The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins

(Flatiron Books, 9781250209764, $27.99)

"American Dirt is a beautiful, heartbreaking odyssey, a vivid world filled with angels and demons, one I only wanted to leave so I could get my heart out of my throat. Cartel violence sends a mother and her son careening north from Acapulco toward the relative safety of the United States, and every moment of their journey is rendered in frantic, sublime detail. Danger lurks around the corner of every paragraph, but so does humanity, empathy, and stunning acts of human kindness. You will feel the toll of every mile, the cost of every bullet, and the power of every page. A wonder."
--Thatcher Svekis, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, CA

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

(photo: Joe Kennedy)

Independent booksellers across the country have chosen American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron Books) as their number-one pick for the February 2020 Indie Next List.

The novel, which has been hailed by early reviewers as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," centers on Lydia Quixano Perez, a bookseller in Acapulco, Mexico, who is forced to flee the city with her son after a violent day changes the course of their lives. The two, now migrants, must navigate a treacherous series of freight trains coined "La Bestia" to get to the U.S.-Mexico border as quickly and discreetly as possible.

Here, Cummins discusses how she came to write this novel.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

The first moment I felt like I should write about this happened many, many years ago, when my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and I were vacationing in California. We had taken the week to drive the Pacific Coast Highway and our last stop was San Diego, and one day I drove down to the border by myself. My husband was an undocumented immigrant and I didn't want him anywhere near the border, but I wanted to go and just see it. And I accidentally drove into Mexico, which you could still do then. It was pre-9/11 and the border was not militarized the way it is now.

I'd been to Mexico before, but I'd never been to the border. I was so shocked by what I saw there. There were so many young men with only one leg. There were young kids trying to sell gum or hats or piñatas or whatever touristy stuff they had to sell. I had no money because as soon as I got there, I got pulled over by the policía and they took it all. The fine print on my rental agreement said I couldn't have the car I was driving in Mexico, and the officer said he would impound the car and I would have to wait in jail for a few days to talk to the judge. I was 21 or 22, and I was terrified. I said I couldn't go to prison, and he said, well, maybe there's another way. You can pay a fine. And I said, how much is the fine? And he said, how much you got?

I gave him all my money, and then I waited five hours in line to get through U.S. Customs and Border Protection to get back into the United States. After crossing accidentally in seven seconds. So, I was sitting at the border for many, many hours, just observing all these young kids, and I must have seen five for six young men with only one leg. And I didn't understand what I was looking at. When I got home to New York, I started researching. I came across "La Bestia," and I came to understand that these were men from Central America and southern Mexico who had, in all likelihood, ridden the train to the border and had fallen off at some point and been maimed. I came to understand how common this was, that it's happening every single day. In the effort to just reach the U.S. border, never mind cross it, people are being killed and maimed daily. It's commonplace. And I was like, why don't I know about this? Why don't people in the U.S. know this story?

I never stopped thinking about that, and for many years, I felt an enormous reluctance to write about it. I felt, very clearly, that it just wasn't my story to tell. And even when I started thinking about writing about the border, I resisted writing from a migrant's point of view for a long time. But if I really wanted to get into it, then the correct thing to do was to tell the story of the people who were suffering.

Your author's note mentions that you began writing this book in 2013, when the conversation about immigration in the U.S. was very different. Did the 2016 election influence the story you originally set out to tell?

It was less influenced by the 2016 election than by other factors, believe it or not. The fact is that this story, unfortunately, pre-dated the current administration and it's going to be here when they're gone. The tenor of the national dialogue has shifted into a place that feels a bit more cruel, I think, and we've had this sort of resurgence of casual racism in this country where it's cool to say things again that for decades we had stopped saying out loud. I think the current climate in the country socially has been to bring all of our dirty laundry back out of the shadows and hang it up in the breeze again where we can see it. But it was always there.

There were a number of factors that altered the book, with the first and the biggest one being my research. I took a couple of years to watch every documentary I could find and read every book I could find while I was drafting the first terrible version of this book. As soon as I went to Mexico, I threw out everything I had written and started over. It's one thing to learn academically about the statistics of the people who are being maimed and killed on "La Bestia" every day, and it's quite another thing to walk into a migrant shelter in Tijuana and see a young man who lost his leg three days earlier. The experience of meeting migrants and listening to their stories from their own mouths and meeting the people who have dedicated their lives to supporting them was hugely influential for me.

Frankly, another huge factor that is incredibly personal is that my father died a week before the 2016 presidential election. He was Puerto Rican, and our president is no big fan of Latino people. It was this double whammy of losing my dad at the moment when this country felt so viciously divided in a way that I'd never seen before in my lifetime. I think there's a way in which grief, really debilitating grief, can eventually function as a springboard. There are so many missing fathers in this book — every single character is grieving for their father — and that was a thing I didn't realize until the book was over. As I was writing it, all of that grief was mine in real time.

I've had significant trauma in my life before, I've written about it before, I thought I knew how to grieve, and then my dad died and I could not function. I didn't write. I couldn't even read. I didn't have the reservoir of emotional space to take words in or produce them. I didn't do anything for about four months, and then in February 2017, I just dragged my laptop into bed with me and I wrote the opening scene of American Dirt. I knew that everything I'd written before was wrong. I knew that this was the book. I started over completely, and I wrote the whole book in about 10 months.

I'd been steeping in the research for four years by then. I knew the characters. I knew their stories. But the way I had been writing it was so reserved, and I think my grief propelled me into the story in a way that would never have happened if my father had not died.

How did you craft Lydia's character?

She's a lot like me. The elephant in the room is that I'm not Mexican. But she's a mom and I'm a mom. The experience of the parent-child bond is not universal, but it's global. It's something almost everyone can relate to because we are all either parents or the children of parents. Most of us are the children of parents who love us, so we know what that looks like, and we know what the fierceness of that kind of love feels like from one side or the other. And that is the lens through which I feel comfortable telling this story. Because the fact is that Lydia is Mexican. And though she lives in Mexico, she lives a life very similar to mine. She is a comfortable middle-class woman who has a husband she adores and a child who she loves with utter devotion. Because she is those things, it was quite easy for me to imagine myself into her life with all of the research that I did. At the end of the day, the whole point of the book is that she can be from anywhere--she can be from Afghanistan or Africa or Australia right now.

What would you do if you lived in a place that began to collapse around you? How would you save your kid? The answer to those questions crosses every single cultural border. We would all do anything to save our kid.

During her journey, Lydia must decide if she and her son will risk the dangers of taking "La Bestia" to get to the U.S. How did your research impact Lydia's decision to take these freight trains?

Research-wise, most Central American migrants who are coming to the U.S. now will come by a series of coyotes. They're coming through almost an underground railroad system, and they're travelling all the way from Honduras or Guatemala. They're being driven sometimes on buses with false papers or in someone's family vehicle. But given how quickly Lydia's exodus was from Acapulco, and the fact that she didn't have time to plan for a coyote or to gather Luca's birth certificate and the travelling papers she would need, I believe "La Bestia" would be her only route.

The majority of Mexico is incredibly safe. The problem is that if you do find yourself on the wrong side of a violent criminal, there's very little recourse, because there's so much corruption in the police force that you can't rely on law enforcement to protect you or to give you help. Very often, your only recourse is to run. Especially in a situation like Lydia's, travelling from place to place on extended stretches of highway between states, is incredibly dangerous in Mexico, depending on the state and the route.

There are currently 40,000 people reported missing in Mexico. Law enforcement authorities there pretty routinely find mass graves, and those mass graves are largely believed to contain the bodies of migrants. So, even if Lydia was an anonymous migrant, even if she wasn't someone who was being actively searched for by the head of a cartel, being a migrant on the highway is incredibly dangerous. You can't travel by road, is the bottom line. That's why so many people are travelling by foot, or "La Bestia."

On your website, you mention finding "a preponderance of hope among people who endure so much hardship" when conducting research for this book. How did this hope manifest?

One of the most influential things was how much compassion I saw--and it was the most surprising thing to me, too, how much kindness and goodness, bravery and solidarity exists among the migrants and the people who have devoted themselves to protecting them and helping them. I don't even know how to describe the effect it had on me emotionally. It made me feel ashamed of our country, but more than that, it made me feel such hope for humanity.

In recent months, it has begun happening that in addition to all of the other terrifying things they have to face on their journeys, these migrants are now being hunted, in some cases, at the shelters. The priests who are running these shelters are putting themselves in between the authorities, who very often aren't really the authorities but have nefarious intentions for these migrants, and they are being the shield and standing at the door saying, you shall not pass. To see that over and over again was so incredibly inspiring, and it made me feel good about humanity, that whatever awful stuff was going on out there, there are so many people who not only want to do the right thing, but who are willing to risk themselves in the service of protecting vulnerable people. I wanted to make very, very sure that message was clear in the book--how much goodness I encountered not only in the migrants themselves, but along the migrant trail.

