These books will make good gifts – any reason, any season.
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Geraldine Brooks is a master of historical fiction and her latest doesn’t disappoint. Horse interweaves the stories of a young black slave, a 1950s gallery owner, an art historian, and a Smithsonian scientist. Jarret, a young black slave in 1850s Kentucky, becomes the groom and trainer of Lexington, the greatest racehorse the world has ever seen (the horse is based on a true story). The bond between Jarret and Lexington is strong and inspiring – Jarret believes in treating animals with kindness which contrasts sharply and put him at odds with other trainers and jockeys. The present-day pair separately stumble upon artifacts of the horse - a painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic. Brooks provides an interesting look at the technology and investigative skills used in historical research. This novel is sure to please inquisitive minds and historical fiction lovers of all ages!
—Review by Megan Mathis, Research & Readers’ Advisory Librarian, Richland Library Main
Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
This stellar coming-of-age story will have particular appeal for people who grew up in the 90s or love a deep dive into the heart and experiences of a character. Growing up with a mom deeply entrenched in diet culture is tough for eight-year-old Malaya, a fat Black girl living in late 1980s Harlem. She’d prefer to spend her time painting or sneaking snacks from the corner bodega with her best friend, but her mother insists on dragging her to Weight Watchers meetings instead. She tempers the pressures of attending a prestigious Upper East Side prep school and navigating the constant barbs lobbed by her sharp-tongued grandmother with art and hip hop, but how will she find peace in a culture that says her worth is intrinsically tied to her size? Sullivan has created a deeply loveable character in Malaya and a beautiful portrait of pre-gentrification Harlem.
—Review by Sarah Cameron, Research & Readers’ Advisory Librarian, Richland Library Main
Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King
Laurie R. King, best known for her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, returns with Back to the Garden, a standalone mystery. The Gardener family and the California estate that was their home and legacy drew the wealthiest and most powerful people for much of the early twentieth century but in the 1970s heir, Rob Gardener, turned his palatial home into a counterculture commune of peace, love, and equality. Now, the magnificent home and formal gardens draw tourists. While the Estate staff is preparing to move into a new future, restoration work on some of its art digs up human remains, remains that were likely buried during the year the commune mysteriously fell apart. SFPD Inspector Raquel Laing, brilliant but under somewhat of a cloud, is called in to assist since the body’s disposal is similar to the kidnappings and murders committed by the serial killer dubbed The Highwayman whom Laing is working to get as much information from about his victims as possible before he dies. But the more she digs through the Estate’s archives the more she suspects that this crime has more to do with the Gardener family than with The Highwayman. Told through chapters that move back between Now and Then the various mysteries Laing is trying to unravel and solve unfold with satisfying conclusions. This novel would make a great gift for those who enjoy a jolly good read with aspects of historical fiction or an intricately plotted slow burn mystery.
—Review by Chantal Wilson, Research & Readers’ Advisory Manager, Richland Library Main
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
No matter what the season, everyone loves a haunted house book! Vera’s estranged mother is dying and has asked her to return to the family home for her final days. The family home in question was hand built by Vera’s father, who died in prison after what he was doing in the basement for so many years came to light. Now there’s a true crime enthusiast living in the shed and something making a great deal of noise under the bed. Just Like Home is an intimate, claustrophobic domestic horror book – a little bit gothic, a little bit psychological, and very effective. For people who love both Gillian Flynn and Shirley Jackson.
—Review by Sara McBride, Research & Readers’ Advisory, Richland Library Main