Happy New Year! We’re ringing in 2018 with a new feature — “Books Abuzz.” We’ll be regularly profiling recent releases that have been getting attention or deserve to be getting more attention. This week, we’re looking at a unique historical novel, a nonfiction tale of fraud and (maybe) ghosts, and a young adult fantasy.
Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach (2017)
Depression-era mobsters, World War II-era female divers, and literary fiction may seem like an odd combination, but they blend superbly in Jennifer Egan’s latest novel and her first attempt at historical fiction. The novel spans a series of several years, first focusing on 12-year-old Anna and her mysterious father and his murky visits to a man named Dexter Styles. The story picks up in World War II. By this point, Anna’s father has disappeared and she is working in the Brooklyn Navy Shipyard. One night she encounters Styles and begins to realize that he might hold answers to what happened to her dad.
Recommended for those who enjoy Haruki Murakami and Don DeLillo.
Peter Manseau’s The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and The Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost (2017)
William Mumler provided solace to a nation in mourning with his haunting photographs in the 1860s. Families of the Civil War dead flocked to his studio, hoping for a photograph, still a new-fangled invention, with the specter of their loved one’s ghost. Any heartwarming connotations for the service he provided were demolished with allegations of exploitation and his trial for fraud, which also included an appearance by P.T. Barnum. Manseau provides a well-researched narrative, with ample context on the early history of photography and the rise of spiritualism in the wake of the Civil War.
Recommended for those interested in history, true crime, and photography.
Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints (2017)
Maggie Stiefvater is best known for her The Raven Cycle series, but in recent months, she has also won rave reviews for the elegant writing style, intriguing characters, and complex themes in her new standalone young adult novel. Set in 1960s Colorado, the book focuses on a Mexican-American family who is noted for producing saints and miracles. Pilgrims come from all over to have their prayers answered, but the miracles they receive are never quite what they expect. But they’re not the only ones with seemingly thwarted dreams and ambitions. Three cousins in the family are also looking for their own miracles. When one of them violates their family’s taboo on providing further aid to the pilgrims, he unleashes a terrible darkness. Complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoy Andrea R. Cremer, Francesca Lia Block, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.
As always, if you’re interested in any of these items, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information or to place a hold.
What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments!