Another day, another great selection from our Best of 2015 list. Today we look at adult fiction and graphic novels hand picked by the Everett Public Library staff.
Fiction for Adults:
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan
This historical novel follows the last four years in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life.
Stewart O’Nan writes literary, sensitive, character-driven tragedy, but usually about the everyday. Here, we get to see him flex his style and sympathy on a truly fascinating and heartbreaking story of the great writer’s last years in Hollywood. -Alan’s pick
The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle
Set in contemporary Northern California, Boyle’s latest explores the connections between three damaged people — an aging Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son’s paranoid, older lover — as they careen toward explosive confrontation.
T.C. Boyle has been weaving his gorgeous character-driven and insight-rich literary style into works that speak volumes about contemporary issues. Written in Boyle’s sheer lyrical style,. this thriller should please anyone. -Alan’s pick
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Eight-year-old Peggy is living in London with her concert pianist mother and survivalist father when an issue between the parents causes her dad to steal away with Peggy into the mountains of Germany where they live for years in “die Hutte.”
Stories about surviving in the wild always appeal to me, but this book had so many subtle twists, so smoothly done in fact that I missed them, that at the surprising end I wanted to go back and see what really happened. Excellent! -Elizabeth’s pick
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Parched and ruined California has turned into a series of giant sand dunes, but Luz and Ray are surviving in a long-gone starlet’s mansion. At an outdoor party, they encounter an abused and neglected toddler and begin to dream of a better life.
I can’t seem to get enough of really good dystopian fiction, and this is one of the best since last year’s Station Eleven. Brutal, sweet, hopeful, and devastating, it is also quite plausible considering the current droughts we are experiencing. -Elizabeth’s pick
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
Journey across Canada and across the decades.
Magical realism in a journey of self-discovery similar to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. -Julie’s pick
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy : A Novel by Rachel Joyce
Queenie’s side of the story of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
While Harold was walking to Queenie, readers knew all about him, but not much about Queenie. Now that has been remedied with this new novel, letting us in on what Queenie remembers about Harold. -Julie’s pick
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
This novel is the story of two sisters living in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. It is well written and a good companion book to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
The setting and characters were very well done. I was sad when it ended. -Leslie’s pick
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
This is the backstory of Beryl Markham, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic crossing from east to west. She was raised by her father in Africa and became that continent’s first woman horse trainer.
This book has it all—beautiful and descriptive writing, an interesting story of a woman trailblazer, and the lovely land of Kenya. I could not recommend it more highly. -Leslie’s pick
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
This is an historical novel about two orphaned sisters who are flower sellers barely surviving in the streets of London in the 1800s and what happens after they are separated. .
The story is realistic, heartbreaking, bittersweet, and, thankfully, has a mostly happy ending. I enjoyed this story immensely. -Margaret’s pick
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
In an attempt to stave off loneliness after losing their spouses, Addie and Louis start spending the night together for companionship. Addie’s son disapproves, but her grandson comes to spend time with Addie and develops a strong bond with Louis.
A beautiful relationship story, told with grace and touching calmness. I am very sad that Kent Haruf passed away last year; he is one of my favorite authors. This is a quick read you can finish in a few hours, but it’s good to read it slow, so it lasts longer. -Sarah’s pick
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
This collection of posthumous short stories by Lucia Berlin is something else. The two writers who introduce her gush and rave about her work; you wonder why it wasn’t published years ago.
Berlin injects bits of her own history, incorporating alcoholism, pink-collar work, and years of hard living into her characters. Her vibrant landscapes (Oakland, Mexico, Chile, and beyond) are packed with individuals dealing with harsh circumstances. -Sarah’s pick
Graphic Novels for Adults:
Ms. Marvel Volumes 2 & 3 by G. Willow Wilson
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm!
If you haven’t read this reboot of Marvel standby Ms. Marvel (Vol. 1 came out in 2014), you are seriously missing out. Kamala Khan is not just a superhero–she’s a teenager learning to trust herself and figure out just who she is. -Carol’s pick
Not Funny Ha-Ha: A Handbook for Something Hard by Leah Hayes
Demystifies the process of abortion by following the story of two women who have decided to have abortions, from making their initial decision, choosing a clinic and method (surgical and medical), reaching out to loved ones, and the having procedure.
The subject matter may be controversial, but this book can and will help someone making a thoroughly difficult decision. -Carol’s pick
Step Aside, Pops : A Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton’s second Drawn & Quarterly. book brings her hysterically funny gaze to bear on historical, literary, and contemporary figures. Irreverently funny and carefully researched, no target is safe from Beaton’s incisive wit!
This was my intro into Kate Beaton and D+Q. When I cataloged it, the book fell open to a satirical strip of Nancy Drew, and I knew this was for me! -Carol’s pick
The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden
When Jennifer Hayden was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 43, she realized that her breasts told a story. Across a lifetime, they’d held so many meanings: hope and fear, pride and embarrassment, life and death. And then they were gone.
If you’ve never read an autobiographical comic strip or graphic novel, take a chance on this one. If your goal this year was to read difficult stuff, pick this up. If you know anyone touched by breast cancer, check this out. -Carol’s pick
Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Graphic novelist Lucy is in the prime of her life when she accompanies her rapidly aging grandparents on a Caribbean cruise. She has always been close to them, and when no one else can go along, and she is at loose ends, she offers to help.
Knisley really captures the sweet and rewarding aspects of helping the very old, but we also feel strongly the frustration, sadness, and feelings of being trapped that come with the job. The drawing style, while simple, is expressive and charming. -Elizabeth’s pick