Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Book Review

Book Reviews

5/5/2021

‘Burning Girls and Other Stories’

By Veronica Schanoes
3/2/21
Tor Dotcom
336 pages
$25.99

Fairy tales, myths, fables… there is a lot of power hidden in innocuous stories. The kind of power that Veronica Schanoes wields like a torch in her debut collection — both dangerous and delightful.

The title story is the tale of an immigrant girl who would protect her family from even the most horrifying parts of their new home. It is both brilliantly told and subtly heart-breaking and has justly earned several awards. From there these stories run the gamut from fanciful to brutally funny. 

“Emma Goldman takes tea with Baba Yaga” does exactly what it says on the tin, while “Swimming” and “Phosphorus” are more subtle, intense tales. That pervading sense of power — won, lost and hidden — lives in each of the women in these stories, a kind of ageless wisdom that resonates in the stories we pass on over endless generations.

Reading this collection felt like tapping into that ancient knowledge but with a contemporary face. It was such a satisfying read. I recommend them for anyone who loves a subversive twist to their happily ever after — or even a little wicked with their witch. ♦
— Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

Prep Iowa - Pride Month

 

‘The Thirty Names of Night: A Novel’

By Zeyn Joukhadar
11/24/20
Atria Books
304 pages
$27

Magical realism seems like one of those nonsense phrases used to make literature overly complicated. It’s a paradoxical term that no two people quite define the same, but encompasses some of the most beautiful writing I’ve encountered. Unconstrained by hard literary limits, Zeyn Joukhadar elevates his storytelling with ghosts and poetry, forming a remarkable book that took my breath away. 

The book begins with a Syrian American boy who feels he has nothing, not even a name, as he cares for his grandmother and hides his trans self from the world. Avoiding everyone he knows, he spends his time chasing the only freedom he knows — creating art. When he stumbles across a mystery involving his dead mother, a rare bird and the secret history of his community, he finds the one thing that could very well set him free.

This is both a heart-breaking and hopeful story that very nearly wrecked me in its beauty.  I can’t recommend it highly enough. ♦
— Reviewed by Julie Goodrich

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