I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is a story about grief, community, family and love. Chao’s writing invites you into a community that is rich in Chinese culture and traditions that you can see, smell, taste and hear. Throughout the story you get to see Kai and Liya grow as individuals and find their way back to each other in the most heartwarming way. This beautiful story is sure to tug on your heartstrings!
When You Wish Upon a Lantern by Gloria Chao, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593464359, February 2023)
Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I don’t usually like sad books, and yet this one became a fast favorite! It’s the writing. It’s just so good. Like being a fly on the wall of her mind. Elsey Jane is a widow grieving the loss of her partner who died of drug poisoning. Her actions and thoughts—often bizarre, delusional, and reckless—are sometimes incongruous with the expectations of someone grieving. At other times the agony and suffering and consumption she experiences are completely spot on of what we’d expect. This book is so absurd at times, I laughed, cringed, and tearing up all within minutes. It’s a beautifully written, complicated, intimate story that’s as weird as it is honest—just as grief often is. I highly recommend!
What Remains of Elsie Jane by Chelsea Wakelyn, (List Price: 19.99, Rare Machines, 9781459750845, February 2023)
Nell plants a tree and it grows into a base for games, a spot for reading, and a place for generations to gather. This beautiful picture book celebrates extended families and the delight of spending time together.
Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062865779, January 2023)
So much love for Lasagna Means I Love You! A lovely novel about how food tells our stories and what means family. When sad circumstances leave Mo alone in the world, she discovers the path to a new beginning is filled with tears, frustration, laughter, love and a full tummy!
Lasagna Means I Love You by Kate O’Shaughnessy, (List Price: $17.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781984893871, February 2023)
When Sea Becomes Sky is a book that needs to be read spoiler free, but what I can tell you is that this is Gillian McDunn at her finest. The intersection of science and art is a perfect complement to the interpersonal relationships in the book, every single detail adds a layer and a complexity the story that makes this one to sit and think about. I love how careful McDunn is with her characters and their emotions – and the experience of her readers. Bex and her family will stay in my heart for a very, very long time.
When Sea Becomes Sky by Gillian McDunn (List Price: $16.99, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547610853, February 2023)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
So often, when people are asked what they would wish for, they reply “World Peace.” In The Kindest Red, Faizah wishes for “World Kindness,” and isn’t that really the first step to world peace? This simple picture book with a big message is just perfect for families or classrooms looking to celebrate diversity and personal responsibility.
The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9780759555709, February 2023)
This novel will rob you of hours from your life, it will rob you of the need for food or company or sleep. Time the reading of the first pages wisely; you’ll have a sudden need to find a comfy spot where you can commune with these characters and their lush stories of pleasure and pain. A mashup of American Psycho, Scarface and The Great Gatsby but set in contemporary India, it’s all but impossible to look away from this dazzling train wreck orchestrated by Deepti Kapoor. I was consumed by this novel.
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor (List Price: $30, Riverhead Books, 9780593328798, January 2023)
Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
How We Say I Love You reminds readers there are many ways to show love in your family. The story follows an Asian American girl through a day with her family, who show their love through actions like packing a homemade lunch or doing their best at school. This book is a beautiful way to talk about love and families with even the youngest of readers.
How We Say I Love You by Nicole Chen (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593428399, December 2022)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This debut is a compelling family drama about generational trauma and secrets in a large family of Afghan-Uzbeki immigrants. As Sara deals with the impending divorce of her parents and the slow painful loss of her grandmother to dementia, she begins to see ghostly apparitions in a home her family’s construction company is renovating. Sara gets pulled into a web of family secrets and realizes that even though her family has a strong storytelling tradition, the stories she’s been told her whole life aren’t the whole story. At times creepy, but ultimately redemptive, this story is all about confronting literal and figurative ghosts.
House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur (List Price: $18.99, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 9780374388706, November 2022)
We all know about Lizzie Bennet and Darcy — but what about Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, and her sordid history with Wickham? If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan, you’ll recognize several characters in this contemporary spin, but Georgiana Darcy gets the main character treatment. She has to deal with what Wickham did last year that almost got her expelled from prestigious boarding school Pemberley, a brother who’s both more and less absent than he should be, and everyone in school hating her for various reasons. Her one saving grace is her band friend Avery, who is the only one who doesn’t treat her as an outcast and so might be able to help her with her mission to get her life back on track. A fun take on Pride and Prejudice that is familiar enough to be enticing but new enough to keep your attention.
Accomplished by Amanda Quain, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250817815, July 2022)
“I love to read in the tub, but I easily fall asleep and end up with a soggy bloated creature rather than a legible book. This works out well for the authors, as I always go buy another copy.” –Alice Elliott Dark, interview, New York Times
What booksellers are saying about Fellowship Point
Oh how I loved Fellowship Point! Alice Elliott Dark has penned an immersive family saga spanning the lifelong friendship of Polly and Agnes, two fascinating women whose lives have taken them on very different paths. When a myriad of buried memories and secrets emerge, their loyalties are tested beyond measure. Filled with lyrical prose that just sinks into your pores, this is a captivating novel to savor and share! ―Anderson McKean from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL Buy from Page and Palette
Fellowship Point reads like an Edith Wharton novel set in the 21st century. This beautifully-crafted saga of two old friends discovering new facets of each other, and themselves, is completely absorbing, good for the soul, and as bracing as a coastal breeze in Maine. ―Maggie Robe from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC Buy from Flyleaf Books
Agnes and Polly share a decades long friendship even though they each lead very different lives. At the center of the friendship is a love for Fellowship Point, a family camp in Maine. Both women enjoy the escape that the enclave represents and feel a duty to protect both the environment and the secrets that are held there…This is a book that examines the strength of friendship and family and the secrets that are kept by both. ―Mary Jane Michels from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC Buy from Fiction Addiction
“…your sentences…Many made my heart lurch, and I paused to stand under the waterfall of your words.” Alice Elliot Dark wrote these words as a character is describing an author, but I find them perfectly describing the writing of this gifted author of Fellowship Point. I am sad right now that I have finished these 592 pages as I don’t want to leave this complete world of Agnes, Polly, and Maud. ―Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA Buy from Bookmiser
About Alice Elliott Dark
Alice Elliott Dark is the author Think of England and two collections of short stories, In the Gloaming and Naked to the Waist. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, Best American Short Stories,and O. Henry: Prize Stories, among others. Her award-winning story “In the Gloaming” was made into two films. Dark is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is an Associate Professor at Rutgers-Newark in the MFA program.
If ever a book has gotten new parenthood spot on, its " I am a Baby." This one should be a required gift at every baby shower, because when there’s a new baby around, you’ve got to laugh at all the ways the world changes for everyone!
I Am a Baby by Bob Shea, (List Price: 17.99, Candlewick, 9781536218329, 9781536218329, June 2022)
Ryan Hart is headed to sleepaway camp where she faces some friendship challenges, but even that may be easier than going home to the new baby that’s on its way. Ramona Quimby for a new generation, Ryan Hart is a young, optimistic black girl navigating a changing world with style. This series really has staying power.
Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson, (List Price: $7.99, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547609963, April 2022)