Is there one thing you would want readers to away from this book?

Very simply: migrants are people. In this country, it's so difficult to have any kind of open conversation about immigration because the second we open our mouths, we have to choose a noun. We choose migrant or alien or immigrant or refugee or undocumented or illegal, which are crazy adjectives that have become nouns. As soon as you choose your noun, the person on the other side of that dialogue rolls their shutter down, because they know where you stand. The conversation is over before it begins.

The great thing about fiction is that it can liberate you from that. It can afford readers the opportunity so now they don't have to choose a noun. They can just talk about these people by their Christian names. They can talk about Rebecca and Soledad and Lydia and Luca and Javier and Lorenzo and everyone else who they meet along the way, and they don't have to label them. They are just like us, like any other people. Some of them are assholes, some of them are incredibly talented. Some of them are geniuses, some of them are beautiful, some of them are painters or singers or doctors or scientists.

They're just humans. Labelling them from the get go as migrants or whatever other word we use is part of the reason we are in the mess we are in policy-wise in this country. We have forgotten that we're talking about human beings.

John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Weather

By Jenny Offill

(Knopf, 9780385351102, $23.95)

"Brief and brilliant, Jenny Offill's Weather doesn't need page after page to trap us inside. Tearing through precision-crafted paragraphs, we willingly follow a Brooklyn librarian down a doomsday rabbit hole as she tries to limit the world's damage to those she loves. On the express bus to the demise of civilization, find a seat next to Lizzie for a wild and witty ride through the storm raging across America. An astute and satisfying read."

--Ann Woodbeck, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

By Craig Fehrman

(Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 9781476786391, $30)

"Fascinating and engaging, Chris Fehrman's Author in Chief delivers unique insights into U.S. politics, history, and publishing. Fehrman shows that analyzing our presidents as authors first provides understanding and appreciation into their personal lives and motivations, but also into how those motivations greatly influenced our country as a whole. Proving that books can indeed change the world, Author in Chief is a perfect combination of history, politics, and bibliophilia."

--Katerina Argyres, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

A Long Petal of the Sea

By Isabel Allende

(Ballantine Books, 9781984820150, $28)

"Isabel Allende's latest novel couldn't come at a better time for American readers heading into an election season. With immigration and desperate people seeking asylum as its central narrative thread, the novel reminds us of the uncanny resiliency of the human spirit and the power of love--both of others and of country--to restore and heal. From his awe-inspiring feat in the novel's opening pages to his persistence in the face of a lifetime of adversity, cardiologist Victor Dalmau will live long and well in readers' minds."

--Kelly Barth, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS

When We Were Vikings

By Andrew David MacDonald

(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781982126766, $27)

"I could not put this book down. Readers rarely have the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone with a disability and experience their lives in a meaningful way. We rarely see people with Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome depicted as truly feeling, flesh-and-blood people who experience love, lust, heartbreak, and disappointment, who face challenges as they strive for their dream. Zelda is my new hero! She is undaunted and unflappable as she grapples with her dreams and life experiences. Your journey with her will be all too brief, but it is one that will stay with you long after you read the last page."

--Rebecca Gottberg, Rediscovered Books, Boise, ID

Homie: Poems

By Danez Smith

(Graywolf Press, 9781644450109, $16, trade paper)

"In their third collection, Danez Smith shakes to life the parts of people that have gone to sleep waiting for this time in the world to be over. Those emotions that raise up too much anger or grief--all of them are alive again and seen and spoken for with utmost care and a tremendously welcome sense of humor. Pick this book up and carry it with you everywhere. It can be like a video game heart for you, and who doesn't need an extra heart?"
--Luis Lopez, Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, MN

Things in Jars

By Jess Kidd

(Atria Books, 9781982121280, $27)

"Set in Victorian England, Things in Jars feels like a Sherlock Holmes story, if Holmes had been a woman. You can't help but love Bridie Devine, a strong-willed, chain-smoking woman who has clawed her way from life as an orphaned thief to a highly sought-after detective often consulted by Scotland Yard. Bridie's newest case, though, is proving difficult and incredibly strange. Not only will it force her to confront someone from her past who she thought was dead, she'll also team up with an actual ghost as she solves a fantastical crime. Highly imaginative, Things in Jars is a fun and immersive read."
--Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Verge: Stories

