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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Shadowshaper
by Daniel Jose Older

Publishers Weekly In Older's (Half-Resurrection Blues) YA debut, Sierra Santiago is from Bedford-Stuyvesant, parties in Park Slope, and crashes Columbia University with ease. Sierra's roots in her neighborhood are three generations deep, but no part of the city is alien to her. She loves art, and painting a mural on an abandoned building is the focus of her summer. Abruptly, her stroke-disoriented grandfather urges her to hurry the project-and then she is attacked by what looks like a walking corpse. What follows is a well-executed plot of the exceptional child with a mysterious history standing forth to save her world, aided by a similarly gifted romantic interest. What makes Older's story exceptional is the way Sierra belongs in her world, grounded in family, friends, and an awareness of both history and change. Her goal is to go deeper into that history and, by so doing, effect change of her own. Sierra's masterful adaptability is most apparent in her language, which moves among English and Spanish, salsa and rap, formality and familiarity with an effortlessness that simultaneously demonstrates Older's mastery of his medium. Ages 14-up. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book list *Starred Review* When Sierra's grandfather warns her to finish her mural because the paintings are fading, she is puzzled, but the only person willing to help her find answers is talented artist Robbie, and even he is reticent. Determined, Sierra finally learns the truth: her grandfather was a powerful shadowshaper, able to animate art with the spirit of a departed soul, and now an interloper, anthropologist Dr. Wick, is trying to steal these powers for himself. As Sierra investigates the shadowshapers, she discovers her own shockingly powerful role in the disappearing community. Apart from being an awesome power, shadowshaping becomes a resonant metaphor for the importance of cultural heritage, as Puerto Rican Sierra and Haitian Robbie draw on and amplify their ancestors' spirits, and their primary concern is keeping their honorable tradition alive in their community. Older's world building echoes that, too, weaving in timely commentary on gentrification, cultural appropriation, and even the shifting social mores of immigrant communities (especially evident in Sierra chafing against her grandfather's machismo). Even if readers don't recognize Older's crafty commentary, they will find plenty to like in the unique fantasy elements, entertainingly well-wrought characters, and cinematic pacing. Smart writing with a powerful message that never overwhelms the terrific storytelling.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-The 2015 SLJ Best Book follows Afro-Latina Sierra Santiago as she discovers that she's part of a long line of shadowshapers, people with the ability to infuse magic into their art in order to fight off demons. The Brooklyn teen embraces her Blackness and defends it against the critique of her family members-a powerful statement in YA lit. Fresh dialogue and exceptional world-building will have readers anticipating further adventures in the upcoming Shadowhouse Fall slated for September 2017. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Summer has just started, and Sierra plans to enjoy it, hanging out with her friends in their Brooklyn neighborhood and painting a mural at the local junklot. Then things start to get weird. While she is talking to fellow artist Robbie at the first party of the summer, a zombielike creature disrupts things, Robbie disappears, and she is left to discover that she lives in a world full of magic that she knows nothing about. As she slowly pieces together the mystery of her heritage, Sierra discovers her own powers of ancestral magic and battles the evil professor who is trying to steal them. Robbie is a clear love interest, but he isn't there to rescue Sierra. Sierra is a tough, confident, body-positive female protagonist of Puerto Rican descent, proud of her 'fro and curves. The fact that she and Robbie seem to be connecting romantically is portrayed as more of a happy coincidence than the culmination of a lifelong dream of romance. Dialogue is fast paced and authentic to Sierra's Brooklyn neighborhood, which is vividly described. Readers will find someone to whom they can relate in her diverse group of friends. VERDICT Excellent diverse genre fiction in an appealing package.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH © Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-George Washington, or "GW" for short, may look like a sweet, innocent classroom hamster, but little do the second graders at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School know that he's the inventor of the Sunflower Seed Slingshot and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device, both of which are going to help him and his fellow inmates-Barry the rabbit (serving time in first grade) and Biter the world's toughest guinea pig (doing a stint in kindergarten)-escape to freedom. Unfortunately, when GW finally liberates his rodent pals, a gang of surly mice threaten their plans. Jamieson, author and illustrator of Roller Girl (Dial, 2015), here presents a giggle-worthy tale for younger readers and those just venturing into graphic novels. Easy-to-follow panels, complemented by several spreads, explode off the page with her bright and cheery palette. Visual humor abounds, from GW's gallant attempts at sword fighting with the mouse leader (using a broken piece of uncooked spaghetti) to Biter's confession that, while in kindergarten, she's found a way to channel her anger issues through meditation. VERDICT Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey's works, Cyndi Marko's "Kung Pow Chicken" series (Scholastic), and Geoffrey Hayes's "Benny and Penny" books (TOON.)-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Book list *Starred Review* For the hamster known as George Washington (GW, for short), there is no greater prison than the second grade classroom. For three months, GW has been plotting and scheming, waiting patiently for things to fall into place so he can finally break free from the joint. It takes some effort to convince fellow prisoners Barry and Biter to join him they actually seem to like it there but a well-laid guilt trip does the trick. On the brink of freedom, the three rodents run up against the biggest obstacle of all, Harriet the mouse. She and her minions have a taste for destruction, but will GW have a change of heart and stop Harriet's mad plan to ruin the school? Told with a wickedly sharp sense of humor, Jamieson's latest delivers a madcap adventure that is sure to please young readers. The hilariously expressive rodents guarantee laughs from page one with plenty of slapstick humor and pointed one-liners. Jamieson makes excellent use of a variety of panel sizes to maximize the action, and the liberal use of bright color adds extra visual punch.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Mr. Wuffles!
by David Wiesner

Publishers Weekly Mr. Wuffles, a handsome black cat with white paws and an arrogant air, couldn't care less about the many toys purchased for his amusement. But he homes in on a metal object (imagine two doll-size colanders soldered shut), imperiling the tiny green aliens inside. Mr. Wuffles bats their spaceship about playfully, damaging it, and in a daring move, the aliens break for safety under the radiator. Wiesner constructs his story in a mix of full spreads and comics-style panels. Though the artwork, done in watercolor and India ink, is superbly colored and composed, the most inventive aspect of the story may be the hieroglyphic language the three-time Caldecott Medalist has invented for his aliens: this is a nearly wordless book full of dialogue no one (excepting maybe Wiesner) will know how to speak aloud. The aliens succeed in befriending the insects that live within the walls of the house, and together they concoct a plan to outwit Mr. Wuffles-yes, humans aren't even a factor in this story of extraterrestrial first contact. Wiesner once again produces a fantasy adventure that isn't like anything else around. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal K-Gr 4-Mr. Wuffles ignores all his fancy cat toys. Still sporting price tags, they line the hallway as he strolls by. But resting quietly among the feathers, balls, and mice is a tiny metal spaceship, and this catches his attention. His playful batting knocks around the alien explorers inside, causing bumps but no injuries. The ship's flying disks do not survive, however, and the aliens set out to explore the house and repair their craft. Barely escaping Mr. Wuffles's claws, they dash behind the radiator and discover primitive art of the cat's previous battles and make friends with the house's insects. The bugs help the aliens repair the spaceship, avoid capture, and fly away. Nearly wordless, the story is told through pictures and the languages of the ants and aliens, depicted by dashes and symbols. The book is fairly complex, best suited for elementary students, who will enjoy decoding the aliens' cryptographic alphabet. Wiesner humorously captures the curiosity and confusion of Mr. Wuffles and his human, who remains oblivious to the drama underfoot. The idea of a separate, tiny world next to ours makes a great premise, and Wiesner's engaging art and lively pacing carry the day. Visual storytelling at its best.-Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Once again Wiesner dips into his irrepressible imagination to deliver a mostly wordless conceptual picture book where the mundane and the magical collide. Mr. Wuffles, an aloof, perspicacious black cat, takes no interest in his playthings, save one peculiar toy that looks something like a hobnail tea strainer. Closer inspection, like only Wiesner can provide, reveals that it is a miniature alien spacecraft experiencing mechanical trouble. Its little green passengers evade Mr. Wuffles and retreat to a hole beneath the radiator, where they discover a series of cave paintings immortalizing battles between the cat and troops of ants and ladybugs. The aliens and the bugs join forces and, speaking in rectangular pictographic word balloons (that some readers will thrill to decipher), hatch a plan to repair the spaceship, foil the feline, and return home. The drama plays out across long, low panels full of kinetic energy and comic detail, all captured in the artist's careful watercolor renderings. In the end, the mission is successful and the aliens escape, but not without leaving behind a few reminders of their visit and an updated record of the epic conflict on the inner wall. Wiesner's many fans will delight at poring over the detailed account of this master plan, again and again, discovering something new with each successive reading. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Wiesner is a three-time Caldecott winner. Three. Fans will be ready to pounce.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Horn Book Picture Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog John Henry
by Julius Lester

School Library Journal K-Gr 5-Another winning collaboration from the master storyteller and gifted artist of Tales of Uncle Remus (Dial, 1987) fame. Based on several well-known versions of an African American folk ballad, Lester's tale is true to the essence of the steel-driving man; yet, it allows room for touches of whimsy and even includes some contemporary references that tie the hero to our own times. Told with just a trace of dialect, the story moves along briskly toward the climax. Its moral message of the importance of a well-lived life is clearly stated, and the ending is uplifting. Pinkney's marvelous watercolors, abundantly rich in detail, convey both the superior strength and the warm sense of humanity that make John Henry perhaps a more down-to-earth character than some other tall-tale figures. The paintings' muted earth tones add a realistic touch to the text, bringing this John Henry alive. When viewed from a distance, however, figures and details sometimes blend together, making the book better suited to independent reading that group sharing. It will appeal to an older audience than Ezra Jack Keats's John Henry (Knopf, 1987) and is a fine addition to any folklore collection.