READ of the MONTH
When Montezuma Met Cortés is history writing at its best. Restall re-evaluates an impressive catalog of primary sources and secondary accounts to literally rewrite a 500-year-old narrative. Yet, he wears his erudition lightly and what might have been an imposingly academic account is instead almost compulsively engaging. It’s a tale of iconic characters (who are also and obviously all too human as well), and adventure in a fascinating period and place. And finally, it’s a brilliant reminder of the way that history is always and completely written by the victors. –Sara, Atlanta
It’s a heady time in NYC before 9/11 with lots of activity and optimism but our unnamed narrator just wants to sleep. With the help of the worst psychiatrist in the world and an amazing assortment of pills, our narrator knocks herself out, surfacing to watch Whoopie Goldberg videos, hide from a best friend that she really doesn’t like, text her ex, pay her bodega bills, and right the wrongs she committed during her blackouts. No one here is likeable but there is plenty of cringe-worthy entertainment. –Sydne, Atlanta
Set largely amidst the onset of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago, The Great Believers covers a tragic subject, but Makkai’s style is so weightless - Fitzgerald himself comes to mind, for which the book is named, and whose quote serves as epigraph – that reading it is genuinely a (bittersweet) pleasure. It so clearly celebrates the rewards of opening ourselves up to love, even as it amplifies the risks. Makkai draws direct parallels between the Chicago scene in the 80s to that of Paris in the first years of the last century, to Fitzgerald’s own peers, of which he said, “A strongly individual generation sprouts most readily from a time of stress and emergency.” Decimated through war and disease, his was a group whose great hope, whose great disillusionment, fueled art that still inspires us a hundred years later. Despite Fitzgerald’s self-aware observation, it is hard to recognize when we might be living in a golden age, and harder still to come to terms with the sacrifice through which it might have been forged. Makkai handles all of these ideas with grace and insight through characters I couldn’t help but love. –Sara, Atlanta
If you knew how things would end, would you still have the power to change your own life? The year is 1969, and soon four siblings will begin a decades long, and nationwide, struggle to find reality between destiny and choice. –Della, Atlanta
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Sarah Jessica Parker chose this inspiring and moving family saga as the first novel of her new imprint, SJP for Hogarth. Fatima Farheen Mirza tells us the story of an Indian Muslim family trying to navigate through the transition to American culture. We can easily identify with typical family struggles, but also catch a glimpse of the loyalty, tradition and pride that ties their relationships together. -Sandra, Seattle
Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty - all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.