By Lidia Yuknavitch

(Riverhead Books, 9780525534877, $26)

"A powerful and visceral collection from one of today's most unique voices that will take you out of your comfort zone. Yuknavitch focuses on the subject of the body: bodies trying to find comfort, bodies trying to become whole, bodies destroyed, bodies as an object, how they are connected to one another, how they can be broken, and how much they are worth. To dive into this collection is to let a cinderblock tied to your leg drag you down into unknown watery depths and instead of trying to loosen the knot, holding tight and letting the waters consume you."

--Anthony Piacentini, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

The Mercies

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave

(Little, Brown and Company, 9780316529259, $27)

"A chilling and captivating book taking place in a Norwegian village in the 1670s, The Mercies is a story of resilience. It follows Maren, who watched as all the village men died in a storm and has had to find a way to survive those losses, and Ursa, the daughter of a merchant who was married off to a witch hunter before being brought north. When their paths cross, both women's lives are changed forever. This beautifully written story left me chilled. It is not often that I have to put down a book, but there were several times I had to walk away from this one to just sit and think about it. A must-read!"

--Katherine Nazzaro, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir

By Jenn Shapland

(Tin House Books, 9781947793286, $22.95)

"This look into the hidden life of Carson McCullers is a brilliant mix of biography and personal memoir. Shapland depicts the life of one of our most beloved and least-known authors in a search for the ultimate meaning of love. It will make you ask yourself difficult questions and delve into the complexities of your own heart. Looking at Carson, Jenn Shapland makes us all vulnerable, more human, more open."

--Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

The Authenticity Project

By Clare Pooley

(Pamela Dorman Books, 9781984878618, $26)

"Sometimes, especially in this digital age, we get caught up in the idea that while our lives are a mess, everyone else has got it together. And maybe--as Clare Pooley explores in The Authenticity Project--if we were all just honest about our insecurities and difficulties and worries, it would be easier for people to form stronger bonds. This is a charming book with a sweet love story, but at its heart it's a reminder that we need each other more than we need our phones."

--Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

Highfire

By Eoin Colfer

(Harper Perennial, 9780062938558, $19.99)

"Highfire hooked me from the first pages. Vern, a grumpy dragon languishing in the Louisiana swamps, believes he's the last of his species. Squib, a 15-year-old boy, is just trying to stay out of trouble and earn some money doing odd jobs. The intersection of these two one-of-a-kind characters sucks you in like a whirlpool. I loved reading about the absurd circumstances they found themselves in. This book has all the earmarks of a great hand-seller for the dead of winter, when we all need something new!"

--Patricia Worth, River Reader Books, Lexington, MO

The Seep

By Chana Porter

(Soho Press, 9781641290869, $25)

"The Seep describes a sort of utopia set in a near future devoid of capitalism, violence, and the general evils of the world. Here, everyone and everything (humans! trees! buildings!) is connected through an alien entity called The Seep, and pain of any kind is easily mended. This is an entirely surreal reading experience that explores identity--queer and racial, self and inherited--in an organic and necessary manner. A must-read for everyone."

--Avery Peregrine, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Run Me to Earth

By Paul Yoon

(Simon & Schuster, 9781501154041, $26)

"This is Paul Yoon's best work yet. While this is also his most chaotic book, the power of his writing can still be found in the quiet moments, in gestures toward reconciliation, forgiveness, or at least resolution. This novel is stunning in its rendering of our capacity for both savagery and tenderness. Yoon is one of our great masters, and Run Me to Earth is a masterwork."
--Joseph Nieves, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

Everywhere You Don't Belong

By Gabriel Bump

(Algonquin Books, 9781616208790, $25.95)

"Young Claude is being raised by his grandma in Chicago's changing South Shore, and folks in his life--his parents, friends, neighbors--are disappearing. There's little he can count on besides his grandma, her friend Paul, and his not-quite girlfriend Janice. The violence that was once at a safe distance is now on their doorstep, with corrupt and racist police coming from one direction and the Redbelters gang from the other. It's hard not to imagine Claude wanting to escape, too, but trouble is likely to follow, even to college in Missouri. Told in episodic bursts and filled with emotional resonance, Everywhere You Don't Belong is a powerful coming-of-age debut that will stick with you."
--Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

By Ariana Neumann

(Scribner, 9781982106379, $28)

"This book is beautiful, intimate, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. It reads like a novel and yet gives a better sense of what was happening to Jewish families during the Holocaust than any history book I've read. I feel so invested in the Neumann family and their friends, as if I know them personally. More than anything, my takeaway from this book is the love and hope that was so clearly poured into it."