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, Wheeler School, Providence, RI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly A great American hero comes fully to life in this epic retelling filled with glorious, detailed watercolors. From his momentous birth, when all the animals come to see him and the sun won't go to bed, John Henry works wonders. As a child he helps his father by adding ``a wing onto the house with an indoor swimming pool and one of them jacutzis''-and that's just before lunch. Other episodes trace the growth of his generous spirit. His greatest feat is, of course, in his battle against the steam drill, as he races the machine to cut through ``a mountain as big as hurt feelings.'' He dies (``he had hammered so hard and so fast and so long that his big heart had burst''), but the onlookers understand that ``dying ain't important.... What matters is how well you do your living.'' This carefully crafted updating begs to be read aloud for its rich, rhythmic storytelling flow, and the suitably oversize illustrations amplify the text. As only one example, the animal witnesses of his birth reappear throughout, most notably to watch John Henry's funeral train pass by. This may not supplant more traditional retellings, such as Terry Small's The Legend of John Henry, but it is a triumph of collaboration from the creators of the noted Uncle Remus retellings. All ages. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Ages 4 and up. Based on the popular black folk ballad about the contest between John Henry and the steam drill, this picture-book version is a tall tale and a heroic myth, a celebration of the human spirit. Like Lester's great collections of the Uncle Remus tales, also illustrated by Pinkney, the story is told with rhythm and wit, humor and exaggeration, and with a heart-catching immediacy that connects the human and the natural world. ("This was no ordinary boulder. It was as hard as anger . . . a mountain as big as hurt feelings"). The dramatic climax of the story is set at the time of the building of the railroad through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, but Lester begins with the hero's birth, when all the birds and animals come to see the baby and the sun is so excited it forgets to go to bed. Pinkney's dappled pencil-and-watercolor illustrations capture the individuality of the great working man, who is part of the human community and who has the strength of rock and wind. John Henry swings his hammer so fast, he makes a rainbow around his shoulders, and the pictures show that light everywhere, "shining and shimmering in the dust and grit like hope that never dies." ~--Hazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson

Publishers Weekly Atkinson's new novel (after Started Early, Took My Dog) opens twice: first in Germany in 1930 with an English woman taking a shot at Hitler, then in England in 1910 when a baby arrives, stillborn. And then it opens again: still in 1910, still in England, but this time the baby lives. That baby is Ursula Todd, and as she grows up, she dies and lives repeatedly. Watching Atkinson bring Ursula into the world yet again initially feels like a not terribly interesting trick: we know authors have the power of life and death. But as Ursula and the century age, and war and epidemic and war come again, the fact of death, of "darkness," as Atkinson calls it, falling on cities and people-now Ursula, now someone else, now Ursula again-turns out to be central. At heart this is a war story; half the book is given over to Ursula's activities during WWII, and in its focus on the women and civilians usually overlooked or downplayed, it gives the Blitz its full measure of terror. By the end, which takes us back to that moment in 1930 and beyond, it's clear that Atkinson's not playing tricks; rather, through Ursula's many lives and the accretion of what T.S. Eliot called "visions and revisions," she's found an inventive way to make both the war's toll and the pull of alternate history, of darkness avoided or diminished, fresh. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (Apr. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book list *Starred Review* In a radical departure from her Jackson Brodie mystery series, Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel about Ursula Todd, born in 1910 and doomed to die and be reborn over and over again. She drowns, falls off a roof, and is beaten to death by an abusive husband but is always reborn back into the same loving family, sometimes with the knowledge that allows her to escape past poor decisions, sometimes not. As Atkinson subtly delineates all the pathways a life or a country might take, she also delivers a harrowing set piece on the Blitz as Ursula, working as a warden on a rescue team, encounters horrifying tableaux encompassing mangled bodies and whole families covered in ash, preserved just like the victims of Pompeii. Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to a fuss. From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atkinson's publisher is pulling out all the stops in marketing her latest, which will no doubt draw in many new readers in addition to her Jackson Brodie fans.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Life after life after life: Atkinson's telling title suggests not some glorious afterworld but the structure of this remarkable novel, about an English girl born in February, 1910. In fact, Ursula is stillborn in an opening chapter but emerges a lusty babe in the next; Whitbread Award winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum) then hopscotches through time, circling back to offer alternate versions of Ursula's life. Did Ursula endure an unwanted pregnancy, see her brother die of influenza, enter into a sour marriage-or not? Did she survive World War II Britain or instead marry a German and face down Hitler, a gun in her hand? One brief passage shows Ursula musing with a doctor about her fugue states, but Atkinson doesn't waste time belaboring the idea, instead delivering a clear understanding that one life can take different avenues-and what a difference that can make. Atkinson works both large and small, capturing the sweep of history while perfectly rendering the dynamics of Ursula's loving, contentious family: gentle father Hugh, disappointed mother Sylvie, generous sister Pamela, and more. VERDICT Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12 and Editors' Picks, LJ 2/15/13, "Editors' Spring Picks."]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog A Column Of Fire
