Book Reviews

“The Frangipani Hotel” by Violet Kupersmith

Gabriel Garcia Marquez annoys me. There, I said it. His is the most prominent name in magical realism, and his work had me convinced that I was not a fan of the genre. I inevitably grew weary of what seems like cutesy or convenient inventions put it place to further the narrative or tickle the reader. I want to know if a story is based in the world that I know or if it is fantastical. Go big or go home; don’t settle for ambiguous magical realism, I always thought.

“Wait for You” by J. Lynn

Going to college is stressful for pretty much everyone, but for Avery, there is a whole new level of fear. Now, away from home, she can’t explain why she hates going to parties and why she’s never dated a boy—hell, never even been alone in a car with one before…

“We” by Michael Landweber

Ben was 42 when he reached to scrub an old stain from the ceiling of his apartment and lost his balance. When he opened his eyes, he was 7 again. He had traveled back in time to the days before his sister’s rape tore their family apart.

“A Snug Life Somewhere” by Jan Shapin

Penny Joe Copper, the daughter of a shingle weaver more interested in labor movements than in putting food on the table, is determined to make a “snug life somewhere” for herself. In this pursuit, she moves to Seattle, where her younger brother is attending college. But a few months later, when her brother is killed in a labor demonstration, Penny finds herself the face of grief—propelled into the spotlight by no small degree by the slick, fast-talking Gabe Rabinowitz.

“The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

I am among the 44 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions. I tend to think of my goals in more seasonal terms: each spring, summer, fall, and winter I rethink areas of my life that could use improvement. But Gretchen Rubin takes this idea much, much further. And her goal, although multifaceted, is simple: In one year, she wanted to find ways to make herself happier.

“Habana Libre” by Tim Wendel

Pilar has everything a young Cuban woman could want: she’s the most beautiful and talented performer at a luxe resort; she’s newly married to Omar Silva, Cuba’s star baseball player; and her uncle is one of the most prominent businessmen in the country. But she wants more. She dreams of a life outside of Cuba, in “El Norte,” and she will do anything to get there.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

When she was out in the world, the world as it had been Before, she hadn’t known how free she was. She was free to marry her lover, Luke, and they were free to have a daughter together. She was free to hold down a job, to have money of her own, to wear whatever she liked and go wherever she wanted whenever she pleased.