Staff Picks

We all know the story of 9/11--at least in its broadest outlines--but this intensely readable, moment-by-moment account introduces us to the people who were boarding the planes that day, the people who were monitoring the skies and our national defense, and the people who were in the impacted buildings, in a way that's intensely personal and completely gripping. This is narrative nonfiction at its most compelling.

-Nina

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is the first novel by Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese-American writer whose 2016 poetry debut, Night Sky with Exit Wounds was widely celebrated. Like his premier work, this one is semi-autobiographical and deals with his life as an immigrant, gay man, and writer. It is addressed as a letter to his mom who is both a mother and a monster, a survivor of and refugee of the Vietnam war, and a person who hit "little Dog" without hesitation. Poetic and heart-achingly beautiful, this novel is haunting and a must read of 2019.

-Josiah

17 year old Marisol "agrees" to particpate in an experimental procedure that will remove the grief from someone's body and place it into hers. Villasante's "The Grief Keeper" is an extremely timely young adult novel about how far one young immigrant will go to secure safety for her sister in the United States, and how willing the rich are to exploit young immigrants if it benefits their families. It's a beautiful, heartbreaking story that explores the consequences of what happens when certain kinds of love and people are considered illegal.

-Brooke

Max Porter's Lanny surely has the power to reignite your inner-child. Told in darkly poetic, sing-songy sections that have come to define Porter's style, this novel lives somewhere between a fairytale and horror story. Lanny’s parents have just moved him to a small village from a bustling city (probably London) and the influx of his creative spirit may be responsible for awakening the figure of an old folktale from a centuries-long slumber. Porter deftly creates a chaotic landscape through nonsequiturs that paint the page in waves and ribbons while Lanny’s adventures test his parents’ belief in their ability to keep their inner-child alive. I read it twice.

-Nathan

If you haven't been reading Stephen McCranie's Space Boy, you are missing out on a wonderful graphic story that has delightful characters, engaging story lines, and a lot to love. Part 4 of the saga just came out in print in July and part 5 comes out in November, so you have plenty of time to catch up. From the first chapter McCranie draws you into the world of Amy, a young girl whose world as she knows it is about to change completely. Amy has such a unique way of looking at the world and her excitement about the little things fills you with curiosity as you read. That's not to say her world is all easy either. As she confronts new experiences, global organizations, and deadly robots, she also learns a lot about friendship, family, and the things that matter most. McCranie does a great job of exploring larger conflicts and intense relationships while keeping things appropriate and reachable. This would be a great book to read as a family or individually for adults and middle grade kids!

-Caleigh

Told all in text messages, this book is charming, funny, relatable, and keeps you guessing till the end. The fast pace makes it hard to put down and the characters really come to life through their dialogue! A wonderful YA book that address the struggles of growing up but shows that having someone to support and listen to you makes a big difference. I loved this book!

-Caleigh