by Ken Follett

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Book list *Starred Review* What is this book about? In an appended author's note, Woodson says it best: my past, my people, my memories, my story. The resulting memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson's preadolescent life into art, through memories of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family. Small things ice cream from the candy store, her grandfather's garden, fireflies in jelly jars become large as she recalls them and translates them into words. She gives context to her life as she writes about racial discrimination, the civil rights movement, and, later, Black Power. But her focus is always on her family. Her earliest years are spent in Ohio, but after her parents separate, her mother moves her children to South Carolina to live with Woodson's beloved grandparents, and then to New York City, a place, Woodson recalls, of gray rock, cold and treeless as a bad dream. But in time it, too, becomes home; she makes a best friend, Maria, and begins to dream of becoming a writer when she gets her first composition notebook and then discovers she has a talent for telling stories. Her mother cautions her not to write about her family, but, happily, many years later she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-"I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins" writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, "as the South explodes" into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the "colored" were treated in the North and South. "After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio." She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother's insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Written in verse, Woodson's collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author's perspective of America, "a country caught/ between Black and White," during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah's Witnesses, her grandmother's religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: "Who could love/ this place-where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them." The writer's passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson's ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family. Ages 10-up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog A Map of the World
by Jane Hamilton

Library Journal: This second novel by Hamilton (The Book of Ruth, LJ 11/1/88) is a stunning exploration of how one careless moment can cause irrevocable and devastating change. Alice Goodwin is caring for her best friend's children when two-year-old Lizzy Collins wanders to the pond on the Goodwin farm and drowns. The consequences of this tragedy reverberate through a small Wisconsin community, which never accepted Howard and Alice Goodwin. Theresa Collins, bereft at losing a child and a dear friend, draws on her Catholic religion and finds forgiveness. Alice, immobilized by guilt and grief and unable to function as a wife or mother to her own two daughters, is charged with abusing children in her part-time job as a school nurse. Lizzy's death is ever present-especially in the bond growing between Theresa and Howard while Alice is in jail-and the pain of it is echoed in Alice's primary young accuser and in Alice as a child, drawing her own map of the world after her mother died. Reminiscent of Rosellen Brown's Tender Mercies (1978), this compelling, multilayered fiction belongs in all collections.-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Booksellers should send up three cheers of greeting for this haunting second novel by the author of The Book of Ruth , a beautifully developed and written story reminiscent of the work of Sue Miller and Jane Smiley. A piercing picture of domestic relationships under the pressure of calamitous circumstances, it poignantly addresses the capricious turns of fate and the unyielding grip of regret. Alice and Howard Goodwin and their two young daughters live on the last remaining dairy farm on the outskirts of Racine, Wisc. The farm is Howard's dream, realized with infusions of money from his disapproving mother; but Alice, who is disorganized, skittery and emotionally volatile, is constitutionally unsuited to be a farmer's wife. Her solace is her best friend Theresa, who also has two little girls for whom they alternate days of babysitting. One hot, dry June morning, in the middle of a soul-parching drought, Alice daydreams for a few, crucial minutes while the four girls play. She has rediscovered the map of the world that she made after her own mother died when she was eight; it was an attempt to imagine a place where she would always feel safe and secure. In that short time, one of Theresa's daughters drowns in the Goodwins' pond. As outsiders from the city, the Goodwins have never been accepted in their small community, which now closes forces against them. Still grieving and filled with remorse, Alice, a school nurse, is accused by an opportunistic mother of sexually molesting her son. She is arrested, and since