Friday, November 2, 2018

Available NOW Book 3 of Jacey Bedford's Rowankind for pre-order!


I recently got the following email from my friend, author Jacey Bedford, which I had to share with my readers:

Book Three of Jacey Bedford's Rowankind Trilogy Will be Here Soon!


Penguin Random House just sent me a very nice email to ask me if I wanted to pre-order my own book! Though ROWANKIND isn't out until 4th December officially, it seems to say that (if you're in USA or Canada) you can pre-order the ebook for delivery on 27th November.

Pre-ordering helps the author like this: When you pre-order a book, it tells bookstores people want this book, which makes them typically stock more copies of the book, which of course means more people see it and buy it.

So, of course I'd be very grateful if you're thinking of buying Rowankind, that you pre-order, either ebook (USA and Canada only) or paperback version.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Home Again, Kathleen




The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher


This biographical, historical fiction novel, by debut author Kerri Maher, focuses on the life of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, later known as Kathleen Cavendish, the Marchioness of Hartington. Before she became a Marchioness, Kick was the fourth child and second daughter, of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, who were also the parents to President John F. Kennedy, and his brother Robert F. Kennedy. While these two Kennedys later were in the spotlight across the world for their political activities (and subsequent assassinations), much less about Kick is remembered today. In this book, Maher works to correct this oversight, and remind us of what this woman could have been, had her life not been cut so short. 
(Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal / @prhinternational)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Gilding of a Lady

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler 


The wealth of the Vanderbilt family was astounding both in their day and by today’s standards, even if one never takes inflation into account. Back in the late 1800s, that should have meant something. However, all it meant was that they had mounds of money, because their family hadn’t lived in America enough generations for them to be accepted into New York’s high society. Alva Smith, on the other hand, had the appropriate lineage and standing, but her family’s fortune was ravaged by the Civil War and were on the brink of starvation. Although the subtitle of this book is “A Novel of the Vanderbilts” Fowler’s latest novel is really more Alva’s story than that of a whole family. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Educating Harry

Man and Boy by Tony Parsons 


The blurb for this book on Goodreads says, “Harry Silver had it all: a beautiful wife, a wonderful son, a great job in the media. But in one night he throws it all away. Then Harry must start to learn what life and love are really all about.” So generally, I hate it when I read that a character “had it all” because we all know from this that something is going to go terribly wrong, and the book is going to be all about their struggle to recover from some tragedy that’s not really their fault. However, in this instance, we immediately see that he’s to blame for his own predicament, so I figured this one might be a little different. More importantly, I was looking for something that wouldn’t be as heavy as some of the other books I’d recently finished reading, and the blurbs on the cover did talk about this one being funny. That’s the main reason I decided to read this book. The question is, was it a good choice or not? 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ghostly Blues

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton 


According to Goodreads, this book is “a story of murder, mystery, and thievery; of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold…” of course, the woman is refers to is the titular Clockmaker’s Daughter. However, her voice is hardly the only one we hear in this book, and the many other voices spread across time, beginning in the mid-1800s through the 21st century. 

This is actually the first Morton I’ve read, even though I know we have one or two of her novels on our shelves; I’ve simply never gotten around to reading any of them. This is obviously a hole in my literary education, because what I found here was quite unexpected on several levels. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three Belles’ Secrets.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White. 


The sinking of the Lusitania by Germany was the tragic event that brought America into the first World War. In this novel, the three co-authors, look at that event through the eyes of three women, two of whom survived the disaster, and one woman, Sarah Blake, who looking into the past to find inspiration for her next book by hopefully uncovering the truth about her great-grandfather, who was a purser on the ship. The two passengers are Tessa Fairweather and Caroline Telfair Hochstetter, whose paths end up crossing despite their sailing on separate classes. Goodreads says “As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.” 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Female Confidential

Vox: A Novel by Christina Dalcher. 


