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Little fires everywhere [book club kit]
2019
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New York Times Review
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, by Celeste Ng. (Penguin Press, $27.) The magic of Ng's second novel, which opens with arson and centers on an interracial adoption, lies in its power to implicate every character - and likely many readers - in the innocent delusion that "no one sees race here." DEFIANCE: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Anne Barnard, by Stephen Taylor. (Norton, $28.95.) Over the course of Taylor's biography, a picture emerges of Lady Anne Barnard as a cleareyed yet self-doubting woman determined to live life on her own terms even as she worried about her right to set those terms. AT THE STRANGERS' GATE: Arrivals in New York, by Adam Gopnik. (Knopf, $26.95.) In his new memoir, Gopnik recalls the decade after he and his soon-to-be wife moved from Montreal to New York, in 1980. Always the elegant stylist, he effortlessly weaves in the city's cultural history, tracing his path from graduate student in art history to staff writer for The New Yorker. HOME FIRE, by Kamila Shamsie. (Riverhead, $26.) In a challenging and engrossing novel full of tiny but resonant details, two families find their fates entwined when a young man travels to Syria to join ISIS, following in the steps of the jihadist father he never really knew. BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD, by Attica Locke. (Mulholland/ Little, Brown, $26.) This murder mystery follows Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, as he tries to solve a dual killing in a small town full of zany characters, buried feelings and betrayals that go back generations. THE STONE SKY: The Broken Earth: Book Three, by N. K. Jemisin. (Orbit, paper, $16.99.) Jemisin, who writes the Book Review's Otherworldly column about science fiction and fantasy, won a Hugo Award for each of the first two novels in her Broken Earth trilogy. In the extraordinary conclusion, a mother and daughter do geologic battle for the fate of the earth. AUTUMN, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Translated by Ingvild Burkey. (Penguin Press, $27.) In this collection of finely honed miniature essays, the first of a planned quartet based on the seasons, the Norwegian author of the multi-volume novel "My Struggle" describes the world for his unborn child. AFTERGLOW (A Dog Memoir), by Eileen Myles. (Grove, $24.) Myles, the poet and autobiographical novelist, turns her attention to the role her dog Rosie played in her life and art. ONE NATION AFTER TRUMP: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported, by E. J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann. (St. Martin's, $25.99.) Seasoned Washington observers examine how Donald Trump's rise reflects long-term Republican trends. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books
Library Journal Review
The morning after Mia and daughter Pearl return the rental key in the Richardsons' mailbox, the youngest Richardson, Izzy, sets "little fires everywhere," destroying the family home. Following her magnificent debut, Everything I Never Told You, Ng's spectacular sophomore work again manipulates time (revealing the implosions backward) and perspectives (privileging the reader through multiple narrators). In Shaker Heights, OH, a pristine suburb where "there were rules, many rules," wealthy wife and mother of four Elena Richardson writes "terribly nice" articles for the local paper. Her tenants, Mia and Pearl, nomads who finally plan to "stay put," are soon integrated into the Richardsons' sprawling lives: teenager Pearl becomes like a fifth child, artist Mia something more than a part-time housekeeper. When Elena's close friend adopts an abandoned Chinese baby whose birth mother's return causes a community rift over custody, Elena and Mia find themselves on polarizing sides. "Everything.beautiful and perfect on the outside" crumbles, observes Izzy, the family's barometer of truth about identity, parent/child bonds, and most of all, love. The consequences will be devastating and illuminating. VERDICT Shaker Heights native Ng writes what she knows into a magnificent, multilayered epic that's perfect for eager readers and destined for major award lists. [See Prepub Alert, 3/27/17.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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