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Elisa's Picks

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White Smoke Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063029095
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 14th, 2021

This is everything one could hope for in a horror novel: creepy house with a mysterious history, a main character unsure of her own reality even without a malevolent spirit that might want her dead, and of course a healthy dose of suspense. Mari and her newly blended family have just relocated to Cederville, a small midwestern town where her mom has accepted an artist-in-residence grant. Running from the ghosts of her former life in California, Mari is trying desperately to keep her head down and not get into trouble. A bit difficult when there is clearly something or someone in your house that doesn’t want you there. With her usual flourish, Tiffany D. Jackson thrills the reader, but not without diving into deeper themes of the prison industrial complex and gentrification. While reading this, I couldn’t help but think of stories like “Candyman”. Steeped in the undertones of the best urban legends born of racial trauma, Jackson creates a haunted house story that consumes the reader until the final page.

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Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593329191
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 8th, 2021

Akwaeke Emezi is an absolute powerhouse. In this bold memoir, Emezi splits themself open and pours themself out in exquisite beauty on the page. Like their debut novel, Freshwater (which I highly recommend reading as a companion), this was a book that I immediately wanted to mark up and flag and talk to anyone within earshot about. Written in letters to significant individuals in their life, from their chosen family to Toni Morrison, they challenge every unspoken standard that has arbitrarily been set forth for writers of color, especially trans and non-binary authors. Spanning from their childhood in Nigeria, to college and an MFA in the US, to the release if their debut novel, and to the quick succession of their second and third novels releases, Emezi pulls readers into their world and opens up about the deepest and darkest facets of their life. Their writing is breathtaking even when speaking of the most monstrous facets of life and I cannot wait to read what they write next.

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Oona Cover Image
By Kelly DiPucchio, Raissa Figueroa (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062982247
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 12th, 2021

Meet Oona, a mischievous little mermaid with a thirst for adventure. She and her rescue sea otter, Otto, are always on the lookout for their next excursion to whatever treasure they can find. With sweeping illustrations that pull the reader into this beautifully dreamy seascape, take a journey into the depths with Oona and discover what treasure may be waiting in the darkest rifts.

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A Thousand Ships: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063065390
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper - January 26th, 2021

In this epic retelling of the Illiad, Natalie Haynes brings the life the stories of the people completely glossed over by Homer: the Women. From the Muses to the Goddesses, Helen to Penelope, Haynes creates a sweeping narrative of the Trojan War and all of those effected by the city that fell. Told in alternating perspectives across the years of the war, Haynes brings new life into the so well-known story by offering voices to the women who are so often forgotten. Absolutely absorbing, this is perfect for fans of Circe and any lover of Mythology.

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The Barnabus Project Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735263260
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tundra Books - September 1st, 2020

Deep underneath the Perfect Pets store, under a perfect glass bell jar lives Barnabus. The half mouse/half elephant is content with his life in his little bell jar with the other Failed Projects, but has always dreamed about the possibility of seeing the outside world. In this beautifully illustrated adventurous tale, The Fan Brothers uniquely capture what it means to be imperfect and why those imperfections are some of the best parts of ourselves. Heartwarmingly told and visually stunning, this is one of those books that you won’t forget.

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The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525541622
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 25th, 2021

Vivek Oji is dead, you know this from the very beginning of the story. Regardless of that fact, Akwaeke Emezi pulls readers in and completely tears them apart with the power of this story. Set in the middle class towns of Nigeria, Vivek explores the world of the Nigerwives, immigrant women who have married Nigerian men and created their own community(like his own mother), seeking solace in their femininity and finding comfort in their love. As Vivek tries to conform to his families expectations, he begins experiencing strange blackouts and bouts of disorientation from the psychological strain. When he finally begins to allow himself to explore his gender presentation and his own femininity, Vivek starts to get better just in time for his whole world to come crashing down. Told from alternating perspectives, Vivek's tale is that of him discovering his true self, and only when he has finally become the most confident in his true identity does tragedy strike. Heartbreaking in the fact that the majority of his story is told by the people who could never truly see him, Emezi is back and renders a beautiful tale of identity and tragedy, but still manages to leave the reader with at least a glimmer of hope. – Elisa

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Real Life: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525538899
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - February 16th, 2021

This was one of those books that I needed to mark up. I flagged pages and highlighted sentences. I put it down multiple times because I needed to let the words fully settle in and absorb what was said. In this incredible debut, Brandon Taylor dives into the fine nuances of microagressions and so much more. Wallace is black, gay, southern, and trying on a daily basis to navigate his daily life as a grad student in the biochem department at a Midwestern University. Wallace's collective inner monologue gives the reader real perspective of what everyday life looks like for him. From the complexities of the relationships with his all-white group of friends to what it's like for him daily as a black student in a white dominated field; Real Life breaks down the bleak truth behind the emotional implications faced by so many like Wallace. It should be read and talked about and shared. It is timely, necessary, and  a complete feat of a debut novel.