--Gabrielle Belisle, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

By Emma Copley Eisenberg

(Hachette Books, 9780316449236, $27)

"In this thoughtful and immersive chronicle of the 1980 murders that thrust West Virginia's Pocahontas County into the national spotlight, Eisenberg seeks to better understand not only the crimes and their aftermath, but also the lasting impact the region (which she came to know independent of her inquiry) had on her. A complex and captivating read, The Third Rainbow Girl weaves true crime with memoir to stunning effect."

--Tove Holmberg, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1)

By A.K. Larkwood

(Tor Books, 9781250238900, $25.99)

"The Unspoken Name is the gloriously fresh, magnificently epic fantasy I didn't know I needed until I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Larkwood explodes the classic tropes of the genre and takes the reader somewhere completely new. Csorwe is a kickass heroine for the ages. Clear a space in your schedule before you start The Unspoken Name. Very highly recommended!"

--Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, MI

Cartier's Hope

By M.J. Rose

(Atria Books, 9781501173639, $27)

"It's New York in 1910--the Gilded Age--when the rich were very rich and romantic stories about big, luscious gemstones were the talk of evening parties and afternoon teas. Once again, Rose takes us behind the scenes for a look at the decadence, greed, and notoriety that comes with her historical era of choice. In Cartier's Hope, reporter Vera Garland investigates famous jeweler Pierre Cartier, whom she suspects manipulated the value of the famous Hope Diamond. As usual, no one writes this kind of historical fiction like M.J. Rose. Oooh, this one's delicious!"

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

The Resisters

By Gish Jen

(Knopf, 9780525657217, $26.95)

"I finished The Resisters in a day. I don't know how a book can be so devastating yet so miraculously wonderful at the same time. I was completely captivated by the family whose story Jen tells. The world she creates--set in near-future AutoAmerica--is so believable an outcome of what we see around us today that it feels as much prescient as imagined. A sort of cautionary tale, The Resisters is not only a book to love, it's a book that's important. I'm in awe."

--Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

By Marlon James

(Riverhead Books, 9780735220188, $18)

"Marlon James' Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a shot across the bow of fantasy literature: bold, fresh, and filled with brutal wonder and endless imagination. James' tale set in a fantastical ancient Africa follows a hunter known only as Tracker as he trails the scent of a lost boy, meeting a shape-shifting leopard along the way. At turns hallucinatory, dreamlike, and nightmarish, Black Leopard, Red Wolf's world envelops the reader in its stink, grime, sweat, and blood. Never has a magical world felt quite so otherworldly and yet frighteningly tactile at the same time. This is literary fantasy as you've never encountered it before and a truly original tale of love, loss, power, and identity."

--Caleb Masters, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Daisy Jones & The Six

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

(Ballantine Books, 9781524798642, $17)

"Oh man, what a ride! I guess I'm the right demographic for this book: I love rock and I grew up in the '70s, so I wanted to like it... instead, I loved it! Yes, it's sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, but it's also got wonderfully complex characters that I cared about even if I didn't like how they acted. It's a peek into the formation of a band, how the music is made, the struggles of addiction and clashing personalities, and, ultimately, love. The story is compiled of pieces of interviews with the band and those connected to them--a very effective technique that made the novel's pages turn even faster. Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones & the Six is one of my favorite books of 2019 so far!"

--Serena Wyckoff, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

Freefall

By Jessica Barry

(Harper Paperbacks, 9780062874849, $16.99)

"There used to be a carnival ride where you would stand against a wall and as and the ride spun faster and faster, the floor would drop out but the force of the spin would keep you pinned to the wall. I got the same feeling when reading Jessica Barry's Freefall. The plot moved faster and faster until I felt myself holding my breath, right up until the final page. Clear your schedule and order takeout before you start this thriller!"