This novel is set in the not too distant future, where institutional misogyny has reached such heights that women are now totally out of the workforce and females are only allowed to speak 100 words a day (and no cheating with sign language, either). The new government has put wristbands that count every female’s words and if they go above their allotment, they get an electric shock that gets worse the more they speak. In this world we find Jean, a former scientist who was on the brink of curing aphasia, who is now relegated to her home, where she lives with her husband, three sons and her young daughter. However, when the president’s brother is in a skiing accident, with a brain injury that gives him the exact type of aphasia Jean had been trying to cure, the government calls on her to rejoin her old team and finish the job. But all is not what it seems in this dictatorial, woman hating world. (Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Village Education

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald 


It is 1959, and Florence Green is in Hardborough, a small seaside town in England’s East Anglia region, that doesn’t have its own book shop. This is something that Florence wants to fix. The only problem is, there seems to be some opposition to where she’s chosen to open it, the Old House. Although the building has stood empty for quite some time, there are people in town who have other ideas for that property. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie adaptation of this novella, which I found totally charming. Since the generalization is that the book is better than the film, I decided to hunt down a copy of this book and find out for myself if this one obeyed that rule, is one of the few exceptions, or something in between. I have to warn my readers that because of the close proximity between seeing the movie and reading the book, this may end up being a review of both, with some compare and contrast slipped in, for better or worse. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Diving in together

The Lido by Libby Page 


On Goodreads, the blurb for this novel says “Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.” This is a very good summary of this book, although it wasn’t evident to me that Rosemary had been swimming at the Lido “since it opened its doors” but that’s a minor point. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Continuing to be

I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell 


Goodreads calls this book a “memoire with a difference - the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman's life in near-death experiences.” They also say it is “Shocking, electric, unforgettable,” and comment that “It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?” Well, I couldn’t agree more with this summary, but to be honest, I think it is even more than that. 

My regular readers will know that I don’t usually read non-fiction, but this is Maggie O’Farrell, and well, I’ve been in love with her writing for years. Plus, the title indicated that this wasn’t an autobiography so much as a collection of experiences, which is far more to my taste. That is why the opportunity to get a glimpse into her life, even if it isn’t about the lighter side of her world, was irresistible to me, despite my worry that this might be heavy going. Thankfully, even though some (if not all) of these experiences were obviously traumatic in one way or another, somehow O’Farrell was able to portray them in a way that stuns us, yet never repulses us. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bottling their History

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah 


Kate knows that if she’s ever going to pass the Masters of Wine test, she’ll have to learn much more about French wines, particularly the ones from Burgundy. To do that, she’ll decides it’s time to go back to France, where her family’s ancient vineyards are nestled in that part of the country. While helping with the harvest, her cousin’s wife asks Kate to help her clean out the old “cave” in the hopes of maybe using the space for a part of a future B&B. That’s when they discover, behind an old armoire, a part of the cave that’s been hidden since WWII, and what it holds will surprise everyone. 

I first became familiar Mah’s writing four years ago, when I read her non-fiction work “Mastering the Art of French Eating.” So, when I saw this novel available on Edelweiss, I decided to give her fiction a try. Since I already knew of her love of France, I was certain that a novel set there would be interesting, and I wasn’t wrong. What Mah brings us is a story that brings the past and the present together with a big mystery and a touch of romance. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a romance novel, although the connection between Kate and Jean-Luc does play into the story. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Theatrical Turbulence

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. 


It was Felix’s dream to mount his own version of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” at the  (Canadian) Makeshiweg Theater festival, but before he could get started, he found himself ousted as their artistic director. That was the last blow, since came on the heels of a broken marriage, and even worse, the death of his adored three-year-old daughter Miranda. With this, Felix goes underground, only to emerge 12 years later as “Mr. Duke” who is running an educational program in theater at a local prison. When he finds out that the people who forced him out of Makeshiweg are coming to see what this course is about (with the obvious intention to shut the program down), Felix decides it is time to not only finally mount his “Tempest” but take his revenge at the same time.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Finding her Time

