Broken River

By J. Robert Lennon.

The most inventive and entertaining novel to date from “a master of the dark arts” (Kelly Link)

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

By Gail Honeyman. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever—if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.

Anything is Possible

By Elizabeth Strout. Two sisters, one who trades self-respect for a wealthy husband and one who discovers a kindred spirit in the pages of a book, struggle with intimate human dramas at the sides of their community members and a returned Lucy Barton. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

By Kate Moore.

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Spoils

This highly charged debut transports readers to Fallujah during the Iraq War, where, with scalpel-like precision and extraordinary empathy for his characters, Van Reet casts an unflinching eye on the theater of war and on the blurred lines between good and bad, soldier and civilian, and victor and vanquished.

Spoils depicts a few short weeks in the lives of three people involved in the war in drastically different ways. Cassandra, an American soldier, is captured from her artillery unit during a firefight and forced to endure a brutal captivity as a POW. Abu Al-Hool is a fierce mujahedeen, a veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Chechnya, whose power is being eroded by the next wave of super-radicalized jihadists (those brutal enough to behead their prisoners…and circulate the video to the world). Finally, there is Sleed, a young soldier haunted by the knowledge that he was searching one of Sadaam’s palaces for a gold-toilet-seat souvenir as his fellow soldiers were ambushed.

In dazzling prose, Van Reet maps the vivid interior lives and traces the motivations and desires of these combatants on both sides of a war that is spinning increasingly out of control. The result is an unsparing and unforgettable novel that belongs alongside modern war classics such as The Yellow Birds, Redeployment, and The Things They Carried.

The Women in the Castle

 By Jessica Shattuck. In a novel set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, three widows’ lives and fates become intertwined. By the author of The Hazards of Good Breeding. 150,000 first printing.

Our Short History

By Lauren Grodstein. New York Times bestselling author Lauren Grodstein returns with a deeply compelling and heartfelt story about the depths of a parent’s love and the struggle between keeping the past at bay and protecting a child’s future.

Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant, has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. She’s had to be: when Jacob’s father, Dave, found out Karen was pregnant and made it clear that fatherhood wasn’t in his plans, Karen walked out of the relationship, never telling Dave her intention was to raise their child alone.

But now Jake is asking to meet his dad, and with good reason: Karen is dying. Worried that he’ll break Jake’s heart, Karen finally makes the call, and is shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the news. First, he can’t meet Jake fast enough, and then, he can’t seem to leave him alone.

Terrified that Dave is trying to insinuate himself into Jake’s life, Karen is carrying a much larger burden: she has just a few more months to live. As she tries to play out her last days in the “right” way, she struggles with knowing that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son–let his father become a permanent part of his life–is the thing he needs from her the most.

With heart-wrenching poignancy, unexpected wit, and mordant humor, Lauren Grodstein has created an unforgettable story about parenthood, sacrifice, and life itself.

A Piece of the World

By Christina Baker Kline. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Swimming Lessons

Returning home to care for her aging father 12 years after her mother’s disappearance, Flora discovers that before she went missing, her mother wrote letters to her father about their marriage and hid them among his thousands of books. By the award-winning author of Our Endless Numbered Days.

Pachinko

By Min Jin Lee

In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family until a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan, in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question. Reading-group guide available. By a national best-selling author.

 

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