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American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanine Cummins - Book Review

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American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250209764
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Published: Flatiron Books - January 21st, 2020

Lydia's husband is a journalist dedicated to eradicating the scourge of drugs in Mexico. When he and fifteen other family members are massacred, Lydia is forced to flee her comfortable life in Acapulco with her eight-year-old son. Their only hope is to begin a grueling trek toward the relative safety of the United States. It is, as she is told, "a path for people with no choice." The author is so skilled at drawing us into the narrative, we instinctively sense the impending danger posed by every stranger, swelter in the unrelenting assault of the desert sun, and fight succumbing to despair when one more step seems beyond the realm of human endurance . This is an unforgettable journey, as topical as today's headlines. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Chances Are . . .: A novel by Richard Russo - Book Review

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Chances Are . . .: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101947746
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Published: Knopf - July 30th, 2019

Three college friends agree to meet on Martha's Vineyard decades after their graduation. The disappearance of a young woman, who was loved by all three men, finally clouds the reunion despite their efforts to avoid a subject that has haunted them throughout their lives. Russo's skill for creating vivid characters and detailing their complex interrelationships is apparent, but this novel is something of a departure for the author because the mystery of what happened to the woman is its prevalent theme. Reminiscent of Rebecca in which Daphne DuMaurier's title character is always there and yet she is never really there. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Shallow Graves: The Hunt for the New Bedford Highway Serial Killer by Maureen Boyle - Book Review

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Shallow Graves: The Hunt for the New Bedford Highway Serial Killer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781512600742
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Published: ForeEdge - September 5th, 2017

New Bedford, Massachusetts was once a booming coastal city, but by 1988 it had fallen into a steep decline. Police authorities, already submerged by a tidal wave of drug related crime, were faced with an even greater challenge when the badly decomposed bodies of missing women began being discovered along local highways. Many of the dead were eventually identified as drug-addicted women who had turned to prostitution to support their habit, drawing them into contact with some of the most unsavory characters in the area. Catching the one who was a killer became an even more daunting task. This is a meticulously researched chronicle that delves into the sad and devastated lives of the victims and their families while honoring the dedicated men and women who were determined to bring a serial murderer to justice. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Olive, Again: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780812996548
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Published: Random House - October 15th, 2019

Olive Kitteridge, America's favorite basically unhappy schoolteacher from Maine, is back. The author uses a familiar conceit, filling her novel with vignettes of life in the coastal community of Crosby. Olive, bewildered and disappointed by the relentlessly downward trajectory of her own life, has decided to remarry. She harbors no starry-eyed notions of a blissful second-time-around union, but sees the marriage as a chance to dissipate the loneliness that envelopes her days like a fog off the ocean. Her estranged son, however, doesn't care much for the idea. Strout has a peerless ability to invest her characters with a humanity that makes them not merely fictitious creations in a book, but acquaintances we care deeply about. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark - Book Review

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The Ox-Bow Incident (Modern Library Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812972580
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Published: Modern Library - April 27th, 2004

This powerful story of vigilante justice has taken its rightful place among the great American novels of the last century. In 1885 Nevada, three innocent men find themselves at the mercy of a lynch mob. The book provides an eloquent depiction of the systematic breakdown of the rules that govern civilized people and the tragedy that inevitably results. It is as potent a warning today as it was on the cusp of World War II. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

The World That We Knew: A Novel by Alice Hoffman - Book Review

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The World That We Knew: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501137570
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Published: Simon & Schuster - September 24th, 2019

A Jewish woman summons up a golem to protect her daughter during the child's perilous journey from Berlin to escape Nazi persecution. Although the girl resents her protector assuming a role that once belonged to her beloved parent, a bond develops between the pair, making her mother's final admonition to her even more difficult to obey. The author, as she did in The Museum of Extraordinary Things, seamlessly weaves history with thrilling fiction, adding an element of folklore to this moving story of tenacity, courage, and faith. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves


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