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler 


Willa’s life hasn’t been extraordinary, but it also hasn’t been uneventful either. When she was 11, her mother’s sudden, but thankfully temporary disappearance, was an experience marked Willa’s young life. When she was in college, she married her sweetheart and abandoned her education to raise a family. When she was only 41, her husband died in a tragic car accident. Now, 20 years later, one phone call from a total stranger is about to change Willa’s life once again. 
(Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational)

Once again, Anne Tyler brings us a late-stage, coming-of-age story of a woman who you might have seen dozens of time on the street, but who you might never strike up a conversation with, and more the pity. Because if you did get to know her, maybe she might be very different than you might have thought. What Tyler likes to do in her novels is draw people who surprise us, and sometimes themselves along the way. In fact, although Willa is the center of attention here, almost all of Tyler’s characters in this novel start out to be seemingly one thing and then, turn towards being something else. Yes, there are some more predictable characters here, such as Willa’s second husband, who never seems to stray from being self-centered; but in general, most of Tyler’s characters have a tendency to do unlikely things, and at the most unexpected times. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

An Eve or a Lilith?

Ecstasy: A Novel of Alma Mahler by Mary Sharratt 


Part of the blurb for this book on Goodreads says “Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand-new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?” 

This book sounds exactly like what I look for in historical fiction novels; a story about a lesser known (or unknown) woman in the life of a very famous man. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Mahler’s music, but some of the other blurbs I read about this book mentioned one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt. Since I didn’t know anything about Alma, the idea of reading about someone who was being hyped as one of his muses, was intriguing. What I found with this book, however, wasn’t exactly that, but it did tick many of my boxes. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Between Two Sisters

A Fist Around the Heart by Heather Chisvin 


Goodreads says that “The story of Anna Grieve and her fragile older sister, Esther, begins in Russia in the 1880s. The vicious persecution of Jews has come to such a point that the girls’ mother makes the decision to send her children to Winnipeg with her wealthy employers.” They also add, “When Anna receives the unexpected news of Esther’s possible suicide on “If Day,” an unusual day in WWII history when a simulated Nazi attack took place in Winnipeg in order to raise funds for the war effort, she immediately returns to Canada. Only she can piece together what really happened all those years ago in Russia…” 

I must admit that after I got this book, I almost regretted the request and avoided reading it for a while. With all the depressing news across the globe, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for something that sounded depressing, and for some reason I thought this was going to be more about the Holocaust. However, after realizing that this debut novel is something of a family history Chisvin, I decided to put my trepidation aside and get on with it, mostly because I like to read new authors, and partially because I’ve had a family history novel in my own head for a while now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Q&A with Eric Houston, author of The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)



I recently heard about Eric Houston's memoir "The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)" and was immediately intrigued. While I couldn't fit this book into my reading list, I decided instead to feature this work here, by asking him one question. Here's his answer to:


What was one of the most interesting experiences you had when researching this book? 


I was stunned by much of what I found while researching The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1). My father knew they were all going to die at El Alamein, Egypt. It was July 3, 1942, the first two lines were wiped out, and his third line, the last line of defense, was out of ammo. But they all stood firm. If Rommel had broken through there was nothing to stop the Nazis. In Berlin, they were celebrating having won the war, and the Grand Mufti was setting plans to murder every Jew in Palestine and the Arab nations. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Opening Lines

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland 


Loveday Cardew hasn’t had an easy time of it. When she was only 10 her life fell apart, but 15 years later, she has a job in a bookshop in York, which is ideal for her, because she likes books much more than she likes people. Although Loveday thinks she’s escaped from her past, now it seems like its coming back to haunt her. 

I’ve never read anything by Butland before, but apparently, she’s published several novels already. As a book reviewer, the opportunity to read any book with the word “bookshop” in the title is immediately enticing. The fact that the novel takes place in one of my favorite British cities, York, was also a huge draw for me. Add to this the aspects of a strong female protagonist and a touch of a mystery, and you’ve got me completely sold. I mean, who wouldn’t love a young woman who gets tattoos with the first lines of her most beloved novels (including one of my own all-time favorites, “The English Patient”). 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Leaping Late in Life

The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George 


When 60-year-old Marianne Messmann is visiting Paris on vacation with her husband, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off the Pont Neuf bridge. Her failed attempt leads her to let her husband go back to Germany on his own and search out the Breton town of Kerdruc. Why Kerdruc? Only because it looked so lovely on a painted tile she found while in the hospital, so why not. What she finds there is far more than she bargained for. 

I truly appreciate a coming-of-age story that involves someone my age, rather than a young person. These types of stories remind us that finding ourselves is not related to age or chronology, and that no matter how old or young we are, there is always something new we can learn about ourselves. This is the biggest reason I wanted to read this book, but also because I found George’s previous novel, The Little Paris Bookshop, to be so charming and fun. That’s was a good enough reason to pick this novel up, if you ask me, but I’m afraid that although I loved the premise, and enjoy George’s writing, I was a touch disappointed with this book, and liked it less than I did her previous novel. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Storms and Longings


Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Goodreads summarizes Backman’s sequel to his 2017 novel Beartown, saying “After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact.”

All my readers already know that I am addicted to Fredrik Backman’s novels, and there is good reason for that. However, to prove to them that I don’t automatically adore every word that Backman puts on the page, I’m going to start this review by noting the reasons I almost gave this less than five stars. The biggest reason was foreshadowing. Admittedly, this is a personal pet peeve of mine, which to my chagrin, Backman employed many times throughout this book. I must admit that although it bothered me to begin with, each time he did this, I felt slightly less annoyed. This was probably because he only allowed himself a short sentence of foreshadowing each time.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Lost and the Findings

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd



From Goodreads: “Venus Black is a straitlaced, straight-A student obsessed with the phenomena of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, suddenly goes missing.” It also says, “In this gripping story, debut novelist Heather Lloyd brilliantly captures ordinary lives upended by extraordinary circumstances. Told through a constellation of captivating voices, My Name Is Venus Black explores the fluidity of right and wrong, the meaning of love and family, and the nature of forgiveness.”

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Stories with Spurs

Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx


In this collection of 11 stories, including “Brokeback Mountain,” Proulx looks at the many sides of the people and vistas of Wyoming, a state that according to most sources is the 10th biggest in land size, and the second least densely inhabited (behind Alaska). Landlocked by Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, Wyoming has 2/3 of its western part covered by the Rocky Mountains and is home to both the Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons National Park. With these stories, Proulx attempts to create the types of unique characters who would choose to make their lives within this vast natural beauty.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Consequences of Peace

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje


From Goodreads: “It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and both grow more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.”

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Music and Silence

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes


“In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.”

Barnes’ latest novel is a fictional documentation of the life of the Russian composer, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich, who lived under both the Bolshevik and Communist regimes of the USSR, until his death in 1975. Shostakovich was at turns both adored and reviled by both his country’s people and leadership, and much of his music reflects this push-pull of acceptance and rejection. But what his life was like across all those years, and if he was a dissident or a loyal Communist party member, has mostly been left to conjecture and interpretation, and Barnes attempts to find his own answers to these contentions with this book.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shards of Remaining Objects

Smash All the Windows by Jane Davis


Goodreads Synopsis: “For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances. Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unraveled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives. If only it were that simple.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Portraits in Survival

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell


The Titanic; it was supposed to be the most wondrous ship ever built. But for Esme, Charlotte and Anna, surviving that fateful crossing has stalked their whole lives, each in very different ways. Particularly because each of these three women were on different classes of tickets, and this isn’t a story mainly about the tragedy, but rather about what came afterwards for them. Blackwell’s newest work is therefore a different kind of Titanic novel.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

These Books May Fare Well

Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittany


This novel is the first in an upcoming series of “Mayfair 100” murder mysteries, which takes place amid the Great War (i.e., WW1), where two civilian women join with police officers to make up a special team, tasked with investigating crimes involving women. On Goodreads, the blurb says “London, 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services. Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is faced with investigating the murder of an aristocrat and the man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen. As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Difficulties of Devotions

Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher


According to Goodreads, Jonathan (or Yonatan) is “preparing to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.” This novel is told in the form of a letter to one of the Palestinians – the brother Laith – while Jonathan is in military prison and reflects on how his life changed after he met Laith and his twin sister Nimreen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Majestic Clash

I was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon


For over five decades there were unending, international court battles, rumors and intrigue surrounding a woman called Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia, the sole surviving child of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, who was famously executed during the Russian Revolution along with his whole family. Ariel Lawhon’s latest historical fiction novel delves into this story from two angles, with a wholly unique, fictionalized approach.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Duplicity or distortion?

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


In 1843, Grace Marks and James McDermott were both convicted of the murders of Nancy Montgomery and Thomas Kinnear. While McDermott was executed for these crimes, Grace received a commuted sentence, and ended spending nearly 30 years in incarceration, first in an insane asylum and then later in a penitentiary. To this day, it is unsure if Grace was a willing participant in these gruesome killings, or if she was simply an accessory after the fact. Furthermore, after her release, no one knows what happened to her. This, however, didn’t stop Margaret Atwood from using this highly sketchy biography of Grace as the basis of an intense historical fiction novel.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Chilling Childhood

Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira


When a blizzard of epic proportions hits the northeast of America in January 1879, creating both havoc and devastation for the city of Albany, New York, one part of the damage is the disappearance of the young sisters Emma and Claire O’Donnell. After finding the bodies of these girls’ parents, Dr. Mary Stipp (the famous Civil War surgeon, previously known as Dr. Mary Sutter), refuses to believe these girls are dead, and keeps up the search. Not long after all hope was lost, the two girls show up in the wake of a flood, and the story of what happened to them while they were missing threatens the whole city.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My 300th Post - Review of a Modern Classic

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller


Joseph Heller published this best-selling novel in 1961, and it is the only book I’ve ever read more than once. It is also one of the first books that come to mind when someone asks me to name my favorite book of all time (along with Ondaatje’s novels “The English Patient” and “The Cat’s Table”). This begs the question as to why I’ve never reviewed it, and my only answer is that I simply never got around to writing a review. But that’s not completely true. There’s something about reviewing a book that you love so much that you’re afraid you’ll ruin it for others with your review. There’s also the problem of having something new to say about a book that is so iconic, its title is now literally a dictionary entry.
What I mean by this is that even those who have never read this book know what is meant when someone calls something is a “catch-22” situation. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Mystifying Masquerade


The Phantom’s Apprentice by Heather Webb


In Heather Webb’s latest novel, she re-envisions the famous story of The Phantom of the Opera, best known as the powerful Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. In this book, Webb puts Christine Daaé more firmly at the center of the story, with a newly invented back story that reaches into Christine’s childhood to answer questions that the original French novelist Gaston Leroux left unanswered. The story, of course, is about a troubled man who falls in love with a young soprano and the lengths he will go to make her into the Paris Opera's brightest star.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Carnegie’s Maid Blog Tour & Giveaway

Carnegie’s Maid Blog Tour & Giveaway


From the author of The Other Einstein, the mesmerizing tale of what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Owning Your Team Colors

Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen


Everyone knows that middle school is the worst. Not only are these kids thrown into a new environment with new teachers and a bunch of new kids, they’re also dealing with the onset of puberty and all those hormones. Into this traumatic situation, Graham-Felsen places his protagonist, David Greenfeld. It is 1992 and David is starting sixth grade at the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Boston. The problem is, not only is David mostly on his own, but he’s also one of the few white kids there, and to make things worse, he’s also half Jewish. Somehow, David becomes friends with Marlon Wellings, a kid who lives in the “projects” and has the same ambitions to get out of King and into “Latin,” the comprehensive school that has more graduates getting into Harvard than any other.