This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman (for review from Harper Perennial)
Set on a rugged coastal homestead during the 1970s, This Life Is in Your Hands introduces a superb young writer driven by the need to uncover the truth of a childhood tragedy and connect anew with the beauty and vitality of the back-to-the land ideal that shaped her early years.
In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman’s parents, Eliot and Sue—a handsome, idealistic young couple from well-to-do families—pack a few essentials into their VW bus and abandon the complications of modern existence to carve a farm from the woods. They move to a remote peninsula on the coast of Maine and become disciples of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life. On sixty acres of sandy, intractable land they begin to forge a new existence, subsisting on the crops they grow and building a home with their own hands.
While they establish a happy family and achieve their visionary goals, the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. Winters are long and lean, summers frenetic with the work of the harvest, and the distraction of the many young farm apprentices threatens the Colemans' marriage. Then, one summer day when Melissa is seven, her three-year-old sister, Heidi, wanders off and drowns in the pond where she liked to play. In the wake of the accident, ideals give way to human frailty, divorce, and a mother’s breakdown—and ultimately young Melissa is abandoned to the care of neighbors. What really happened, and who, if anyone, is to blame?
This Life Is in Your Hands is the search to understand a complicated past; a true story, both tragic and redemptive, it tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.
Make It Stay by Joan Frank (for review from The Permanent Press) In the tree-nestled Northern California town of Mira Flores, writer Rachel ("an aging typist with an unprofitable hobby" and her Scottish husband Neil prepare dinner for a familiar "crew" of guests - among them Neil's best friend, the burly, handomse Mike Spender, an irrepressible hedonist - and Mike's wife, the troubling Tilda Krall, a hard-bitten figure who carries her dark unknowability like an accusation.
Mike and Tilda have produced an enchanting daughter, Addie - who will also appear, unexpectedly, that night. As they ready the meal, Rae begs Neil to retell her the strange, twisted story of the Spenders - to include Mike's secret life, and what happened once Tilda learned of it. Neil and Rae cannot guess how the shock waves from that story will threaten to destroy their own marriage - after a mysterious catastrophe propels all five individuals into uncharted realities.
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (ARC from Harper Perennial) Jessie Lamb is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times: as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towards the ultimate act of heroism. If the human race is to survive, it's up to her. Set just a month or two in the future, in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman's determination to make her life count for something, as the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart.
The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen (for review from Broadway Books/Crown Publishing) Ethan Coen’s screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. With his brother, Joel, Coen has written, directed, and produced some of the most original and beloved movies in the history of cinema, including Raising Arizona; Miller’s Crossing; Barton Fink; The Hudsucker Proxy; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Intolerable Cruelty; an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men; Burn After Reading; and—most recently—True Grit, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Coen has also written collections of critically acclaimed plays (Almost an Evening), short stories (Gates of Eden), and poetry (The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way), all presented in his distinctly humorous and oddly brilliant literary voice.
Coen’s eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends (Broadway Paperbacks Original, on sale April 3, 2012), a collection of poems that offers humor and provides insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft. The Day the World Ends is a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends. Short, accessible, and nearly the same price as a movie ticket, this new poetry collection is a perfect treat for Coen’s legions of fans.
Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos (from Paperbackswap) When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs--eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother--goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (from Paperbackswap) David Sedaris's fourth book mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate.