May Book Reviews

RECOMMENDATIONS courtesy Sara Putman, owner Bookish

Enjoy these four must-read books from our friends at Bookish, Fort Smith, Arkansas’s only independently owned bookstore.

Groundskeeping
by Lee Cole

Cole’s debut novel is as much about finding a home as it is about the two different characters searching for it. Highlighting life on the University of Louisville campus immediately before and after the 2016 presidential election, we find Owen, a native Kentuckian and Alma, a writer in residence whose parents are Bosnian immigrants. Their relationship and honesty with one another are refreshing, and Owen’s grandfather is a wise Southern shaman who helps Owen traverse this new life after addiction and near abandonment from his parents. Together, Owen and Alma navigate writing, politics, family, and their individual search for finding a place in the world.

Love and Saffron
by Kim Fay

You don’t have to be a bona fide foodie to appreciate the evolution of recipes over the years spanning Fay’s novel, written in the form of letters. We peek into the blossoming friendship of Joan Bergstrom, 27 and Imogen Fortier, 59. Joan begins with a fan letter to Imogen in which she reminisces about how she enjoyed reading her columns as a child. Included in that first letter is a packet of saffron, and the friendship is ignited. Through the letters back and forth, we learn of heartache and happiness, family conflicts and severe disasters, all paired with their love of food. This is an especially fun book club pick, especially if your group likes to cook!

The Caretakers
by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

The Caretakers focuses on the lives of American au-pairs in Paris and the women they work for. It starts as one au pair is taken away in handcuffs after the death of the child in her charge. Through the perspectives of six women who encompass a variety of ages and backgrounds, the mystery unfolds. This subtle mystery is a close look at the characters involved, and while you might not like many of them, they will entice you to carry on and see exactly who is to blame. You’ll find that blame isn’t always black and white, in murder or in life. 

Crossroads
by Jonathan Franzen

Meet the Hildebrandt’s, a family of four headed by a Mennonite preacher and his backsliding Catholic wife. Set in the 1970s, the Hildebrandts find themselves at a moral and meaningful crossroad. Should Mr. Hildebrandt act on the feelings he has for a woman in his congregation? Should Clem quit school and join the fight in Vietnam? Should Perry continue to sell drugs to seventh graders? Is Becky okay without a relationship with God? All these decisions come to a head in the weeks leading up to Christmas, 1971. Through it all, American mythology christens the pages and the seemingly simple answers to the Hildebrandt’s agonizing questions prove to be more complicated than meets the eye.

 

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