Sunday, May 22, 2022

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Book Review

Book Reviews



By Rivers Solomon
368 pages

This is a hard one to describe well without spoiling the story. Rivers Solomon is such a talented writer. This feels like a story within a myth within a fable. Nested narratives, incredibly vivid characters, and the kind of writing that just dives right into your soul — this book is an experience.

Vern is a teenage captive in a horrifying cult until she finally finds a way to leave when she becomes pregnant. Soon she is consumed only with raising her twin children and surviving off the land. However, the past is not that easily erased. Still haunted and hunted, Vern has to make several impossible choices in her quest for safety — and contend with the impossible changes she undergoes along the way. 

Vern is a singular character. She is both harsh and loving, broken and yet so strong, her voice is still with me days after finishing the book. This is a genre-bending wild ride that I can’t stop recommending to everyone with a taste for the strange and the beautiful. ♦

— Review by Julie Goodrich

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa



‘White Magic’

By Elissa Washuta
432 pages
Tin House Books

Oh, wow. This book hit me at just the right moment and absolutely blew my mind. My pandemic-induced lethargy evaporated in the first few pages, and I devoured these essays with fervor. I then went back and read my favorites a few more times. I have a feeling I will be doing so for years to come.  

Told in a loosely linked form, the book follows Elissa’s journey through abuse, addiction and wrestling with the legacy of colonialism to come out the other side with a strong sense of herself and her own personal brand of spiritualism. Riddled with pop-culture touchstones and the kind of intimacy rarely seen in memoir-style writing, “White Magic” shines with humor, heartbreak and the kind of wisdom that only comes by walking through fire.

Elissa Washuta’s writing absolutely burns with magic — both the mystical and the very real kind that captures your brain and won’t let go. The best part? I came away feeling like I knew more about myself, rather than the author. That’s some powerful witchery. ♦ 

— Review by Julie Goodrich

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