Turns out the sadness that silence from the person you love brings can be temporarily erased by the dull thrill of attention from strangers. On a winter day in s Colorado, high schooler Sammy Henderson takes a shortcut across a frozen river and falls through the ice. His death leaves his family gutted — especially his older sister Kathleen — and his secret girlfriend, year-old Irene, alone and pregnant with his child. If the Ice Had Held explores the wake of this tragedy in the decades that follow — how Kathleen opens up to Irene and agrees to raise her child, how that child grows up to be a woman struggling to find footing in her own romantic relationships and ends up entangled in a love triangle that unexpectedly ties her to her past.
Throughout, Fox pivots seamlessly among the perspectives of these key players, crafting a poignant story that questions fate and free will.
Favorite passage: "She would always remember how at Sammy's funeral there was nothing to say; he was young, and he was gone before he could do much. She would remember that she wished she had reached for his hand that night they were walking home, even if she thought it silly. She would remember that he was special for small things Over the course of the century, Serpell traces the history of Zambia through the experiences of three families entangled in a generations-long cycle of revenge. Favorite passage: "This is the story of a nation — not a kingdom or a people — so it begins, of course, with a white man.
Anika Fajardo's debut memoir explores family and identity, describing her decision in her early 20s to build a relationship with her estranged father, Renzo. Fajardo — who was born in Colombia but raised in Minnesota by her American mother — visits Renzo in his native Colombia, and the reunion is conflicted, awkward. Fajardo describes the pain of yearning for something you can't quite articulate, of getting what you thought you wanted and finding it less than satisfying.
She dives into her family's past and continues her story into her own adulthood, laying bare the many complicated ways our family informs who we are and how we interact with the world. Favorite passage: "I wondered how different knowing and remembering were. I met countless people whose names I immediately forgot, I remembered stories that never happened, and I knew nothing about ones that had. Juliet Grames's epic novel follows Mariastella Fortuna, the indomitable Italian woman who, in the course of a long life beginning in Calabria and ending in the US, escapes death seven times — or eight, depending who you ask.
Stella's life is rich in eccentric characters and unlikely encounters, and she inhabits a world that is tinged with magic but still limited by patriarchal values — and she carries with her a dark family history.
It's an extensive, often cheeky, exploration of lineage, fate, and womanhood. Favorite passage: "Assunta cried silently, open-eyed, her tears sliding off her cheeks and landing on the protrusion of her belly. She was crying because a part of her was relieved at Antonio's going away, at not having to cater to his insatiable alimentary and sexual appetites, which had become very trying when she was tired from the pregnancy. She felt guilty for feeling this way. As, the priest told her at confession, she should. In Humans , Tom Phillips a former BuzzFeed employee outlines the unique human ability to, as the subtitle promises, fuck it all up.
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It's hard to imagine someone other than Phillips pulling off a plus page roast of mankind, but his perfect blend of brilliance and goofiness makes it a joy to read. But as Phillips warns in the intro, if you don't enjoy schadenfreude, Humans might not be for you. Favorite passage: "The story of human progress starts with our capacity for thinking and creativity.
That's what sets humans apart from other animals — but it's also what leads us to make complete tits of ourselves on a regular basis. Sarah Pinsker's debut short story collection is speculative and strange, exploring such wide-ranging scenarios as a young man receiving a prosthetic arm with its own sense of identity, a family welcoming an AI replicate of their late Bubbe into their home, or an 18th-century seaport town trying to survive a visit by a pair of sirens — all while connecting them in a book that feels cohesive.
The stories are insightful, funny, and imaginative, diving into the ways humans might invite technology into their relationships. Favorite passage: "The real Bubbe said to remember with my hands, so I showed the new Bubbe how the secret to kasha was to mix in the chicken fat. My real grandmother had been my teacher, but this one needed me to teach her. In his debut novel, Fernando A. Flores tours a slightly altered world, with a widower named Esteban Bellacosa as the guide. Bellacosa wanders the US—Mexico border, investigating an underground economy built on the revival and selling of extinct animals.
It's a dark and dangerous underbelly, involving the mass kidnapping and murder of scientists, the misuse of groundbreaking technology meant to solve world hunger, and a cartel that trades in exotic dishes ever since the government legalized narcotics. As Bellacosa is swept up in this bizarre world, Flores weaves in his motivation — grief over the deaths of his daughter and wife — and creates an intricate, philosophical, trippy thriller. Favorite passage: "Maybe the machine that needs to be invented now is a machine that lets all men and women keep being human, and not become beasts.
That would be quite a scientific achievement. A machine that would let people maintain their human dignities, that won't let them succumb to barbarism. Gibson's writing is exuberant, electric, and frank; this is a love letter, despite — despite the bleakness of late capitalism, the complicated pull of our many devices, our often terrifying political sphere. There is still so much to love in this world, and Gibson recognizes it in small moments of shared humanity and pockets of the natural world. In Little Glass Planet , he invites us to celebrate with him. As the pair discover new desires and temptations, they redraw the boundaries of their identities and navigate intimacy as new adults — and Rooney is masterful in her teasing out the roles of love, loyalty, privilege, and power in their relationship.
Favorite passage: "Even in memory she will find this moment unbearably intense, and she's aware of this now, while it's happening. She has never believed herself fit to be loved by any person.
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But now she has a new life, of which this is the first moment, and even after many years have passes she will still think: Yes, that was it, the beginning of my life. It's a difficult read, heavy and overwhelming in its vivid depiction of anguish and self-destruction, but it's also a force that shouldn't be ignored — an illuminating examination of youth and soul-crushing pressure. Favorite passage: "I turned away from my classmates to look out at the ocean, shimmering in the yellow light, and it was so beautiful I couldn't stand it.
I felt a shift in my tectonics, a sensation like I might burst out of myself, a rupture in my chest leaking something hot and dirty like lava. Acclaimed poet and essayist Claudia Rankine's first play introduces us to Virginia and Charles, a wealthy white Manhattan couple who own an art foundation and pride themselves in their social justice work; and Charlotte, the emerging black artist they invite to dinner.
Cracks and fissures along racial lines emerge over the course of the evening — the couple's son prods his parents, challenging their motivation in buying and displaying art that relies on black suffering; Virginia wants recognition and validation for her work as an ally; Charlotte wonders what exactly they see in her, want from her. It's a revelatory examination of the gulfs separating those who might identify as "allies" from those they believe they are allied with, and an invitation to think more critically about whiteness, blackness, and privilege.
Favorite passage: "It seems like our American pastimes are sports and forgetting. We assimilate; we appropriate; we move on.
SEMIPHORAS and SCHEMHAMPHORAS
Trust Exercise studies the inner machinations of an elite performing arts high school in the s, focusing at first on the romance of two first-year students, Sarah and David, and then expanding to reveal a dark undercurrent connecting the students; Mr. Kingsley, the manipulative head of theater arts; and a visiting British theater troupe. As the novel progresses into the second half, Choi cleverly throws the prior plot into question, and we find ourselves doubting everything we previously took as fact. It's dark, evocative, and addictive. Favorite passage: "In moments of transition, of general movement, David's gaze burned a hole through the air, Sarah's glance darted out, then away, like a whip.
Unbeknownst to themselves they were as noticeable as lighthouses. In repose, even when they both stared straight ahead, the wire ran between them, and their peers changed their paths to avoid tripping on it. Peter Rock's latest novel is quiet, moody, and beautiful, the recollection of an unnamed narrator of the summer of , spent at his family cabin in rural Wisconsin.
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That summer, he's 26 years old with dreams of being a writer, and he spends his nights swimming in the darkness of Lake Michigan, alone — until the enigmatic Mrs. Abel, recently widowed, joins him. O lud! At present, sir, I cannot boast my knowledge of the world, or of economy; but I will maintain it, the love of money destroys more families than it supports; and if ever I have a house of my own, the foundation of it shall be laid on—justice. She is light-headed; but let us humor her a little: come, give him a little portion, and the business will be over.
Ay, ay, well—I give to my brother—ay, I give him—come along—. O here comes the old gentleman. Well, I have brought my daughter to reason; we want nothing now but your hand to the contract. What is all this madness? Are all the world turned fools? Everybody says no. Why how is this? To sign the contract at a time like this, would be flying in the face of nature. Whence comes it then?
Did that fellow out of the coach put it into your head? Are we indebted to him for all this? What he told me must at least retard our happy marriage, which we were so eager upon. News that shocked me: at Bordeaux this man saw my son, naked, friendless, and in prison, dying with hunger; shame and sickness leading him to the grave: sickness and misfortunes had blasted the flower of his youth; and an obstinate fever, that had poisoned his blood, seemed to threaten that his last hour was not far off: when he saw him, he was then just expiring: alas!
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How would my griefs interrupt your mirth! No doubt it would: for my part, I had much rather share with you in your affliction, than think of marriage. At such a time a father must still be a father; his errors, his vices, and his crimes always made me unhappy; and it hurts me still more to think, that he is dead without ever repenting of them. Sorrow is good for nothing at the best; but to whimper and whine, because you have got rid of a burden, intolerable absurdity!
This eldest son, this scourge of yours, to my knowledge, two or three times had like to have broken your heart; sooner or later he would have brought you to the grave: therefore, prithee, man, take my advice, and make yourself easy; the loss of such a son is the greatest gain. True, my friend; but it is a gain that costs me more than you think: alas! I lament that he died, and I lament that ever he was born. For you, madam [ to Lise ] we shall expect you to-night; everything will go well, I warrant you. I have served you, sir, now two years, without knowing who or what you are: you were then my master; permit me now to call you my friend: you are now, like myself, thrown upon the wide world, and poverty has put us on a level: you are no longer the man of pleasure, the gallant and gay Euphemon, treated and caressed by the men, surrounded and courted by the women.
Every stiver you had is gone to the devil; and you have nothing now to do but to forget you were ever worth a shilling; for surely the most insupportable of all evils is the remembrance of happiness which we no longer enjoy: for my part, I was always plain Jasmin, and therefore the less to be pitied: born as I was to suffer, I suffer contentedly; to be in want of everything is Edition: current; Page: [ ] only natural to me; your old hat there, for instance, and coarse ragged waistcoat, was my usual garb; and you have great reason to be sorry that you had not always been as poor as myself.
How shame and ignominy attend upon misfortune!
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