parentage, helps a group of children (e.g., Smoke Girl, Giraffe Boy) abandoned for their weirdness as cursed, and meets the sardonic, shapeshifting Leopard , with whom he forms a close but testy relationship. But the journey’s the thing, as the Tracker is later engaged by a slaver to find a kidnapped child, reputedly the son of a North Kingdom elder who riled the king and was slaughtered with his family. In his efforts, the Tracker grudgingly allows himself to be joined by the Leopard , the Moon Witch Sogolon, the perfidious Nyka, and others. As they move through the Darklands and subsequent fraught territories toward the Southern Kingdom, they encounter witches and demons, flesh-eating trolls, splendidly dressed mercenaries, vampires, necromancers, ancient griots, and a wise, magisterial buffalo. References to harsh pansexual encounters often shift events forward, and the entire story is framed as a tale told to an inquisitor, though we are a long way from understanding from whence he came—this is the first in the “Dark Star” trilogy. VERDICT As the Tracker realizes, “The only way forward is through,” and it’s the same for readers. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers who welcome a grand new challenge, as James launches an unglorified if gloriously delivered story that feels eminently real despite the hobgoblins, and for literary readers, eager to see the world—and James’s particular talents—in a new light. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/18; Editors’ Spring Picks, p. 22.] –Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed 02/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 2, p68)


The Other Americans by Laila Lalami – Finalist

Who killed Driss Guerraoui? Was it an accident, a hit-and-run in the  wee hours of the  morning? Or was it murder, a brutal act against the  Moroccan immigrant who might pose a threat to a neighborhood business in a small Mojave-desert town? The  mystery at the  center of Lalami’s (The  Moor’s Account, 2014) novel brings together an intriguing set of characters, including Driss’ daughter, Nora, a struggling composer who returns home to the  remnants of her family. There’s Maryam, Driss’ wife, who misses her native country; Iraq War veteran Jeremy, who is battling his own demons while trying to help Nora; and African American  detective Coleman, who is trying to work out the  mechanics of the  case while facing her own domestic challenges. Now and then the  story is nearly drowned out by the  nine narrating voices, yet Lalami impressively conducts this chorus of flawed yet graceful human beings to mellifluous effect. “I didn’t know which version of the  past I could trust, which story was supported by the  facts and which had been reshaped to fit them, whether out of grief or out of malice,” Coleman worries. An eloquent reminder that frame of reference is everything when defining the  “other .” — Poornima Apte (Reviewed 2/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 11, p26)


Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – Finalist

In her dazzlingly original debut novel, Phillips imagines a cold, desolate climate inhabited by characters who exude warmth and strength. This cinematic setting is the far eastern Russian peninsula, Kamchatka, where white Russians and indigenous tribes uneasily coexist. In the chilling opening chapter, two sisters vanish after a day at the beach, and though a witness describes seeing them with a man in a shiny black car, the authorities come up empty. Three years earlier in a village many hours further north, a Native girl also disappears, but she is dismissed as a runaway. Phillips cleverly weaves these two incidents through subsequent chapters that cover a year in the lives of her many vividly drawn characters, illustrating the subtle effects of racism on the investigation. Themes of dark and light pervade the narrative. Outsiders, those with darker skin or hair, are blamed for an uptick in crime. Prejudice blinds people to the truth until two grieving mothers, brought together by a photographer with a penchant for nosing into other people’s business, manage to see past their differences to their shared loss and courage. VERDICT Phillips, a Fulbright fellow whose work has appeared in Slate and the Atlantic, has written a knock-out novel that combines literary heft with a propulsive plot. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.] –Sally Bissell (Reviewed 05/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 4, p89)

Our Staff Review here: https://walkerlibrary.org/2019/08/02/book-of-the-day-disappearing-earth-by-julia-phillips/


Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Brodesser-Akner’s sharp and tender-hearted debut centers on hapless 41-year-old New York hepatologist Toby Fleishman, recently separated from his driven wife, Rachel, and alternately surprised and semidisgusted to find his dating apps “crawling with women who wanted him,” who prove it by sending him all manner of lewd pictures. After an increasingly rocky 14-year marriage, Toby has asked Rachel, who owns a talent agency and makes a lot more money than he does, for a divorce, because she is always angry and pays little attention to their two preteen kids. But then, as Toby is juggling new girlfriends, dying patients, and unhappy children, Rachel disappears, leaving Toby to cope with logistics more complicated than he anticipated. The novel is narrated by Toby’s old college friend Libby (a device that’s occasionally awkward), a former magazine journalist now bored with life as a housewife in New Jersey. Though both she and the novel are largely entrenched on Toby’s side, Libby does eventually provide a welcome glimpse into Rachel’s point of view. While novels about Manhattan marriages and divorces are hardly a scarce commodity, the characters in this one are complex and well-drawn, and the author’s incisive sense of humor and keen observations of Upper West Side life sustain the momentum. This is a sardonically cheerful novel that readers will adore. (June) –Staff (Reviewed 04/01/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 13, p)


Black Light: Stories by Kimberly King Parsons

Parsons’s debut crackles with the frenetic energy of the women who stalk its pages. In opening story  “Guts,” Sheila has just started dating “almost-doctor” Tim, whose particular brand of condescending masculine practicality destabilizes her already-erratic lifestyle. In “Foxes,” a recently divorced mother recounts her courtship and marriage to her ex-husband, whom she calls “the fool,” as she listens to her young daughter spin a story  featuring knights and inky enemies, and the two stories  begin to intertwine and mimic the cadences of each other. “Foxes” kicks off a dazzling run of stories , including “The Soft No,” in which a pair of siblings must navigate neighborhood politics as well as their unpredictable mother, to “We Don’t Come Natural to It,” in which two women’s pursuit of beauty becomes a vortex of self-inflicted violence, control, and mistrust. In the title story , a young woman watches as her former lover evolves into someone she realizes she never knew, while she must navigate the breakup in a way that doesn’t out her sexuality. Parsons’s characters are sharp and uncannily observed, bound up in elastic and electrifying prose. This is a first-rate debut. (Aug.) –Staff (Reviewed 06/10/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 23, p)


The Need by Helen Phillips

A woman confronts an intruder—and her own motherhood—in this gripping, shape-shifting second novel from Phillips (The  Beautiful Bureaucrat). With her husband out of the  country, paleobotanist Molly is home with their two young children when she hears footsteps coming from the  living room. She’s ready to dismiss it as house noise and put the  kids to bed until her daughter asks, “Who’s that guy?” The  answer will shake Molly to the  core and send her down a metaphysical rabbit hole that reads like a fever dream of every mother’s fears. Molly is convinced the  fossil quarry she is helping to excavate has unleashed a sinister force and that one of the  found objects—a Bible that suggests God is female—has led some suspicious visitors to the  site. Whether Molly’s true enemy is real or a manifestation of her deepest anxieties is a lingering question that Phillips, with incisive detail and linguistic dexterity, suggests comes with the  territory of parenthood. VERDICT Is this literary work a story of magical realism, a straight-up horror novel featuring home invaders and shadow-selves, or a product of Molly’s exhausted imagination? Of course, it’s all of the  above and makes for an unforgettable—and polarizing—reading experience. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.] –Michael Pucci (Reviewed 06/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 5, p106)


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

/* Starred Review */ This first novel by poet Vuong (Night Sky with Exit Wounds, 2016) is narrated by Little Dog, a Vietnamese refugee who grew up in Hartford with his mother and his maternal grandmother, Lan. A writer now, he addresses his story as a letter to his mother, who cannot read, “”to tell you everything you’ll never know.”” He recalls her painful attempts to toughen him and his simultaneous rage for all that frays her—work, memories, difficulty communicating. At 14 he gets a job cutting tobacco, and there meets Trevor. Two years older, Trevor works to escape his alcoholic father and makes Little Dog feel “”seen—I who had seldom been seen by anyone.”” Their covert love blooms brilliantly as Trevor, battling his own demons, handles Little Dog with bewildering warmth. This plot line is its own speeding train, while Little Dog’s letter also reveals the family’s inextricable legacy from the Vietnam War. In Vuong’s acrobatic storytelling, Lan’s traumatic wartime tale unspools in a spiraling dive, and a portrait of Trevor emerges in the snapshots of a 10-page prose poem. Casting a truly literary spell, Vuong’s tale of language and origin, beauty and the power of story, is an enrapturing first novel. — Annie Bostrom (Reviewed 4/15/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 16, p21)


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

“As it had ever been with Nickel , no one believed them until someone else said it,” Whitehead (The  Underground Railroad) writes in the  present-day prologue to this story, in which construction workers have dug up what appears to be a secret graveyard on the  grounds of the  juvenile reform school the Nickel  Academy in Jackson County, Fla. Five decades prior, Elwood Curtis, a deeply principled, straight-A high school student from Tallahassee, Fla., who partakes in civil rights demonstrations against Jim Crow laws and was about to start taking classes at the  local black college before being erroneously detained by police, has just arrived at Nickel . Elwood finds that, at odds with Nickel ’s upstanding reputation in the  community, the  staff is callous and corrupt, and the boys —especially the  black boys —suffer from near-constant physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Elwood befriends the  cynical Turner, whose adolescent experiences of violence have made him deeply skeptical of the  objectivity of justice. Elwood and Turner’s struggles to survive and maintain their personhood are interspersed with chapters from Elwood’s adult life, showing how the  physical and emotional toll of his time at Nickel  still affects him. Inspired by horrific events that transpired at the  real-life Dozier School for Boys , Whitehead’s brilliant examination of America’s history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight. (July) –Staff (Reviewed 01/31/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 6, p)