Howard cannot raise bail, she remains in jail, where she suffers but also learns a great deal about human frailty and solidarity. Meanwhile, Howard and the girls undergo their own crucible of fire. Among Hamilton's gifts is a perfect ear for the interchanges of domestic life. The voices of Alice and Howard, who narrate the tale, have an elegiac, yet compelling tone as they look back on the events that swept them into a horrifying nightmare. In counterpoint to the shocks that transform their existence, the drudgery of the daily routine of farm life has rarely been conveyed with such fidelity. Fittingly, however, the death of their hopes as a family coincides with Howard's realization that the farmer's way of life is disappearing as well. The last third of the book, detailing Alice's incarceration among mainly black inmates, is astonishingly perceptive and credible, opening new dimensions in the narrative. One wants to read this powerful novel at one sitting, mesmerized by a story that has universal implications. BOMC and QPB selection.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly
Click to search this book in our catalog Delicious Foods: A Novel
by James Hannaham

Publishers Weekly Hannaham's (God Says No) seductive and disturbing second novel grips the reader from page one. In the prologue, 17-year-old Eddie has escaped from a farm somewhere in Louisiana, terrified he's headed closer to a place "where someone might capture or kill him, [rather than] away toward freedom." Hannaham safely delivers Eddie into a new life, though one full of agonizing memories, "like dark birds poised to attack him." The narrative then shifts back to the story of Eddie's mother, Darlene, an educated woman devastated by the loss her husband, Nat, a community organizer in a small town in Louisiana. In her grief, Darlene disappears into a fog of drug use; Scotty, who is the book's charismatic narrator for most of the proceedings, is in fact the literal personification of crack ("Her idea of heaven was that the two of us could kick it together [.] without nobody judging our relationship"). When Darlene is lured into taking a job on a mysterious farm, "it felt like the first luck Darlene had touched in the whole six years since she lost Nat." Instead, it's a horror show of human suffering, through which Darlene and Eddie struggle to reunite. Hannaham's skill at portraying the worst of human experience while keeping you glued to the page-and totally taken with the characters-is nothing short of magic. The light he shines on the realities of racial injustice, human trafficking, drug abuse, and exploitation make a deep imprint on the reader. But as devastating as Darlene, Eddie, and the other laborers' situations become, the heroic themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption carry this memorable story. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* If The Great Gatsby was the Great American Novel of the twentieth century, Delicious Foods could be that of the early twenty-first. The hero is not a rich white man but a poor black kid in the South, Eddie, whose young life unravels when his activist father is murdered. Eddie's mom, Darlene, falls apart, each year bringing her closer to the streets, where eventually she is lured into a van to go work at Delicious Foods. The recruiters describe a rural farm with three-star accommodations, fair wages, and an open supply of crack cocaine, but only one of those promises proves to be true. Darlene and Eddie spend the next years sleeping on rusty bunk beds and working seven days a week for wages that are immediately eaten up by the company store and demerits doled out by their armed guards. When the owners of Delicious Foods are finally brought to justice, Darlene is faced with the painful choices of freedom: how to break free of her pain-erasing addiction, how to live without promises, how to feed her body and soul with truly good food that strengthens rather than kills. If the plot sounds like tough going, Hannaham's masterpiece is anything but. The writing makes it great, and the themes of pain, forgiveness, exploitation, and self-creation make it American. It is simply unmissable.--Weber, Lynn Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Hannaham's second novel (after God Says No) is a disturbing but impressive exposť of the corporate farm industry. In the opening pages, Eddie Hardison, a 17-year-old young black man, has escaped from the farm, his hands missing, the stumps of his wrists covered in blood-soaked cloth. The story then flips back six years to happier times when Eddie lived with his parents in a small Louisiana town. His mother, Darlene, is college educated, while his father, Nat, is a grocery store owner and community organizer. Devastated by Nat's murder, Darlene barely hangs on, but after their business is burned to the ground, she disintegrates into addiction and prostitution. One night, Darlene, along with other homeless, is lured into a van with the promise of a better life at a mysterious farm. They realize too late that they have signed on to suffering and deprivation under the cruel Sextus and his crew. Eddie eventually finds Darlene, only to become entrapped himself. Verdict In a unique voice, Hannaham doesn't flinch as he draws attention to exploitation and racial injustice through memorable characters undaunted by their own personal suffering, wisecracking their country wisdom about survival and loyalty to family and friends. An eye-opening, standout novel. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/14.]-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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