In my travels through magazines and book reviews over the last few weeks, I've come across some new releases that look to be worth investigating. Thought I'd share them here:
Clara Lugo — born in the Dominican Republic, raised in New York City's Inwood, ''the neighborhood of parks and bodegas, of rivers and bridges'' — escaped a painful childhood when Cornell offered her a full scholarship. Now a librarian, married and living in the New Jersey suburbs, she finds she cannot scrub herself clean of the past. Her sister, her pregnant 16-year-old niece, and her old high school sweetheart Tito, who's suddenly reappeared after 15 years, see to that. It's entertaining to watch the smart, piquantly funny Clara desperately try to impose a library-like order on her life. If only Michaud hadn't felt the need to load When Tito Loved Clara down with so many soapy plot twists! B+
The Adults, by Alison Espach. From Amazon:
In Espach's charming coming-of-age debut, 14-year-old Emily Vidal's life begins to veer off course at her father's 50th birthday party when he announces that he and her mother are divorcing. The birthday night ends with dad kissing the neighbor, Mrs. Resnick, in the woods, where Emily and Mrs. Resnick's son, Mark, discover them. The disorienting discoveries continue: Mark's ailing father commits suicide, and Mrs. Resnick is pregnant with Emily's dad's baby. With dad off to Prague and her mother undone by the affair and hitting the bottle, Emily loses faith in all the adults around her, even as she is becoming one of them. Emily starts an affair with an English teacher 10 years her senior, mostly to see how far she can go, which turns out to be pretty far. She and the teacher, Jonathan, who leaves teaching to become a lawyer, return to each other again and again as Emily graduates from college and moves to Prague to be with her father. Espach perfects the snarky, postironic deadpan of the 1990s and teenagers everywhere, and her ear for modern speech and eye for fresh detail transform a familiar story into an education in what it means to be a grown-up.
Carol Edgarian’s Three Stages of Amazement shares a surprising amount of common ground with last year’s most argued-about novel, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Whatever the overarching themes of either book may be, it’s the sharply observed detail and intensity that matter: the spectacle of high-strung, hot-blooded, restless people conflating their own private crises with the political and economic turmoil of their times. What Halliburton and the Bush era were to Mr. Franzen, Silicon Valley and the Obama presidency are to Ms. Edgarian’s turbulent, furiously compelling book.
I'd love to hear from anyone who has read these yet – worth pursuing? Thanks!