--Mary O'Malley, Anderson's Bookshop, La Grange, IL

If, Then

By Kate Hope Day

(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780525511243, $16)

"I devoured this book. Reading about these characters felt like stepping right into other lives, with all of the messiness of human striving and relationships. If, Then is a beautiful novel for this alone, but when each character begins to see visions they don't understand, the book takes on a new sense of urgency. Driven by its characters and with a masterfully written thread of speculative fiction, If, Then is a moving look at how events large and small and the choices we make carve our unique lives out of the infinite number of possible lives that could have been."

--Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

By Dani Shapiro

(Anchor, 9780525434030, $16.95)

"Who are we? Does who we think we are change when we learn a family secret that alters the source of our identity? Shapiro has explored issues of identity in her previous memoirs, but in her latest she applies her signature candor and heart to a riveting, provocative, and inspiring genealogical mystery and journey of discovery."

--Roxanne Coady, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT

The Last Romantics

By Tara Conklin

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062358219, $17.99)

"Oh, my! I was so moved by this book it brought me to tears. Fiona, Renee, Catherine, and Joe invaded my imagination and kept me spellbound until the end. Siblings! Many of us have them and often don't think about the nuances of our relationships. Conklin's story brought my own siblings to mind and questions emerged that can't be pursued on paper. Memories are such powerful things and affect our lives in compelling ways. There is so much love in this story. It's absolutely wonderful! Please read it!"

--Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

Lost Children Archive

By Valeria Luiselli

(Vintage, 9780525436461, $16.95)

"Really incredible fiction takes you on a journey, and somewhere along the way you realize how much of it reflects your own reality. In Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli's narrator is highly observant of her inner life and the world around her. She unravels a story that's about family and how walls between people and nations are built--and what they damage. In reading this book, I felt like I was in the car on the family's road trip--feeling all the conflicting emotions that Luiselli's narrator is feeling as a partner, mother, and resident in today's United States."

--Zoey Cole, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

Resistance Women

By Jennifer Chiaverini

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062841124, $17.99)

"Mildred Harnack, an American woman, moves with her husband to Germany, but while they're building their life together, the Nazi party is rising to power. Mildred and her friends can't stand by and watch their communities be torn apart, so they conspire to resist. The women work together to provide information about the Germans to the American forces, but when their resistance cell is exposed, everyone is at risk. Beautifully written and heavily researched, Chiaverini brings Mildred and her compatriots to life on the page with a vividness that kept me up all night reading."

--Mary Ruthless, Foggy Pine Books, Boone, NC

The Stationery Shop

By Marjan Kamali

(Gallery Books, 9781982107499, $16)

"The Stationery Shop is one of the most beautifully written novels I have read in a long time. The masterful plot brings us to a lost time and culture, but also transcends time and country. In a story set against the upheaval of 1953 Tehran, we discover how events change the destiny of two teenagers who meet in a book and stationery shop and fall in love. This novel of political dreams, family loyalty, lingering memories, love, and fate will haunt you long after the story ends."

--Janet Hutchison, The Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady, NY

Tidelands

By Philippa Gregory

(Washington Square Press, 9781501187162, $17)

"Philippa Gregory never fails to create beautifully written stories that suck you in and transport you back to the time and place the book is set. As always, her latest novel, Tidelands, is obviously thoroughly researched, with many historical facts sprinkled throughout. I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction."

--Lisa Smegal, Rivendell Bookstore, Abilene, KS

To Keep the Sun Alive

By Rabeah Ghaffari

(Catapult, 9781948226769, $16.95)

"Set during the Iranian Revolution, To Keep the Sun Alive is a beautifully written family epic that will completely wrap you up. It's a sweeping novel about identity and tradition, and it's full of characters you won't soon forget. Ghaffari masterfully blends the historical with the imagined, and her writing is wise and precise. An excellent novel!"

--Sarah Cassavant, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN

A Woman Is No Man

By Etaf Rum

(Harper Perennial, 9780062699770, $16.99)

"A Woman Is No Man gives a rare and terrifying look into the lives of three generations of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women. Readers are invited into the secret world of these women living in Palestine and then Brooklyn; we watch nervously as they try to navigate and reconcile their two worlds--the violent, patriarchal world at home and the confusing, anti-cultural world outside their front door. I cringed at the pain and cheered at the successes of the women I came to know. This beautifully written book shines a light on an important topic. It is a story that must be told and, as importantly, must be heard."

--Debra Barrett, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA