Category Archives: Contemporary

The Boat Rocker

I picked Ha Jin’s The Boat Rocker off the library shelf on a whim, something I rarely do these days. It turned out to be a short whirlwind of a book, exploring ideas of national identity, patriotism, free speech, fraud, … Continue reading

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Home Fire

Kamila Shamsie’s gut-punching update of the story of Antigone is all about competing loyalties. There’s loyalty to family, to country, to faith, to moral principles, to the law, to love. These loyalties are in tension, and each character balances those … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 6 Comments


I’m tired of the news. I’m tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling. I’m tired of the vitriol. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the meanness. I’m … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 13 Comments

How It Went Down

This novel by Kekla Magoon begins with a brief description of the incident: The known facts about the shooting death of sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson are few. On the evening of June 2, at approximately 5:30 P.M., Johnson sustained two nine-millimeter … Continue reading

Posted in Children's / YA Lit, Contemporary, Fiction | 4 Comments

The Fireman

In January, Teresa published a review of Joe Hill’s latest book, The Fireman. I had already been planning to read it, since I’ve read and enjoyed most of what he’s written, but her review made me really excited about it. … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Speculative Fiction | 9 Comments

The Animators

Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses first met in Introduction to Sketch class at the Ballister Art Institute, a school populated mostly by the wealthy. Mel and Sharon, with their rural poor origins, were out of place until they found each other and … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 2 Comments

The Mothers

We pray. Not without ceasing, as Paul instructs, but often enough. On Sundays and Wednesdays, we gather in the prayer room and slip off jackets, leave shoes at the door and walk around in stocking feet, sliding a little like … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 11 Comments

Mister Monkey

Mister Monkey is a terrible musical based on an inexplicably beloved children’s book. And the production at the center of this novel by Francine Prose is particularly bad. But the cast and crew try: They are in this together, everyone is … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 6 Comments

Between the World and Me

I’ll preface this post by saying that it’s hard for me to know how to write about this book. I read it back in October, but didn’t know how to start writing a review. Between the World and Me was … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Nonfiction | 24 Comments

The Red Car

I enjoyed Marcy Dermansky’s novel Bad Marie, with its deliciously bad main character. So I was excited to read her new book, which also promised a rebellious lady lead. But Leah is more aimless than outright bad, and although a lot of … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction | 4 Comments