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Current favorites of Southern indie booksellers. [FULL LIST]

Fiction

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli

Over seven days in a psychiatric ward in 1994 in Italy, the main character Daniele Mancarelli (who shares the author’s name and some life experiences) documents his involuntary committal. We spend most of our time on the ward itself with occasional flashbacks of the six patients’ and staff’s pasts. Mencarelli (author and character) is also a poet, and the language is beautiful and delicately translated by Wendy Weathly. While not dismissing the need for the truly suffering or dangerous to be treated, the author presents much to be considered about the way society categorizes those who are simply different or passing through a difficult phase of life.

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli, (List Price: $22, Europa Editions, 9781609458065, January 2023)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund

Owen has an exposed space in his chest where Gail, a wise and chatty java sparrow, has lived since he was a newborn. His mother has hidden him from those who would hurt him because of his difference, but he’s a teenager now and must figure out who to trust and how to be — or even if he CAN be. I really enjoyed this sensitive and heartbreaking coming-of-age story about a queer boy, his bird, and their friends. Though not usually drawn to magical realism, I found myself almost believing in the possibility of Gail, and that was a real joy.

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund, (List Price: $17, Atria Books, 9781982171940, January 2023)

Reviewed by Serena Wyckoff, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

This is such a beautifully written story. The characters are so wonderfully honest and real. You are truly immersed in Eve’s world, you feel her pain and confusion. This is the story of one woman’s journey through grief and guilt after her husband takes his own life. Written like a memoir, straight from Eve’s thoughts and feelings, we follow her through every up and down, her highs and her lows. This is a beautiful reminder about the struggles of mental illness and the hidden pain of those around us. This is a must read!

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli, (List Price: $27.99, Graydon House, 9781525899805, September 2022)

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Nonfiction

The Wise Hours by Miriam Darlington

Owls, for all their popularity in myths and Harry Potter movies, are elusive and difficult to observe in the wild. But the wild, the reality is what Darlington is seeking and what she brings to this thoughtful account. Her careful descriptions of eight species are deepened by reflections on how much humanity loses when we lose true awareness of the wild. A call for more care of the natural world, protection of spaces needed by our fellow creatures, and a willingness to live with uncertainty, this book offers heart and soul as well as natural history.

The Wise Hours by Miriam Darlington, (List Price: $27.95, Tin House Books, 9781953534835, February 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Ducks by Kate Beaton

As an avid fan of Kate Beaton since her days slinging snarky, hilarious comics in Hark, A Vagrant!, I have been waiting for her graphic memoir for years!! Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is a stunningly beautiful story of Kate’s time working in the male-dominated Alberta oil industry to pay off her student loans, full of gorgeous, melancholy art and powerful emotions just under the surface. It’s an exceptional book about loneliness, labor, survival in a male-dominated world, and finding your way home.

Ducks by Kate Beaton, (List Price: $39.95, Drawn and Quarterly, 9781770462892, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo

I’m always interested in a good memoir about religious experience. God’s Ex-Girlfriend did not disappoint. Amodeo’s time with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) was full of revelations about how the movement can trap young people at their most vulnerable time: college and the days beyond. Amodeo seriously adopted the evangelical ideas, but found it wasn’t the support she needed to find her true self. A real eye-opener!

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo, (List Price: $18.95, Ig Publishing, 9781632461476, February 2023)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Children/YA

Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey

Everything is better with dogs, and the tale of Cinderella is no exception. Not only does Cinderella get a fairy dogmother instead of a fairy godmother, but she also gets some nice updates to her story, including a chance to suggest she gets to know the prince first instead of marrying him right away. I loved all the dogs in this book, but there are plenty of cute cats to see on each page, too!

Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey, (List Price: $18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9781984813824, February 2023)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson

Kip Wilson’s novel in verse about photojournalist Gerda Tardo captures her passion for revealing truth through photography. It sweeps the reader from Gerda’s school days in Germany to the front lines in the Spanish Civil War. A compelling read.

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson, (List Price: $17.99, Versify, 9780063251687, January 2023)

Reviewed by Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky

World Made of Glass has the exact range of emotions tweens need and crave – sorrow, love, laughter, tears, regret – in deep swings. And more importantly, this historical fiction novel tells a story that few really know – I didn’t – about the prejudice, misinformation, and rampant fear surrounding AIDS in 1987 – told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Iris. She’s a character who experiences life-shattering circumstances beyond her control – yet with the help of her family and friends, she rises to the occasion. Our youth should read this book because it will build empathy and acceptance of marginalized groups of people, educate a new generation about the AIDS epidemic and LGBTQIA History – an area sorely under-represented in literature and inspire people of all ages to use their voices to fight for justice in their communities. As a bookseller in an indie bookstore who sees firsthand so many young adults purposefully seeking out books that provide a safe place to explore a range of emotions and tackle challenging, complex subjects, I cannot wait for this novel to do just that and find so many readers. Ami Polonsky will inspire the upcoming generation to use their voices for good!

World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky, (List Price: $16.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316462044, January 2023)

Reviewed by Michelle Uhlfelder, Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida

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