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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pre-Pub Alert: Becky’s BEA Galley Favs Part 1 of 2

Today I have part 1 of my posts on the galleys I got at BEA that I am most excited to share with you because I feel like these are books you need to share with a large audience-- your patrons.  Above is the picture I took of the upcoming titles I will discuss below. I no longer have many of these books in my possession anymore as I sent them off to other libraries to use as prizes or to share with their staff in preparation for hand selling them later this year.

For each title, I will provide the publisher summary, a link to Goodreads, and the publication month followed by some commentary by me on why I think you should be promoting these reads to your patrons. I also have some suggested readalikes based on the publisher’s book talks. Read my comments to help you decide who to hand these books out to, but I would argue that each of these 11 titles need to be purchased by every public library. 

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge [October 2016]:
On an average day in America, seven young people, aged nineteen or under, will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning Guardian journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost on one random day—November 23, 2013. Ten children died that day. From Jaiden Dixon, nine, shot point-blank by his mother’s ex-boyfriend on his doorstep in suburban Ohio, to Tyshon Anderson, an eighteen-year-old gang member who’d recently been released from prison on Chicago’s South Side; from a rural hamlet in Michigan to the deindustrialised streets of Newark, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the stories behind the statistics and brief mentions in local papers. 
This powerful and moving work puts a human face—a child’s face—on the “collateral damage” of gun violence at a time when the gun issue in America is being hotly debated. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist. What emerges in these pages is a searing portrait of youth and family in America today.
Mr Younge spoke on a panel at LJ Day of Dialog focused on forthcoming Nonfiction.  As you can see above, this is a serious but necessary book for everyone to read. I was struck by the topic and it’s focus-- using a single day makes it so much more poignant and hopefully, will make the call for change much stronger.  Here are a few paraphrased comments made by Mr. Younge on the panel [from my notes]:
  • In some parts of this country, people expect to be shot.
  • Kids are shot each day in America. “In no other country would this be possible.” --this comment alone is why you need to read this book.
  • As an outsider who has lived in America [Black-British man married to an American], Younge discussed his unique perspective to look at this heartbreaking topic
This was the most serious book on the nonfiction panel by far, but it is also the most important. Give this to your readers who care about social justice or current event. No, scratch that, give it to everyone. This book feels like it will become as important as There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz has become. Kotlowitz’s book led to the end of public housing in Chicago. Can Younge’s book help curb gun violence in America? If enough people read it, maybe.

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn [Out Now]:
Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman—fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves—must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.
I saw Ms. Dennis-Benn speak on 2 librarian focused panels AND I ran into her on the convention floor where I thanked her so much for coming to talk to us.  Not only does her book look fantastic, but she was so eloquent and thoughtful in her talks. She literally bared her soul to us about the dichotomy between the world of Jamaica we see on vacation and the real life of the women who provide the services to the tourists. She brought herself and many of us to tears in her second appearance.

Personally, I enjoy Caribbean set novels and have ready many, but this novel is so much more.  One of the many moving and brilliant things Ms. Dennis-Benn said to the audience was this [and I paraphrase from my notes]: I write about mothers and daughters and the mother saying, I love you so much, I will be the first to break you.

What an honest and moving statement. She talked about how when she read Beloved the first time she was confused as to the choices the main character makes, but reading it later, as an adult, she truly understood why someone would kill their own daughter to save them from a terrible fate. She made it clear she was not comparing herself to Toni Morrison, but only sharing what she had learned from her own life and how it was put into her writing.

All mothers of daughters should read this book. All people who have been to a resort on vacation in the Caribbean should read this book. All people who want to understand those who work in the shadows should read this novel.  Basically everyone should read it.

I am grouping the next 2 books in the stack together for a few reasons: Leave Me by Gayle Foreman and Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

First the summaries. Leave Me [Out September 2016]:
International bestselling author Gayle Forman's trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again. 
For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack. 
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself. 
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on
Second, Here I Am [Out September 2016]:
In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, “Abraham!” to order him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” Later, when Isaac calls out, “My father!” to ask him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” 
How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years--a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy. 
Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks, in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the very meaning of home--and the fundamental question of how much life one can bear. 
Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that readers and critics loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Foer’s most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet. It not only confirms Foer’s stature as a dazzling literary talent but reveals a mature novelist who has fully come into his own as one of the most important writers of his generation.
These are both big name authors and you will probably be buying these titles anyway, but the reason I wanted to point them out was because both look at parenting from an interesting, different, and thought-provoking  perspective. I wanted you to be prepared for book talking these upcoming buzz titles to your patrons. Both may have a different audience than their previous books. You need to be aware that you can expand who you think will like these books.

Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez [Out September 2016]:
From the brilliant mind of the author of The Sound of Things Falling, a powerful novel about a legendary political cartoonist. 
Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country’s most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges’ decisions, destroying politicians’ careers with his art. His weapons are pen and ink. Those in power fear him and pay him homage. 
At sixty-five, after four decades of a brilliant career, he’s at the height of his powers. But this all changes when he’s paid an unexpected visit from a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to re-evaluate his life and work, questioning his position in the world. 
In Reputations, Juan Gabriel Vásquez examines the weight of the past, how a public persona intersects with private histories, and the burdens and surprises of memory. In this intimate novel, Vásquez plumbs universal experiences to create a masterful story, one that reverberates long after you turn the final page.
I don’t feel like this summary does this novel justice.  So I am going to share my notes from the panel where a representative from Riverbed books gushed about this slim novel:

  • Can be read in 1 sitting.
  • Powerful and politically infused
  • Vásquez is one of the most powerful writers of his generation in Columbia
  • For fans of Ishiguro, Coetzee, Julian Barnes, and Ian McEwan-- all very popular book discussion authors AND among the best circulating literary fiction writers in the library. This will be an easy one to hand sell.
After the presentation, I ran (well speed walked) to grab a copy of this novel.  I have not read it cover to cover, but I have skimmed it.  This is a tight, compelling, and thought provoking read. Worth your purchase for all collections.

That’s the first half of the stack. I’ll be back tomorrow with the second half.


Cari said...

I read Leave Me and enjoyed it. As a parent who frequently feels overwhelmed, it rang true.

Becky said...

I totally agree Cari. When she spoke and said who here is a mom and hasn't at least once thought of not turning into your driveway and just keep going? She said if you said no you are lying. So true.