Book Reviews

Book Review: Like Love

When my children were young, we went around the dinner table and shared serendipities—something surprising and joyful that had happened to each of us during the day. My children are grown now, and I live alone, and we are in the midst of the worst phase of a global pandemic.

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Book Review: Grand

by Collin Mitchell In her memoir Grand, writer and comedian Sara Schaefer reflects on her childhood and career by way of a river trip through the Grand Canyon that she took in celebration of her fortieth birthday. “The Canyon will take you apart and put you back together again,” she writes, reflecting on the promise a “bucket-listy” adventure like white water rafting makes to its often anxious enlistees. Schaefer readily admits she is one of them. “Maybe down there I could find answers. I wasn’t even sure of the questions, but in that moment I wanted to believe.” In Grand,…

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Book Review: Too Much and Never Enough

by Rachel Zarrow According to psychologist and author Mary L. Trump, child abuse is “the experience of ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’.” In her recent memoir of a similar name, Too Much and Never Enough, Mary Trump, the president’s niece, describes the multi-generational cycle of emotional abuse in the Trump family that contributed to the development of Donald Trump’s persona. In the prologue, she writes, “I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all of the nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—but the label only gets us so far.” She speculates…

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Book Review: The Blue Ticket

by Ioannis Argiris Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh is set in an alternate reality where teenage girls are sent to a lottery building to receive a white or a blue ticket. If the ticket is white, the girl is destined to marry and have babies. If the ticket is blue, the girl has an IUD installed, and she is not allowed to have babies. Instead, blue ticket women are free to live their lives, becoming independent. We lined up, waiting to pull our tickets from the machine, the way you would take your number at the butcher’s counter. The music…

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Book Review: Daughters of Smoke and Fire

by L.A. Hunt Author and activist Ava Homa sets out in her powerful debut novel Daughters of Smoke and Fire to describe for the reader what statelessness feels like. She does so with visceral prose and a narrative that never flinches from the harsh reality of living in a country that does not recognize one’s ethnicity, and in fact punishes an ethnic minority for their native regional roots. Homa writes in her Afterword, Kurds are often the majority among political prisoners and suffer the most vicious torture. Kurdish regions have been intentionally kept underdeveloped, resulting in entrenched poverty and all…

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Book Review: A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son

by Collin Mitchell In A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son, actor and comedian Michael Ian Black explores the concept of toxic masculinity and what it’s doing to American families and society. People are touchy (especially those who have never brushed with racist cops or a sexist boss), and even for the newly woke and well-meaning man, the question of, “what can I do to help?” is tangled up in history, falling somewhere between the great man theory and the white man’s burden. A man’s help is a wrought proposition. Because it is presumptuous for us to…

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Book Review: And Now She’s Gone

By Laurie Rockenbeck Rachel Howzell Hall’s newest offering, And Now She’s Gone, introduces us to newbie private investigator Grayson Sykes. With her wrinkled clothes and easy distractibility, Gray comes across as a latter-day Colombo. She forgets to record interviews, can’t remember to take antibiotics on time, and finding a working pen is beyond her.  In spite of all her fumbling and absent-mindedness, Gray is able to follow individual clues and piece things together in her own, unique way­. To prove Isabel Lincoln is alive and well, her boyfriend, Ian, has hired the investigation firm Gray works for to find her.…

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TCR Talks with Joe Meno

by Matt Ellis It’s a presidential election year, a time when we are bombarded by political hot button issues from every social and mainstream media outlet with superficial sound bites that often offer little substance but ask us to take sides nonetheless. Immigration ranks among the top. If you want to be better informed about the immigration issue, you need look no further than bestselling author Joe Meno’s debut nonfiction book, Between Everything and Nothing: The Journey of Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal and the Quest for Asylum. Meno is a fiction writer and journalist who lives in Chicago. He is the winner…

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Book Review: The Music Book

by Jhenna Wieman Karen Osborn’s The Music Book is a love story between two people and a love letter to music. The novel is set in 1953 and is the story of Irene Siesel, a female cellist leading the movement into the world of classical music. It follows her early career, her brief but passionate love affair, and the end of her life, as the story is told in flashbacks from the memory unit of a nursing home. Any music lover will appreciate the way Osborn treats music in her novel. She cradles it softly with words and makes it…

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