The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

LGBTQ+

A Girlhood by Carolyn Hays

While I suppose no book is perfect, I think A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter is about as perfect as they come.

It’s part memoir, part research project, part confessional. The writing is personal, tender, and fierce. I found so much that resonated about parenting in general, the way we love our kids and try to help them find the most joy possible in this life. And, as the wife of a trans guy, I also found kinship in the experience of watching someone transition and find their true selves. It’s beautiful. Sometimes frightening. And often hard for a host of reasons. But ultimately, joyful.

A Girlhood will be my go-to recommendation for anyone trying to understand gender identity or transness. And for parents of gay kids, trans kids, cis kids, gender non-conforming kids–parents of humans. I cannot think of anyone I wouldn’t recommend it to. As a person in the queer community who didn’t have a stellar coming out experience with my parents, I find narratives about parents who support and champion their LGBTQ kids to be a balm. Because I always believed I deserved better than I got–and seeing other kids get that kind of support is healing and hopeful. Because I was right. We do deserve better. And always have.

There’s lots of LGBTQ history mixed in to the narrative. And the writer is Catholic–so there’s also this gorgeous arc of what Catholicism can be. There’s a lot of hype there. But also a lot of realism. The author is constantly acknowledging her privilege and unpacking difficult social construction and religious dogma.

I am 100% enamored of Carolyn Hays’ intellect, compassion, and fierce love for her kid. This is a must read.

A Girlhood by Carolyn Hays, (List Price: $28.95, Blair, 9781949467901, September 2022)

Reviewed by Kendra Gayle Lee, Bookish Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

The Southern Bookseller Review: Happy Pride!

The Southern Bookseller Review: Happy Pride! June, 2022

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June, 2022

Happy Pride!

Happy Pride

This special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review celebrates Pride Month, and joyfully honors the impact and importance that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history, our culture, our everything.

“Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?” -James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

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Honoring the gay, lesbian, transgender and queer experience…

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler

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Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler
Wednesday Books / June 2022


Amazingly talented (and attractive) quarterback who’s new in school + cheerleader destined to be captain of the squad = a story we all know. But what if the quarterback is a girl named Jack, and although she’s wildly talented, she’s also loathed by her new team, as well as everyone on the cheer squad — except for Amber, who falls for the new quarterback almost immediately. Coming out to her team risks jeopardizing her chance at becoming captain, so Amber has to think about what truly matters to her. I adored Amber and Jack and I loved their perfect high school romance.

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

Dahlia Adler

About the Author:
Dahlia Adler is an editor of mathematics by day, the overlord of LGBTQReads by night, and a Young Adult author at every spare moment in between. She is the editor of several anthologies and the author of many novels, including Cool for the Summer and Home Field Advantage. She lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books.

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari

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Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari
Disney-Hyperion / June 2022


Madison is a full-on Disney nerd. When she wins a trip to a new, fully immersive Disney vacation full of cosplay and magical Disney magic, she’s beyond excited. But when her girlfriend breaks up with her, she convinces her best friend to come instead. Lanie is not a Disney fan. She’s not a hater, she just is way less familiar than Madison. But she throws caution to the wind and goes anyway. Hopefully they’ll both get their Happily Ever After. This story was fun and crazy and this Disney nerd enjoyed every minute.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Crystal Cestari

About the Author:
Crystal Cestari lives just outside Chicago with her family. Her hobbies include planning her next Disney vacation and wandering the aisles at Target. She holds a master’s degree in mass communication, and writes all her stories longhand. She is also the author of the Windy City Magic series and Super Adjacent. Visit Crystal at http://www.crystalcestari.com and on Instagram @crystalcestari.

Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

 

Douglas Stuart

I think when you’re talking about queerness at that time and you’re also intersecting it with class or with poverty or social mobility, then the stakes are very different for the characters. You know, they can’t just up and leave and go find a different place where they belong in the world. They really have to face the world outside their door because that’s the only world they know.” –Douglas Stuart, interview, NPR


Young Mungo

What booksellers are saying about Young Mungo

  • Douglas Stuart has done it again with this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and hopeful story of young love between two boys in working-class Glasgow. I will patiently wait for Middle-Aged Mungo and Old Mungo…I want more! ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books and Books

  • From Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, this often bleak coming-of-age story shares some of the themes of his winning novel Shuggie Bain, including the darkly lyrical descriptions of a working class childhood at the mercy of an alcoholic mother. A heart-breaking story, with vividly drawn characters, dangerous situations, and forbidden love.   ―Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA
    Buy from Righton Books

  • This is beautiful and hard, a gem hewn from the harshest pressure of Scottish discord and weather. Catholics vs Protestants, children vs adults, adults vs drink, all of them trying to survive under the apathetic Glaswegian skies. Young Mungo drags you down in the mire, and holds your face to the ruin of this community, but also reminds that no matter how dark, there is always love. A brutal, brutal read, but staggeringly empathetic and wonderful. Mungo is our hero, our baby we want to shield, our man we want to see grow up and conquer. He is our queer king whom we want love to keep and to make him greater. I can’t recommend this book enough, I understand know why Stuart won the Booker for Shuggie Bain. This too, deserves the praise it will get, a classic in the making.   ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Douglas Stuart novels have a particular ache to them…you cannot help but love and be in pain for his characters. Poor, alcoholic, living in dire, drab straits, isolated in their worlds, their will to live and love takes my breath away. “Young Mungo” is a tough read, but Mungo himself will tear at your heart…along with lovely James, caring Jodie, violent Hamish and selfish Mo-maw. A sad Romeo and Juliet story for modern times. Violent, tough and absolutely beautiful.   ―Andrea Ginsky from Bookstore Number 1 LLC in Sarasota, FL
    Buy from Bookstore 1 Sarasota

About Douglas Stuart

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American author. His New York Times-bestselling debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was the winner of two British Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, Kirkus Prize, as well as several other literary awards. Stuart’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.

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Space Story by Fiona Ostby

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Space Story by Fiona Ostby
West Margin Press / June 2022


This graphic novel combines three different storylines, each designated by one of the primary colors. There is a story of love, a story of loneliness, and a story of longing. Ostby’s unique use of color perfectly mirrors the emotions expressed within each storyline, and the manner in which they are intertwined feels like fitting puzzle pieces together.

Reviewed by Grace Quinn, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Fiona Ostby

About the Author:
Fiona Ostby is an illustrator and comic artist with a PhD in illustration from Tokyo Zokei University. Their work focuses on atmosphere, feelings, and the experience of growing up LGBTQ+. Space Story is their debut book, a graphic novel that explores those themes. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fiona currently lives in Tokyo, Japan. Visit her at FionaOstby.com.

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby

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Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby
Liveright / June 2022


A searing meditation on identity and place, Boys and Oil captured my heart and opened my eyes. My husband is from North Dakota, and I thought I understood what it meant to have grown up in that state, but Taylor Brorby’s memoir showed me a different perspective. His writing on place is some of the most evocative I’ve read since Terry Tempest Williams; his love for his home state is evident despite the pain of growing up gay in a community that didn’t understand or welcome him. An important book and a must-read!

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

Taylor Brorby

About the Author:
Taylor Brorby is an essayist and poet. The coeditor of Fracture, his work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Orion, and North American Review, where he is a contributing editor.

Let's Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

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Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih
Algonquin Books / February 2022

,  

It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015. We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history. Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students. Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline. Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate. Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality. I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it. Stunning!

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Zach Salih

About the Author:
Zak Salih earned his BA in English and Journalism from James Madison University, and his MA in English from the University of Virginia. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Foglifter, Epiphany, Crazyhorse, The Florida Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Millions, Apogee Journal, Kenyon Review Online, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. Let’s Get Back to the Party is his debut novel. He lives in Washington, D.C.

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

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The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
Scognamiglio Books / June 2022

,  

Three cheers for Albert Entwistle! I snuggled into this heartwarming "it’s never too late" coming-out story right away and loved watching this gentle man bloom. Albert is painfully lonely, staying far in the back of the closet and avoiding human connections all his adult life. But forced retirement at age 65 pushes him to completely change his life, and he finds that everyone he knows has been rooting for him all along.

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

Matt Cain

About the Author:
Matt Cain is an author, a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues, and a former journalist. He was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, and has judged the Costa Prize, the Polari Prize and the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He won Diversity in Media’s Journalist Of the Year award in 2017 and is an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month. Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, he now lives in London and can be found online at MattCainWriter.com.

Parting Thought

"This place was the “ART” that gave form to the feelings of our heartbeats. Here the consciousness of knowing you “belonged” nestled into that warm feeling of finally being HOME. And Home engenders love and loyalty quite naturally. So, we loved the Stonewall"
― New York Public Library, The Stonewall Reader

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
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Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015. We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history. Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students. Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline. Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate. Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality. I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it. Stunning!

