I (Jen) had a really hard time narrowing my choices today to just three--so if you scroll down, you'll find that I cheated and recommend a few extras (sorrynotsorry).
Julia Alvarez's Afterlife
Description from Algonquin Books:
"Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.
"Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?"
Why I want to read it: Julia Alvarez's work, including How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and A Wedding in Haiti--is consistently amazing for me. And I think this description sounds intriguing--I'm drawn both to the plot and to the themes.
David Carr and Jill Rooney Carr's Final Draft: The Collected Work of David Carr
Description from Publisher:
"Throughout his 25-year journalistic career, David Carr was noted for his sharp and fearless observations, his uncanny sense of fairness and justice, and his remarkable compassion and wit. His writing was informed both by his own hardships as an addict, and his intense love of the journalist’s craft. His range—from media politics to national politics, from rock ‘n’ roll celebrities to the unknown civil servants who make our daily lives function—was broad and often timeless. Whether he was breaking exclusives about Amazon or mourning Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death or taking aim at editors who valued political trivia over substance, Carr’s voice and concerns remain enormously influential and relevant. In these hundred or so articles, from a range of publications, we read his stories with fresh eyes. Edited by his widow, Jill Rooney Carr, and with an introduction written by one of the many journalists David Carr mentored and promoted, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Final Draft is a singular event in the world of writing news, an art increasingly endangered in these troubled times."
Why I want to read it: I absolutely loved Carr's memoir The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own., and both his daughter Erin Carr's memoir All that You Leave Behind and Ta-Nehisi Coates's tribute to Carr, "King David," made me wish I knew more about his work. Here's my chance.
Jesmyn Ward's Navigate Your Stars
Description from Scribner:
"For Tulane University’s 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life.
"Beautifully illustrated in full color by Gina Triplett, this gorgeous and profound book will charm a generation of students—and their parents. Ward’s inimitable voice shines through as she shares her experience as a Southern black woman and addresses the themes of grit, adversity, and the importance of family bonds. Navigate Your Stars is a perfect gift for anyone in need of inspiration from the author of Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, and Sing, Unburied, Sing."
Why I want to read it: Basically? I am all in on anything by Jesmyn Ward. I think she is brilliant, I've read all of her books (except her first, Where the Line Bleeds, which is on my TBR), and I will read everything she writes.
Here are a few more I can't resist mentioning:
Rae Carson's The Empire of Dreams
Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes
Gae Polisner's Jack Keruoac Is Dead to Me
Veronica Roth's Chosen Ones
Sara Zarr's Goodbye from Nowhere
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