Originally published in: 2017
What’s it about: The story of two friends, partners in art and life, creating animated works that bring them a sort of fame while also forcing them to confront difficult truths and traumas in their lives that other people would like to leave in the past.
What made me pick it up: I needed an audiobook to listen to and this one was available, has gotten a lot of good press, and has a cover that makes me want to read it.
My favorite things: Whitaker treats characters suffering addictions almost without judgment in a way that is refreshingly humane. She takes the time to develop every character’s layers and the complexity of their relationships.
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for complex relationships between characters or an exploration of identity.
Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Originally published in: 2017
What it’s about: Fourteen-year-old Linda lives her life as an outsider, her solitude punctuated by problematic relationships. She struggles to find herself as she navigates intrigue, illness, fringe religions, and death.
What made me pick it up: I loved the cover art and, although I couldn’t remember what it was about, I knew I’d read good reviews.
My favorite things: I gave this a lot of shells because it is very well written and I recognize that it’s a great book, but it’s also a bummer and I’m not a big fan of literary fiction, so at times it kind of made me want to gouge my eyes out. That said, Fridlund’s perfectly crafted prose walk the line between sinister and simply heartbreaking with ease.
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for a complex and unusual coming of age story. Those seeking a young woman protagonist who is believable and strong. Anyone interested in an extremely well-written story.
Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.
Originally published in: 2011
What it’s about: Perfectly mediocre Mark Spitz is part of a small civilian zombie hunting unit tasked with clearing the dead from Long Island. (No, not the Mark Spitz. Although the reference is intentional.)
What made me pick it up: I got impatient waiting for my hold on Whitehead’s National Book Award-winning latest novel, The Underground Railroad, so I grabbed one of his earlier books. I had actually forgotten this one was about zombies.
My favorite things: Whitehead somehow wrote literary fiction about zombies. He asks a lot of interesting questions about what it really means to live in the post-apocalypse having experienced what came before. The characters are plagued by PASD (post-apocalyptic stress disorder), and Whitehead uses his dark humor to consider the emotional and mental toll taken on the zombie hunting survivors. Despite the fact that this is a book about killing zombies, it feels like its about something much more human.
Who it’s great for: Zombie aficionados looking for something a little bit different. Horror fans. Literary readers who want to ease into genre reading.