The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
One of my favorite writers offers up a story of complex entanglements and shifting loyalties. Set in Chicken Hill area of Pottstown PA- a real community- Jews, Blacks, and whites all prod, punish,and protect each other.
Characters, plots and secrets all revealed after a skeleton is found in a well. 9/10
The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon
Super creepy psychological portrait of a woman trapped by a serial killer. Of course, he functions as the nicest guy in town when he isn't murdering young women. Will have you looking over your shoulder. 8/10
The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue
Young friends in Cork aspiring to their best life with ample enthusiasm but little money. Their ties are complicated by a third -party with consequences for decades. Themes of love, loyalty, secrecy, and identity. 9/10
The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt
A morality play-short and wickedly funny. I pictured Anya Taylor-Joy as
the girl who is schooled in finer things, but also learns how to navigate shark infested waters. So very satisfying. 9/10
Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
I respect Whitehead, and have loved his previous books. This is the second of a trilogy following Ray Carney in Harlem. He started out as a crook and here is middling happy running his legit furniture business, until he gets involved with crooked cops and robbers again. Just did not resonate with me, but gets glowing reviews. 6/10
Small Town Sins by Ken Jaworowski
A dying coal and steel town in Pennsylvania and three citizens making some questionable choices. Mystery/thriller with an authentic vibe to the characters and their situation. 7/10
Somebody's Fool by Richard Russo
The final book in Russo's North Bath Trilogy. Genuinely good solid writing, people, and scenes. If you liked the first two, you will not be disappointed. If you saw the movie with Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Jessica Tandy, you will forever visualize them as the characters.8/10
For your consideration:
Pulling the Chariot of the Sun by Shane McCrae. A bi-racial boy is kidnapped and hidden from his Black father and raised by racist grandparents in this memoir.
King of the Armadillos by Wendy Chin-Tanner. Based on the experience of the author's father at Carville, a government run institute which was open from 1894-2005 as a residential facility to treat Hansen's Disease. The Covenant of Water featured a leprosarium and Florida had a cluster of cases this summer.( Armadillos can carry the bacteria that cause Hansen's Disease- hence the name.)
What You Are Looking for is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama. A best seller in Japan, this is a quiet story of people seeking answers to problems with help from an slightly mysterious librarian. Calming and encouraging.
Whalefall by Daniel Kraus. Oddly interesting and billed as scientifically accurate, this is a great book for scuba enthusiasts. A young man dives for the remains of his father off the coast of California and is swallowed by a sperm whale. Hey- I try to read a variety of books!