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih, (List Price: $16.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643752075, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

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Douglas Stuart

I think when you’re talking about queerness at that time and you’re also intersecting it with class or with poverty or social mobility, then the stakes are very different for the characters. You know, they can’t just up and leave and go find a different place where they belong in the world. They really have to face the world outside their door because that’s the only world they know.” –Douglas Stuart, interview, NPR

 

 

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

What booksellers are saying about Young Mungo

  • Douglas Stuart has done it again with this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and hopeful story of young love between two boys in working-class Glasgow. I will patiently wait for Middle-Aged Mungo and Old Mungo…I want more! ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books and Books

  • From Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, this often bleak coming-of-age story shares some of the themes of his winning novel Shuggie Bain, including the darkly lyrical descriptions of a working class childhood at the mercy of an alcoholic mother. A heart-breaking story, with vividly drawn characters, dangerous situations, and forbidden love.   ―Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA
    Buy from Righton Books

  • This is beautiful and hard, a gem hewn from the harshest pressure of Scottish discord and weather. Catholics vs Protestants, children vs adults, adults vs drink, all of them trying to survive under the apathetic Glaswegian skies. Young Mungo drags you down in the mire, and holds your face to the ruin of this community, but also reminds that no matter how dark, there is always love. A brutal, brutal read, but staggeringly empathetic and wonderful. Mungo is our hero, our baby we want to shield, our man we want to see grow up and conquer. He is our queer king whom we want love to keep and to make him greater. I can’t recommend this book enough, I understand know why Stuart won the Booker for Shuggie Bain. This too, deserves the praise it will get, a classic in the making.   ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Douglas Stuart novels have a particular ache to them…you cannot help but love and be in pain for his characters. Poor, alcoholic, living in dire, drab straits, isolated in their worlds, their will to live and love takes my breath away. “Young Mungo” is a tough read, but Mungo himself will tear at your heart…along with lovely James, caring Jodie, violent Hamish and selfish Mo-maw. A sad Romeo and Juliet story for modern times. Violent, tough and absolutely beautiful.   ―Andrea Ginsky from Bookstore Number 1 LLC in Sarasota, FL
    Buy from Bookstore 1 Sarasota

About Douglas Stuart

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American author. His New York Times-bestselling debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was the winner of two British Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, Kirkus Prize, as well as several other literary awards. Stuart’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.

ad

Space Story by Fiona Ostby

This graphic novel combines three different storylines, each designated by one of the primary colors. There is a story of love, a story of loneliness, and a story of longing. Ostby’s unique use of color perfectly mirrors the emotions expressed within each storyline, and the manner in which they are intertwined feels like fitting puzzle pieces together.

Space Story by Fiona Ostby, (List Price: $16.99, West Margin Press, 9781513128757, June 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Quinn, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler

Amazingly talented (and attractive) quarterback who’s new in school cheerleader destined to be captain of the squad = a story we all know. But what if the quarterback is a girl named Jack, and although she’s wildly talented, she’s also loathed by her new team, as well as everyone on the cheer squad — except for Amber, who falls for the new quarterback almost immediately. Coming out to her team risks jeopardizing her chance at becoming captain, so Amber has to think about what truly matters to her. I adored Amber and Jack and I loved their perfect high school romance

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler, (List Price: $19.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250765840, June 2022)

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

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari

Madison is a full-on Disney nerd. When she wins a trip to a new, fully immersive Disney vacation full of cosplay and magical Disney magic, she’s beyond excited. But when her girlfriend breaks up with her, she convinces her best friend to come instead. Lanie is not a Disney fan. She’s not a hater, she just is way less familiar than Madison. But she throws caution to the wind and goes anyway. Hopefully they’ll both get their Happily Ever After. This story was fun and crazy and this Disney nerd enjoyed every minute.

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari, (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781368075473, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White

Hell Followed With Us is a book that sinks its teeth into you from the first page. Andrew Joseph White crafts a horrifying apocalyptic world that feels at once utterly fresh yet familiar as the narrative grapples with climate change, illness, religious extremism, and LGBTQ issues. Its a furious novel– but not without hope as protagonist Benji, a young queer trans boy with a monster inside him, falls in with a found-family of other queer teens and embraces the opportunity to fight back against his oppressors who would otherwise use him as a bioweapon for their own violent ends. Hell Followed With Us is an original, unique YA horror debut guaranteed to stay with readers long after the last page.

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White, (List Price: $18.99, Peachtree Tee, 9781682633243, June 2022)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais

This book felt like it was written just for me. As a queer female artist with some basic tattoo experience, I immediately identified with Gina – her initial timidity, her frustration with being talked over and manipulated by men who should have guided and protected her, and especially her love of the weird. The description of her wild flash and her love for drawing gave me goosebumps. The book’s pacing and tension-building are excellent – the stakes kept getting higher and higher for Gina, until I was ready to leap into the pages and go to war for her. That steady turn of the screw kept the story feeling fresh and dynamic, and the characters kept me invested. Gina is relatable, likeable, and has some great emotional growth. Her brother Dominic is endearing and frustrating. Her mom is a heartbreaking mix of maddening and manipulative but still sympathetic. Every character has their own charm and their own faults. They feel real. You want things to work out for them and you ache when they struggle. Everything about their interactions felt natural and believable. I also have to give major props to the author for all the accurate tattooing details – she knows her stuff! Using autoclaves, calibrating machines, fixing errors (yikes!), practicing on pig feet and oranges, the hazing, the environment, the amount of energy and dedication it takes to make tattooing a career – she nailed it all. Dominic’s shop came to life because it was written by someone who KNOWS. That makes me happier than I can say. Basically, read this book. If you’re into stories of young women fighting for their place in the world, you’ll like it. If you want bisexual representation, here you go. If you’re interested in art and/or tattoos, you’ll love it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel seen.

Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais, (List Price: $26, Pamela Dorman Books, 9780593298794, June 2022)

Rachel Derise, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby

A searing meditation on identity and place, Boys and Oil captured my heart and opened my eyes. My husband is from North Dakota, and I thought I understood what it meant to have grown up in that state, but Taylor Brorby’s memoir showed me a different perspective. His writing on place is some of the most evocative I’ve read since Terry Tempest Williams; his love for his home state is evident despite the pain of growing up gay in a community that didn’t understand or welcome him. An important book and a must-read!

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby, (List Price: $27.95, Liveright, 9781324090861, June 2022)

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

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

Three cheers for Albert Entwistle! I snuggled into this heartwarming "it’s never too late" coming-out story right away and loved watching this gentle man bloom. Albert is painfully lonely, staying far in the back of the closet and avoiding human connections all his adult life. But forced retirement at age 65 pushes him to completely change his life, and he finds that everyone he knows has been rooting for him all along.

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain, (List Price: $15.95, A John Scognamiglio Book, 9781496737755, June 2022)

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

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Fallon would rather forget about her hookup with her BFF Chloe right before Chloe left for college, but her mom’s ice cream truck business has other plans. Fallon is a protagonist who is easy to cheer for, and I was so invested in the rivals-to-lovers, will-they-won’t-they romance. This is a delightful, perfect novel for summer, made even better by the ice cream puns.

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan, (List Price: $17.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780593112564, May 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman

I feel so strongly about this book, I truly think this is the best book I have read this year. A piece of art. The author managed to capture so perfectly the thoughts of sexuality, gender norms, and expressionism in a woman in her 20s. I admired her pushing the boundaries to talk about topics that are considered taboo, such as polyamory, infidelity, and manipulation. The writing was so beautiful, the characters were all so addictive, yet so horrible, and I just couldn’t put it down. Majority of the text is thoughts that the main character has, rather than action, so if you don’t like that, this is not the book for you. I feel like I could recommend this to any girl my age that is vocal about sex, feminism, and love. Truly a book I think everyone should read. I never like to re-read books, but this is a book I can definitely see myself re-reading. I am dying for a sequel, or at the very least, another novel by Lillian Fishman.

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman, (List Price: $27, Hogarth, 9780593243763, May 2022)

Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Magic Season by Wade Rouse

They say truth is better than fiction and with Magic Season I completely agree. Wade and his rigid engineer father had a contentious relationship for quite awhile. When Ted learns he is dying Wade returns home for one final season of the one thing the men share a passion for-The St Louis Cardinals. This is inspiring and heartwarming and told with Wade’s poignant sense of humor. It gives hope to any one suffering from a desire to have a close relationship with a parent. There is always a chance for your team in baseball and a relationship with your parent.

Magic Season by Wade Rouse, (List Price: $27.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335475176, May 2022)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Love, Hate & Clickbait by Liz Bowery

After their boss makes a homophobic gaffe and a compromising photo of them goes viral, cutthroat political consultant Thom Morgan and down-on-his-luck data analyst Clay Parker pretend to be in a relationship to salvage this presidential campaign that’s barely gotten off the ground. This fun and heartfelt romcom is great for political wonks who want a fast-paced romp and political cynics who have seen the messy underbelly of campaigns. Thom and Clay’s “will they, won’t they” kept me guessing until the wedding bells rang.

Love, Hate & Clickbait by Liz Bowery, (List Price: $15.99, MIRA, 9780778311898,  April2022)

Reviewed by Karen Fletcher, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

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