By curator Elizabeth Lane
“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” — Doug Larson
The groundhog has once again seen its shadow and we gear up for a few more weeks of winter, so we are incredibly thankful that Helen Dealtry’s stunning cover designs for our Spring Edit carry the welcomed sense of hope and assurance that brighter days will come. We will soon glimpse fresh-dewed mornings and fresh starts, blue skies and the promise of longer days.
Our book selections this season echo this theme — that of last bits of darkness turning towards light; of hope, redemption and struggles that carry possibility on the tailwind. We invite you to settle in as winter lingers and read with us!
Dear Edward: A Novel by Ann Napolitano
Beautiful and profoundly moving, Dear Edward is a coming-of-age story about a young boy, Edward, who loses his entire family to a plane crash — one in which he is the sole survivor.
After the death of his family, Edward is permanently placed in the care of his aunt and uncle, where, over the course of several years, he finds friendship in unexpected places, ones that anchor him to his new reality in surprising ways. While sharing Edward’s story post-flight, Napolitano deftly weaves in the plane flight itself, exposing bits about each passenger on this doomed journey, and how each interaction and revelation impacts others on the plane. Dear Edward is a superb and beautifully written story, with nuanced characters who linger long after the last page.
The Sacrament: A Novel by Olaf Olafsson
A quiet and haunting novel, Olafsson’s The Sacrament tells the story of a nun, spanning from her school days to her days spent now in a French Convent tending roses alongside her dog, George Harrison. She is haunted by the past, a friendship at school, a priest and his alleged abuse of boys. After decades have passed since the incident, she is called by the Vatican to go to Iceland and investigate the reports. Buried secrets, denials, and lost friendship surround her journey as she discovers and reckons with a truth long buried.
The Sacrament is a story that sticks, one that subtly takes hold of the imagination and simply stays. At its center is an atmospheric tale about the persistence of memory, the weight of the past and how the interplay between memory and past marks us, thereby transforming the very core of our essential nature.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, is such a fun, weighty, and timely book. At once hilarious, thoughtful, beautifully written, and totally addictive, this is the story to read with your book clubs and pass along to your friends. With deft wit and pace, Reid brings to center themes of race, class, motherhood, friendship, today’s social media culture and more. From the first scene, Such a Fun Age explores many pieces of privilege that make up today’s social fabric, with enough twists and surprises to ensure that it is the best binge-worthy read this season. I dare you to not finish Reid’s debut novel in one sitting!
A few questions (to ponder here or bring to your own local book clubs):
1. The format of Dear Edward spans several years post plane crash as Edward adapts to his new reality and heals from overwhelming grief, while also interweaving moments on the plane mid-flight / pre-crash. Do you feel this enhances the narrative? How does this interweaving impact the force of the story, of Edward’s journey?
2. At the end of The Sacrament, there is a sense of redemption, and of forgiveness after decades of pain — and the release from that pain that can come from a few words. I found the ending profoundly moving? Without giving anything away, how did you feel the story resolved itself?
3. With today’s Instagram culture, I felt like I was well acquainted with Such a Fun Age’s Alix Chamberlain as the “influencer mom” with aspects of her character pulled from social media accounts we all know and perhaps follow. As the story evolved, did you feel that Alix emerged from a caricature into more of a fully-realized character, and if so, did this happen as a result of being a counterpoint to Emira’s own more fully-formed sense of self?