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Commonwealth : a novel [book club kit]
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BOYS AMONG MEN: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution, by Jonathan Abrams. (Three Rivers, $16.) Abrams, a former Grantland writer, profiles the players, both successful and less so, who joined the league directly from high school. Some of the sport's biggest stars followed this path between 1995 and 2005, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett. THE GIRLS, by Emma Cline. (Random House, $17.)When Evie - 14, adriftand overlooked - encounters a group of enviable older girls in the late 1960s, she is soon drawn into a Charles Manson-like cult replete with squalor and sexual abuse. But rather than the group's charismatic leader, the object of Evie's obsession is Suzanne, a woman modeled on a reallife Manson devotee. THE BONJOUR EFFECT: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed, by Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau. (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99.) As expatriates living in France, the authors learned firsthand the importance of cultural fluency. They approach their subject with anthropological eyes, focusing on the unseen rules that govern French speech: from the layered meanings of non to the art and ritual of dinnertime discussions. ANATOMY OF A SOLDIER, by Harry Parker. (Vintage, $17.) The story of Capt. Tom Barnes, a fictional British soldier in Afghanistan, is told from the perspectives of inanimate objects that surround him: a prosthetic limb, a tourniquet, dog tags. The fragmentary style of the novel suits its subject: Barnes was gravely injured during the conflict. As our reviewer, Benjamin Busch, put it, such narrators are "witness to a single casualty, their multiple perspectives finally forming a gestalt view of a soldier's journey from mutilation to recovery." STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road, by Rob Schmitz. (Broadway, $16.) Schmitz, an NPR correspondent based in China, offers a multigenerational portrait of his neighborhood, a former colonial and expatriate stronghold, using the stories of its residents: a struggling restaurateur, an elderly couple, a migrant worker. COMMONWEALTH, by Ann Patchett. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) A betrayal - an extramarital kiss at a christening - sets in motion the joining and unraveling of the Keating and Cousins families over the decades, with Patchett's novel following the stepsiblings over 50 years. "In delineating the casual blend of irritation and unsentimental affection among family members of all ages, Patchett excels," our reviewer, Curtis Sittenfeld, wrote.
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