Book Reviews

“Northwest Corner” by John Burnham Schwartz

Short and sweet: Northwest Corner picks up twelve years after Reservation Road ended.
Theme song: “How to Save a Life” by the Fray (See “random pop culture references” below.)
Recommended for: Baseball fans who appreciate the lasting effects of latent violence.

Dwight Arno served his time in prison for not reporting his fatal accident with Josh Learner, and he is now living quietly in California. But in waiting to turn himself in, did he miss his shot at redemption? Will the mistakes he’s made continue to haunt him?

“Reservation Road” by John Burnham Schwartz

In the wake of a horrific accident that claims the life of ten-year-old Josh, the lives of two families begin to disintegrate. Josh’s parents, Ethan and Grace Learner, and his sister, Emma, become wrapped in impenetrable clouds of grief and guilt. Dwight Arno, the man who hit Josh with his car and sped away, deals with his own intense guilt and sadness at how his life has turned out, while his son, Sam, gradually unravels the truth about what really happened that day.

“The Illumination” by Kevin Brockmeier

Carol Ann Page is struggling after a painful divorce, and things only get worse when she accidentally slices off her thumb. When she is hospitalized, she is privy to a phenomenon no one can explain: Everyone’s pain is illuminated. From sore spines and aching joints, from sliced thumbs and ruptured spleens, pain becomes a very visible–and strangely beautiful–thing.

“The Kid” by Sapphire

Sapphire’s second work of fiction, The Kid, begins with the funeral of the protagonist of her first novel, Push. Precious’s son, Abdul, is nine years old, and in the wake of his mother’s death he faces a terrifying world completely alone.

“Push” by Sapphire

Precious Jones is an illiterate young black woman who has never left her native Harlem. She is pregnant with her second child, a product of rape. For her entire life, she’s been abused: her parents have both used her sexually and violently; the school system has failed her; and she’s never had a friend, much less a boyfriend. Now, she’s been suspended from her middle school, and the only option her mother suggests is getting on welfare.

“Next to Love” by Ellen Feldman

Babe, Millie, and Grace have been friends for as long as they can remember. They have their differences—pugnacious Babe grew up in the poor section of town and never met with approval from Grace’s upper-class mother, while sweet Millie dealt with the loss of her parents at a young age. But now, as World War II summons their husbands and boyfriends, the women must come to terms with the reality of an America at war, where romance and joy are replaced with grief and loss and then with strength and wisdom.

“The Storm at the Door” by Stefan Merrill Block

Long before Stefan Merrill Block was born, the marriage between his grandparents, Frederick and Katharine Merrill, was pushed to the breaking point. Frederick’s alcohol abuse and infidelity had wounded Katharine for years, but his manic depression took him too far one night. Katharine convinced the police to take him to a renowned mental hospital in Massachusetts instead of placing him under arrest.

“The Passage” by Justin Cronin

Title: The Passage Author: Justin Cronin ISBN: 9780345504968 Pages: 784 Release date: June 8, 2010 Publisher: Ballantine Books Genre: Literary fiction (among others) Format: Hardcover Source: Millie’s collection Rating: 2.5 out of 5 I read this book because it was highly recommended on the internet as a vampire apocalypse novel good enough to be called literary fiction. I enjoy post-apocalyptic tales like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and World War Z by Max Brooks. And while I generally find vampires tiresome, I loved []

“You Know When the Men Are Gone” by Siobhan Fallon

When I was buying a new (to me) car this past winter, I drove all around Northern Virginia scoping out my options. For one test-drive, I found myself navigating the twists and turns of Ft. Belvoir. Though the military base is not far from where I live, I had never been inside the gates before. I was surprised at the expanse and attempted self-sufficiency of the place; it had (or tried to have) everything, from the bank to Starbucks to gas stations. Its cookie-cutter Main Street was what I imagine every time some pundit talks about middle America.

“Fodor’s Thailand” by Hana Borrowman

Back in February, Jack and I spent two fast-paced weeks in Thailand on vacation. When we decided to travel there, we checked out from the library two guidebooks on the country: Lonely Planet Thailand and Fodor’s Thailand. We decided to buy our own copy of the latter to bring with us.

“Wanderlust” by Elisabeth Eaves

To say that Elisabeth Eaves has caught the travel bug is to put it lightly. She is obsessed with seeing new places and meeting new people. She begins her travels by babysitting for a summer in Spain, where she has a short fling with a young waiter named Pepe.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the wake of World War I, the U.S. economy boomed, and bootleggers amassed fortunes during the Prohibition of the raucous Roaring Twenties. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic portrayal of the Jazz Age (as it was also called), encapsulates the optimism and prosperity of this technologically advancing generation.