Staff Book Reviews

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Sugar in Milk Cover Image
Reviewed by: Tildy
Posted: November 30, 2020

With warm and beautiful illustrations, Sugar in Milk is story within a story that opens a window for young readers into both a Persian fairytale, and an important understanding of how immigrants not only are vital to our communities, but make them sweeter too, but told in an accessible, sweet, and lovely way.

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We Are Not Free Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: November 30, 2020

Still timely and relevant, this YA historical fiction, told from 14 different Japanese American teens was both engrossing and riveting. Depicting one of the most shameful periods of our country’s history, based on lies and stoked by racial fear, the story advanced in time, as each teen described what was happening. Starting from the fear after Pearl Harbor, to being forcibly removed from their homes, incarcerated into detention centers, and fighting for their country or whether to be repatriated back to Japan, despite having no ties to the country: all because of their ethnic origin. These American teens, like every other teen, still sought joy in their communities through love, family and sports during their wrongful incarceration. The historical pictures and newspapers add even more richness and depth to this book. The sad thing as times goes by, not much changes in peoples’ perception and fear of the ‘other’.

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Transcendent Kingdom: A novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Rebecca
Posted: November 30, 2020

Gyasi’s sophomore novel follows Gifty, the daughter of Ghanian immigrants, from her childhood in the church to her PhD candidacy at Stanford. Gifty’s experience is shaped by her brother’s overdose, her mother’s mental illness, and the relationship she seeks between science and religion. This is a gorgeous character study and a compelling read.

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The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: November 28, 2020

Not only does this cookbook have great recipes, it’s a fascinating read. Samuelsson elevates Black chefs and kitchen staff that have long been marginalized and/or erased from food history. Each recipe is in homage to a Black chef, staff and/or food writer that is both accessible and delicious. But more importantly, it opens up discussions about change and representation in food. In Marcus’ words, Black Food is American Food and Black Food Matters.

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The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Cristy
Posted: November 28, 2020

This novel is thoughtful, nuanced, powerful, fast-paced, and devastating. The writing is beautiful; the imagery is vivid, the dialogue is illuminating, the narration is powerful. It centers on questions of gender, sexuality, social acceptance, and violence in ways that cause us as readers to constantly question our own perceptions of the world.

 

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Memorial: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: November 28, 2020

Benson and Mike have been together for four years, but their relationship is fraying. Mike's mother arrives to visit from Japan and the next day, Mike himself boards a plane to Japan to find his father, long absent from his life and dying, leaving his mother with Benson. The two have never met before. Benson is her son's black, gay, boyfriend and she's marginally tolerant. This is the backdrop, along with an affinity for the cooking and eating of Japanese food, the character of the city of Houston and specifically it's 3rd ward for Bryan Washington's first novel. It's hard to believe it's a first novel, given the author's extraordinary talent with spare language, keen observation and the creation of negative space in, around and between his words, all of which blew me away.

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A Winter Walk in the City Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: November 28, 2020

From Christmas, to Chinese New Year to dogs wearing sweaters, there's nothing not to love about winter in the city. This charmingly illustrated counting book is a celebration of diversity on every page.

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That Time of Year Cover Image
Reviewed by: Cristy
Posted: November 28, 2020

NDiaye is a master, and this book knocked me to the floor. In it, a Parisian named Herman is thrown into a world of oppressive bureaucracy and social expectations in a small town when his wife and child go missing after they stay at their country house too long. A parable for the ways in which it’s easy to ignore the sinister underpinnings of peaceful existence until they start knocking at your door.

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Memorial: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: November 28, 2020

This quiet character driven novel truly illustrates the complexities of relationships. From friends, lovers, parents and acquaintances, and how one presents themselves differently in each setting. I listened to this and it was just beautifuly narrated by the author and Akie Kotabe and you are instantly transported to Texas and Japan in both Mike and Benson's world.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780593288771-memorial?bookstore=belmontbooks

Staff Pick Badge
The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Cristy
Posted: November 28, 2020

This novel is thoughtful, nuanced, powerful, fast-paced, and devastating. The writing is beautiful; the imagery is vivid, the dialogue is illuminating, the narration is powerful. It centers on questions of gender, sexuality, social acceptance, and violence in ways that cause us as readers to constantly question our own perceptions of the world.

Staff Pick Badge
That Time of Year Cover Image
Reviewed by: Cristy
Posted: November 28, 2020

(Translated by Jordan Stump.) NDiaye is a master, and this book knocked me to the floor. In it, a Parisian named Herman is thrown into a world of oppressive bureaucracy and social expectations in a small town when his wife and child go missing after they stay at their country house too long. A parable for the ways in which it’s easy to ignore the sinister underpinnings of peaceful existence until they start knocking at your door.

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The Kindest Lie: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: November 28, 2020

The book starts so hopeful, with the election of Barack Obama. A Black couple and their friends, in Chicago, celebrate the promise and pride of this momentous moment. Soon, Ruth has to tell the truth to her husband, that she had a baby, and gave it up for adoption, before leaving to go to college. Ruth goes back to her hometown and confronts its poverty and searches for her son, befriending a poor white boy in the meantime. Intersections of class and race, make this a compelling read and a portent of political changes to come.

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