The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!
Ethnic & Regional
A Syrian kid living through the Syrian civil war decides to interview other kids his age using his phone to document what’s going on. He shares it on social media like YT Tw and FB. He felt like he was being targeted by bombs for his news videos. Tense, informative, serious, sad, but also has happy moments. Read it all in one sitting. Hard to put down.
Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, (List Price: $12.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759556904, September 2022)
Reviewed by Eliza, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
Filled with incredible nuance, beautiful writing, and deep sympathy; Putsata Reang’s stunning memoir Ma and Me is sure to be one of the best books I’ll read this year. Tracing her mother’s story – escaping the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and surviving an abusive marriage – to her own experience; growing up as a gay Khmer-American pulled between to cultures – Reang’s deeply personal book and explores the depth of a mother/daughter relationship and the weight of expectation placed upon future generations. Both full of light and sadness, Ma and Me is a wonder; holding life’s beauty and heartbreak in tandem. I cannot recommend this memoir highly enough
Ma and Me by Putsata Reang, (List Price: $28, MCD, 9780374279264, May 2022)
Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The Love You Save is powerful, heartbreaking memoir that will capture your heart from the first chapter. Journalist and activist Goldie Taylor shares painful childhood memories of trauma and family strife against the backdrop of strength and hope she found as a highly gifted student reading books by authors like James Baldwin. Readers who enjoy heavy-hitting memoirs like Educated and Memorial Drive will appreciate Taylor’s honest and poetic prose in this must-read memoir–but have the tissues ready!
The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor, (List Price: $28.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335449375, January 2023)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I’ve loved books about boarding schools since I was a child who romanticized the idea of living away from home with a school full of friends, but as I’ve grown older I’ve become much more interested in what’s hiding beneath the polished surface image of boarding schools. Kendra James was the first Black American legacy student at Taft, a private boarding school in Connecticut, so her perspective on privilege (including her own) was totally fascinating in its layers. I so appreciated the thoughtful and deeply candid telling of her experience at Taft.
Admissions by Kendra James, (List Price: $29.00, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538753484, January 2022)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This Boy We Made is heart-wrenching. I couldn’t put it down. As a mother I was absolutely enveloped in the author’s journey through this incredibly difficult time in her life. At every turn I was in awe of her grace in dealing with what life continued to throw at her.
This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris, (List Price: $26.00, Catapult, 9781948226844, January 2022)
Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana
Blame it on naivete or my newbie bookseller status, but I did not realize that, culturally, bookselling can vary drastically from country to country, but it can and it does, and thanks to Nadia Wassef, we get to hear first hand how three women got a wildly successful independent bookstore off the ground in Cairo, Egypt, when societal norms suggested that women weren’t meant to open small businesses. A remarkable story!
Shelf Life by Nadia Wassef, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374600181, October 2021)
Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
Qian Julie Wang opens her heart and bares her soul in this striking memoir about an illegal Chinese immigrant family. Wang does a fine job describing the poverty and sweatshops of Chinatown, her parents’ fear of getting deported, and her determination to make something of herself in Mei Guo, America, the beautiful country. The poverty and prejudice her family faced as well as her parents’ marital difficulties created trauma that Wang today is still determined to break through.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang, (List Price: 28.95, Doubleday, 9780385547215, September 2021)
Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina
A young Chinese immigrant calls Child Services on her mother. Like the threads whirling through her mother and stepfather’s New York City sweatshop where she was forced to work as a girl, Anna Qu’s debut memoir is full of the fragments of a traumatic childhood and the challenges of piecing together the truth—about trauma and the generational pattern of cruelty, about immigration and identity, labor and self-worth, and ultimately, the love we deserve, awaiting us.
Made in China by Anna Qu, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220342, August 2021)
Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia