Read our latest staff reviews and recommendations featured in the The Southern Bookseller Review.
While We Were Dreaming sits well on the shelf ‘midst Trainspotting, Stand By Me (er, The Body) and Requiem for a Dream, those disturbing yet nostalgic tales of the rise and fall of childhood chums slumming down life’s yellower brick roads, but what makes this kaleidoscopic coming-of-age collection really stand (by me) out is the punch-in-the-gut pivotal point of turning 13 in East Berlin, 1989. The pre/post Wall stories run out of chronological order, so the cast of characters are at times 8-year-old Pioneer Scout cutups, any-agers getting out of prison for the Nth time, preteens caught on the wrong team’s side of a football riot or stealing their first (of many) case of beer, yet constantly bailing each other out of any messed up situation their messed up situations situate them in. The emotion varietals are all over the map, multifaceted and always well-played.
While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer, (List Price: 20, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 9781804270288, September 2023)
Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
This poignant story paints those subtle shifts from childhood to adulthood for Rose as she spends time at a lake house with her parents, who are going through a rough patch, and her younger friend Windy, who suddenly seems immature. It’s a quiet story, full of melancholy and growing pains, but still so lovely and achingly honest.
This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki, (List Price: $18.99, First Second, 9781596437746, May 2014)
Reviewed by Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
At times heartwarming, others heartrending, this tender work from Washington is delectable. Lust, hunger, grief, and a longing for belonging squeeze up against the forces that seek to tear us apart, but, what Family Meal serves is a generous familial communion made up of the people we love and those who, despite our flaws, love us back. A restorative novel to be shared, undoubtedly set to bring its readers together.
Family Meal by Bryan Washington, (List Price: $28, Riverhead Books, 9780593421093, October 2023)
Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
An August 2023 Read This Next! Book
The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass is a middle grade mystery that celebrates the power of a good book. Evan has grown up in a town without a library and none of the adults talk about the fire that destroyed such a beloved place. A librarian, a cat, a few ghosts, and a handful of mice put in motion an unraveling of a collective puzzle that may make you gasp! Highly recommend.
The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead, (List Price: 17.99, Feiwel & Friends, 9781250838810, August 2023)
Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
Eric Larocca’s newest novel Everything the Darkness Eats weaves cosmic horror with small town prejudice into a tale of creeping dread. Larocca never shies away from the gruesome or the traumatic and weaves these darkest parts alongside love. This Connecticut town is neither cozy nor warm, and is instead full of mysterious and bizarre disappearances, unrestrained bigotry and the dark effects of its most powerful resident Mr. Crowley. Interweaving two resident’s attempts to uncover and stop the horror, Larocca forces his characters to reckon with what means the most to them and to what lengths they’ll go for closure, revenge, and love. Perfect for fans of Clive Barker and other cosmic horror.
Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca, (List Price: 16.95, CLASH Books, 9781955904278, June 2023)
Reviewed by Mikey LaFave, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
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